MS Access Versus Client Server Database Platforms

Throughout my years working with Access, initially using it as a glorified spreadsheet package, I have gradually honed my skills but I am still learning new things everyday. Every new project takes my knowledge to a new level and I want the business world to realise just how versatile this product really is.

Having built systems as complex as Reinsurance pool ledgers I know just how powerful it can be. It is a shame that the IT fraternity have always mocked its capabilities as a reliable database application. This is mainly to do with the fact that users can build their own systems, which generally do not follow standard programming conventions and it becomes, from their point of view, impossible to support. However, designed and programmed properly this need not be the case.

OK so you cant build conglomerate size systems with Access, I accept that. But there are literally millions of companies in the world that are not conglomerates.
I have worked for Insurance companies that have invested millions of pounds in their systems which is obviously a completely different ball game, but for the small to medium sized business MS Access is invaluable.
Access can produce an extremely professional, user friendly interface or menu based functionality that easily rivals the bigger fish. Indeed, Access interfaces are often used to front client server systems such as SQL Server due to Access’ flexibility and ease of menu design. The only difference is the data is held on the SQL platform instead of internally in the Access platform. Obviously the volume of data here is what counts, but let me tell you, I have a database with over three million records in it and it works fine. It has only taken up 3/4s of the memory space that Access can handle, so as you can see, for most companies this is more than sufficient.
Lets talk about cost. For the price of developing a system in Access, you probably would have spent the same just getting the system specd out in Oracle. This is because the companies that develop these client server mainframe systems have huge infrastructures and as a consequence, huge overheads. They will charge a minimum of £100ph for every individual at every meeting they have with you, then there is the project manager, the accountant, the programmers and so on.

You then need powerful hardware to handle such a system, along with expensive licenses for every user. Access needs none of this! Any reasonable server can handle it or, if you are a small outfit, a desktop computer is fine. The only license you will ever need is the license you got when you purchased MS Access itself (most people already have it as it comes with MS Office).
So you are just left with the cost of developing it. Well most Access programmers either own or work for small establishments and simply dont have the same massive overheads.
If you need a bespoke system, please consider the merits of using Access, it may not be for you but then again it just might. Find yourself an established company, with good support mechanisms, and you might just save yourself a fortune!