One of the things I have always thought would help me expand my business was the idea of Hosting apps on a server of my own. I think that Access 2010 with Access Services will open up this as a serious potential for growth of small to medium Hosted Access applications.
Unfortunately this option has not happened for two legitimate reasons:
1. I didn’t want to have to be my own IT Hosting shop with the inherent hassle and nuisance it would all be. One thing that has always been a factor in my decision to take development projects is the complexity of the deployment, and the availability of positive IT support. A great application can be destroyed by deployment and support issues and turned into an expensive (for me) disaster.
2. Hosting in the past implied the client’s data “living” off-site. This CAN be a security issue, but that really only applies to a small subset of potetial applications. Most databases I’ve done or seen are of absolutely no interest or value to anyone else anyway. But a legit concern has been that they didn’t have a copy of the data and application of their own – in case something happens to me or my Hosting firm and one day they can’t get at their application or their data anymore.
Both of these issues are resolved by the presence of Access 2010, Sharepoint 2010 and Access Services !!
In an Access Services implementation the database, all the data, queries, forms, etc, live on the SharePoint Server BUT if you have what I call a Hybrid application (where it is actually nearly totally a client-side application that is “served up” and replicated to the SharePoint site using Access Services). That means EVERYTHING in the application gets replicated to the user’s local Folders in real-time as they use it. Changes made by the developer will immediately replicate down as well.
When you launch one of these “Hybrid” applications the entire application gets written down to the user’s personal space (as a sub of My Documents) and the actual application runs from this version. When changes are made by this user they are automatically replicated up to the Server but are originally written to the local copy. Changes by others are replicated down to the local copy in real-time so this local copy is kept current at all times that the user is connected to the network with access to the SharePoint Server.
At the same time deployment amounts to the distribution of a very small file with an ACCDW extension. This file is basically a pointer to the Access Services site on SharePoint and when it opens it synchronizes the local copy with the Server one – and if it doesn’t exist locally yet, it brings down the entire application the first time – deployment dirt simple !!
Of course for the most part the users do not (or should not know) that there is a local copy, but the reality is that this IS a full copy of the application and ALL the data. Therefore the client has their own copy of all the data and the application always current in their personal desktop environment. The more users there are the more copies there are within the organization. Backing up of the app behind you firewall ceases to be a concern.
This is another of those side benefits of a new technology that probably wasn’t a consideration in the design of the new technology, but I see this as a key benefit this new Access Services technology provides to me and to my clients.
There are now Hosting sites dedication to SharePoint 2010 and some even to Access Services (i.e. http://www.accesshosting.com). These sites and Access 2010 on desktops reflect to me a HUGE opportunity for Access and Access Developers. Very cool !!