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A company who I admin for is looking to create a database for vendors to be able to access their trackers to follow the progress of their projects. I want to build the database in access, but my question is whether I should host everything locally...get a sharepoint server and publish the database to it. Or should I migrate everything to office 365 and go to the cloud.

I was thinking 365 would be the best bet, as the company could use the upgrade since they are growing exponentially.

Or do you have any other suggestions? I thought that using sharepoint would be the easiest way to share data with other companies (since it would have to be shared over the web), as well as internally. Also, 365 for simplicity.


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Office 365 would help if you just mean to share a static document (say, an Excel sheet that is updated by your client).

Sharepoint would work too, if again its a simple document sharing situation.

However, the best solution would be to develop something that can be accessed over the Internet using a web browser. You can use any technology that you are familiar with, and all will provide you cloud hosting for free.

This way you can have multiple users accessing the database at the same time, because your database will simply become a service that your application will utilize; in contrast with a normal access file which is locked whenever its accessed.

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The bottom line is that Microsoft Access is certainly not recommended for this task! Unfortunately, many organisations build systems in Access only to later hit the many and varied issues and limitations it has. so no matter what is said here, you will find it cheaper and easier in the long run to redevelop in a technology designed for the task.

The problem with using SharePoint, especially the Office 365 variant is that of CAL's (Client Access Licenses).

If you are happy to license all of your users including your vendors, then I'd say that SharePoint Online is a good way to go. You can then keep the data in a SharePoint list and either access it through web forms or use an Access database as a front end. Note that there are ways to give access to non-licensed users though you will need to carefully check the limitations in regard to how many "users" you are allowed and what it does to your security model.

If you are already running an on-prem version of SharePoint, you still need sufficient CAL's I think to allow full access for external users though you could make use of the web features that you don't really get in SharePoint Online. Creating a SharePoint instance just to do this I would think very expensive.

Without knowing the design of the database, the interface, the value, the required security, etc. it is pretty impossible to give a definitive answer in the end. I'd probably say that, unless you already have SharePoint and already have the in-house skills for developing it, I would look elsewhere. A decent web developer with SQL skills should be able to build something very quickly indeed.

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They currently have nothing. They are looking to share trackers for ongoing projects with their vendors. Would track costs, completion milestones, and other project management data. Only employees internally and those they wish to give access to this information should be able to have access to it. They do not have a local sharepoint nor do they already use access. So I am starting from scratch. – Pretzel Feb 8 '14 at 19:43

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