Many Irish firms are using the wrong database

6 Feb 2006

Many Irish companies are using a database that is insufficient for their needs, it has been claimed.

TeamDBA, a specialist firm that provides outsourced database administration skills, has said that based on its work with Irish organisations, many are not using the most appropriate technology for their needs.

“A lot of Irish companies are using the wrong database – as the company grows, they may not be addressing the needs for future expansion,” said Kevin O’Connor, sales director with TeamDBA.

According to O’Connor, many Irish organisations start by using Microsoft Access as a database for storing information. The initial advantage with small organisations is that Access is supplied free as part of the Office productivity suite, it requires little maintenance and is easy to use.

However, problems may occur later as a business grows and its information store does likewise. As Access is a desktop-based database, it is unsuitable for the needs of larger companies. “As data grows, each user will have different versions of the data that won’t be compatible with each other,” O’Connor warned.

For example, this could lead to a company accounts department and sales team having different versions of the same information. In addition, as the database resides on every user’s desktop rather than on a central server, it may not be backed up correctly, so that if an individual person’s PC crashed, their version of the data would be lost. “If you lose critical data, that’s the lifeblood of a company,” O’Connor warned.

“Access is an entry-level database – companies need to be looking at [Microsoft] SQL Server or Oracle,” O’Connor urged. There are several advantages to using either of these tools, he said: because they run from a central server, there is only one version of the information. Both tools offer more control to determine what information employees are allowed to view or to change. In addition, the products are not as limited as Access in terms of the amount of information that they can store.

O’Connor emphasised that he was not criticising Access per se. “It is perfect as an entry-level database and for a company that’s going to stay small it’s entirely suitable. For what it is, it’s a very good product,” he pointed out. “Both SQL Server and Oracle will future-proof an organisation [for growth].”

TeamDBA was formed from a buyout of the existing database department within Mentec and its principals have more than 50 years of experience in database administration. The company’s customer base includes government departments, large corporates and SMEs.

By Gordon Smith