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Our school in Delhi (India) wants to develop a professional and robust in-house database (SIS) that should handle vast amount of student information, including admissions, registration, re-enrollment, student behavior management and grading. We noticed that over-the-shelf products are unable to complete our specific tasks without major customization and costs. Hence, we decided to develop this ourselves since we have full control as to how we want our information to be reported to our education board (as per their specifications) and have control on our complex grading system (which is continuously updated to meet the dynamic benchmark needs of our education board).

We have begun using MS Access and is still in the primary stages of development. We want to know whether we should use MS Acess as a front-end and MS SQL as a back-end DB since we want to accomplish the following:

  1. Ability for 80+ employee users to simultaneously access, post, update and delete customer records within the SIS DB (on campus).
  2. Ability for our SIS DB to have web-based functionality with a student login portal integrated within our school website so 1080+ students can simultaneously access a specific web-based DB form from their homes (by using the student login portal) for updating personal records, checking grades, and other performance summaries.
  3. Ability for our SIS DB to be highly secure and functional 24/7 without interruptions and security breeches (we read that MS Access alone cannot accomplish this).
  4. Ability to integrate our SIS DB with another in-house database that will provide digital learning materials to students within the comfort of their homes (also accessed through student login portal). The digital learning materials DB is another DB we are creating that should have ability to store 100 GBs worth of multi-media materials.
  5. Ability for data to be quickly pulled from tables to the GUI without delay.

A major factor for our school in this matter is COST. They want to create the DB under USD 1,500 and would like to have many users being able to access this system at the same time. Please help me to decide how I should go about this situation, both performance-wise and cost-wise. I apologize for the long details provided. I am really confused and would deeply appreciate if any one could help me on this matter.

In addition, we wanted our forms to be professional like the ones seen in major DB systems. We noticed that Access can create forms but only to a certain extent. Is there any other system programming-friendly platforms we can use for creating highly complex and professional DB forms (lke Visual Studio, for example)? Help on this subject as well will be extremely appreciated.


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migrated from Feb 28 '14 at 7:09

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marked as duplicate by Max Vernon, Paul White, ypercubeᵀᴹ, Kin, Mark Storey-Smith May 7 '14 at 5:28

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You might want to take a look at Moodle, and other frameworks for school management systems. you can then adapt such a system to your needs. – serakfalcon Jan 20 '14 at 4:53
Our school wants to build their own digital learning DB since they want it protected due to their intellectual property that will be used. They want the DB to reside on the school's local server so faculty can use the materials in their classroom instruction via smartboards. They also want the DB to have web functionality for students to access faculty-submitted learning materials (videos, study notes, lecture notes, supplemental readings) from home. Please suggest how we go about this and will it be achieved with MS Acess as front-end in DB (for GUI) and MS SQL Server as back-end in DB? – user3213735 Jan 20 '14 at 5:11
If you worry about cost, google sql server express. It scales pretty well – vasin1987 Jan 20 '14 at 12:07

I would highly not recommend you to use Access for this task - Access is not capable of scaling to a large amount of users - it is not a full RDBMS (relational database management system). If cost is the main issue, I would recommend developing the system using MySQL and php. You can create a professional web interface that can be accessed by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users if scaled properly. As for your costs, using MySQL and php can be downloaded for free and you may be able to find consultant developers who would complete your project for that budget, but I would not expect an amazing website or system.

If you are truly worried about cost, you should also consider the costs of all the MS Access licenses you would have to buy for everyone to access the system - each one of them would need a license if you were to legally use the software.

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access with a SQL back-end can definitely handle more than 1 user input at a time, especially if the forms are built right, but I wouldn't trust it for more than 20-30 users at a time, anyways. – serakfalcon Jan 20 '14 at 4:56
Thanks for the info - I never scaled Access to that large of a project - when we moved to multi-users, I switched to SQL Server and .NET. Will update. – PressingOnAlways Jan 20 '14 at 4:58
Thanks for the reply. But I am confused about you mentioning MySQL - I was referring to using MySQL Server as the back-end of my DB and MS Access as the front-end since MS Access provides GUI capabilities (not seen in MS SQL Server). Please reply back. thanks – user3213735 Jan 20 '14 at 5:05
Our school wants the SIS DB to reside in their local MS Small Business Server 2008 so that it can be accessed by 80+ users simultaenously on campus but they want it to have web-functionality for students to acceses SIS DB info from home. Hence, MySQL + PHP combo for designing the DB may not be great for us. Any other suggestions? - Ankith – user3213735 Jan 20 '14 at 5:14
if the SQL-SERVER license isn't an issue...there you have your DB, really for you task SQL-SERVER, MySQL, PostGreSQL or another RDBM would be fine, for my experience 1000 users isnt a great deal yet – Emilio Gort Jan 20 '14 at 5:27

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