Applications Plus Computer Services


Data Management Consulting

Applications Plus can help you with all aspects of your data management needs. There are many topics within the term data management including: data modeling, data warehousing, database administration, data maintenance, and data reporting (or data mining).

Data Modeling

Data Modeling is analyzing the data you want to collect, determining the relationships between it, and designing how it should be stored. This second step (see data reporting below) in creating a database is the most important and where most novices make mistakes. You want to design your tables using data normalization techniques that reduce duplication of data and allow it to be retrieved efficiently. At Applications Plus we like to use Microsoft Access to create a data model for new design. MS Access is perfect for this because you can quickly create and modify table layouts during the design process. The form and report of MS Access features also let you quickly review and test the design. With a completed design we can refine the MS Access database into a completed application or upsize it to something like Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL.

Data Warehousing

Data Warehousing is determining how to store the data so that it can be accessed quickly and easily is important. You want to pick a database program that matches the volume of data to be stored over time. MS Access can handle up to 2 GB of data and technically 255 users. However the actual number of users you would want accessing a database depends on the application and its design. MS SQL Server and MySQL databases can be scaled to handle extremely large amounts of data. For instance MS SQL Server’s documented database size limit is 524,272 terabytes and 32767 users.

Database Administration

A database administrator is responsible for maintaining integrity of the data you’re storing. This includes designing a backup (and restore) scheme, setting up security for access to the data, and analyzing the performance of the database program. MS Access needs very little in the way of administration. You should maintain a regular backup of the database and on occasion run the Compact and Repair function. MS SQL Server and MySQL needs someone in-house to act as a database administrator or contract a service such as Applications Plus to fill this need.

Data Maintenance

Data Maintenance is developing applications to enter and edit your data. You want the interfaces to your data to be as user friendly as possible with built in safeguards to ensure that it is maintained correctly. At Applications Plus we again like to use MS Access at least to prototype a design. It works well in smaller production environments using just Access databases. For larger environments a Access ‘project’ database can be used to maintain a MS SQL Server database. Beyond that you can create Visual Studio applications to access either type of database, especially web based ones.

Data Reporting

Designing printed reports and exports of your data so that you can make use of it. This should actually be the first step in the design of a database. Figure out what you need to know and how those reports should look and be organized. That will let you develop the data that needs to be collected and stored. Another aspect of reporting is called Data Mining. This is figuring out how to analyze and summarize large amounts of data so that it’s easier to see the overall picture. The query and reporting features of MS Access can easily be used on a Access database. When used against MS SQL Server you can use views and stored procedures as the record source for Access’s report engine.

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