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Is Sharepoint the right platform for this client?

Posted on 2011-02-15
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I have a client who has an in house program created in excel and visual basic that they are thinking about trying to move to a hosted solution.  Is that the right path for them?  Any alternate suggestions?

See original email I received below giving better detail:

As you are aware, we have several 'home grown' database apps that we use in conjunction with Peachtree Accounting to manage our business.
 
One of them is our Estimator.  This is an application that Jxx developed several years ago and has continued to tweak and enhance.  It is primarily an Excel spreadsheet with a lot of Visual Basic that has been incorporated to automate various elements of our estimating and job creation process.
 
We want to know how best to transition this to something that is not dependant on being physically in the office and attached to the LAN.  We would like some thoughts on use of
1.) rented server space from someone such as Sago Networks;  
2.)  use of Microsoft SharePoint; other options that we aren't aware of.  We have used GoToMyPC with reasonable success, but the primary users of this app no longer have desktop machines at the office for a connection.
 
How would you suggest we start the process of evaluation?


Most of their users are transitioning to laptop computers and taking them home with them in the evening.
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Question by:resinate
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Expert Comment

by:KoenVosters
ID: 34904964
Honestly, no expert will be able to give you a good answer with the specifications you are giving right now :)

A lot depends on the functionalities that you have in there and what the end users expect. All you have given right now are some technical specifications why you want this to be moved to SharePoint. And that Sharepoint has an advantage here, sure, but to be blunt I can't say it is the best solution with the information I got :)

Secondly, I've seen quite of those excel applications in my life and most of the time the only person who understands them is the person who built them. So I would take a lot of time (when you plan this project) to understand what is going on in it :p
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Accepted Solution

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rseabird earned 125 total points
ID: 34905034
Depends what else they want to do. It seems that the Excel workbook works as a kind of an application. I am not sure what they exactly want with that. Storing the Excel file somewhere central or do they want to get it as a web application?
SharePoint is a tool for collaboration on document and information as well as a social computing platform.
Seems to me that you need to create a web based version of that Excel workbook. To deploy it inside SharePoint or not depends on what they want to do more with SharePoint. Or, that's a possibility too, you can use SharePoint 2010 as a kind of database (able to create/use relations between lists) and build your application around those lists.
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Assisted Solution

by:KoenVosters
KoenVosters earned 125 total points
ID: 34905049
Or you create the excel by code using OpenXML and push it to a document library. You might even not need an excel and just a webpage displaying the results. You might not need SharePoint but you could build a custom web app..

That's why I'm saying that we need more info :)
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Author Comment

by:resinate
ID: 34920248
After further inquiry, my client is looking to just move what they currently have to a online server platform of some sort that will run the program online and allow multiple users access to the program.

It appears to be an excel spreadsheet with externally linked visual basic databases that up to 4-5 people are able to access at one time.

Not looking to rewrite program right now.

See Q&A string below:

1.       How many people currently access the estimator program?  Are they concurrent users (accessing at same time or one at a time?)
Generally not more than 4 simultaneous users and it varies greatly over the course of the day.
 
2.        Is the visual basic databases embedded in the excel spreadsheet or is the database externally linked?  
I believe they are externally linked.  I know that the output of the application the user's machine writes back to database(s) on the server
 
3.       Are you looking to develop the excel application as a web based application? Or just move what you have to a server that can be accesses offsite?
I think the preference now would be to move what we have to a server that can be accessed from offsite.
 
4.       Any additional functionality to be added to the application?
I don't think that would be part of this project.  It would probably be determined based on what would make sense at the time.  The important elements here are data security, data integrity, minimizing lag for the remote exchanges to take place.  We have experimented with VPN and FTP connections on the existing SNAP Server but there were substantial lags in the processing times.
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