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Hosting desktop applications with SQL Express in the Cloud

Using cloud based services to host SQL Server Standard or SQL Server Express databases is commonplace and you can take your pick of companies offering this service.  Often these are used to work with hosted web applications where the application server, database server, and web server all reside on the same network in the same data centre.

Hosted SQL Server or SQL Express databases can also be used as the database source for desktop applications where the desktop “client” application is separated from the SQL Server backend database by the public Internet.   It is here that the spectre of poor or unreliable bandwidth and network latency can have a severe impact on the performance of the application.

Having plenty of bandwidth is only half the battle.   Transactional database applications are sometimes described as “Chatty” in that a simple function to the user may involve dozens or hundreds of “conversations” between the application and the database.   The impact of network latency is therefore multiplied many times.

In the modern workplace users may not be in a single office with a fast internet pipe to the hosted SQL Server backend, they may be working from home or out in the field, and it can’t be assumed that they will always have a reasonably fast internet connection, or even a reliable one.

How to cut out the network latency when using hosted SQL Server or SQL Server Express

With the web application scenario at the top of the piece all the components reside on the same local area network (LAN), i.e. in the data centre, only the (comparatively slow) user input travels over the internet.   So the simple way to solve this problem with a desktop client/server application is to put the client application on the same LAN as the database.   How can you do this with remote workers?   Well, the answer is some tried and tested technology that has been around for over 20 years.   Terminal Services, now called Remote Desktop Services, enables the user to run the application remotely.   The client application sits on the remote desktop server (Terminal Server).   The SQL Server or SQL Express database is on either the same server or another on the same network.   So, the network latency between the client application and the SQL database is negligible.

Using Hosted Desktops to host SQL Express or SQL Server applications

By using a “hosted” remote desktop provider you can run your SQL Server Express or SQL Server Standard application on a remote desktop server “in the cloud”.   The provider will include all the infrastructure necessary to run, maintain, and support your remote desktop server and SQL Server as well as the ability to access it over the internet.   Terminal services was designed in the days when people connected to the internet using modems, so doesn’t particularly need high bandwidth.

Other benefits of hosting your SQL Server Express or SQL Server Standard application on a hosted desktop service

SQL Server Standard is not the cheapest of products to licence.   This is further complicated by the fact that it can either be licenced “per user” or “Per processor core”, and the licences are usually perpetual.   For large organisations with deep pockets this may be fine, but for SMEs it doesn’t offer much flexibility if user numbers change.
Many hosted desktop providers have the flexibility to rent SQL Server licences on a per user basis which means no matter how much your user numbers increase or decrease you only pay for what you need.
Hosting your SQL Server based application on a hosted desktop service also means no upfront investment in expensive hardware for your SQL database.   Day to day support costs should also be included.

Discuss your requirements with a technical sales consultant at Your Office Anywhere who can architect the right solution for your application.

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