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Deploying Microsoft Databases Linked to a SQL Azure Database to Users without SQL Server Installed on their Machine

Written by: Luke Chung, President

Microsoft SQL AzureIntroduction to Linking Microsoft Access Databases to SQL Server on Azure

In my previous paper, I described how to link a Microsoft Access database to a SQL Server database hosted on Microsoft SQL Azure. By using Microsoft's cloud computing Azure platform, your can easily host an enterprise quality SQL Server database with high levels of availability, bandwidth, redundancy, and support. SQL Azure databases range from 1 to 50 GB, and you pay for what you use starting at $10 per month.

Microsoft Access and Cloud ComputingIn that paper, I showed how you needed to have SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) for SQL Server 2008 R2 on your machine to manage a SQL Azure database and create the data source network file (DSN file) to connect to the SQL Azure database. With this file, your Access database can link (or import) data from your SQL Azure database.

So how can you deploy your database to users who don't have SQL Server 2008 installed on their machines?

Deploying the SQL Server 2008 ODBC Driver

Deploying a Microsoft Access database using a SQL Azure database is similar to deploying any Access database using a SQL Server back end database. For our purposes, this can include Access Jet databases linked to SQL Azure tables directly (MDB or ACCDB formats) or your VBA code that references the SQL Server tables via ADO.

The users of your applications do not need to have SQL Server installed on their machines, just the ODBC driver. Once that's installed, they can use your database. If they need to link to the tables from their own database, they simply need to have the DSN File you created along with the password for the database.

How Do I Install the SQL Server 2008 ODBC Driver?

The file you need to run on each machine is the SQL Server client installation program:

sqlncli.msi

You have the right to deploy this if you have SQL Server. This is located in your SQL Server setup program under these folders:

  • 32 bit: \Enterprise\1033_ENU_LP\x86\Setup\x86
  • 64 bit: \Enterprise\1033_ENU_LP\x64\Setup\x64

Run the program and follow the instructions:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client Setup Program
Initial screen of the SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client Setup

For more details, read this MSDN article about Installing SQL Server Native Client. This article also includes silent installation instructions to install the ODBC driver without the user interface prompting your users.

Alternatively, you can download and distribute the SQL Server 2008 R2 Feature Pack

Make Sure Your Users' IP Addresses are Listed on SQL Azure

For security reasons, SQL Azure (like standard SQL Server) lets you specify the IP addresses to allow direct interaction with the database. This is required with SQL Azure. You'll need to specify this in SQL Azure's administration tools if your users are using IP addresses different from yours.

Not sure what your IP address is? Use the WhatsMyIP.org site to get your current IP address.

Conclusion

Hope this helps you create Microsoft Access databases with SQL Server more easily. Good luck and I hope to learn what you're doing or would like to do with Access and Azure.

FMS Development Team BlogBlog about it with me here.


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