Browser-based admin tool for SQL Server, why?

Yesterday I did a webcast for SQL Server MVPs. Boy I cannot get enough of talking to this group. They are an amazing group of people who have incredible passion for the product. Anyway, during the web cast I was asked if and when we'll do a browser-based admin tool for SQL Server. In hindsight I don't think I gave this question the appropriate answer. So let me set the record straight. Internally we've had numerous discussions about shipping a browser-based admin tool for SQL Server. We always start out with it's a good idea and we should do it. But we always end with not doing it.

I think the key is we don't really understand the scenarios where a browser-based admin tool is preferable to a thick client. I'm a strong advocate of browser-based apps. Honestly I hate installing software on my machine. But for the SQL Server Admin, isn't a client tool necessary?

I realize in the hosted space a thick client may not be practical. The hosted space has an entire set of unique requirements so let's put them aside for this conversation.

So here's my request. Post here or send me (using the send email link on the left nav) the reasons why we should do a browser-based admin tool. In the context of the SQL Server admin (i.e. DBA) what are the scenarios where the browser is better than a thick client? In short, convince me to make it a priority! J

Comments (8)

  1. Ti says:

    You should not put hosted spaces aside. That’s important if you want to get more marketshare. Basically you need to look beyond the enterprise. How about students? How about beginners? How about businesses that use others to host?

    Even in the enterprise, what about if you are on the travel and something needs fixed real quick on SQL Server? Doing tasks in Remote Desktop is slow. Web-based SQL Server will greatly help this.

    Afterall Why not? It could only make SQL Server more attractive? Why it always have to be other companies to do it first then you do it?

  2. I put the hosted space aside not based on importance, but because the needs are different. You make a bunch of general claims and assumptions (e.g. it could only make SQL Server more attractive. beginners). I want to know why you think this. Why is a browser-based interface better for beginners? We have finite resources and there are numerous ideas for what we could devote those resources to. What I want it why I should devote them to a browser-based interface.

  3. Ti says:

    I didn’t say it is better for beginners. Sorry for the confusion. I was saying along the lines that those people who use hosters have higher needs than you do.

    The thing is because your company is all using Microsoft and everything is provided for. You can use thick client in the campany, VPN to use thick client. Because of that, you may feel no needs, because you don’t need.

    Why this matter? Because certian companies may need to acess SQL Server from outside for various reasons and that is not easy with firewall, MIS and all the stuff. Browser-based allows to provide “more access”. It’s like a “complement”

    May be you should ask Outlook team. They have Outlook and Outlook Web Access.

  4. I don’t think that that tool would even work for a lot of people because of security

    Our SQL servers can not be accessed from the outside at all

    Even from the inside only certain machines can connect to the SQL server machines in the DMZ. The only way is to use VPN to terminal service into your own workstation and connect from there.


  5. grauenwolf says:

    I used to work with Oracle and I hated their browser based admin tool. Even more, I hated the idea that a database would require installing a web server.

    I wouldn’t be upset if a browser based tool existed, but I don’t see any point in one and would be very upset if the only way to do my job required it.

    What does the browser give you? The only thing I can think of is shortcuts. The UI capabilties are certinaly inferior, and I can already control a remote box over the internet.

  6. KFreedman says:

    I’d prefer SQL NOT have a web front end and if it does, make it an optional install. I am a DBA in a reasonably large enterprise (10 SQL clusters in production, 20 stand alones just at corporate). We have enough of a problem keeping people from doing things they shouldn’t in databases. Making so that NO type of client is required to administer the database just sounds like a bad idea to me. (I understand that this implies we have security problems with our process).

    I’ve been doing admin and development work in SQL for over 10 years. I haven’t really found any limitations to the client based app in an enterprise environment. I never find my self wishing for a web front end. That said, I usually have lots of vpn, citrix and remote desktop options when I’m away from the office.

  7. Venkata N Thiagarajan says:

    Since SQL Server 2005 can listen to HTTP Endpoints.  Creating a WEB based frontend is not a bad idea.

    Best Regards

  8. For the record, I work for a, um, really, really big domain registrar and hosting company, which is also a Microsoft Gold partner.  I manage some of our largest, busiest databases.  And we have a *lot* of SQL Servers (though I probably shouldn’t say how many).  As such, I was really drawn to the “don’t talk about hosting!” part of this thread.  Sorry.  :o)

    In my opinion, the hosting space is perhaps the ONLY place where this makes much sense.  As others have noted, SQL Servers are (or had better be) locked down on a secure network so that they are not accessible from the Internet.  This implies that to administer a SQL Server, I need to be on a “safe” network.  In this case, using a thick client is probably just fine.  I, for one, would not want to give up the functionality of a thick client when I’m onsite at work.  When I’m VPN’ed into our network, it is pretty easy to RDP to an internal workstation and use SQL EM / SQL MS from there.  

    But customers who purchase SQL Server hosting on shared servers frequently DO need to access their databases over the Internet.  However, even in the hosting space, there would be special needs, especially with respect to security.  It would be best to have it run on an app server that is accessible from the Internet, and then have THAT used to connect to SQL Servers that are otherwise NOT accessible from the Internet.  And SSL would be way past mandatory.

    I agree that a Web-based client would be nice, but I think it’s far more important to make a really, really good thick client for SQL Server admin.  I realize that when you said you wanted to set the hosting space aside, you meant for the purpose of this discussion only.  But if you do start to develop a Web-based SQL Admin tool, please pay close attention to the hosting space.


    Chris Leonard

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