A spreadsheet is a wondrous thing. It is a better calculator than a calculator, it is a better store of information than a scrap of paper (usually) it is a better database than no database at all, but its database abilities are very much in question.
In the following we attempt to explain why a spreadsheet will struggle to perform the task of even the simplest database.
Writing really useful software is difficult. Programming languages are hard to master, and database development is harder as it requires skills in at least two areas: coding and data modelling. For this reason it is tempting to use a familiar "programming" tool to attempt to reach a solution. Spreadsheets are often pushed into service for this reason.
Spreadsheets are possibly, after word-processors and email, the type of software tool we are most familiar with. We are aware of the power they have to deliver ad-hoc solutions to a problem, and we are tempted to apply them to problems that perhaps they do not lend themselves to.
The answer to this is a reluctant yes. A tiny simple database can be setup in Excel, but it is likely that there are better alternative approaches.
Databases can fulfil a critical role in an organisation, and in the past this has been reflected in the way database applications and their data have been secured, safeguarded, and generally protected in every way possible from threats.
Well managed databases are backed up, they run over secure networks, only trusted users have access to them, and the hardware they run on is under lock and key.
Ironically, though databases are arguably more important to businesses now, it seems likely that vast numbers of these systems will disappear.
Business servers will be phased out and shut down. Backup repositories will be destroyed, and their data wiped, and software and hardware companies will have to make fundamental changes to the way they operate.
The reason there are such clouds on the horizon for the IT industry can be attributed (ironically) to progress, and something called Cloud Computing.
Cloud computing will result in software running not on the client computer (the local PC) but on some distant server, not necessarily in the same country.
Computer users will pay for software on a per-use basis. And when they no longer want to pay, the service will be withdrawn.
Likewise, data will be stored remotely, and paid for per month per gigabyte
This has enormous implications for the way software is used. Potentially it may save users money. It may - at the very least- raise a minefield of security and intellectual property issues.