Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Universal Help Desk Database Access Tool Using C# and WEB Services on the .NET Platform

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Universal Help Desk Database Access Tool Using C# and WEB Services on the .NET Platform

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the process of the software development and maintenance, there is continuous need for monitoring database changes and investigating data changes and data consistency. Discovered errors are usually reported in the separate report and corrected by a development/maintenance team.

The next section "Background of the Problem" discusses the problem background in more details. The sections from "Relational Database System" to "Alternative Development Tools" present an overview of the currently available technologies and methodologies for project implementation.

The "Architecture and Design" section presents project architecture, design and database model overview.

Background of the Problem

In the development environment, tools delivered as a part of the database software and installed on each of the developer's machines usually access to the database data that are located somewhere somewhere on the local area network (LAN). Accessing data in the development environment is not an issue. Different support teams make necessary LAN and tools settings and help the development team to accomplish the tasks.

In the production environment, end user usually reports data inconsistency through Help Desk. Help Desk reports errors to the project contacts or development/maintenance team and the process of the error correction starts. The first addressed problem and one of the most important parts of the error correction process is collection of the relevant information and error recreation in the controlled environment.

For this purpose, more and more applications are using Web interface, browser, for monitoring limited set of the most important database tables. Using ASP or JSP technology within advance known monitored tables, columns and search conditions usually develops these applications as a part of the current project. If the data model is changed, then these applications shall be changed too; coded, built, deployed and tested again and again. This process is a waste of time and money and in some cases when error occurs is usually too late for a fast answer to the changed requirement.

Using another database access tool such as Enterprise Managers, TOAD, ORACLE DBA Studio, DB2 Command Centre, PL/SQL or online SQL queries are limited to the current LAN configuration. Dislocated databases, different networks, different customers and security reasons seriously limit the use of these tools. In the case when application data and development/maintenance team are located in the different companies or are divided by networks boundaries, data is extracted in one place and sent to another location by using mail or another data transport layer. If it is not sufficient, then it requests another data extraction and data sending process is repeated until cause of error is discovered and corrected. This process is time consuming and error prone too. And it can cause loss of profits in the case of the serious application errors.

Another problem is that in the production environment, access to the data is restricted. There are several different reasons. One of the important reasons is the protection of the sensitive business information, even in the case when the Help Desk or development/maintenance team is part of the same company. Statistics shows that 80 percent of the security breaches are done from inside of the company. The other reasons may be intentional and non-intentional production data corruption or deletion, dislocation of the databases and restriction to the data access across network boundaries.

Accessing the databases in the dislocated networks, by using standard database tools delivered by database vendors or third parties, could be a problem even in the Internet world of the global network communications, because these databases are usually located behind the firewalls and proxy servers. To be able to access this data there has to be additional ports open in the firewalls and provided authorization for accessing internal networks, which can cause serious security breaches and increase maintenance expenses. …

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