To everyone wishing they could use their Microsoft Office Access database to build a Web app, your savior has arrived. Zoho has introduced a plugin to migrate Access databases on to their platform. Once migrated, they can be used to build database applications through the Zoho Creator interface.

The new plugin is just one part of a larger strategy by Zoho to integrate with Microsoft, in the hopes that they can encourage converts to their SaaS products. The boon for those who use Access databases is that they can now easily translate their data tables into applications, which can be served through Zoho at little or no cost.

Zoho is one of the leading providers of SaaS collaborative tools for the enterprise and consumers alike. Since their advent in 2005, they’ve created some of the most useful productivity apps available online, and their platform as a whole shows promise.

But to compete further with Microsoft, they’ve recently taken to integrating with their competitor. Late last month, they even added support for SharePoint, despite a staunch belief in the superiority of SaaS.

From Desktop Database to Web App

Microsoft Access is a simple, WYSIWYG interface for creating a database. While technically you can make Access data public through SharePoint Services, actually building a working application on the Web is basically impossible out of the box.

The best options for moving your Access database onto the Web have long been either MySQL or PostgreSQL, which are frankly beyond the capabilities of many people who find Microsoft Access an attractive tool.

Enter Zoho’s migration plugin.

In a process that takes relatively little time, Zoho will take your database and place it within the grasp of your Zoho Creator account. Once it’s been migrated to their servers, you can collaborate on the data tables with your colleagues and easily build applications for your business. Controls for how much of the database you share are reasonably fine grained, with three levels of access.

If you’re not developing an app solely for within a company, you can additionally publish your work through the Zoho Marketplace or run it on the Google App Engine.

Microsoft Access is a fairly painless way for enterprise users, many of whom are still tied to Microsoft by IT and management, to build simple databases. But there’s never been a particularly easy method for sharing those databases and doing something really useful with them. While it might also be attractive to developers aiming at the consumer Web, Zoho’s plugin will best aid businesses with databases that have had nowhere to move forward.