Hi all, I'm a new poster here, and while I'm the office whiz with IT and 'Databases' I recognize I'm really a very basic DB admin. I've worked a little in some of the desktop DB's and have decided to grow my skills by building / managing a new database for the office.

At the moment we use Maximizer and it covers many of our basic needs quite well. Contacts, emailing, basic invoicing and contract documents.

I'd like to build something that meets our needs better today, and tomorrow, and have taken a couple of SQL classes to get me started. Now I'm left with way more questions than answers. Not surprising I'm sure. I'll take more classes next term, but I'm hoping to get help here to get me started in the right direction.

--- The more I read what I wrote below, the more I recognize the challenge I've set for myself, and the scope of what I'm asking for here in the forum. Perhaps it's hilarious, if so enjoy!

Currently the bulk of our business offers post secondary training to individuals and businesses. Initially in North America, but now more over seas. This is where we are getting stretched the most administratively.

Ideally, as the project evolves, I'd like to be able to do a few things in particular with this new database or databases. Mainly in-house sales and administration functions, and ongoing contact and update functions ideally via the web. Some remote access for limited functions for an affiliate or contractor.

1. Use the database for regular sales and admin functions at our main office. With improved invoicing and targeted record keeping.

2. Offer limited remote access for what are essentially affiliates/contractors of the business in different countries to some of the above in #1 for their region.

3. Offer various functions online for past and present clients to update contact info and various information about themselves and their services.

4. Offer web users the ability to search though the list of our past clients looking for the consultant and services that matches their needs in some sort of 'marketplace'.

Q1. Is the above a reasonable set of requirements? #1 should be quite doable, I figure you guys do this in your sleep, kind of. But what about 2, 3 and 4? Can they share the same core contact data but be compartmentalized based on the end user requirements?

Q2. Can I use something like a Open Office Base for the front end in the office and MySQL for the store of the tables? (I'd like to spend as little as possible on software)

Q3. When it comes to 2, 3, and 4 am I looking at PHP and web pages. Can I use something like the offerings at Zoho to cover some of these needs? Or should I reconsider paying for a prebuilt template offering and customizing to suit.

Q4. I don't expect a large amount of traffic, currently less than 2-3000 users/contacts at best, is this more significant than I understand?

Q5. Just how challenging will it be to create a safe web front end for the affiliates and contacts? I imagine it is going to require an admin beyond my abilities any time soon, what sort of hourly commitment is probably necessary?

Q6. I found an awesome site Library of Free Data Models from DatabaseAnswers.org anybody have some similar favorites?

Thanks and appreciation in advance for any help, suggestions and responses or post re-directions.

Humbly yours,