In order to minimize the development and debugging efforts, a project like this would ideally use as much ``off-the-shelf'' technology as possible.
We first considered using a commercial DBMS, due to the many available options: file/server systems such as FoxPro or MS-Access and client/server systems such as Oracle, Sybase or SQL-Server. However, it soon became apparent that a file-server solution would not perform adequately in a modem-based network. Also, of the client/server technologies, only Oracle offered a cryptographically secured solution (Secure Oracle). While this appeared to be a sound technology, the licensing costs alone would have exceeded the total project budget.
Not only was price a significant problem, but we were also unsure of the performance implications of running Oracle's SQL*Net protocol over a 30kbps link. SQL*Net is designed for a LAN environment, where 1Mbps can usually be sustained for the life of a transaction.
There had to be a better way!