Select Page
What Are My ERP Private Cloud Options

What Are My ERP Private Cloud Options

Not All Clouds are Created Equal: Reviewing Your ERP Private Cloud Options

 

It’s no secret that cloud computing has been increasingly finding its way into businesses by providing reliable solutions to increasingly challenging problems.  But for ERP customers with complex environment maps, an unmitigated move to the cloud might feel risky.  For this reason, some customers look for middle options between full cloud deployments and on-premise installations.  Private cloud hosting is one such midpoint, and it’s not uncommon for customers to approach the opportunities of cloud computing in search of a private solution.  But will this option leverage the obvious benefits of the cloud, while effectively providing the necessary support for your complex ERP ecosystem?

 

Your ERP installation is rarely an isolated entity—it is part of an integrated ecosystem of applications and processes, with various third parties, bolt-ons, and in-house applications interacting with the core ERP system.  As such, an ERP system is not always easily extracted from its ecosystem, as such an extraction is something akin to major surgery.  If you’re looking at handling this complexity with private cloud ERP deployment options, there are basically two management directions you can take.  You can build a private cloud using AWS, Azure, or Google, or you can work with an already established team of experts in private cloud hosting.  Let’s explore these options in greater detail.

 

Private Cloud in AWS/Azure/Google

 

The big players in cloud computing entered the application hosting game a while ago – Amazon, Azure, and now Google.  The option here would be to build out your virtual machine architecture within one of these clouds, and install your applications within this architecture, while working in turn to integrate your company-specific application ecosystem with the new ERP infrastructure.

 

While this eliminates the hardware investment of an on-premise install, you are still responsible for all the administration activities, at the server, application, and database levels.  And if your Epicor Admin should win the lottery, you are left scrambling for options.  If you lack the internal resources and need to bring in assistance in the administration of the application, you are now adding another party to work within this ecosystem.  Moreover, to your monolithic cloud provider, you are still just a number, and the service levels you can expect to receive will indicate as much.  Will the hosting company be responsive and listen to your apps and your business needs?  Is there a human voice to reach out to when issues occur?

 

Private Cloud Through the Estes Group’s ECHO Managed Hosting

 

EstesGroup’s EstesCloud Hosting, or ECHO for short, is our hosting platform. For one monthly price, we include all the functionality and support you need to keep your hosted applications running properly for your business.  While providing the access level that companies look for in private cloud solutions, we also provide the support and expertise that a big box store cloud partner can’t provide.  One phone call puts you in touch with our support team.  Well-versed in Microsoft’s full stack, we cover your servers with 24x7x365 EstesCloud Monitoring.  We cover the backups and disaster recovery, and we protect your users with EstesCloud identity management under the security of EstesCloud-managed Firewalls.

 

We have experience in moving many customers to a private cloud environment, while working with them to integrate their hosted ERP platform with their family of related applications.  With this experience comes the knowledge in working with protocols, networks, VPNs, and database connections, and we leverage this knowledge when engaging a customer.

 

In summary, some of the benefits of the EstesGroup’s ECHO Private Cloud Hosting solution include:

  • Known monthly expense, with no large capital expenses
  • Growth with your business supported by continual and customized service
  • Proven backup and disaster recovery playbooks
  • Easy, secure access from anywhere you wish
  • No Server Maintenance
  • No need to upgrade or repair hardware

 

When it comes to deploying your ERP architecture, there are clearly a number of different options, and the implications of the decisions made will have a lasting effect on your company’s future.  Are you considering spinning up your own private cloud to host your ERP application?  Drop us a line first, and let us help you explore your options.

Interested in learning more about Managed Hosting for Epicor ERP or Prophet 21 ERP?

 

Visit our Managed Epicor ERP Hosting page

Visit our Managed Prophet 21 ERP Hosting page

Manufacturers are in Love with Epicor ERP

Manufacturers are in Love with Epicor ERP

ERP!  ERP!  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!

 

I’ve often remarked that the best way to get a company to fall in love with their legacy ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is to implement a new one.  When I was a customer, we moved from one of Baan’s flagship products to Epicor’s Vantage 803.  ERP implementation is an exercise in nostalgia…  With uh or ah or awe, does anyone out there remember Baan, or Vantage, for that matter?

 

I do remember the end user community at cutover:  “Well, back in the Baan days we could do this, and we could that, and oh, I miss the Baan days…”— Folks who had never had a good thing to say about their enterprise system were suddenly swooning over it, now that it was on the outs.

 

Having heard nothing but complaints about our legacy ERP up until cutover, I didn’t know what to tell them.  At a loss for words, I found myself quoting Lord Alfred Tennyson: “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

 

I soon discovered that most end users in your average manufacturing company are not especially fond of nineteenth century British Romanticism, especially at cutover weekend.

 

Most companies don’t exactly love their ERP systems, even in a friendlies sort of way.  I knew one fellow who had the source code of his ERP heavily modified to suit his exact needs.  Of course, he loved his ERP—every time he used it, he was looking in a mirror.

 

For the rest of us, ERP is more like finding a roommate rather than a soulmate.

 

Even still, there are a lot of things about Epicor ERP’s Epicor 10 platform that can spur admiration—even affection.  Last year, I wrote an article about Epicor’s E10 platform, looking to answer the question: “what’s it good for anyway?” It turns out that E10 is good for a lot of things:

 

In this series, we will further expound on the core capabilities mentioned above, and work to explain how these capabilities distinguish Epicor E10 from its competitors.

 

What’s it good for anyway?

 

Companies in the midst of a software selection cycle are looking for things to love about a given system—things that will differentiate an ERP system from its competitors and that will ultimately help raise the business to greater levels of performance.  With the New Year moving right along and Valentine’s Day on the horizon, are you ready to love your ERP in 2020 style?   Whether you’re looking for some new Epicor E10 roomies or looking for someone to draw hearts around a new flame of a system, the EstesGroup team is ready to help you love the ERP you’re with.

Interested in learning more about Epicor ERP 10 and how it improves manufacturing companies?

Download our Epicor ERP Manufacturer’s Packet.

Configuring Epicor 10 ERP to Launch a Form’s Custom Version

Configuring Epicor 10 ERP to Launch a Form’s Custom Version

Making a form custom version in Epicor ERP gives businesses the information and flexibility they need to succeed. 

 

While administering our ECHO Epicor Hosting platform, we’ve had customers frequently ask us to help them configure the system to utilize a customized version of an entry form or tracker in all instances of the application.  At the menu level, this is rudimentary—locate all instances of the form in question and be sure to select the appropriate customization layer.  But there are times specifically when the customer wants the custom form to surface either when launching from another form using the handy “open with” functionality, or else when launching a form from the MES interface, and handling these cases requires additional setup activities.   

 

In the following example, I went through the steps of creating a customized version of Epicor 10 ERP’s Job Tracker, and then set up the system to launch the custom version using “open with” and MES. 

 

First, I created a simple customization of the Job Tracker Form: 

Nextwhile still in developer mode, I tried to open the Job Tracker from Job Entry, using the “Open With…” capability: 

When trying to perform an “Open With…” in developer mode, the system presents the Process Calling information, which denotes the specific Menu ID (JCGO3003).  It is this menu ID that is called when performing an “Open With“: 

located the menu ID (JCGO3003) in menu maintenance, and bound my customization to that specific menu ID: 

Once the customization has been bound to the primary menu ID, launching the Job Tracker from any other form (such as the Job Receipt to Inventory form)… 

…will launch the customized version of the form: 

Even launching the form from MES… 

will now bring up the custom version: 

In working with our Epicor ERP hosted customers, we’ve found that the accumulation of simple adjustments, such as the one described above, can greatly improve the user experience.

 

Are you looking to make better use of your Epicor application?  Give us a call or let us know in the form below. 

 

12 Days of ECHO, Third Day: Some Notes on Epicor ERP Auto-Login and SysConfig!

12 Days of ECHO, Third Day: Some Notes on Epicor ERP Auto-Login and SysConfig!

On the Third Day of ECHO, my sys admin gave to me, swift yet safe: Auto-Login in Epicor 10.1 and beyond.

 

Interacting with technology can become a perpetual struggle between ease-of-use and security-of-use.  The two seem at odds, such that increases in security reduce the ease-of-use, and vice versa.  I once worked for a company that increased security after a user opened an infected email attachment and blew up her computer.  Thereafter, all email attachments were cloud-scanned before anyone could open them.  Safe—but now it took an extra five minutes to view an attachment.  We used to joke to ourselves that our network admin was going over the files byte-by-byte with a pair of tweezers in one hand and a scalpel in the other.

 

That is to say, Epicor users generally like things quick and dirty, while admins like things safe and clean.  Early versions of Epicor adhered to the quick and dirty principle: In early versions of Epicor, automatically logging into Epicor, in the absence of a single sign-on setup, was relatively easy—it was as simple as plugging the user ID and password into the .sysconfig file:

<userSettings>

<!– provide values for UserID and Password to enable auto-login –>

<UserID value=”manager” />

<Password value=”manager” />

 

This capability was especially helpful for those interacting with the system via Epicor’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or Handheld (HH) clients.  But storing plain-text passwords in a configuration file has long been anathema to system administrators.  As such, starting in version Epicor 10.1, a number of changes were made to improve Epicor’s security architecture.  As part of this effort, the ability to store passwords as plain-text in .sysconfig files was removed.  It was replaced with a more elegant means of achieving the same ends through the application itself.  The setup requires steps from both the Epicor administrator and the end user.

 

Epicor Administrator:

 

To allow users to auto-login, perform the following steps, while logged in as a security manager:

  • Open the “Password Policy” form (located under System Setup > Security Maintenance).
  • Select the “Allow save password” checkbox and save.

Epicor End User:

 

For those who intend to utilize auto-login capability, users must save their credentials in the following manner:

  • Log into the workstation as you normally would, using your Epicor username and password.
  • From the Epicor Homepage, click the “Settings” tile:
  • Select the “Preferences” option:
  • This will open the Preferences window. Select the “Automatic sign on” checkbox and click the “OK” button to commit the changes:

The next time the user logs in, the auto-login functionality will be invoked. 

 

Note: The above user steps can only be done after the Epicor admin has performed the necessary prerequisite steps, else the user will receive the error below:

As part of our ECHO Epicor managed hosting solution, we’ve helped a number of customers migrate from Epicor’s older config file-based methodology to its current auto-login configuration.  The above configuration is a one-time “set it and forget it” activity, which allows the user to utilize the auto-login functionality without issue.  In this way, Epicor has devised a solution that improves security without impeding ease-of-use—it is swift, yet safe.

 

If you liked reading the “Third Day of ECHO” return to our main list to read all of the other “12 Days of ECHO” posts.

 

Do you have questions or need assistance with your Epicor system?  Please feel free to Contact Us and see if we can help get your bits and bytes in order.

12 Days of ECHO, First Day: Relating Epicor Extended Tables via SysRowID

12 Days of ECHO, First Day: Relating Epicor Extended Tables via SysRowID

On the first day of ECHO, my admin gave to me, some notes about my SysRowID! 

 

Relating Epicor Extended Tables via SysRowID 

 

As part of an ERP implementation, it’s not uncommon for companies to find the need to store information that does not easily fit into the ERP system’s existing database schema.  Fortunately, Epicor ERP offers a robust ability to extend an existing database table and add fields to store custom data, to better address the requirements of an implementing company, and The Estes Group’s Echo hosting platform completely supports these critical capabilities.  

 

On the technical side, adding UD fields to an existing table actually creates a new table in the Epicor database, a table that is structured to relate back to the original “parent table.”  While two tables exist at the database level, the data model at the application level presents the two tables as a single unified entity, which allows customers to interact with the standard and custom data through BPMs, BAQs and form customizations, as if they were working against a single table. 

 

While this capability is of great utility, there are times when an ERP administrator may have a need to compare child and parent tables, for administrative purposes.  As such, it is helpful to understand the architecture for relating standard Epicor tables to their UD children at the application and database level.  The following example intends to serve this purpose.  

 

Adding UD fields to the Epicor ERP application is done though the “User Defined Column Maintenance” form.  In the following example, I added a UD field to the standard Epicor ERP Part table: 

Once UD fields are added to one or more tables, the administrator needs to regenerate the data model from the Epicor Administration Console on the AppServer.  In the example, I regenerated the data model as follows:

Performing the above tasks adds a “Part_UD” table to the Epicor database:

It also synchronizes the application’s data model with the database:

In the following example, I went on to query the Part UD table.  Note the “ForeignSysRowID” field—as you can see, the key to a UD table is based on the SysRowID of its parent, since the records of a UD table exist in a 1-to-1 relationship with their parents:

As such, if you join the Part_UD table to its parent Part table where Erp.Part.SysRowID = Erp.Part_UD.ForeignSysRowID, you will receive results similar to the following:

Whether on premise or in a hosted solution such as ECHO by EstesGroup, Epicor’s database extension capabilities are of great use to implementation teams and end users.  For ERP admins, an understanding of the underlying structure can serve to assist in managing the database and the application, should the need arise.

 

If you liked reading the “First Day of ECHO” return to our main list to read all of the other “12 Days of ECHO” posts.

 

Do you need assistance managing your data, UD or otherwise?  Please feel free to Contact Us and see if we can help get your bits and bytes in order.