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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

Epicor MRP Keeps You On-Time and Customers Happy

Epicor MRP Keeps You On-Time and Customers Happy

ERP!  ERP!  How do I love thee?  Let me Count the Ways: A Robust Materials Resource Planning ( MRP ) Engine

 

 

One of my favorite movies growing up was The Wizard of Oz.  One of my favorite scenes was when the “Wizard” was exposed as the “man behind the curtain,” pulling levers and revealing the secrets of the kingdom.  In the business world, this phrase has morphed into meaning a person who elusively controls the intricacies of a large enterprise—and no one really knows the who, what, when, or how of the magic behind the success.  MRP (Materials Resource Planning) is like this “man behind the curtain.”  Incredibly powerful, MRP manages the forces of supply and demand, keeping everything under control.

 

 

There are basically three questions that a manufacturer has, and MRP answers:

  • What does the customer want?
  • How many do they want?
  • When do they want it?

 

While those three questions seem relatively simple in nature, executing them in an efficient and profitable manner can become an extremely daunting, or even impossible task if you don’t have the correct tools.  Fortunately, the Epicor MRP Engine is a highly sophisticated but user-friendly process that can help companies increase on-time performance, lower inventory and improve efficiency.  MRP takes all three of these questions and looks at them holistically, to manage all variables that can occur on a shop floor.

 

What product does the customer want?

 

To answer this, MRP first looks to see if the part is purchased or manufactured.  At the core of the system is the type-attribute of the part.  Epicor defines a part in three ways: purchased, manufactured or sales kit.  Purchased Parts can have a defined lead-time and are used in determining when product can be available if stock is not available.  Manufactured Parts are built-up with routings and bills of materials.  MRP will take into account the time it takes for each operation, dependent on the quantity and material availability, to determine when the product will be available to ship, based on capacity on the shop floor.  Sales kits can be a combination of purchased and manufactured Parts and will use either or both types of logic to determine availability.

 

What quantity does the customer need?

 

Based on demand from forecasts or actual Sales Orders, the system looks at the current inventory level.  If there is insufficient inventory, it will suggest to the Purchasing Department to buy some if it’s purchased or will suggest to the Planning Department to create a job to make some, if it’s manufactured.

 

What is the customer’s timeline?

 

This is where the Epicor MRP logic will take the first two questions and analyze two things: If we don’t have it in stock, can we buy it in time to deliver it, or do we have enough material and resources available to build how many they want?  And it does this by taking into account not just one particular Sales Order, but all of the Sales Orders, and all of the inventory stocking levels and Job demands within a plant.  Obviously, this is a very tall order, and in a dynamic manufacturing environment, things are often changing on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  Because the MRP process can be such an intensive hardware resource demand, Epicor can be configured to run on a schedule (often times at night), either by looking at net change (to only work on those things that have changed since MRP was last run) or by being regenerative (to recalculate all demand).

 

Epicor also has the ability to run MRP for a specific part.  Have a customer that needs a part ASAP?  Now instead of having to wait for MRP to run, management has the ability to see the potential status of a job in a matter of minutes, and not hours, as MRP only has a single part to analyze.  The MRP process can also be limited to a plant, product family, or commodity class—reducing the time and resources required to generate the needed supply records.   Epicor MRP also supports multi-level pegging, which gives users the ability to trace the supply to each discrete source of demand.  This process also drives the projected Sales Order shortages and is an incredibly powerful tool to manage customer satisfaction.

The Epicor ERP system, in conjunction with its versatile and powerful MRP process, allows your organization to “see behind the curtain” at an organizational level, revealing what the current demands for your products are and if you have the necessary supply to meet demand in a timely and profitable fashion.

 

There are lots of things to love about Epicor’s E10 ERP application.

 

Want to know a few more?  Read our “ERP! How do I love thee?” series and give us a call with any questions you may have. 

Do you want to learn more about Epicor ERP and MRP? Download the Manufacturer’s information packet.

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 customizations and how good consultants can help manufacturing companies? Give us a call.

To begin looking closely at Epicor’s full ERP power, download one of our white papers.

 

 

What is CMMC: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

What is CMMC: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

CMMC: The Looming Cyber-Security Certification that Affects 60,000+ Companies

 

In 2019, the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new security protocol program for contractors called Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). CMMC is a DoD Certification process that lays out a contractor’s security requirements, and it is estimated that between 60,000-70,000 companies will need to become CMMC compliant in the next 1-3 years 

 

CMMC is basically a combination and addition to existing regulations in 48 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 52.204-21 and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, and includes practices from National Institute and Technology (NIST) 800-171, the United Kingdoms’ Cyber Essentials, and Australia’s Essential Eight requirements. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) will remain a separate certification from CMMC – though companies that are ITAR Compliant will need to adhere to CMMC as well. 

 

CMMC Version 1.0 was released late January 2020. To view the latest CMMC document, visit the CMMC DoD site. 

 

CMMC Notables 

  • There are 5 levels of the security maturity process (basic is 1 and most stringent is 5). 
  • Any company that directly (or even some that indirectly) does business with DoD will adhere to CMMC –and that means direct DoD contractors and high-level CMMC companies’ supply chains must also adhere to, at minimum, base level requirements. 
  • There is no self-assessment (unlike NIST), and companies need to get certified through a qualified auditing firm. 
  • DoD will publish all contractor’s certification level requirements. 

Is My Business Affected by CMMC? 

 

This is easily answered with a 2-part question: 1) Is your business a direct contractor to the DOD, or 2) does your business do business with a company that is a contractor to the DoD*? If you answered “yes” to question 1, then your business will need to be CMMC compliant. If you answered “yes” to number two, then it is very probable that your company will need to be CMMC compliant. 

What are the CMMC Levels? 

  • Level 1 – “Basic Cyber Hygiene”  
    • Antivirus 
    • Meet safeguard requirements of 48 CFR 52.204-21 
    • Companies might be required to provide Federal Contract Information (FCI) 
  • Level 2 – “Intermediate Cyber Hygiene” 
    • Risk Management 
    • Cybersecurity Continuity plan 
    • User awareness and training 
    • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) documented 
    • Back-Up / Disaster Recovery (BDR) 
  • Level 3 – “Good Cyber Hygiene”
    • Systems Multi-factor Authentication 
    • Security Compliance with all NIST SP 800-171 Rev 1 Requirements 
    • Security to defend against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) 
    • Share incident reports if company subject to DFARS 252.204-7012 
  • Level 4 – “Proactive” 
    • Network Segmentation 
    • Detonation Chambers 
    • Mobile device inclusion 
    • Use of DLP Technologies 
    • Adapt security as needed to address changing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in use by APTs 
    • Review & document effectiveness and report to high-level management 
    • Supply Chain Risk Consideration* 
  • Level 5 – “Advanced / Progressive” 
    • 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC) Operation 
    • Device authentication 
    • Cyber maneuver operations 
    • Organization-wide standardized implementation of security protocols 
    • Real-time assets tracking 

One important thing to note about CMMC is that unlike NIST and other current certifications, CMMC will require certification from an authorized 3rd-party CMMC authorized certification company. Currently, most companies can self-certify for DoD-related securities. EstesGroup is not a CMMC Certification Company, but we can help companies prepare and boost security up to meet new requirements.

For more specifics on CMMC, access the latest DoD’s CMMC Revision.

 

Learn more about CMMC with 5 Ways EstesGroup Helps with Your CMMC Compliance

 

Do you have questions of CMMC or how EstesGroup can help your company with CMMC? You can Contact Us or make a comment in the form below.

 

Understanding Epicor ERP’s “Default Revenue Recognition Method” Error is Part of Company Configuration

Understanding Epicor ERP’s “Default Revenue Recognition Method” Error is Part of Company Configuration

Revenue Recognition is Everything

When I was still part of the user community, I was involved in a planned implementation of Epicor at one my company’s divisions.  The division was in the construction industry, and the ERP systems of the time routinely encountered gaps in addressing the business requirements that come out of construction management environments.  This was back in the days of Vantage 803, and at the time, Epicor’s construction management capabilities were rather thin.  

 

To address this yawning void of a gap, a large customization was in the works to allow for increased revenue recognition (or “rev rec”) functionality as part of Epicor’s Project module.  This functionality would eventually find its way into Epicor’s base package, but at the time, all anyone at my company could talk about was “rev rec  “We can’t start prototyping until rev rec is ready.”   “There’s no point in testing until rev rec has been implemented.”  Everywhere I went, all anyone could talk about was “rev rec.”  Still rather green in general and quite new to the business models of the construction industry, such shorthand was immensely confusing: Just what exactly is revenue wrecking?  Isn’t revenue a good thing?  I was befuddled. 

  

I wasn’t the only one.  As is the case with many of such monumental customization projects, all of these discussions were in vain, as the division never came close to going live on Epicorthough the functionality that came out of this failed attempt was pretty cool!  Many years later, I’m still quite oblivious to the intricacies of the construction industry, but I have managed to get past one annoying revenue recognition error when setting up a new company in Epicor.  As part of initial company configuration, I’ve encountered the following “Default Revenue Recognition” error message a number of times: 

The message reads as follows: “Default Revenue Recognition Method cannot be None or Blank when not allowed to be changed per project.”  Well, that’s not especially helpful, especially given that the error normally surfaces when configurating another area of the applicant, such as the Modules > Production > Job area above.   

  

As it turns out, the cause of this error actually resides in the JCSyst.DfltRevRecMthd field, as found on the Modules > Services > Project Billing tab: 

Selecting a method is normally sufficient to get past this error, though additional setup may be required, depending on the method selected.  Even if you don’t intend on using revenue recognition, this step is necessary, depending on the modules licensed.  So don’t let revenue rec your company configuration—set your default revenue recognition method and move on to bigger and better things… like deciding whether or not to schedule into the past!  Now that conversation requires three cups of eggnog and a game of twisterso I’ll save it for another day. 

Have questions about Revenue Recognition Methods or Company Configuration? Let us know below or Contact Us today.

Data Center Location is Critical to Your Company’s Success and Survival

Data Center Location is Critical to Your Company’s Success and Survival

Looking California When You’re Feeling Minnesota: Where is the Best Data Center Location?

 

For manufacturing companies, the advent of “cloud computing” has raised a lot of questions.  Luckily, you don’t have to wander lonely as a cloud to find answers to your questions surrounding cloud solutions for your business.  Not as complicated as a cumulonimbus or as feathery as a cirrus, a cloud in the field of technology is as simple, or as complicated, as someone else’s computer.  But of the many questions a manufacturer may have, one frequently surfaces in relation to the location of the data: “So where is my data located, anyway?”

 

This isn’t a small squall of a question: if you are looking for an on-premise installation or a server stack in the cloud, your primary and secondary data centers’ location is a decision of atmospheric proportions—one with direct business impact.  

 

Whether choosing hosted or cloud solutions, your data center location is critical.  You must be wary of where exactly your data center servers are located, for all clouds are not created equal.  Downtime is the great fear when it comes to all things computing, and is often the result of natural disasters—and do you remember how long it took to get the power grid functioning in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria?  Clearly, minimizing the risks of mother nature is a central concern.  Let’s take a down-to-earth look at some of the natural dangers facing your company’s data.

 

Earthquakes

 

When I worked in Arkansas a number of years ago, in an area that was on the edge of the New Madrid seismic zone, I noticed the strange cross-bracing in one of the factories, and I asked a local about it.  He explained the seismic risks in the area, and recounted the family lore about the quake of 1812.  Then he looked me square in the eye and said, “Whatever you do, don’t blame Arkansas—it wasn’t our fault.” 

 

It can be a surprise to discover that one the largest earthquakes in North America’s recorded history was not along the California coast but was actually along the New Madrid seismic zone in Missouri—of all places!  This was the quake that briefly caused the Mississippi River to run upstream back in 1812, the year almost exclusively famous for the conflict between America and England.  But while the Americans were locked in battle with the British on the East Coast, they were unwittingly losing the war with nature in the Midwest.   

 

This might serve as a warning if you locate your data center in a seismic zone—if your server gets death-rattled into oblivion, it’ll be your own fault.

 

 

Tornadoes

 

Nothing can lay your blades out like a deck of 52 quite like a tornado.  Tornadoes pry open buildings like nature’s proverbial can opener, allowing copious rain and debris to decorate your server room like a third grade art project, and you don’t want to see your data garnished with nature’s glitter.  Tornadoes pose a risk not only to your data center itself, but they also tend to knock out your primary—and even your secondary power supplies.  Backup generators are often located adjacent to a building, making them a potential target for mother nature’s twisted wrath.  So while a twister might leave a building unscathed, it might take out your external generator, rendering backup power systems useless.  Of course, that’s a moot point if the contents of your data center are laid out across the lawn like your laundry, for all to see.  Luckily, a proper data center location can help you avoid an unfortunate game of 52-pickup.

 

 

Floods

 

I reached out to one of my customers after a series of tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, and he gave the all-clear: “The twisters missed us, but the water levels are so high, some folks can’t get into work.”  That is to say, a natural disaster can be more sneaky than a weather channel headline.  While things like tornadoes get a lot of attention, water levels can do a lot more damage over time.  As such, one might think twice about locating a data center on a floodplain.  While all my gamer buddies are hyped over water-cooled CPUs, I don’t quite think this is what they’re referring to. 

 

 

Hurricanes

 

Hurricanes amount to the worst of wind and water, with the ability to pummel your data center into paste from above, or dissolve it into a silicon solution from below.  And while the zone immediately affected by hurricanes is rather small, the extended zone where hurricane-related storms transform into inland berserkers is much larger.  Locating your stacks in a place that is far-removed from the hurricane fallout zone will serve you well in reducing wind and water risks. 

 

 

Heat

 

Another sneaky disaster when it comes to all things electronic is heat.  Not too long ago, I was in Charlotte, NC with a coworker.  One morning after breakfast, we were about to head to the customer site when my coworker ran back into the hotel to retrieve his coffee mug, leaving me in the parking lot.  I stood out in the morning heat for maybe a minute or two.  Now, being a Canadian, I generally overheat reading the newspaper, and the morning temp in Charlotte was obliterating.  By the time we got to carpooling, I was already a puddle.  And this was still in the early morning!  Servers are like Canadian consultants—they work better in temperate climates.  When choosing a shack to hang your racks, look to locate it in a place where your cooling systems won’t be fighting a losing battle with the heat index.  Servers generate enough heat on their own—they don’t need any help! 

 

The Cloud

 

While the notion of “The Cloud” brings with it visions of the ethereal, it is in reality quite terrestrial in nature.  Hosting a customer’s ERP system is a huge responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly.  The cloud itself can be just as risky as a hurricane.  As such, the EstesGroup is all about maximizing service while minimizing risk.  In support of our Epicor Hosting initiative, we keep our data center located in Michigan, which has a favorable climate for keeping servers cool as a cucumber, while avoiding the many environmental pitfalls noted above.  Moreover, by having our data center location in the Midwest, we provide centrality that allows us to rapidly service a broad region.  With optimal location and cloud infrastructure, the team at EstesGroup can serve your business needs by providing ideal solutions for your data, regardless of the weather. 

 

If you find yourself looking to the sky for answers to your worldly business questions, please give our team a call.