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12 Days of ECHO, Fifth Day: My Admin Gave to Me Too Much RAM for My Epicor VM!

12 Days of ECHO, Fifth Day: My Admin Gave to Me Too Much RAM for My Epicor VM!

Too Much CPU & RAM for Epicor Application Server

 

Sometimes, more memory is not better.  Often, server admins will throw more resources (CPU and RAM) at a server to make it go faster.  Check our tidbit on SQL Licensing to see what that might hurt your licensing model, and in general, with SQL, the more RAM the merrier.  There is a decreasing return on investment however, and when it comes to your Epicor application server, we often see clients who over-commit resources and cause hypervisor performance issues.  Assuming you run in a virtualized world (as most of our clients do), over-committing CPU and RAM can cause the host machine to ‘thrash’ and actually run slower than if you had less resources.  For more details, search on NUMA boundaries and “memory ballooning”.  Check your Epicor application servers, if they have a lot of unused RAM and low CPU utilization, you might be a victim of over-committing resources. 

 

If you liked reading the “Fifth 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, Fourth Day: My Admin Gave to Me Tips on SQL 64k Clusters!

12 Days of ECHO, Fourth Day: My Admin Gave to Me Tips on SQL 64k Clusters!

Tips on SQL 64K Clusters and Epicor SQL Services Database Bytes

 

Microsoft SQL likes to do all it’s input/output in 64k chunks, but Windows likes to format hard drives in 4K chunks called “clusters”. Studies have shown that formatting the volumes that store SQL databases and transaction logs benefit from 64k clusters – up to 35% better performance!  To check what your cluster size is, open an Elevated Command Prompt and type “CHKDSK D:” (where D: is where your databases are stored).  The line with xxx bytes in each allocation unit” should say 65536, and not 4096.   

 

If you find your server admin formatted with the default 4096 allocation unit, then changing is easy – just kick everyone out of Epicor, shutdown the SQL services and backup the entire volume.  Then, reformat with 64k clusters and do a volume restore.  Restart SQL services (and your Epicor Task Agent) and let the users back in! 

 

Sound like too much for you to handle? 

Give us a call or send us a message, our Database Admins’s would be happy to assist. 

 

Liked this tip and trick, read our other 12 Days of ECHO Posts by following this link.

 

Have feedback or a specific questions, feel free to submit a comment in the form below.

12 Days of ECHO: EstesGroup ERP Admin Tips and Tricks

12 Days of ECHO: EstesGroup ERP Admin Tips and Tricks

This Holiday Season, EstesGroup would like to give you “12 Days of ECHO” tips and tricks for those ERP System Admins out there.

 

We understand this time of year there is a lot going on for companies, such as: year end preparations, budgeting for the next year, personnel changes, and company shifts, etc. So that being the case, we wanted to bring a bit of humor and help to your holiday.

 

The 12 Days of ECHO:

  1. Epicor ERP SysRow-ID
  2. SQL Licensing
  3. Auto-Login Epicor ERP
  4. SQL 64K Clusters
  5. Too Much RAM for Your Epicor VM
  6. IIS Log Sprawl
  7. Epicor 10 EpicorData Sprawl
  8. SQL Transaction Log Maintenance
  9. SSRS Stealing the Show (CPU)
  10. PDT for a Sanity Check
  11. OLTP vs. DS: How to Find & Avoid Deadlocks
  12. Epicor Customizations

 

For any questions or for assistance this Holiday Season, please Contact Us or let us know below:

 

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Businesses who are happy with the money they’re making and don’t wish to grow or to improve their relationships with their customers often don’t think about the need for ERP software. However, those businesses are few and far between. For the rest of us, the need for streamlined business processes has never been greater. ERP software helps businesses remain competitive by providing tools necessary for operating efficiently.

Why Do We Need an ERP System?

Gone are the days of companies have an employee or a department specifically devoted to manually entering information. Gone are the days when customers only had one choice when it came time to order the products they need. Today’s business processes must be done quicker and more efficiently than ever in order for a company to keep pace with its customers’ demands. An ERP package helps you to provide quick, accurate, and efficient service to your customers by providing a centralized hub in which all of the data from the various departments is managed.

The following symptoms show that your business is ready for an ERP package:

  • You’ve outgrown your business software and it is no longer capable of doing all of the things you need it to do.
  • Your existing business processes often result in missed deadlines, wasted materials, unused machines or labor, and other inefficiencies.
  • You need to track data across existing systems or in multiple departments and you’re unable to do so.
  • You don’t have the transparency you need in all aspects of your business to make informed decisions as to future opportunities.
  • Your employees are often tied up with tasks that could be automated.
  • There is little communication or information sharing between the various groups in your organization.
  • You’re spending too much on licensing fees, staffing, training, operations, and labor all for the sole purpose of integrating multiple applications.

Should Every Business Buy an ERP Package?

The simple answer to this question is: Yes. While small to medium businesses may be able to get by on a patchwork of different software, multiple systems are less effective for your business processes as they quickly become outdated and also require a lot of manual and duplicate entries. ERP systems streamline the various processes you use in your day-to-day operations, working off the same, shared database. This not only gives you a complete view of all of your processes and how they relate to one another, but also improve collaboration and provide you with the analysis you need to make decisions that will impact your bottom line.

Additional reasons why every business should buy an ERP package include:

  • Automated management of business tasks which free up employee time for other critical work.
  • Reducing errors that come with manual entry, saving your company’s precious resources, including money and time.
  • Increased productivity due to real-time coordination between groups within your organization.
  • Creation of a clear audit paper trail that can withstand the compliance regulations of your industry.
  • Reduction of labor costs and IT expenses.
  • Improving customer relationship management by allowing your sales department to have the information they need about the customers they deal with and the information they need to know about inventory and availability.
  • Flexibility to handle organizational growth and its impacts to each individual department.
  • Knowing that your software is up-to-date, secure, and maintained and that there is support available if you should have any questions.

We Can Help

EstesGroup is a certified reseller of Epicor products, including Epicor ERP and Prophet 21. We also provide ERP consultations, regardless of what system you select for your business. We will not guide you toward our own products if they are not a good fit for you. Contact us today for a free, in-depth consultation so that we may discuss your business processes with you and find a solution that will advance your company’s initiatives.

Are you looking for an ERP system, or have questions about what ERP is best for your business? Ask Us.

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.

Epicor ERP and Your Anti-Virus: A Love-Hate Relationship

Epicor ERP and Your Anti-Virus: A Love-Hate Relationship

I’ve seen enough of Epicor ERP installations to know that a finely tuned system needs… fine-tuning. Perhaps that’s obvious, but nonetheless, I’ve seen many deployments where Epicor ERP is installed, but not set up optimally. One area that has my bits all scrunched up is anti-virus, sometime called anti-malware, or malware protection. I’ll just call it anti-virus for purposes of this discussion.

Each vendor does it a little differently, but there are three primary aspects to worry about.

  1. Real-time scanning
  2. Scheduled scans
  3. Injection into an application

 

Depending on the tool and the configuration, you might have one or all three at play, on both your SQL and Epicor ERP servers. Done right, they’ll do their job, keep you protected, and stay out of your way. Done wrong, and your performance, reliability, and up-time will suffer.

Now, in my humble opinion, a dedicated, patched, protected, and behind the firewall SQL server needs no anti-virus – it’s not a file server, nor a SharePoint server, nor do any end-users directly interact with it. Your installation might be different, check your exposure! Anti-Viruson a SQL server, improperly configured, will just slow it down and give you headaches. If you can avoid it, do so. Of course, your company policy might require AV installations on ALL servers. Please follow Microsoft’s guidance for choosing anti-virus software to run on SQL Servers, including their exclusions. Some AV software will recognize SQL and exclude automatically, but don’t assume that to be the case.

Epicor ERP is another animal. By definition, an Epicor ERP application server is also a file server and is often exposed to the internet in some capacity. Therefore, in addition to your firewalling, patching and backups, make sure to protect your Epicor ERP Application servers with anti-virus – with the proper exclusions.

Some anti-virus platforms let you do the exclusions on the end-point, others require a central management console. Many enterprises have a team to handle it. Either way, set up the exclusions and then test them by dropping a copy of the test malware Eicar (from eicar.org) into one of the folders. The file won’t execute (since it’s an OLD win16 file), but if AV is scanning that folder, it’ll pluck it out and you’ll know AV is active in that folder.

Replace the X: with the volumes you’ve deployed Epicor ERP on. Not all installations will have all these folders, depending on the extensions and add-ons deployed.

X:\Epicor* X:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Epicor Software Corporation* X:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Epicor Software* X:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Epicor* X:\Program Files (x86)\Epicor Software* X:\Program Files (x86)\Insite Software* X:\Program Files (x86)\Seagull* X:\ProgramData\Epicor Software Corporation*

X:\ProgramData\Epicor* X:\ProgramData\EpicorSearch* X:\InsiteShip* X:\APM* X:\Applications\EKM* X:\BarTender Formats* X:\BarTenderData* X:\BarTenderTaskList* X:\Program Files (x86)\Insite Software* X:\inetpub\wwwroot\(Servers) – replace with appropriate folders X:\inetpub\wwwroot\(Servers)-(extensions) – replace with appropriate folders

Don’t forget the Epicor clients – whether they be full Windows clients or Terminal Servers:

C:\ProgramData\Epicor* C:\Program Files\Epicor Software* C:\Program Files(x86)\Epicor Software*

 

Looking for assistance with your Servers? Contact Us and don’t worry, we’ve got IT covered.