NECS, Inc.

Software for Food Distributors

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Project Red Velvet Cupcake - entree Version 4


Updates from NECS

Project Red Velvet Cupcake - entree Version 4

Apr 05 2012

Some impressive improvements to your entree software are in the works, and I wanted to use my Blog to provide you with more details.

These improvements are part of our version 4 software, codename:

Project Red Velvet Cupcake

Our most sweetest most delicious update ever!  Here's why...


Feature #1:  SQL databases via Sybase

This first and most dramatic feature is something that we have been working on for many years.

It is the most requested item by our customers, and we believe it will be worth the wait.

We are abandoning the old DBF files, used since I first wrote the software back in 1987.  It was a good choice at the time, but now we are long overdue to use the more advanced SQL database structure using Sybase, an SAP company.

Sybase offers a proven SQL solution, with 40,000+ enterprise customers and relied upon by 91 of the Fortune 100.

I should make clear that NECS currently uses SQL databases for our entree.NET and Electronic Order Pad software.  So not only do we have experience with SQL databases, but can also share how exceptionally well they work.  Despite hundreds of thousands of database updates per week, we have never experienced any corruption or other issues with SQL.

What does this mean for you?  Here are eight benefits that Sybase SQL and entree version 4 offer:

1.    Speed
SQL databases are designed for speed, even when they contain millions of records.  Our in house testing has shown an immediate improvement of entree performing at least twice as fast. 

2.     Reliability
SQL databases provide stability and eliminate corruption by ensuring that every database operation is executed completely or is not executed at all.  All of the database operations are executed on your server.  So if the application, workstation or network fails, the database or index files will not become corrupted.  This will eliminate at least 99% of database or index file corruption that entree users sometimes experience.

3.     Client / Server
SQL databases use something called "client/server" architecture.  Sybase use a high-speed database engine, called the "Advantage Database Server", which runs on your server (either Windows or Linux).  It means significantly less network traffic and better performance. With version 3 of entree (and all prior versions),  network traffic can be a big problem.  This is because large amounts of network traffic are created because the workstation performs all the database processing. Sybase optimizes multi-user performance by intelligently dividing database operations between the client and the server. Client/server architecture moves the processing of database requests to the server, where the data is stored, which dramatically reduces network traffic. The larger your network, the better performance you will see.

4.     Large File Sizes
SQL databases can easily handle millions or billions of records.  Of course this depends much on the power of your server.  However, existing issues that we have with large DBF files, will no longer be the concern it is now.  In a future Blog posting, I will describe how we are eliminating the history files, and what this means for you.  Just think about the time savings and what it would mean for your operation to no longer do a Month End Closing, which spends most of its time moving data from current files to history files.

5.    Reindexing Files - GONE!
I first have to make clear that even SQL files need to have Index files to operate most efficiently, so entree will still have Index files.  But because of the stability of the SQL databases, indexes will only be updated or created during the File Update process, when a new version of entree is installed.  We will be removing the "Reindex Files" option from the menu.  Many of you Reindex your files on a regular basis, which will no longer be necessary.  I have a strong suspicion that no one will be missing this!

6.     Dramatically Faster Software Updates
Currently, when you install a new version of entree and there are changes to the database tables, you are in store for a wait, especially if the databases updated are your larger files.  Because of the way that SQL works, database updates will be so fast, you may think nothing happened.  The bottom line is that installing new versions of entree will be extremely fast, which everyone will be pleased about.

7.     Database Server Replication
This may be a harder concept to grasp at first, but it is a very important feature that Sybase offers.  "Replication" provides the capability to automatically distribute data changes from one database server  to another allowing Sybase to easily maintain identical database information at different locations.  To put it simply, you can have another server (right next to your primary server or anywhere in the world), which is constantly backing up or replicating your main servers databases.  Here are two scenarios which illustrate how this option can be used:

a)    You can use the "Replication" option to have a separate backup server constantly backing up your primary entree server.  If your primary entree server should fail for whatever reason (ex: motherboard dies), your "Replication" server would automatically kick in to eliminate any downtime.  When your primary server was operational again, the "Replication" server would automatically update the entree databases in the primary server.  This goes beyond a traditional type backup scenario, because you have both your data and backup server (another set of hardware) in a constant state of replication.  This "Replication" server could be placed right beside your primary server, or anywhere else in the world, via an Internet connection.

b)    You have another office or distribution center located across town or across the country, and want the fastest access by your users at both locations.  You know that using something like Remote Desktop at the other location can be slow.  In this situation, the ideal scenario is to install a "Replication" server at the remote location which is connected to your primary location via the Internet.  All the users at the remote location will be connected to the local "Replication" server.  This server will be updating information from your main location, as well as updating your main location with any work done at the remote location.  If the Internet connection fails or the primary server goes down, the remote location will be able to work without interruption.  When both servers are able to talk to each other again, they will be automatically updated with the work done at either location.

8.    Windows or Linux
You have the ability to have either a Windows or Linux server.  Using a Linux server provides an appealing option for you.  Because Linux servers are typically less expensive than a Windows server, with much better performance, you may decide to move entree to a Linux server.  This would free up your Windows server to be as fast as possible for all the other network activity and applications.  But most importantly, would provide the fastest speed for your entree users on the network.  Expect to hear more about this in the future, as well as a possible Linux server hardware solution that NECS may offer to make this as simple and cost effective as possible.

Are you starting to excited about version 4?  There are a few more features I want to describe in future Blog postings, that I think will really show the positive impact of this new version for your operation.

My next Blog posting about version 4 will deal with faster report generation...