Great Plains 2010 and Older Versions Support and Recovery

Published: 03rd May 2011
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Current version for this mid-market Corporate ERP application is 2010, formerly referred as 11.0. There are plenty of consultants either in local area or specializing in industry niche and available for nationwide remote support or via travel. We will try to cover the challenges, which you may face in implementing version 2010 or upgrading to it from earlier versions, where you may feel that local consulting pool is in learning curve. Also, it is often challenging to find support resource for the older version, especially no longer supported by Microsoft Business Solutions directly (at this time, April 2011 MBS officially supports 2010, 10.0 and 9.0, where support for 9.0 should expire soon). Great Plains Software Dynamics was introduced as one of the first graphical ERP and Accounting applications for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS in earlier 1990th. Since then GPS begun phasing out its older Accounting package Great Plains Accounting (which was available for DOS, Windows and Mac: 9.5, 9.2, 9.1, 8.0 and earlier version are still in production across the country). Around 1998/99 GPS acquired its competitor Solomon Software and it was itself purchased by Microsoft in 1999. Microsoft formed its Business Solutions subdivision and soon acquired Navision Software (Denmark based ERP developing company). As the result of these acquisitions MBS appeared in the situation, when it was owning and offering to some degree competing with each other Corporate ERP solutions: Great Plains, Navision, Solomon, Axapta. In our opinion it was good idea to deemphasize this unnecessary competition and rebrand all these ERP and MRP systems as Microsoft Dynamics family and concentrate on user interface unification. Microsoft Dynamics will do the job, but which brand of Dynamics – this should be the decision of your reseller or Microsoft itself (where AX is for larger businesses with high degree of custom development requirements, GP, SL, NAV have their niches in mid-market). With this historical excurse being complete, let’s begin with challenging issues in version 2010:



1. FRx phasing out and Microsoft Management Reporter introduction as replacement to FRx. This might not sound like something challenging to newly trained and certified consultant. However FRx was deployed as Financial Statement generator since earlier 1990th, and as being skeptical – we remember its earlier versions for Great Plains – it took time for FRx to become stable and seeing that picture of MMR one year plus long history some skepticism is understandable. There is migration wizard from FRx to MMR (where you need to specify FRL file – catalog, map GL Account Segments). When Wizard is done with its work, you will need to review Row Formats and Column Layouts in MMR to fix migration issues (typically mismatch with FRx row numbering in sums). There is also known issue with MMR queue (where reports are in limbo and you need to clean the queue via SQL delete statement). It looks like there is the option to retain FRx by installing it on Windows 7 64 bit platform and applying Service Pack 12 (just released in March 2011). On the other hand Microsoft is giving up additional user reading and editing licenses for MMR (it is likely if you have only one FRx user you find that you have 2 Editing and additional to readers)



2. MS SQL 2008 Server and its opportunities and phasing out technologies. We do recommend you to deploy 2010 on SQL Server 2008. You will get maximum from your 2010 new functionalities, including custom SSRS based metrics on your home page. Plus, you may deploy such fault tolerance technologies as Database Mirroring, bandwidth saving encryption in Log Shipping. However 64 bit platform has its requirements to technology obsolescence. You should migrate away from such legacy technologies as DTS (Data Transformation Services, popular in MS SQL Server 2000), Linked Server (OLE DB technology, it seems to be in transition to be replaced by .Net assemblies in SSIS – SQL Server Integration Services). Well, the issues and technologies above might be interesting for your IT folks, and now let’s come to more practical issues review



3. 32 versus 64 bit version of Windows. Corporate IT culture is pretty conservative and we still observe high percentage of customers, where users are on beefed up computers with 4 GB of RAM, but on Windows XP 32 bit. Well, if your company doesn’t have to acquire new computers in retail outlets, then you do not have to expose your users to such operating systems as Vista (where performance slowdown was reported by numerous posters). However, and this is our opinion which we verified in talking to IT directors in numerous companies – Windows 7 64 bit is the way to go and finally migrate from Windows XP 32 bit. There still some concerns, such as FRx is not supported directly by MBS on 64 bit XP, Vista or 7 – make your decision making, we deployed FRx on Windows 7 64 for several customers and everything works OK (however they got error messages in installation, which we ignored)



4. Older Version: 10.0, 9.0, 8.0, 7.5, 7.0, 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.0, 3.2. Older versions support depends on your database platform. There were three options: Microsoft SQL Server (2005, 2000, 7.0, 6.5), Pervasive SQL 2000/Btieve or Ctree (for version 7.5 and earlier). If your DB platform is not MS SQL Server, then data access and modification tools should be considered as MS Access with ODBC linked tables (if you are on MS SQL Server you can simply open new query or Query Analyzer and go ahead with ad hoc SQL statement)



5. How to recover Great Plains on Pervasive SQL 2000? Well, you should backup Dynamics folder on your old server, restore it on the new hardware, where Pervasive SQL 2000 Server is also installed (to our knowledge this application is not compatible with 64 bit Windows Server). And finally you do Location Translation procedure



6. Great Plains Accounting for DOS or Windows redeployment on the new Server. GPA database was Btrieve. In order to prolong GPA longevity Great Plains Software tested and recommended it to be redeployed on Pervasive SQL 2000 32 bit



7. If you feel that your concerns are not addressed or your question is not answered, please feel free to contact our office. Support domestically in the USA, Canada, Mexico and internationally. This option is possible via Web Sessions, Skype or Phone conferences and direct visits onsite (in the case of the large scale project). Our consulting team speaks English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Filipino. Feel free to call us 1-866-304-3265, 1-269-605-4904, or email help@efaru.com





Andrew Karasev is Great Plains Certified Master, MVP, help@efaru.com 1-866-304-3265, 1-269-605-4904. He is also the initiator of eFaru project http://www.efaru.com and founder of Alba Spectrum information space


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