One often overlooked aspect of ERP systems such as Sage Pro ERP, Sage ACCPAC ERP, and xTuple is the importance of having a solid hardware foundation on which to run the software. Unlike most Microsoft Office applications, ERP systems such as Sage Pro ERP put a big burden on the network, the workstations, and the servers. There are three main areas to focus on: Network, Computers, and Power.
- Network: Sometimes hundreds of files per workstation may be open on the server. For ERP systems such as Sage Pro with the VFP back end, queries against the database will result in massive network traffic back to temp files on the workstation. Therefore it is important to make sure the network is reliable and as high performance as can be feasible for the end user. As of 2011, 1 gigabit network cards are standard and inexpensive, so it is important to have that kind of network card on each workstation. Always use a switch rather than a hub, so that traffic can take place on multiple ports in parallel. Be sure to read online reviews of the switch, there are some bad apples out there which fail after 3 months. Use Cat 5 cabling, and if at all possible, have a professional cabling company certify the cable plant with a cable tester. That will rule out problem cables as a cause of network glitches before they actually affect operation. It is generally a good idea to keep the ERP system on its own network segment if possible so that traffic from other users doesn’t interfere.
- Servers: The ERP server may be on the same server as the domain controller. But it’s a higher performance option to put the application on a separate server if this is feasible (affordable). High performance, high throughput disk drives should be used on the server. It is now practical to put solid state drives on the server since the cost per gigabyte has gone down in the last year. This eliminates seek time since there are no moving parts. (All the data is stored in a silicon device much like ram, except that it keeps its state during a power cycle operation. The number of processors is less important on the application server since many databases can not take advantage of more than one processor. Later versions of Microsoft SQL Server can take advantage of more than one processor “core” but check the specs before spending lots of money on processor cores. Ram is crucial for good performance on the application server. Take the ERP vendor’s minimum recommended ram and double it at least. Make sure the network card is gigabit or faster.
- Workstations: The ERP workstation is often the weakest link in an ERP system, but it is not expensive to get it up to a reasonable performing system. It should have 4 GB of Ram, XP Pro or later, MS Office 2007 or later, (Almost all ERP systems will use Excel and most use Word as a back end for data output), a gigabit network card, and a high performance video controller. The video controller performance is helpful because most ERP systems use a lot of windows operations and the faster the window can be painted, the faster overall response will be.