As more midsize and small business organizations are deploying open platform operating systems and tools, such as Linux with various blends and PHP/MySQL, we would like to share our experience implementing Microsoft Great Plains in these combined OS environments. If you are using Oracle and Unix, you may also consider the methodology, however, it deserves separate article just for a brief overview, especially about Java, EJB nuances.
1. MS Great Plains platform overview. GP workstation is written in C Shell, named Great Plains Dexterity. It was designed in the earlier 1990th when DB and OS platform independence was the paradigm. However, when Microsoft acquired Great Plains Software seven years ago, Microsoft Dexterity was kind of de-emphasized and GP itself was open for .Net platform and Microsoft Visual Studio C# and VB developers, especially via eConnect. Plus, GP is available on the Microsoft SQL Server DB platform only. Saying these, Microsoft Great Plains version 10.0 and 9.0 should be considered as committed to Microsoft technologies: SQL Server, .Net, Windows, MS Office: Sharepoint, Excel, etc.
2. Cross-Platform SQL Queries. If you do it from Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or 2000 side, the construction you typically use is Linked Server, where you should first try ODBC connection to Linux World. If you are on Oracle, then similar construction will allow you to hook up MS SQL Server
3. Web Services. eConnect allows you to open GP objects for non-Microsoft developer via XML web services – you can either use eConnect interface directly or wrap it in custom web service interface
4. eConnect excurse. The core of eConnect is a set of MS SQL Server encrypted stored procedures, allowing you to manipulate GP master records and work transactions: SOP Entry, POP Receivings, Customers, Vendors to name a few. eConnect has restrictions on GP architecture, one of the typical FAQ is why we can not post GP batches in eConnect? Well, this is the restriction, but you can break it utilizing the Albaspectrum posting server. eConnect was dedicated initially to eCommerce software developers, to enable GP ERP platform as back-office accounting for e-commerce front end
5. Integration technology. Here again, connect comes to the scenes. GP Integration Manager, which is a rather traditional Great Plains integration tool, was recently redesigned partially in eConnect and so IM performance was substantially increased. IM can read tab and comma delimited text files as well as ODBC compliant queries. When you are programming integration, be sure that you select eConnect destination connector is preferred, versus deploying regular destination connector (old-fashioned connectors use GP workstation as OLE Server to validate Great Plains business logic directly in GP screens, which slows down the performance)