Great Plains' eEnterprise Solution 'N Sync with Microsoft's New Platforms

Great Plains' eEnterprise Solution 'N Sync with Microsoft's New Platforms
P.J. Jakovljevic - October 31, 2000

Event Summary

In September Great Plains, a leading small-to-mid-market provider of back-office and e-business solutions, announced performance figures showing that its eEnterprise solution scales considerably better on Microsoft SQL Server 2000 in comparison to Microsoft SQL Server 7.0. SQL Server 2000 is Microsoft's latest database management system for deploying distributed Windows 2000 applications and is part of Microsoft's .NET platform.

Benchmark tests of eEnterprise Sales Order Processing (SOP) showed the ability to process 75,000 sales order items through the system in less than one hour while only utilizing 45% of the server's capacity. In a Transaction Entry Test crossing all eEnterprise financial applications, 140,000 financial transactions were processed in less than one hour with an average response time of 1.2 seconds. The increased throughput allowed eEnterprise to scale to 2,400 concurrent users.

eEnterprise is integrated with SQL Server 2000 and the Microsoft .NET Enterprise 2000 Servers to enable organizations to improve decision-making and streamline business processes. Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Servers are a family of Microsoft server applications that build, deploy and manage integrated, web-based solutions. The .NET Platform is built for interoperability using public Internet standards such as Extensible Markup Language (XML).

As a leading developer on the Microsoft platform, Great Plains has extensively collaborated with Microsoft for more than a year on the development of Microsoft's .NET Framework. Great Plains states it is using Microsoft .NET Framework in its next generation e-business solutions because of its increased productivity, reliability, multi-language support and Internet capabilities. In addition to Great Plains' early work on Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000, Great Plains tests on and plans compatibility with other .NET Servers such as Biztalk Server and Commerce Server 2000.

Market Impact

This is a main pillar of Great Plains plan to establish itself as an undisputed global small-to-medium enterprises (SME) market leader. Its focus on Microsoft's technology, being the preferred technology of smaller enterprises, has paid exceptionally well in the past. Moreover, Great Plains proudly touts its commitment to Microsoft's technology by being one of very rare vendors that has a number of its R&D team members located on the Microsoft campus and working directly with their Microsoft counterparts. Since Microsoft's current technology, COM (Component Object Model), has been functionally stretched out to its maximum, Great Plains' preparatory moves towards adopting .NET generation of product is not a surprise. The market should expect most of its competitors to follow suit shortly.

Since its competitors, particularly the larger ones, will soon deliver similar product features, possibly more impressive is Great Plains' endeavor (and proven success) to deliver bulletproof, bug free new generally available (GA) product releases, based on extensive and stringent product testing. That has not traditionally been the rule for most Tier 1 and Tier 2 applications vendors, whose new releases are often bug ridden.

However, it will be interesting to observe whether or for how long Great Plains will remain solely a Microsoft shop. The company maintains its content to remain focused on the smaller enterprises where Microsoft's technology suffices both functionality and price wise. Nevertheless, having reached almost $300 million in revenue and having created awareness in a higher-end of the mid-market, the company may face a need to venture into adoption of currently more flexible or superior development tools like Java in order to satisfy more comprehensive requirements of larger mid-sized enterprises that run in heterogeneous environments.

User Recommendations

Users with Great Plains' eEnterprise solution considering moving from Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 to Microsoft SQL Server 2000 should not hesitate to do so. However, while the benchmarks on the latest MS platforms are impressive, users should bear in mind that they have been conducted in an artificial environment and their outcomes can only be fully understood after comprehensive comparisons between platforms.

On a more general note, expect Microsoft's .NET internet-enabled technologies to take the next 12-18 months to reach maturity. Also, users should allow for steep learning curves (as well as associated costs of training) for its current developers in Microsoft's environments.

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