I've inherited an incomplete Sage 50c rollout and I'm having a bit of a hard time getting my head around how Sage manages the dataset. I foolishly assumed that, being the Cloud version, all company, account and user data was stored centrally on Sage servers somewhere and that the local client software read and wrote to these servers. Not so it seems! Our Sage partner stuck multi-company Sage 50c onto one of our "out-of-office" employees laptops and now as we start adding users, installing the software on more machines and enabling additional features - we're seeing a lot of "Main site offline" ... "LAPTOP-XYZ is offline", etc!
Obviously the above situation is not tenable.
We are multi-company, 4 to 5 users spread across 2 fixed locations and then some road warriors. Should I purchase a standalone PC, install the Data Service, make it the Main Site and the pop it in one of our offices and keep it running 24/7? Or might a Windows server on AWS or Azure running the Data Service work?
What setup does Sage or others here recommend for hosting the Main Site?
Even if you did set up a PC or server to hold the main dataset, with the service and a copy of Sage installed, you would still be relying on Sage Drive to synchronize your data between the main dataset and the other users. In my experience, this is less than ideal, given the vagaries of internet connections and the Sage Drive service not always being available. One possible alternative is to install Sage, the service, and the main dataset onto a server on a local network, let local users connect directly to it via a mapped drive and let remote users and road warriors connect to it via Microsoft remote desktop, which is built in to Windows. This has the benefit that everybody is always working in the latest, current version of the data, there is no synchronization delay, and if the connection drops there is no loss of data, since RDP is just a remote screen and keyboard to a user on the server. The downside is that it is more complicated to set up, and you need TS CAL'S (Terminal Server Client Access Licences) for the remote users. BUT, and again in my experience, it is solid and reliable, sadly something that Sage Drive can only aspire to.
And further, although the server solution may be technically better, you need a proper Windows server to implement it, which is not going to be cheap. Sage drive works fine if the majority of you users are local, and you just want to give your accountant remote access for instance, but having a lot of remote users all trying to sync via Sage Drive is asking for trouble. If funds permit, I would go with the Windows server solution every time, I have many clients with multiple remote sites and users accessing their live Sage data this way.
Thanks for the detailed responses Stephen Wade. It's near 15 years since we done multi-site Sage Line 50 and near 10 years since we done Sage 200 across continents... big servers, VPN's, RD licencing. To think that all this time later and armed with the latest "Cloud" offerings from Sage that we still have to go down the hosted server route is very disappointing... somewhat unbelievable. What have Sage been doing this past 10 years and where exactly is the "cloud" in their Cloud products?!
I was never a big fan of doing Sage over RDP as I found printing locally from a terminal session was always unreliable.. exporting files was a pain and linking up to local Office products for Excel exports or attachments to Outlook couldn't be done.
I wonder how would remote performance be with Sage installed native on end-users PC's and pointed to a mapped drive on the remote server, accessible via VPN?
I've tried exactly this suggestion here and I wouldn't recommend it. Although Sage will work, it is painfully slow and the risk of a dropped internet connection causing data corruption isn't something I wanted to chance.
We have 2 x ASDL 80/20 lines here, plus staff are usually connecting to our VPN from a similar link, so if you have a faster connection then you may fare better.
I'd still worry about a connection drop interrupting something mid-process though and leaving you with corrupt data.
Totally agree with your comment regarding the 'Cloud' side of things - Sage have fallen badly behind on this side!
I would never run Sage 50 over a VPN - the proprietary data file format is not robust, does not use transaction processing, and is prone to corruption on a local area network if it is not 100% reliable, let alone over a VPN via the Internet! By contrast, rdp does not risk your data as all processing is done directly on the server, and is actually more robust than LAN connected pc's.
Sage DOES have proper cloud accounts products, Sage Business Cloud, but unfortunately there is no straightforward upgrade path from the on premise Sage 50 desktop product to the cloud product, although I think Sage will assist with the migration if requested. It is a completely different product however, and most of my Sage 50 customers are so comfortable and familar with the desktop product that they are loathe to change.
RDP printing problems can be fixed by using third party products such as TS Print, and in practice it works very well, given a good Internet connection and with RDP securely running over a VPN. This is robust and reliable technology supported natively by the OS, and Sage runs very well on a Windows server with plenty of RAM and decent processor(s).