Solved

Using Peachtree over a VPN

Posted on 2008-06-13
39
3,309 Views
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Greetings Experts.  I have a client that would like to connect three remote offices using a VPN connection.  I have the VPN portion resolved but I am not sure how I should configure the Peachtree side.  At each site, there is a user that has Peachtree installed locally.  The purpose of the VPN is to have all of the changes made by the three offices "sync'd".  

So, what is the best way to set this up?  Should I have one computer share out the database and the other sites just access this database?  Or........

The VPN connection includes two cable networks and one DSL (just in case speed was in question).  Thanks for your help.
0
Comment
Question by:samiam41
  • 17
  • 11
  • 8
  • +1
39 Comments
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21781480
I believe that's the only way to set it up.  You don't want multiple different database files or the data won't be sync'ed.  I would make one the primary database server and just vpn the others into it for access.  

Hope that helps
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21781519
That's one of the best name tags I've seen.  Very good!

#1  Alright, so I make one of the computers the primary database server and have the other users connect.  Do I need to setup any kind of security (user names, permission levels)?  The pc's are all Vista and I can make them the same workgroup if this would help.

#2  Right now there are two databases that are different versions.  Is there any way to merge them together without duplicating the entire thing?  I'm guessing it would be easier to pick the biggest or most up to date and manually enter the data into it from the other one.  Thoughts?
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21781598
Thanks for the compliment!  

for #1, it depends on the network setup.  When you VPN in you are just getting a local IP address.  If there is open file sharing on the vista computer then you should have no problems getting to it from the others.  I would definately make it on the same workgroup.  If you can browse the shared folder from another computer on the local lan to the vista computer now, it should work the same through vpn.  

#2, not sure on this one.  I would say pick the biggest, just to save time on trying to merge them together and then having a problem.  

0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21781623
The Pervasive Workgroup Engine does NOT integrate with the OS security.  You'd need to have a Server Engine for that.  So, to answer question #1, you should not have to do anything special, as long as ALL traffic is routed between the locations.  Specifically, you'll want to make sure that 3351, 1583, and 135/137/139 are not being blocked by any firewalls.  A true VPN shouldn't block it, but the Vista firewall might.

The only one that can merge the databases would be Sage.  This is not a trivial task, and simply merging data usually produces lots of "bad" results.  (For example, what happens when both sites have Invoice #1000 and you merge them together?  You end up with an invoice 1000 with twice as many items on it, half of which are now assigned to the wrong customer.)  So, you are correct -- data re-entry is the best solution.

BTW, I would strongly recommend that you test the solution before going through the database merge process.  Running applications over a VPN, especially over the public internet, adds a LOT of time into each database request.  While a simple read request may take 0.2 ms to execute on a reasonable workstation, as soon as you add a round-trip time over the VPN of 20ms, you quickly see that this one request now takes 100x longer to process, meaning that many database processes will take 100x longer.  So, a request that finishes in about a half-second will now take about a minute.  

Using a Remote Desktop solution (i.e. Citrix, Terminal Services, RAdmin, PCAnywhere, etc.) is usuyally the best way to proceed.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21781654
So you don't recommened using a VPN solution for this?  

I need to make sure that the user at site A and the user at site B can both make changes to the database which may be at site C.  None of the sites have a server yet as they just got started and I got pulled into it.  

Thanks for your post.  
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21781770
I agree that any kind of peachtree or quickbooks application runs much slower over the WAN, but many people use this approach.  I also agree that setting up a remote desktop for the users at site A and B to locally connect to computers at site C would allow for a much faster application, since it would then work over the local area connection.  

If you go this route, you can change the RDP listening port to allow multiple ports being forwarded for Remote Desktop into more than one computer.  
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306759

Also follow the link on this site labeled "How to configure the Remote Desktop client to connect to a specific port when you use Windows XP"
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21781799
Let me make sure I understand this correctly.

Site A and Site B use RDP or similar product to connect to Computer #1 at Site C.

That makes me wonder how the accountant at Site A can use it at the same time as the accountant at Site B.  Wouldn't they be fighting over control of the mouse/keyboard?
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21781943
If you intend to set this up as a workstation machine, you are correct.  RDP would blank the local screen.  However, if you are setting up a server-class OS with Terminal Services, then you'd be OK.  Pay special attention, though, to the TS setup instructions for PeachTree.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21781968
So the RDP on a workstation would prevent local access to Peachtree but would allow sites B and C to get in there at the same time?

If they could come up with the money for a server class OS and hardware, they could use terminal server granted they follow Peachtree's TS instructions.

Is the correct assumption that the VPN option would be too slow?
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21782000
I have customers that setup a computer intended for each of the remote connections...so they don't interfere with each other.  It's the expensive way, rather than setting up MS terminal services...unless of course you don't have a server already.  3 computers at the main office.  One runs Peachtree with the database.  The other two are remoted in by person A and person B and connect locally to the 3rd pc running the database for local networking.  The RDP setup I described lets you get into the different boxes by assigning an RDP port to each computer through the router.


You would also need to get additional CALs for both user/device CALs on the server as well as MS Terminal Services CALS if you go the server/TS route.  

Let me know if you have any other questions!
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21782045
"too slow" is the catch phrase.  How do you define it?  "Too slow" is different for every user, for every application.  All I'm saying is that you should go into the project with the proper understanding of the underlying technology.  Test your VPN with a simple PING and see what the response time is.  Maybe the distances involved are small, and the VPN isn't too bad.  However, when I PING the upstream router from my DSL link at home, I get 20ms round-trip times, mainly because the packet goes through two switches, through a firewall, then out to the DSL modem, up the phone line, and then onto the ISP circuits (which could include more switches) before it hits the next router.

Your best solution is to try it out first and see if it will be acceptable to your users.  If it's not, though, at least you'll know before you spend all your efforts going down one road, only to find that the other road is far better paved...
0
 
LVL 1

Assisted Solution

by:bmpeterson
bmpeterson earned 50 total points
ID: 21782315
To the point

This is not a cheap problem to fix, so whoever wants this needs to understand that.

Peachtree sucks over the WAN. Could even cause file corruption or lock files to remain.

Store the data in a centeral location or centeral server and either have a terminal server allowing multiple remote desktop sessions or setup multiple client computers with remote desktop and Peachtree installed on them.
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21782336
Thanks for repeating everything I said bmpeterson...that helped.
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:bmpeterson
ID: 21782430
you said it in what 4 posts? what other person searching these boards will read all that? stop being so wordy and negative and sarcastic
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21782468
hahahahaha!!!  nice work boys.

I will review the posts this evening and present it to the client tomorrow.  Maybe I will create a third option which is to host it myself and allow them to remote into my server.

0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21782486
How about this...

I have a server that is running Windows 2003.  I could create a virtual server on it and install Peachtree.  Would that be worth exploring or do you two see a potential problem with that idea?  Does Peachtree work on a virtual server?  How demanding is the software?  

Thanks for the help.
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:bmpeterson
ID: 21782525
sam...

no need to give me any points..im just here to help.

that would work fine, but you will need enough power on the virtual server host machine, are you using esx or the free version? it would save you in hardware costs, but you would still need the licenses from ms and peachtree for the os and software.
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21782553
PeachTree and Pervasive do work in a virtualized environment.  VMWare ESX or low-overhead hypervisor-based solutions are ideal, but they will function on a hosted Virtual server, too, with VirtualServer or VMWare Server.  Again, you're adding overhead.

I've often thought of trying to host applications for my customers, but the necessary equipment to meet an SLA (i.e. multiple internet links, multiple points of entry into the building, multiple power solutions, redundent disk arrays or SANs, UPS's, and backup power generators) seems like a big gamble until you ramp up the number of customers actually using it.  Without all that good stuff, there's no way to meet any Service Level Agreement.  

Of course, for non-critical resources, this might be acceptable.  But I can't imagine telling customers paying for a service that they cannot access their accounting system because a lightning bolt knocked out power or my ISP is having a temporary hiccup.

But we digress....
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21787057
BillBach >  Good points.  I was trying to think how I could get some new software (and hardware) out of the project but this doesn't sound like the project to do it with.  I couldn't offer most of the functions necessary for a decent level SLA and I don't want to offer some "fly by night/basement style" option.

bmpeterson > You've added to the conversation.  No reason you wouldn't get the points for it.

The meeting with the client was delayed because he had to make a service call.  That will give me a little more time to think about this.  (By "think", I mean, discuss with the experts in this post)
0
How your wiki can always stay up-to-date

Quip doubles as a “living” wiki and a project management tool that evolves with your organization. As you finish projects in Quip, the work remains, easily accessible to all team members, new and old.
- Increase transparency
- Onboard new hires faster
- Access from mobile/offline

 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21787080
Ok.  Rather then me have a server here hosting their app, how about they get a beefy pc at their office and I can install virtual pc on it?  That way the different sites can connect to a virtual pc and not interfere with each other.  Could that work a little better?
0
 
LVL 9

Accepted Solution

by:
authen-tech earned 275 total points
ID: 21787209
Yes, now that would seem to work fine if you got a pc "beefy" enough to handle multiple Virtual Machines at the same time.  This way you could forward ports to static IP's setup on the virtual machines and have someone remote into them directly.  It would be darn fast for connectivity since they are really connecting through the network on the same pc.  I have several clients doing this with standalone pc's...connecting remote employees into the local network to work locally on a quickbooks database.  It works quite well.  This Virtual solution would almost be better if you only had to spend the money on one spec'ed out computer (and the licensing for the other OS's).  Although it still might be cheaper to go the direct route of setting up MS Terminal Services on a server if there is already a server in question.  If that still needs to be purchased...I a machine running multiple virtual machines would be cheaper.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21787233
Cool.  That may be the solution then.  This client doesn't have any servers so I am thinking they will find the beefy pc a better fit for them.  Maybe a term server down the road.  

So if I setup a pc with virtual pc's, I won't need any VPN devices?  Or would I need a decent fw/router at the site with the virtual pcs?
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21787267
I'm out for the night.  I am going to work on the specs for a good pc to handle this kind of load that will be generated.

I would ask that everyone please post any final thoughts so I can wrap up this question.  Thank you to everyone who has added to this question.  Unless I hear a suggestion or concern regarding the virtual pc idea, that will be the plan.  If there is something I am not thinking of, please let me know before I close out the question.  Have a great Sunday!
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21787572
You don't need any VPN solution if you follow the instructions I posted at the beginning for Remote Desktop and changing the listening port so you can forward multiple RDP ports through the firewall.

Here it is again: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306759

Good luck
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21792872
Thanks authen-tech.  Not sure how dumb of a question this is but since all three of the pc's that will be accessing this virtual pc are Vista, does that affect anything with the virtual pc?  Such as, does it matter what OS the host of the virtual sessions is?
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21792904
If you use Virtual PC instead of VM-ware or another program...Virtual PC only runs on Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, Windows XP Professional, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.   So be sure you have one of the OS's above.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21793012
Good advice.  That will help with the config of the host pc.  I use VPC on XP Pro now so I will probably stick with it.

Here is the specs for the host pc.  Comments/suggestions?

HP dc5750
XP Pro
Athlon 64 x2 5600 Dual Core (2.8G)
4GB PC2-6400
2x 160GB SATA in RAID 1
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21793577
4GB is the most memory you can use in 32-bit hardware, and you should be able to easily set up 2 or 3 VPC environments for remote users.  The rest of the specs really don't matter as much, though.  

As for VirtualPC versus VirtualServer, I have used them both, and even the VMWare solutions.  It may not matter which one you pick, although I confess that VMWare's virtual desktop (part of VMWare Server) is VERY nice for management.  

No matter which you choose, be sure to configure it to start all the VM's when the system reboots.  I believe VirtualPC does NOT do this by default.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21793694
BillBach:  Thanks for the info.  I thought 3GB was the most recognized by 32bit and I can't remember the max for 64bit (128GB??).  I went with 64bit because of the memory limitation of 32bit.  Good call regarding Virtual PC's config not set by default to start the VM's.  That would explain an issue I was having at another site.  Does VMWare have a free virtual desktop?  
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21793789
Depends on the exact system config.  I've seen some systems getting as high as 3.4GB usable out of 4GB.    You are correct -- XP64 supports up to 128GB of physical RAM.

VMWare's "Desktop" solution is called VMWare Workstation, and must be purchased.  VMWare Workstation included much better management tools, and honestly is worth the cost if you're going to do a lot of VM work and you'll need to snapshot, copy or otherwise mess with the VMs.  However, VMWare Workstation won't run as a service -- so you'd have to log in the user session on the VM hardware for it to work.  With VMWare Server, the service starts when you boot -- no other work required.  (I've not examined VirtualPC to see if you can start it by itself as a service -- it may or may not be possible.)

You MUST have this capability if you need the remote users functional at all times, otherwise a power failure and eventual restore (after the UPS dies) at the site can result in the system becoming unusable until someone physically goes to the box to log in.
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21793963
Virtual PC can be configured to start when the computer starts (put it in startup folder) and specific VM's can be set to start automatically when Virtual PC is started.  
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21794092
Ohhh.....  Well, both those posts help out even more.  

I had no idea this question would turn out the way it did.  Great job by everyone.  Not only did you help me with the original problem but helped me come up with a better solution.  I can't thank you enough for sticking with the question and offering constructive, well thought out ideas.  I am going to close this out and begin figuring out how the h3ll to score this.  If you feel you should have received a different score, let me know.  I don't want anyone to feel cheated.  I know how that goes as I usually try to be on the other side of the question and love getting those points.  Take care!
0
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Bill Bach
ID: 21794101
But the startup folder ONLY executes when the user logs in, right?  If there's anything that resets the box, such as power, MS Auto-Update, etc., then manual intervention would be required.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21794118
Good point.  What if you remove the CTLR+ALT+DEL req at login?  Since this will be at his office (single office, no other employees at satellite office), the security issue should be mute.  I guess an aggressive virus could have its way with the pc though...
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21794156
According to our own post here: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Applications/Q_23166454.html

You may want to get Virtual Server found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/downloads.aspx
which can run as a service.

Good luck!
0
 
LVL 9

Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 21794173
The database would be kept on the host pc correct?  A shared folder that the two virtual sessions would connect to.  (Just trying to document the h3ll out of this)
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 21794224
Yes that's correct.
0
 
LVL 28

Assisted Solution

by:Bill Bach
Bill Bach earned 175 total points
ID: 21794228
Likely the best solution, yes.  Could be stored on a different computer as well.  

You're going to have a performance trade-off, though:
- Data on local machine eliminates "real" network calls, so there should be some performance gain.
- Overhead of virtualization will reduce performance.

Not sure whether you'll see the best results with data local or on a machine without the VM's.  The PSQL database will run lots better with lots of RAM dedicated to the database cache.  Consider increasing L1 cache from the 32MB default, too.
0
 
LVL 9

Author Closing Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 31467019
Great job guys!  I needed everyone's help with this and am greatful that everyone stuck it out as long as they did.  Very intelligent posts, summaries and suggestions.  The client was thrilled by the proposal and I owe a great deal of that to you all.  Thank you!  I hope I get a chance to work with you again.  Take care!

-Aaron
0

Featured Post

Highfive Gives IT Their Time Back

Highfive is so simple that setting up every meeting room takes just minutes and every employee will be able to start or join a call from any room with ease. Never be called into a meeting just to get it started again. This is how video conferencing should work!

Join & Write a Comment

Getting data out of MAS90 doesn’t have to be tedious or time consuming.  With any version of Excel using the included Microsoft Query function, you can access just about any data set or combination of data sets stored in your MAS90 MAS200 Software. …
Learn about cloud computing and its benefits for small business owners.
In this seventh video of the Xpdf series, we discuss and demonstrate the PDFfonts utility, which lists all the fonts used in a PDF file. It does this via a command line interface, making it suitable for use in programs, scripts, batch files — any pl…
This demo shows you how to set up the containerized NetScaler CPX with NetScaler Management and Analytics System in a non-routable Mesos/Marathon environment for use with Micro-Services applications.

706 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

18 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now