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Accessing Dynamics GP 2010 thru Terminal Server

We are upgrading our Dynamics GP 10 accessed via an in house virtual server and client installations...to Dynamics GP 2010.  This new server will be located off site and they want all users to access thru the Terminal Server rather than directly from a local installation.  Can some tell me some of the pros and cons to this setup.  I am a GP poweruser rather than a Network user.  I have concerns if what they want to do will work for our needs.  We have about 30 users that would be accessing thru Terminal Server.  We also use products like Integration Manager (a lot), FRX and Crystal Reports.  Please someone help with my concerns or give me good info to tell the powers that be we need to take another route.  
Thanks
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nursecore
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nursecore
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Steve EndowMicrosoft MVP - Dynamics GPCommented:
Hi,

The configuration you describe with GP 2010 off site and access through Terminal Server is a very standard setup nowadays.

If the GP SQL Server is located off site, the only practical option for accessing GP is via Terminal Server, since a GP client installed on a local workstation cannot work reliably over a VPN connection across the Internet.

As long as the remote servers are very reliable and properly maintained and administered, and as long as your local Internet connection and the remote Internet connection are reliable, then the setup should be fine.

I have about a dozen different Dynamics GP servers on my local network that I work with, and I also connect remotely to many client servers, and all are accessed via Terminal Server.  It works very well, with only an occasional minor issue (server needs a reboot, etc.).  With Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, Terminal Services and Remote Desktop are now extremely reliable.

And one big benefit of Terminal Server is that you don't have to update 30 workstations when you have a GP service pack or upgrade or customization.  You only need to update the Terminal Servers.  It's a huge time saver.  Also, performance with Terminal Servers should be very good, as you won't have 30 different workstations running GP as it drags alot of data across the company network.  


Although it is a good setup, there are some things you will have to do slightly differently.

1. IM. If you use Integration Manager, you will need to have a procedure to easily transfer your source data files from your desktop to the Terminal Server machine.  For instance, if someone gives you an Excel or CSV file, you need to copy that file to the Terminal Server where Integration Manager is installed.  This should not be a problem, and can be done via a mapped client drive in Terminal Server, but it is a small extra step.

2. Printing.  To print documents or reports from GP, or from the Terminal Server, you will need to have your local printers mapped to your Terminal Server session.  This is standard and should be easy to setup.  However, I have seen a few situations where the printer mapping stopped working and a service needed to be restarted on the server, or the server needed a reboot.  Again, Server 2008 R2 is probably more reliable in this regard.

3. Drive mappings.  If you use network shares (which you should for convenience), those network shares should be mapped consistently for all users on the Terminal Server.  Should be simple to do.

4. Office.  If you use MS Office, it should be installed on the Terminal Server.  This will allow you to do more work on the Terminal Server without having to switch batch and forth to your PC to work with Excel or Word files.  And if you plan on using the Word Templates feature of GP 2010, Word will need to be installed.

5. Outlook.  If Outlook is installed on the Terminal Server, you can send and receive e-mail without having to switch to your desktop.  This is handy when you receive an Excel file that relates to data in GP, or when you receive a file you need to import using IM.  It is also required if you plan on e-mailing Word Templates from GP 2010.  Just make sure that the 32 bit version of Outlook is installed, as the 64 bit version is not supported by GP 2010 e-mailing.

6. Users, performance, and redundancy.  You mention you have 30 users.  The last time I looked, the recommendation was to put no more than 20 active GP users on a single Terminal Server for performance reasons.  That may be conservative, but even if you could have 30 active users on one server, you are definitely going to want a second (or third) server for redundancy purposes.  With two servers, you can load balance to distribute users evenly, and have a backup in case one server has a problem or needs maintenance.

7. Backups.  If your Terminal Server and SQL Server are off site, you will need to make sure that you have a good, reliable backup process for both the GP SQL databases and the GP client files (including dictionaries, IM, FRx folders, etc.).  It's no different than a local setup of GP, but you may need to get extra storage or make extra arrangements to ensure that your 'off site' backups at the remote facility have an additional level of 'off site' storage in case that facility becomes inaccessible.

8. Disaster Recovery.  I would recommend thinking about a plan in case your remote Terminal Servers cannot be accessed.  What if your local Internet Connection goes down for 8 hours?  30 people won't be able to do work in GP.  What if the remote Internet Connection at the hosting facility goes down?  What if the Terminal Servers have an issue?  There are some options to partially mitigate these, but they aren't easy to fully mitigate.  For instance, if your local internet connection goes down, you could have a Verizon MiFi 4G LTE device that could provide up to 10 people with wireless Internet connectivity (which is what I do for a backup).  There are no magic solutions, but just something to consider.


Those are just some things I can think of at the moment, but if you have any other questions, please let me know.

Thanks,

Steve Endow
Dynamics GP Certified Trainer
Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional
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nursecoreAuthor Commented:
Thanks that is a lot of REALLY great information.  I'm feeling better about the change!!

So can the users still have use different Reports.dic's & Intergrations?  If so can you explain that process?
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Steve EndowMicrosoft MVP - Dynamics GPCommented:
Hi,

The different reports dictionaries might be a bit tricky, since you would typically just have one dictionary on the server. It is technically possible to have multiple dictionaries, but you would need to have different Dynamics.set files, and usually different GP icons which is not the best solution.

Depending on which reports require multiple formats, you could transition some to Word Templates in GP 2010, which offers alot of flexibility, such as a different format by vendor or customer.

For Integration Manager, you could consolidate all of your Integrations into a single database, so all integrations would be available in IM.  But IM 2010 does have some bugs, so you may have to work through a few minor issues to work through at first.

Steve
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nursecoreAuthor Commented:
We do currently have about 10 users that access our current Great Plains via Citrix.  We have to have the different dictionaries with restrictions on them to prevent our locations from seeing the others data on their reports.  Is Citrix the best solutions for this type setup or can it be done with Terminal Server?  

We use IM all day everyday and have found the having separate databases allows them to world at the same time without a lot of errors.  Is there a solution that would help with that.
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Steve EndowMicrosoft MVP - Dynamics GPCommented:
Hi,

Citrix is fine for accessing GP--very similar to Terminal Services, but with a lot more options and management features.  Either Citrix or Terminal Services works fine, so it's a matter of preference for the IT administrators.

I have never tried having multiple IM databases on the same machine.  Here is a blog post that indicates that the IM 10 database is typically set separately for each user (which I never knew!), so it looks like it might be possible to have separate databases for separate users on a Terminal / Citrix server.

http://www.jivtesh.com/2008/04/integration-manager-10-changing-path-of.html

Good to know!  You can give it a try and confirm if IM 2010 still works that way.

Thanks,

Steve Endow
Dynamics GP Certified Trainer
Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional
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nursecoreAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much for all your help!!
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