A while ago I posted a beef with a software vendor I’ve had experience with called Sage. They’re the makers of software like Peachtree Accounting, MAS 90, 200 and 500 oh and lets not forget the contact management software called ACT which by the way I actually kind of like. The ACT division has something about it that’s different than the rest of the group, secondly I must say that the Peachtree group is my next favorite and lastly the MAS group which has a TON of ground to make up but from what I understand they’re trying. I’ll give them credit there, they’re trying…I think…
For what it’s worth their MAS family of software is OK, not horrible, not stellar, just mediocre and still definitely 3rd (last place) on my list of the Sage products I’ve had the pleasure of supporting . I suppose if we factor in the price it could even be called good and that it gets the job done (but still 3rd at this point in time). For whatever reason though there is an animosity that resellers of the product have against people on the outside, IT people like me that are not in the Sage MAS Family Partner Network. That basically means I didn’t pay to resell their software, I didn’t get training, I don’t get commissions and well, I’m just not good enough to click a mouse on their executable to install it and I sure can’t configure it because it’s such a complicated software (are you getting my sarcasm?). I happen to charge less than their partners do and my systems don’t hang or need debugging. My number one suggestion if you think about putting in Sage’s heavy application, a real server from Dell (Dual Core or better), 4 gig of RAM minimum, dual gigabit teamed nic’s and at minimum 10k RPM hard drives oh and you also NEED to connect your clients to gigabit Ethernet like your server is so they are all lined up at the same speed. With that, bye bye bugs that are hardware or network related!
I received quite a few responses with my initial post, I laid out several issues and I appreciate all the great responses. I recently came across Wayne Schultz’s post titled “5 assumptions I’ll make when debugging your MAS 200 server“. Wayne actually posted to my initial blog about Sage and I signed up for his newsletter which I get regularly. Because Wayne has so graciously posted a fair use clause on his site I’ve taken the liberty to re-post it here for the greater IT community with as you noticed, a link back to his original post above!
One of the toughest things to diagnose are sporadic Sage MAS 200 errors. Typically these manifest themselves as Error 12 conditions or cryptic lockups that bring the MAS200 server to a grinding halt (usually mid-day or in the midst of a heavy processing day).
The first thing I’ll usually try with a MAS 200 server problem is running the server app as a program instead of a service. This seems to be especially helpful for larger sites (for sake of argument lets label a site with over 10 users as large).
If you’re seeing error messages like “Connection failure to host:[tcp]Servername;####;NODELAY;STREAM” when starting tasks – these can often be resolved with the tweaks from our site.
I’ve diagnosed more than a few of these in my career. While they’re highly annoying – they generally can be resolved with careful and systematic checking of configurations and settings.
My observation is that many sites however fail in diagnosing the error conditions. Below is my list of the top 5 reasons that problems go un-resolved (or in some instances such as failing to have a backup – get worse).
Top 5 Reasons Your MAS 200 Server Keeps Having Errors
- The IT person didn’t do what I asked because they typically don’t know how and are too embarrassed to admit to you or the boss. If you’ve asked to have Anti-Virus exclude certain folders – check that it has been done. Similarly watch them make any changes (again). Yes, you’ll have to put up with some heavy breathing and sighs. This is something all IT people learn to do in school.
- Even though staff will say “It couldn’t be this” – check it anyway. Insist on it. Watch them do it. That goes for any of the Sage KB suggestions as well as instructions on excluding folders, files, etc on antivirus scans. Probably 40% of the problems go away when users actually try the fixes (as opposed to saying they tried them). (Tip: Always backup first – and be sure to read my #5 below).
- The fact that Word and Excel run are totally irrelevant to any diagnosis of why MAS 200 won’t run — but the IT folks will hold that out as Prima Facie evidence that MAS 200 sucks, Sage sucks, Providex is a shitty language, SQL rocks, their MAS 200 consultant sucks, The Boss Sucks and their network is air-tight and better than any other on Planet Earth. You just have to develop a tough skin and keep running down the checklist.
- Roughly 40% of IT folks have no idea what administrative rights are. In general I test for this right off by right clicking on the Start button and noticing whether “explore ALL” is an option. When that’s not present I assume the user doesn’t have administrative rights. Quite a few times after I do this and announce the results the IT folks disappear for a half hour or so. I’m pretty sure they’re going in the back to look up “administrative rights” in their “Server Administration for Dummies” book.
- The IT staff don’t have a proper backup. Drag the entire \MAS90 folder (and all subfolders) to a separate location locally before starting.
Our site contains information on the different ways that you can correct many MAS 200 errors. The key is to systematically try them all one by one and observe whether small changes to your setup are correcting the issues you exist with MAS200 lockups.
© 2009 – 2010, Wayne Schulz. All rights reserved. Limited use is allowed provided you included the following link back to our site “Via: Schulz Consulting Sage MAS90 & MAS200 Consulting”
Robert WoodMy favorites are the ones where the clients are having lock ups and the network admin is insisting it’s a MAS 90 problem because nothing else is locking up. We argue for an hour or more. I leave with no resolution. Within a couple of days they finally take my advice and start changing out hardware and I get a call a week later and after they replaced the NIC (switch, cable, etc.) it’s working better than ever. No lockups.
I had a client call yesterday. They were receiving an error message — PRCxxx.SOA is missing.This message generally indicates one of two problems:
1. The file IS missing
2. The file is corrupt
Thankfully this client was honest and confessed to “deleting some files” in MAS 90 that perhaps he should not have.
Which leads me to wonder exactly how many computer related problems (not necessarily MAS90 or MAS200 even) are brought upon by end users doing something to cause the error condition?
Robert WoodIt’s funny because it’s true.
I tried to post this but I’m unsure if at this time Wayne approved the comment (Wayne graciously did approve my comment – THANKS WAYNE! Cancel that, there one minute GONE the next – Wayne you are not cool!). On my site I like to practice free speech and I’ll post practically any comment that’s written with a human hand and that makes sense, even negative comments add to the greater good and knowledge base!
Here’s my comment to Wayne’s post…
Hi Wayne, you posted on my site so I’ll post on yours if you don’t mind publishing my comments. I find your 5 tips condescending to most IT professionals and in line with Sage and their partner network’s elitist views that their word is gospel and that most IT people outside of the sage network don’t know what they’re doing. I see you commented on a client’s IT person deleting a file from a MAS directory. This should indicate to anyone that Sage doesn’t understand “administrative rights” because you’re required to give all users of MAS full rights to the directory that Sage resides in. That action in itself is ludicrous and shows poor design on the part of Sage’s product. By design it gives anyone the right to delete whatever they want, truly a flaw with Sage not IT pro’s. Your attitude and comment are classic examples of why Sage has the problems it does with the IT community at large (people off the Sage payroll).
Here are my thoughts on Wayne’s 5 tips to debugg your MAS 200 server.
- Tip 1 and 2 deal with virus scan’s, has Sage not figured out how to deal with AV? I find it quite odd that you have to exclude directories from anti-virus scanning so their product will run properly. I guess it’s not the end of the world since end user file deletion to the Sage program directory is a much bigger problem, better tackle that one first!
- Tip 3, this tip seems most unhelpful – what IT pro assumes MAS won’t run if a totally unrelated program won’t run? This tip is perhaps the most insulting tip of the list and is it really a debugging procedure or just a poke at how inept you’re accusing your own client of being? I don’t think I’d be your client any longer if you insulted me like that on a website that anyone in the world can read.
- Tip 4, I’m sure that 40% statistic is pulled out of a joke bag for entertainment purposes…or was there a study done by Harvard you could cite? Where did that number come from? Lets bump it up to 80% for giggles and assume they all work in Sage’s MAS 90 Development Center! As I’ve already noted several times the permissions are by (poor) design on the part of Sage not IT pro’s who are told to give those directory permissions.
- Tip 5, it’s interesting how a “proper backup” is a drag and drop method. I haven’t seen such a sophisticated method of backing up an application since Windows 3.1. MAS is truly a stellar product!
To conclude I’d like to simply state that we should all be honest here. Sage MAS 90, 200, and 500 are mediocre products, they certainly have flaws. Wayne himself pointed out a glaring flaw in fact and in my opinion it’s a HUGE one because it’s at the core of their product. <– I’ve bolded that for extra emphasis! :) I’d hardly call giving full permissions to your program directory to every user of the system a “bug”, that’s a flat out security hole. That practice which has been around forever (and I think it exists with Peachtree products as well) goes against every security and application development 101 class because it allows anyone to delete your content. Definitely not a “bug”!
I don’t think Sage will be as widely accepted in the IT community until it breaks their current corporate culture of elitism both in their office and in their partner network. It’s so hard to take Sage and their reseller network seriously when they talk about server infrastructure, networking or their own product as I sighted on my initial post because they don’t give you the respect or dignity you deserve as an IT pro. They in fact chase their tail when you ask them technical questions especially about their product’s user capacity (as though 10 simultaneous users was a “large” user…Peach Tree Quantum does 30…maybe more now?). It always seems to be a he said – he said game of finger pointing between IT pro’s and Sage resellers. Unfortunately posts like Wayne’s and this very post propagate the animosity between the IT community and Sage + its reseller partners. I’d have to believe though that since I’m relatively new to dealing with Sage that this is a well rooted tradition which is confirmed by other more experienced IT pro’s who have posted to my initial Sage post. That post can be found here if you’d like to read it –> Link.
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about buying a Sage product think long and hard about it. A cheap price shouldn’t be the only motivation for purchasing a product. Feel free to ask me what I think about Sage or their competitors and I’ll give you my honest answer! I am not a reselling partner of any product so I have no vested interest in selling you either way.
Take note that when I was doing an initial investigation for these types of products that Micro$oft never even called me back, they had no real phone number for me to call and I couldn’t get past the gate keepers so God only knows how good or bad their product is or how it performs next to Sage’s. Thinking about it for a moment I think they’re quite different in operation actually. The one glaring positive that Microsoft has over Sage is that I don’t think Microsoft will tell you to give your end users full access to their program directory :P
I actually jumped through the hoops once and closed the security holes so that MAS200 CS actually ran as a Client/Server system where the users did not have the ability to destroy the system. It functioned, allowed read access for ODBC from the workstations and the server processes were all that could manipulate files.
You never get it to survive through the next upgrade. Roll the security rock back uphill, find it destroyed again. So, most MAS200 systems live out there just waiting for a malevolent user to just wipe the whole damn thing clean. Usually us System Admins in the Lowly Worm IT come to terms with it and don’t let it keep us awake at nights, but having worked once on a HIPAA system with a buddy, fully understand the difference between Sage 100 and security.
A new post to an old blog entry because “NOTHING HAS CHANGED”. The default recommended install allows the “CLIENTS” to destroy the system at a whim, instead of locking it down so the “SERVER” is the only one allowed ADMIN access.
I look on in horror as Certified Sage support tells me to do this, given today’s Internet environment, all you need to take down a company is target one of the MAS200 users with a trojan that immediately goes out to your MAS200 share and executes with extreme prejudice anything found in a folder called MAS90…