2021-2022 – What happened?

The last time I blogged on here was to see out the Covid-ridden 2020 and see in 2021, I then forgot to blog for 2 years. Sorry about that.

2021 was more of the same, focus on work and home life balance, getting used to permanent work from home and was overall a pretty quiet year. 2022 then saw some changes, some adaptations to be made on a personal and professional level, some losses, and some gains. There was emotional turmoil and a big bang to end when finally everyone got together to share stories, and ideas and generate optimism for the future. Some 2021/2022 items made it to my personal blog at https://johnnyward.me.uk for those interested!

So what comes next…

Well, 2023 will be a big year, watch this space.

Level 3 and more

So, after I gained the Level 2 certification in my last post, I soon gained the Level 3 (after a battle on a couple of tough areas)

This now means I have a bunch of certificates showing I am trained in all technical areas of the Epicor ERP 10.1 product, however this does not mean I know the product inside out or can achieve any task asked of me. For that I need experience, and in whatever “spare” time available to me, I am constantly refreshing my knowledge, diving deeper into areas of the system and getting my head around the vast areas of business processes that can run through such a diverse and complex system.

On top of that we’re gearing up for a new release, and the 10.2 version looks set to be a game changer for many areas, and I will be sure to post links to the PR and marketing as I truly believe the new version looks the business! Watch this space…

Day to day I’m still installing and configuring ERP systems for many customers, I’ve lost track of the numbers a little bit, but probably installing 3-4 sites per month, many of these are upgrade projects from legacy versions and we now have fantastic tooling in place to make that journey less painful for the customer. It’s fair to say I’m very lucky having so many skilled and talented people around me, making my day job a lot easier!

Another area I’m very much moving into is training and on-site consultancy. If a customer needs a full system admin training course, or just a refresher then I’m part of a UK team that can now deliver that. To date I have delivered 2 full 2-day courses on sysadmin, and 5+ remote refresher sessions for those who already know the basics (or former versions) and need specific areas covering. System Admin courses include SQL management, ERP application server deployment, usage of Epicor admin tools, performance monitoring and many other areas.

Delivering these training courses is fast becoming one of my favourite things to do as typically I get to talk tech for 2 days with other technical people, enabling them to effectively manage the systems that run their business, regardless of what they actually make or do.

Career & Tech Update June 2017

Somehow I managed to let the last 7 months slip by without so much of an update, so no doubt anyone that usually reads this, no longer does!

However, I like to update this blog in order to note my milestones, especially where my career is concerned. I reference all aspects of the last post Found Here

So far in 2017 I have been pretty much doing what I did in the last 6 months of 2016, working with customers to develop technical solutions around their ERP systems. Primarily I am involved in the initial design and install of ERP environments, by that I mean I sit down with a customer (on a technical level) and discuss the various hardware and software requirements around the product the have already signed of on, mostly this is the Epicor ERP10 solution, which is a world leading product aimed at mostly manufacturing and distribution companies across all sectors. Once a customer has made an informed choice on their physical and/or virtual environment where their new system will sit, I am involved in planning, installing and documenting the base deployment of the system. Typically 4 databases (Live, Pilot, Test and Demo) with a variety of additional elements and solutions such as Web Access, Document Management, External System interfacing etc.

Traditionally that is the point where I stop and hand over to the customer a fully documented base install – note if this is an upgrade project they would have their data upgraded as part of this process too. However, I was set a challenge by my superior, and also by myself, tp go beyond the installations and technical planning stages, to spread my wings and my reach a little bit further, deeper into the product.

And so, after 6 months of mixing the day job as described above, with the other day job of keeping my old “managed services” customers up and running, and a few “tech days” on site at multiple customers; training their IT people on managing the ERP infrastructure with an addition of 9 solid days (spread out) of online classroom training, and additional self-paced learning courses… I am now certified as a  Level 1 Tools Consultant up to the latest released version of ERP10 (10.1.600). 

Whilst Level 1 does sound rather basic, and may even be ridiculed by some, what it has given me over the last couple of months, is an ability to understand and appreciate the inner workings of an ERP system, to finally understand how and why customers do not use these systems “out of the box”. Tools consulting is all about helping tailor a system to a company’s individual needs through the use of inbuilt tooling. I am also fortunate that I work alongside a number of people who go one step beyond this into the custom solutions world where they utilise external tools and code to further enhance the systems. I am no developer, but have always dabbled in code, and examples on this blog from years gone by show the random times when I have explored that side of my technical work. Being able to potentially start consulting on tools related work will definitely allow me to mix all aspects of my career to date, and this hopefully will be a great fit for me, allowing me to further enhance and adapt my career.

Back on my last post in November 2016 I listed a number of areas where I was developing within the IT/Tech world. I’d like to review some of those with an update:

  • SQL Skills – With the release of SQL 2016 and a number of challenges regarding compatibility with various platforms and products, I have yet again become rather adept at installation and configuration of SQL environments. I’m also starting to develop a nice library of useful SQL query snippets, from resetting DB ownership, to replacing strings in fields and backup/restore/overwrite of entire ERP environments!
  • ERP – As discussed above I now have a much deeper understanding of the implementation and usage of ERP systems, recent training has opened my eyes to the worlds of finance and manufacturing processes. I have also branched out further into some specific areas, such as CRM and Field Service setups. More of this to come I am sure.
  • Hyper-V – Not really had the chance to go really hands on with this level of setup, in most cases I advise the customer how to set things up but don’t actually get involved in those stages. That said I’ve fixed a handful of Hyper-V snapshot and backup related issues for multiple customers recently so I have to keep my knowledge up where possible.
  • VMWare ESX – same as for Hyper-V really, although I have some interesting migration/decommission work coming up soon so maybe a watch this space.
  • RDS  – I finally have my RDS customers stable and happy, with good performance and no recent complaints! I’ve also worked on implementations related to handheld warehouse devices and ERP client deployment both on RemoteApp and Desktop Sessions.

Do you remember the Coming up list…

Back in November I listed 3 key areas of focus for 2017, with a little Watch This Space…

It seems that out of the three items, two of them are very real, in fact the whole beginning of this post/story covers the Tools area, the other is Solutions, which as a side note to the day job appear to be my area of expertise. By this I mean i have become the main installation resource for a variety of extended solutions (CRM clients, Document Management Email plugins, Project Management integration etc.), also I have become a suport contact point for these and have had some significant contact around the globe  identifying and troubleshooting issues on these solutions. Basically becoming a human intermediary between Developers and Customers – as we all know Developer’s are beyond human  ūüėČ 

My last point was Cloud, and in a way without realising it Cloud is part of every day life at home and work. I need to specifically do more work with it, and have targets set against that, so I hope that by the end of this year I will be able to update in more details on that!.


Thanks as always for reading what is by far my longest post!


End of an Era

After almost 2 years of hacking, configuring, fixing, uploading, manipulating, coding and moaning, my time working on the systems on Redsumo.com is drawing to a close.

It has sure been an adventure, overall a fun but challenging experience. I’ve had to reverse engineer someone else’s setup and code, work out new ways of managing a virtualised infrastructure, constantly adapt to the threats that face an online business and all within my usual day job.

In some ways I’m sad to see all my efforts literally disappear as the systems move to a dedicated hosting environment powered by cPanel. Sure I will keep my bits of code, and retain all the lessons I have learned, but it’s almost as if a part of me will be going forever over the next week or so!

Good luck to Redsumo.com in all their ventures in the future, and thank you for allowing me the experience of managing such a complex environment.

Latest sites involvement

Over the last week or so I’ve been spending every spare minute from the day job on yet more Redsumo.com customer websites. The first of these is a WordPress blog for Adrian Ashby, a terminal cancer patient denied drugs based on his postcode! – the site is built to help raise ¬£50,000 in order to provide the much needed drugs. Go to the site at: http://www.adrianashby.org.uk – From a technical point of view this site uses a cut down version of the Redsumo.com News Blog theme, and features HTML5 video, Auction bidding (using contact forms), and the usual social media¬†integration.

The next site is a remake of ProfileKawasaki.co.uk which is broken due to malicious code, fortunately due to the new superbike season the site needed a complete revamp anyway, and the site is well underway with a new blogging platform sitting alongside the main site.

There’s another site with some WordPress magic, this is for Blenheim Hall (Pebworth) and their news page will contain posts from a WordPress blog but the content will appear as part of the main site theme, with the blog back-end providing the text only and not a seperate interface, this one is starting to look really good, and once it’s live I will be posting the links and cut down versions of the code used.