Wednesday, 29 October 2008 18:06

MYOB makes the move to SQL Server, .NET

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MYOB - "Mind Your Own Business" - is one of Australia's best known financial management software for small businesses. After 17 years its platform is being re-engineered using leading edge Microsoft technologies.
MYOB opened its doors in 1991 and has helped many a sole trader and small business owner take care of their accounts, inventory and payroll with minimal in-house accounting expertise required.

MYOB's successful penetration of its target market can be attributed to, among other factors, its popularity with bookkeepers as well as its widespread distribution through major retail chains such as Harvey Norman and OfficeWorks.

Within the last decade MYOB have also pursued expansion throughout the Asia-Pacific, North America and European markets.

Yet, despite all this MYOB has never found favour with larger businesses and enterprises. Part of this is because its feature set is not aimed for companies with transactions and entities beyond a certain size.

However, part is also due to the technical platform MYOB has been built on, favouring its own proprietary file-based database storage.

Being file-based, MYOB databases don't scale well beyond a small number of concurrent users and most definitely doesn't perform across a wide area network without the use of terminal services.

These matters, for the most part, aren't important to the vast bulk of MYOB's audience because they simply will not find themselves in those situations where MYOB's scalability issues are relevant.

Yet, there is an area where the closed database nature of MYOB does matter to small businesses, and MYOB are poised to announce just what they are doing to make a world of improvement.

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Where MYOB's purpose-built database structure has become a stumbling block is when companies invariably wish to develop their own custom reports, or to streamline data analysis within Microsoft Excel or other tools.

Out of the box, an MYOB database cannot be read by any piece of software besides the MYOB software itself. An ODBC database driver is provided but an additional license fee must be paid to 'turn on' the ODBC access for any given database.

A successful industry has developed around supporting MYOB, which includes building custom applications that hook into MYOB and thus necessitates ODBC being enabled. Licensing connectivity on a per database level adds a level of administrative complexity and is uncommon among conventional database products.

Nevertheless, it's all now moot. In one move, these many and varied gripes and concerns look set to be eliminated with MYOB currently re-engineering their product range.

In a touch of marketing-speak, the new platform is touted as the somewhat ambiguous "SQL.NET," but a quick question to MYOB's developer support team confirmed that this is indeed meant to signify Microsoft's SQL Server database engine coupled with a .NET front-end. What's more, MYOB's project team have also embraced Agile development philosophies, putting this project on the cutting edge.

Registered MYOB developers will have an early peek of the new platform in seminars being held in Australian capital cities during November, and a preliminary webinar is available for download through MYOB's developer resource site.

MYOB expect to make a beta release available in February 2009, and anticipate a full release to the New Zealand market in June/July 2009, and to Australia in September 2009.

MYOB's decision to move towards SQL Server puts them in the same category as another well-known financial system, namely MicrOpay who, in recent years, also transitioned their payroll software from a proprietary closed database to SQL Server, much to the pleasure of app developers, systems administrators and database gurus everywhere.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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