Caliach Price List from May 2013

Revised prices from Caliach from 1st May 2013 are available here.

Caliach Vision ERP post-V4 White Paper

Prepared: 1st March 2013

Purpose: This is a technical white paper designed to provide insight for Caliach customers into where we at Caliach are most likely to invest effort in the development of Caliach Vision and what, as a result, they can expect to see in future releases of the program.

Latest: See the end of this document for the latest news on this project.

Where does Caliach Vision stands after the recent V4 release?

V4 is a major milestone as it completed a number of important steps which were:

  • Introducing Data Views, Graphs 2 and Key Performance Indicators.
  • Migrating to a fully Unicode environment.
  • Introducing Language-Swap and Language Editions.
  • Jumping up to the latest platform-capable Omnis Studio.

What then do we now need to address?

Caliach Vision's business logic and application environment is mature, reliable and in use extensively and in some cases on an unexpected scale. However, in a number of aspects it has limitations imposed on it's abilities. These limitations primarily have to do with it's data engine known as the Omnis Native Datafile (OND). It is through this that all data is stored and retrieved. Caliach use the OND primarily for the following reasons:

  • There is no setup, configuration, initialization or management for users to worry about or have to learn. It is effectively silent and runs right out-of-the-box.
  • It is tightly integrated with the application so change management is seamless.
  • It can be added to for customisation without affecting the above.
  • It has reasonable performance in multi-user medium scale situations.
  • It can be accessed (read-only with some limits) using ODBC by other programs.

For all these reasons it has been ideal for Caliach Vision's target users, particularly it's ease of use. However, it also has it's drawbacks:

  • The OND locks everyone in to a proprietary database that can only be accessed by Omnis Studio. This can be an advantage in data integrity and support but is a restriction to more advanced users.
  • We are all dependent on the Omnis folk maintaining it in the future.
  • OND also has practical size and user limitations that mean it is not scalable above a couple of dozen users so if companies grow fast they can outgrow Caliach Vision.
  • It is vulnerable to data corruption during client, network or server failures.

So what is the best way forward?

With the functionality that Caliach Vision now has, the ever-expanding scale of user databases and some warning signs of the OND not being seen as a development priority, we have been looking at alternatives. The obvious technical route is to move to SQL. SQL or Structured Query Language is not, as most people think, a database system like Oracle or IBM's DB2. It is what it says, a language. A simple scripting language defined internationally and implemented in many data systems. And there are thousands of programs that speak this language. It is though, completely different from the language spoken in the OND. Moving to SQL before now would have meant forcing users to move to a very different experience where the overall Caliach Vision experience would not be out-of-the-box, self-managing or highly supportable. A move to SQL would have fundamentally severed the current tight integration between application, logic and data that invariably happens with client-server SQL.

What is new?

Recently, however some ingenious technology has matured to remove many of these drawbacks in the form of a program called SQLite which has been built into Omnis Studio V5.2. It is a database engine which uses SQL as it's communication but it also has many of the characteristics of OND in that it is so compact that it can be built into the Omnis Studio environment and operates with no server-based service running. It is not client-server so is as easy to manage and maintain as OND. It is cross-platform and extremely widely used by such names as Apple, Adobe, Airbus (in the flight controls for the A350), and that is only a few of the As. You probably will use it today as it is built into all smartphones and widely used on web servers and browsers, email clients, etc. It is both 32-bit and 64-bit so can readily exploit the performance advantages 64-bit systems offer. We are currently using it ourselves for our Translation System Plug-in, Web-based language improvement system, FTP log custom feature and a Keyword analyser Plug-In.

What you as a Caliach Vision user can expect?

Moving to SQL with SQLite will retain some of Caliach Vision's big advantages but while doing so offer lots of opportunities for improved performance, data access options and integration with other systems.

Here are the benefits we would expect users to see:

  • Greater performance (speed, x5 to x100 in some circumstances) with large datafiles and concurrent user activities.
  • Greater flexibility in searching, sorting and joining data.
  • Data Views and therefore KPIs will become blisteringly fast and efficient.
  • Datafile integrity will be better with near-zero logical data corruption because SQL supports transactions with commit and rollback, something lacking in OND.
  • We can add more functionality with less fear of impacting performance.
  • Data can be read by numerous other programs such as report writers, web servers, spreadsheets, etc..
  • When you want more, such as scale, security or robustness, Caliach Vision will be a shoe-in for a server-service using MySQL or another client-server database engine. We would likely build the data interface to run with either SQLite or MySQL.

But here are some of the downsides:

  • Because SQL is an open language the data can be accessed from any SQL-ready program and in both read and write mode. While Caliach Vision's data now can be tampered with by a determined vandal, it becomes easier with SQL and there are loads of people out there that have competence in it. “UPDATE PTMFILE SET PTMPHYQ=0” will zero your entire stock of 200,000 parts in a second or so! Support becomes more difficult because we can be less sure that it is Caliach Vision that is creating the results you are seeing.
  • The Ad Hoc Report writer will go as the need for it will disappear.
  • We will try and retain upgrade and customisation simplicity but some of the current ease-of-use could be put at risk.
  • Some customisation will need to be re-written particularly where custom data slots have been added. Custom reports will, almost universally have to be re-built. The concept of “search” will change so User Searches, Search Calculations, Ad Hoc searches will all need to be replaced by “WHERE” clauses. But we will retain our print reports search dialogue windows because they are so easy to use.

Are there other things to expect?

  • Omnis Studio will go to 64bit. This will not be in the next major release of V6 which is in beta now and doesn't really effect us. But thereafter it is very likely to, bringing with it major performance enhancements where the operating system can exploit it.
  • It is now very difficult for us to continue to support CaliachMRP sites. There are a few left. But it uses technology dating back 20 years or more and there is precious little now that we can do to help those when they have problems. As a result we will drop support for CaliachMRP sites at the end of May 2014, along with the opportunity for discounted migration to Caliach Vision. Basically, from June 2014 CaliachMRP sites will not have to pay support but they will be on their own! If they want to move to Caliach Vision with their discount intact they need to do it before June 2014, otherwise we cannot guarantee we can migrate your data and you will have to pay the full site license.
  • SQL and client-server change the business ball-game in that, at a stroke, sites of literally thousands of users can be viable. Pandering to this is a danger that we intend to resist. Caliach Vision is not SAP or Oracle. Our skills and core objectives are to bring ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). We will vigorously resist the temptation to drift away from that core role.

What is the Latest Project News? (March 2014)

  • The research phase of the SQL Project was completed Dec 2013. Caliach Vision source code was then forked and implementation got underway.
  • 3 alternative DBMS have been selected for Caliach Vision V5. SQLite will be used for Demonstration and Single-User sites. It is fast and requires no special setup. MySQL or PostgreSQL are multi-user server options both of which have good performance and reliability and are free-to-install. PostgreSQL is more standards-based.
  • A library for migrating V4 data , including custom data, has been completed and tested on extensive user data examples. Migration of multi-gigabyte data files completes in a couple of hours.
  • Error-free logon was achieved in Jan 2014. Following that we are progressively working through conversion of all central functionality which is expected to be complete in Mar 2014. Thereafter, functional menu areas will be progressively converted.
  • Testing of core systems indicates very significant performance improvements over V4.10 of 10 to 1,000 times faster.