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Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

Copper Elite Contributor
Posts: 118
Country: United_Kingdom

Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

We're supporting the implementation of an unusually large ACT! 2012 Premium  (access via Lan/Web) deployment (124 users).

 

I'm finding that recommending a reasonable server specification is quite challenging here... The published system requirements on the ACT.com site suggest that (for between 31 and 50 users), a server with a 3.2 Ghz Pentium IV processor and 3 Gbyte of RAM might be suitable as a minimum...

 

Well I'd be hard pushed to buy a new laptop with a spec that low, so even extrapolating the specs for 2.5 times the number of users suggests only about 8Gbyte of RAM!.

 

I'd really appreciate it if anyone has experienced an APFW deployment of this size and - as a result - share any thoughts/ideas about what kind of beast of a server we should be looking to build the ACT7 instance on.

 

Also, as the client has an existing SQL Enterprise cluster with 4 nodes, I wondered whether this might be utilised as a database server rather than provisioning a dedicated machine, but I've never heard of anyone actually deploying SQL Enterprise successfully and returning to talk of its success?

 

Web access will be facilitated by a number of 'Virtual servers' running IIS, load balancing the database access.

 

I’d appreciate any help - thanks.


Will Ingleby
ACT! Certified Product Specialist

Solutions for Accounting & CRM (UK)

Bronze Contributor
Posts: 930
Country: USA

Re: Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

As nice as that would be to take advantage of the existing SQL Cluster, two problems come to mind:

1. ACT! still needs it's own named instance, which they may or may not appreciate,

2. ACT! really should be installed on the SQL box, or you forego actdiag, and creating new databases, and on and on and they may not appreciate an application like ACT! installed onto that SQL Cluster.

3. And as to SQL Enterprise edition, I can't talk to the issue of SQL Enterprise - I don't know whether that is supported and/or whether it works.

 

As to memory requirements - memory is the cheapest bang-for-the-buck and can make up for other shortcomings so I always push for more-is-better.  But if you're spinning up several purpose-built Web Servers, and ACT! resets IIS to 32-bit mode, I've never fully understood whether IIS then can't take advantage of more than 3½GBytes of memory, like Server 2003 in 32-bit mode.  I'm anxious to hear others weigh in on that.

 

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Copper Elite Contributor
Posts: 118
Country: United_Kingdom

Re: Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

Appreciate your response Kevin. This is valuable. The point about IIS running in 32 bit mode and not being to take advantage of more RAM had never crossed my mind. I guess we may end up adding more Virtual web servers to make up for this...

Will Ingleby
ACT! Certified Product Specialist

Solutions for Accounting & CRM (UK)

Bronze Elite Contributor
Posts: 2,547
Country: New_Zealand

Re: Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

Will,

As Kevin advises, IIS isn't running in 64-bit so you are limited to the less than 4GB RAM accessible by IIS, however IIS isn't really going to be RAM hungry. You can have multiple applications pools pointing to the same website as well.  It will be SQL that demands the RAM, hence you need to run SQL Standard or better. The other limitation is ACT! is a 32 bit application so you don't get the benefits of running on a 64-bit machine from an application perspective. 

Be interested to see how you go on this. I notice that your company also does Sage CRM, I am curious why you wouldn't run with Sage CRM.    

Graeme Leo
Xact Software - consultants and developers
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Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 14,384
Country: Australia

Re: Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

You should have at least 3 IIS servers (I like to limit them to 50 but have run over 100)
The IIS server with up-to-50 concurrent users is more processor than RAM intensive...
Same 50 users per host if syncing to mobile phones or tablets with Handheld Contact

The database server needs plenty of RAM - at least 2-4GB per 50 users for SQL and some more for the OS. Add extra if users are connecting Outlook for email
Also 15K RPM hard drives... pref in RAID 5 or 6

While ACT! is 32bit, it works with 64bit SQL ... and yes, I've seen it on Enterprise using multiple processors and loads of RAM

You can run without ACT! on the SQL machines ... but not supported and a real pain if needing to do maintenance.

Tasks like mail merges, imports and reporting are best done at night or on a separate machine with sync'd database - they kill performance

One area that some users hit is if you end up with 10K or more files in the Attachments folder (size irrelevant) ... Windows gets really sluggish loading the directory table around that volume

Make sure you have regular backups and do a test restore once a month

One day I might get around to doing a whitepaper for scaling ACT! for very large databases and user numbers :-)
Copper Elite Contributor
Posts: 118
Country: United_Kingdom

Re: Minimum System Requirements for a Large ACT! Deployment

Thanks Mike - most valuable advice. Much appreciated. Will

Will Ingleby
ACT! Certified Product Specialist

Solutions for Accounting & CRM (UK)