With Milestone 5 arriving (and QuickThink Cloud already hosting Milestone 5 instances for our customers), organisations across the globe are wondering whether or not to take the plunge and upgrade to the latest version of Unit4’s Business World (formerly Agresso) ERP software. The user base are often aware of the benefits from an application perspective, but we’re often asked by the tech community about the things that have been changed / what has been fixed from a technical perspective? Here are 5 quick wins / changes that have been introduced in Milestone 5.

As with all Enterprise ERP systems, we encourage all our customers to ensure that they conduct a wide array of system and functional testing before upgrading to a new version of the software. However, I wanted to highlight 5 ‘quick wins’ that have been successfully introduced to Milestone 5 and might make you or your users’ lives a little easier.

1. Federated Authentication

Milestone 5 finally introduces support for Federated Authentication (SAML 2.0 support), although this is exclusively for Agresso Web; Agresso Desktop will still require the standard Domain Trust model. This allows organisations that have federated their domain or use services such as Office 365 to allow true single sign-on functionality within the Agresso Web interface. For many organisations this will remove the shackles of using a VPN in order to access their systems and also allows cloud service providers to deliver better integration between U4 Business World and an organisation’s existing infrastructure.

Single Sign-On is available in many previous releases of U4 Business World (Agresso), but in these scenarios a VPN is required if the system is hosted externally. This model works well, but can add a degree of additional cost and complexity to an implementation to ensure seamless integration with existing Active Directory services.

2. Killing Reports Bug Has Been Fixed

Milestone 4 contained a bug that meant that you could not kill reports using the KILL functionality directly from within the AMC. This was frustrating for super users and was not patched until it was finally addressed in Update 05. As with all things Agresso, QTC utilised a number of workarounds to ensure that our customers could still kill reports on Milestone 4, but it’s a positive move to reintroduce the working functionality (cleanly) into the AMC again.

3. Platform Changes

More an issue for organisations that host in-house (as cloud-integrators such as QTC can provision new technology / operating systems within minutes), the operating systems and database platform requirements have been updated in line with the release of Milestone 5.

Support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 has been removed, as well as the Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 operating systems. It should be noted that this does not include thin-client delivery, so those deploying their Agresso Desktop via Citrix on a Server 2008 R2 platform will be unaffected. It is also worth noting that Milestone 5 finally supports Server 2012 R2; something that was not supported until Milestone 4 Update 05 on the previous release.

4. Security Updates / Benefits

There were a number of weaknesses / bugs in Milestone 4 that have finally been addressed in Milestone 5. The most annoying of these bugs was the removal of the ability to set a web timeout value in Milestone 4, which meant that sessions would remain open unless a user actively logged out of that session.

Additionally, Cross Site Scripting (XSS) weaknesses and vulnerabilities have also been addressed, which are again a hangover from previous versions of Agresso.

5. PowerShell Continues to be a Useful Ally

The developers are continuing to work hard on the inclusion of PowerShell scripts in order to manage and enhance your U4BW Agresso ERP system. With support for all sorts of tasks ranging from Update scripts through to creating new datasources, it is always worth checking out what scripts are available to you and utilising them if they are advantageous.

However, don’t forget to test any neat ideas that you have planned for implementing PowerShell on your test system first. Whilst PowerShell is incredibly powerful it also has the potential to make adverse changes to your systems as well as favourable ones!