Network inventory management allows multiple users to access a single inventory database at the same time. It can be a wired network, wireless network, or hosted network. Fishbowl Manufacturing and Fishbowl Warehouse are inventory management solutions that can be set up on both server and client computers to enable network inventory management. We will cover the system recommendations you will need to bear in mind before installing a server or client on a computer, as well as four ways to set up a network inventory management system, along with their unique advantages.
NETWORK INVENTORY MANAGEMENT HARDWARE RECOMMENDATIONS
To install Fishbowl Manufacturing or Fishbowl Warehouse on a computer, you first need to consider a few software and hardware specifications. For example, it is a good idea to make sure your computer’s operating system (OS) is supported by Fishbowl. You can check if it is supported on this page in the Fishbowl Documentation Wiki. It changes from time to time, so it is a good idea to check that page on a yearly basis to see if your OS is still up to date. Fishbowl is currently available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
As for the hardware recommendations, they depend on the size of the database you are building to process incoming and outgoing orders. And the hardware recommendations differ based on whether it is a server or client computer. Following these guidelines will help you optimize the software’s speed and performance. We have divided them into small, medium, and large databases.
SMALL DATABASE (UP TO 100 ORDERS PER DAY)
Server: 2.3 Gigahertz (GHz) Processor (Quad Core) and 12 Gigabytes (GB) Random Access Memory (RAM)
Client: 2.3 GHz Processor and 8 GB RAM
MEDIUM DATABASE (101-1,000 ORDERS PER DAY)
Server: 3.4 GHz Processor and 16 GB RAM
Client: 3 GHz Processor and 8 GB RAM
LARGE DATABASE (MORE THAN 1,000 ORDERS PER DAY)
Server: 4 GHz Processor and 32 GB RAM
Client: 3.4 GHz Processor and 16 GB RAM
You only need to install the Fishbowl Server on one computer, but you can install the Fishbowl Client on as many computers as you like. The number of Fishbowl user licenses you have will determine how many people can concurrently access the server on client computers.
FOUR TYPES OF NETWORK INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
Now that we have laid the groundwork, we can get into specifics on how to set up a network inventory management system. There are four ways to do it:
- Local Network
- Public Internet Protocol (IP) Network
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Hosted Server Network
With a Local Network, you need to install the Fishbowl Server on one computer and make sure every computer you install the Fishbowl Client on is connected by cord to that computer. Then all of the client computers can access the server, as long as they remain connected and the server computer is left on with the Fishbowl Server active.
This is a good system if you want to keep it simple. If there is a problem with the server, however, you may lose irreplaceable data unless you manually back it up on a regular basis. Also, there is no portability with a local network. The computers have to be physically connected to each other to function properly, so there is no way to do work outside the office. Employees are basically anchored to their chairs and can’t accomplish their work from home.
PUBLIC IP NETWORK
Instead of requiring client computers to be connected to the server computer with cords, a Public IP Network utilizes the Internet to connect them. The server computer still needs to be turned on for the clients to connect to it, but now they can do so from anywhere that they have access to the Internet. That means your employees are free to work from home, inside the warehouse, and other places other than the physical location of the server computer.
This solves the mobility problem of a Local Network, but it doesn’t solve the data backup issue. That still needs to be done manually to prevent the loss of critical inventory information. Plus, it opens up the possibility of security breaches if someone manages to hack your IP address and illicitly access your files. Strong passwords, user rights, and data encryption are good ways to mitigate this issue.
A VPN is basically the same as a Public IP Network except that it adds an extra layer of security. You can still access the server remotely under this setup, but a VPN shields your IP address from prying eyes so that no one outside your network can see what you are doing or interfere in any way. There are still internal safety measures, such as user access rights, administration rights, and audit trails to enable accountability for every change made to the inventory management software.
If you would like the mobility afforded by a Public IP Network without the risk it entails, a VPN is likely your best bet. Like the previous type, you can also use this one to give your employees the ability to work from any location, so they don’t necessarily need to be physically present in the office to get their work done.
HOSTED SERVER NETWORK
A Hosted Server Network removes the worry about security, data loss, and server maintenance by shifting all of those concerns onto a trusted third party. You don’t have to reserve a computer for your server because you pay a hosting provider a small fee to host your server for you and give you access to it through a secure network. Fishbowl Hosted Services is a great option for Fishbowl users because it offers the following benefits:
Easy Access – You can access Fishbowl and perform key inventory management tasks from virtually anywhere through a hosted network. You’re not tied to a desktop computer.
Lower IT Costs – A lot of the work usually reserved for an IT specialist can be handled at a much lower cost by Fishbowl Hosted Services. It is an intuitive solution that maximizes flexibility and performance while minimizing expense and risk.
Time and Money Savings – Instead of having to purchase the most advanced technology to store your data and protect it, Fishbowl does all of that for you. This frees your time and resources to dedicate to your core business.
Automatic Software Updates – The latest Fishbowl software comes pre-installed on your hosted server, and whenever a new update comes out, your server gets automatically updated with it. There is nothing manual you have to do to enjoy new features from Fishbowl.
Advanced Security – Fishbowl encrypts your data and employs many other advanced security features to keep your sensitive files safe and accessible by the right people.
Network inventory management utilizes server and client computers to make a single database accessible to multiple users. The way you set up a network inventory management system depends on your database size and the type of setup you want to use:
- Local Network
- Public IP Network
- Hosted Server Network