What is under your hood?

I once worked at a Mack Truck dealership where buyers were encouraged order a “Gold Bulldog” Mack. A Mack truck with a gold-plated bulldog means that the entire truck is made of Mack components.  According to my experts, having the strong Mack engine makes all the difference in the truck’s performance.

The database is the “engine” underneath your DMS.  It is the major factor for optimum performance and stability.  Almost every function must access the database dozens of times.  When you write a new repair order, the DMS gets the customer and vehicle info from two big tables.  Next it gathers past service history, current operation codes and labor times from other tables.  It looks up in the tech and employee tables for skill levels and cost rates and then retrieves the part information, cost, and on hand quantity.  The repair order function needs setup tables to determine labor rates, shop supplies, customer pricing matrixes, and taxing.  A typical repair order opens up over 20 database tables before the job is done.  If your DMS is slow, most likely the database is the problem.

Many dealers have no idea what type of “engine” or database is under the hood of their DMS.  Many older DMS providers like ADP and R+R use PICK that is a less “relational” database with multi-value fields that make designing a query difficult.   DealerTrack Arkona uses an IBM DB2 database developed in 1983 and older tier 2 and 3 providers use databases most of you have never heard of – or ones that are being discontinued like Visual Fox Pro.  Some providers use Microsoft SQL, that comes at cost in speed and price. One of the most popular newer databases is MySQL, which has been gaining market share in overall database usage by developers in the past two years.  Current users include; City of NY, State of Illinois, Dun & Bradstreet, University of Texas, Sears, Walmart, Macy’s, AT&T, and Cisco. Why do technology companies switch from Microsoft SQL, Oracle, SAP and IBM to MySQL?  MySQL is budget friendly. Companies can save over 90% of their database costs by choosing MySQL over Microsoft SQL Server.  It is also easy to manage; MySQL doesn’t require high cost specialized skills to manage. Like a Mack engine, MySQL is high-performance, scalable and reliable; 9 out of 10 of the most trafficked web sites in the world choose MySQL to power their business critical properties. Facebook manages 1 billion users with MySQL; so it can easily handle 90,000 parts or 150,000 customers in your databases. Because guarding your data is the number one job of the database, MySQL offers exceptional security features that ensure absolute data protection. In terms of database authentication, MySQL provides powerful mechanisms for ensuring only authorized users have entry to the database server, with the ability to block users down to the client machine level being possible. SSH and SSL support are also provided to ensure safe and secure connections. A granular object privilege framework is present so that users only see the data they should, and powerful data encryption and decryption functions ensure that sensitive data is protected from unauthorized viewing. Finally, backup and recovery utilities provided through MySQL and third party software vendors allow for complete logical and physical backup as well as full and point-in-time recovery.  DealerStar is a newer DMS that uses MySQL and they currently perform four automatic backups during the day for clients that don’t have a mirror server.  In over 3 years of providing dealers with a DMS, they have never had to restore from the backups. What database does your DMS use?  This should be one of the first questions you should ask after “how much does it cost?”

At the tractor/engine show with my Dad.
At the tractor/engine show with my Dad.

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