When you have a database system that is designed to work on multiple sites you have a couple of options; remotely host the solution on Citrix or Terminal services, or have it local to each site and synchronize the data.
A good synchronization solution is a must if the solution has to be available and the internet connection is not reliable (and the client does not want to pay for a fixed line).
The best solution to use in these circumstances is a product called SyncDeK from WorldSync.
We have a client who has a head office which handles Catalogue and Web site sales, and 10 shops.
The shops require the database to be available at all times as it runs the tills, so remote hosting is not an option.
SyncDeK is used to push Products and Customers (for Loyalty card) from the Head office to all the shops.
The Shops then push the sales back to the Head Office.
The stock inventory records are sent to all locations so if any site is low on stock they know where else it is available.
Head office now have up to date information on what is happening at the shops at any time. Stock ordering is simplified as all stock positions are known [in one place].
Price updates can now be set at Head office and pushed to the shops. Each shop will then run the price update function which will generate labels, shelf edge and swing tags.
As all the sales are held at HQ the amount of points eared by each loyalty card holder can easily be converted to Vouchers. The voucher records are then instantly sent to the shops so they can be validated when used and the fact that a voucher has been used is then sent to all locations so it cannot be used twice (for example at different sites).
Another good feature with SyncDeK is the way it batches the information to be sent. On a Sync cycle ( the time of which is user definable ) all the changes that need to be sent are packaged into one file and sent out. If the internet connection is not working then the file is held until the next cycle when this file will be sent with the next file. This means that as soon as the connection is back up the data is sent. Again, SyncDeK checks for files at the same time and will take all the files that it is given. So if the internet is down for a day at a shop it can operate fully, the only effect would be that the stock levels for the other sites would be incorrect. As soon as the internet is back up the stock levels would be corrected and the sales information sent to head office.