Acumatica releases new builds of the Acumatica Cloud ERP software pretty frequently. How frequently kind of depends (more on that in a bit).
One very important thing to know about Acumatica is that it’s very rare to get what is called a hot fix. A hot fix allows you to stay on an older version, but apply a patch that fixes a specific issue (a bug) that you care about.
Hot fixes do happen. When they do, they get delivered to you as a Customization Project. But hot fixes are rare.
With legacy ERP applications, it’s a lot easier for them to give you a hot fix. The development teams don’t have much to do because their product is not evolving. So creating hot fixes keeps them from falling asleep during the day 🙂
Also, with legacy ERP, new versions aren’t released very often. So you need a hot fix if you don’t want to wait months for the next release of the software.
With Acumatica, the general philosophy is simple. If you uncover a bug, they’ll fix it in the next release of the software. And that is very likely less than a few weeks away. Acumatica doesn’t want to get bogged down creating one-off hot fixes.
Major Releases and Minor Updates
There are two types of releases with Acumatica: Major Releases and Minor Updates.
Major Releases happen twice per year. Acumatica 2018 R1 and Acumatica 2018 R2 were released in 2018. Acumatica 2019 R1 and Acumatica 2019 R2 were released in 2019. You get the idea.
* This means an expected date
|wdt_ID||Major Release||Initial Release||Retired|
R1 is usually released in February around the time of the annual Acumatica Summit. R2 is usually released in September. Why does it take 7 months from R1 until R2 and only 5 months from R2 until the next R1? Well, I’m not sure, but I have a theory. The Acumatica development team is in Moscow, Russia. Moscow winters are long, cold, and probably very productive for coding. That’s maybe why it only takes 5 months from R2 until R1. Then, in the Summer, the developers enjoy more time outside with less coding, so they take 7 months from R1 until R2. Sounds plausible right?
Minor Updates happen on a regular basis. How regular kind of depends. More on that later.
Most people treat a Major Release like a traditional ERP upgrade. You create a separate environment where you perform the upgrade, then perform testing to ensure that nothing is broken, that your 3rd party applications are working, and that you can perform your existing workflows without any unintended results.
Minor Updates are newer territory, especially since they come out so frequently. I suspect that, as time goes on, people will trust Minor Updates enough to apply them with minimal testing. 3rd party applications are where things get tricky.
One thing to note about Minor Updates is that they are for Urgent or High Severity issues only. Basically bugs, not new features. So the risk of applying a Minor Update should be minimal.
Whether it’s a Major Release or a Minor Update, Acumatica doesn’t force them on customers (unlike some other Cloud ERP vendors, cough, cough). Customers always choose when to move to a Major Release or apply a Minor Update.
The main thing for Acumatica customers to be aware of is that they stay on a supported release of Acumatica. Like all software, eventually releases get retired and you have to stay somewhat current to be supported.
Major Release Analysis
Every Major Release has a Release Notes document that details the new features that are available in the release.
I like to track how much work went into each new Major Release. How exactly to track this is difficult, but I like to get an idea of how much Acumatica is investing into the product.
We don’t have access to development hours and that’s probably not something that Acumatica is willing to divulge.
I’m not a big fan of tracking number of features because it’s too arbitrary to me. It’s too easy for ERP software companies to break features into multiple features just to increase the “feature count” of a version.
Looking at # of Pages in the Release Notes document is not a perfect measurement, but it’s a somewhat scientific way to measure how much work went into each version.
Looking at File Size (MB) is also not a perfect measurement (no measurement is), but tracking how large the installation file is (in megabytes) for the first build of each Major Release is another way to measure how much work went into each version.
File Size (MB) would not chart well with # of Pages because it’s a cumulative number. So I turned File Size (MB) into File Size Increase (MB) which is the file size increase (or decrease) between versions.
If we chart # of Pages and File Size Increase (MB), it sure seems like Acumatica continues to invest in the product. Actually, it seems like the investment is increasing. Very interesting.
Another interesting thing to note about this chart is that the size of the Acumatica installation file actually went down between 2018 R1 and 2018 R2 (it’s a negative number). When developers make their code more efficient, they call it refactoring. I suspect that there was some “refactoring” going on between 2018 R1 and 2018 R2. Bigger is not always better and I appreciate that Acumatica invests in making their code better, not just bigger.
Minor Update Analysis
As you would expect, Minor Updates are more frequent in the beginning of a Major Release as they are ironing things out. Then the Minor Updates become less and less frequent as the bugs get squashed. Twice a year there is a new Major Release and the process starts over again.
I thought it would be a cool idea to keep track of Acumatica Minor Updates to get an idea of how frequent they are.
With every Minor Update, there is a Build Number that identifies the update.
An Acumatica Build Number looks like this:
Note 1: This is all based on the file dates that you can see at builds.acumatica.com. For example, drilling into the 19.105.0032 Build Number mentioned above, you can see that the Last Modified date was June 14th, 2019. So that’s the date that I’m tracking.
Note 2: I wonder if we’re going to see the gap between Minor Updates continue to shrink since Acumatica got acquired (click here) and there is now even more investment money to put into the product. Or maybe all that investment money will go into marketing? We’ll have to wait and see. Since the acquisition closed right around the time of Acumatica 2019 R2, I’ll be watching these charts for Acumatica 2020 R1 and Acumatica 2020 R2 to see if the gap shrinks.
Alright, I think you get the idea. Here is the data, with some charts that summarize the gaps between Minor Updates for each Major Release listed below to help get an idea of how frequently they occur:
|Major Release||Minor Update||Build #||Date||Gap (Days)||Gap (Weeks)|