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When to put your ERP system in the cloud

Posted on 7 November 2013 by Andy Latham

ERP-system-in-the-cloudThe other week I was at a friend’s house having a barbeque when his granddaughter ran out of the house clutching my friend’s iPad asking (in a way that only 4 year old girls can) to watch Peppa Pig. My friend’s reaction was to tell her to put the TV on but the demand came back “NO! On my pad, on my pad”. I watched with interest as my friend downloaded a TV App on to the iPad and showed his granddaughter how to watch Peppa Pig in the garden whilst we continued to cook our lunch.

It struck me that I had just watched a classic example of the future of computing. Fast wireless access allowing easy download of apps. User interfaces simple enough for a small child to use. TV programs and data streaming onto mobile devices, all supported by the Internet and cloud computing. The most interesting part of this was that the people using this technology are not IT literate or technically capable people, but at no stage did they imagine that it wouldn’t work.

And yet this confidence is not translated to the work place.

Many times I have heard the lament from companies that “cloud is not for my business.” They really are not comfortable with the idea of having their IT infrastructure sitting on some remote server somewhere, and yet many of these same businesses are happy to use cloud-based customer relationship management, routinely use Internet-based search engines and communicate with customers via a Facebook page. For these businesses I suspect cloud is already a matter of degree, not denial.

So how do manufacturers weigh-up such decisions? Having been involved with three of our customers who recently went through the decision making process of moving their business operations to the cloud it became apparent that there is no simple answer or obvious choice.

Cloud for more efficient upgrades

For one customer there was a need to upgrade both the company’s ERP system as well as the ageing server on which it ran. If they made the decision to go the cloud route, future upgrades would be automatic, and there would be no need to invest in a more powerful server. However, there was a concern about loss of connectivity and slow connections, despite the fact that the business was already investing in a fast fibre broadband line. Their final decision was to go for an on-premise solution, primarily because the business’s location caused poor signal strength.

Cloud for geographically wide-spread sites

Another of our customers adopted cloud-based ERP due to the fact that they run their systems on different sites in different countries, and in different time zones. The primary problems with this were providing:

  • support for these remote operations during business hours overseas
  • access for remote mobile workers to systems, which generally involved the additional costs of virtual private network connectivity

The cloud-based solution has proved to be significantly less expensive than the cost of having IT support people on standby 24/7, and with the installation of an MPLS line they have experienced only two minor connection failures in five years.

Cloud for the more cost-effective solution

A third customer adopted a cloud-hosted ERP system to deliver a fully-scalable and secure system without the significant hardware cost of an on-site installation. Delivered as a fully-managed service, the solution offers many advantages over an on-site installation:

  • Disaster recovery
  • Security
  • Regular updates and enhancements
  • Single point of contact
  • Easy addition of new sites to the solution
  • Access to the network on-the-go

So here we have three different companies, three different ways of looking at, and evaluating, a move to cloud-based ERP.

What factors would you need to consider if you decide to make the move to the cloud?

Whatever your decision, at SYSPRO we are able to provide you with a choice of on-premise and cloud solutions to suit your specific requirements.

And the BBQ?

The outcome was inevitable and our food was well and truly incinerated. Whether this was caused by the free flowing beer, the incessant Peppa Pig lesson we were subjected to, or the loss of our basic hunter/gatherer instincts I do not know. I became an expert on Rebecca Rabbit, Granddad Dog, Zoe Zebra, Suzy Sheep et al and learnt a salutary lesson. Beware little children waving iPads.

 

Topics: SYSPRO, Business Strategy, Manufacturing, Business software, ERP, Cloud computing, Technology, Fully-scalable and secure system


Andy Latham

Andy Latham, Managing Director of K3 SYSPRO in the UK, was born in Wolverhampton, but spent most of his school years at boarding school in Leicester. After school he completed a BSc Hons in Chemistry and Business Studies at Salford University.

His move into the IT world happened quite accidentally. Andy was employed in the financial sector when he came across an ICL billboard advertising jobs and free coffee to interviewees. He went in for the coffee and ended up with a job. He always wanted to own his own business, and in 1985 he established Information Engineering Ltd. His company soon became one of only two UK distributors of SYSPRO business software.

Twenty successful years later the business was acquired by K3 Business Technology Group, and Andy was appointed Technical Director in the K3 SCS division. In 2010 the K3 Group rebranded its dedicated SYSPRO ERP division as K3 SYSPRO, and appointed Andy as its Managing Director.

After more than 25 years working with and for SYSPRO, Andy knows the product better than most. He has served in every possible role from helpdesk, to implementation, to development, and everything in between.

Andy is happily married. In his leisure time, he enjoys sport and everything technological. During his years at university he played for the 1st fifteen rugby team until, as Andy puts it: “I became too small for the game and had to give it up.” He now enjoys playing golf.

 

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