Cloud Computing: Delivering Greater Choice and Flexibility for Business


I enjoyed reading the recent post on this blog by my colleague Chad Meyer, Don’t Venture Into The Cloud Without Meyer’s List, which follows on from his other equally passionate post covering the debut of Epicor’s first complete ERP solution in the cloud, Epicor Cloud ERP – The Little ERP Engine that Could. I can tell you now, knowing Chad as I do, he may be somewhat soft spoken but not when it comes to his views on cloud computing, which are fervent to say the least. He’s not alone; all of us at Epicor feel strongly about dispelling the myths and demystifying the cloud on behalf of our customers. The cloud was one of the key technologies I highlighted back in December 2009 in my post, New demands will shake IT up, as presenting a real opportunity for business.

The debate about the right way and wrong way in the cloud will continue, of course, and rightly so, but at the end of the day, IMO, cloud computing is simply about greater customer choice and flexibility. I don’t think I’m alone in this either – believing that SaaS is “just another deployment model,” I have heard as much from several leading analysts. But I’m also not naïve enough to think that everyone agrees with me. For instance, I had a rather spirited debate with a leading analyst only a few months ago about whether a “traditional (sic) ERP company,” which I guess Epicor is meant to be, could ever be a “cloud ERP company,” because in their view cloud companies “are different.” Well, maybe so, but I doubt for much longer and Meyer’s List is a great way to help make that change.

Unfortunately, some “SaaS only companies” just don’t get this. Perhaps it’s precisely because they are only cloud companies and so by their nature limit the choices available to customers. Epicor is neither a traditional on-premise only ERP company nor a SaaS only ERP company, Epicor is a software company.

Damn I said it! I admitted that Epicor publishes innovative ERP software, because of course SaaS only companies (if we are to believe them) are not software companies at all. So what is it that they offer on-demand, hardware? A natural marketing position of course, but they still publish software.

I didn’t start this post to go after SaaS only companies however, as many of them have paved the way to the greater acceptance of business software in the cloud, but if they can’t evolve, just as if on-premise only companies can’t evolve to exploit the potential of the cloud, then they will be going the way of….well you know.

Epicor’s cloud computing strategy is simple, concise, encompassing and based on two basic tenets:

1. Complete choice and flexibility for ERP deployment

2. Rapid, secure access to low cost value-added applications

I will let our regular website expand on this but Epicor’s cloud computing strategy is virtually unique in so far as it offers complete choice and flexibility in deployment scenarios to customers. That is, customers can move reasonably seamlessly back and forth and mix and match between multi-tenant SaaS, single-tenant (hosted), appliance or on-premise deployment as required, all based on the same code line. This is in stark contrast to cloud only business model providers or other ERP vendors who have introduced net new products to cater for SaaS only deployments.

As noted, this single code line and related approach is being both applauded and questioned by the analyst community who seem split on what it actually takes to be an effective provider of end-to-end applications in the cloud.

However, all analysts seem to concur on the value of the cloud to business, with a recent Gartner Group report, Significant Benefits Realized with Supply Chain Management in the Cloud, suggesting that 95% of those surveyed were using or considering cloud computing solutions.

One thing is for sure, over time it will be what the customer wants that wins.

Posted by James Norwood, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing, Epicor


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