Given the versatility of the Cloud environment it seems made to order for ERP. ERP, by its nature, involves intermeshing of the functions of departments and people of an organization located in different places. The internet was and is the pipeline for ERP solutions.
The cloud system relies heavily or almost entirely on the internet to access hardware, software and services accessed through a layer of virtualization combined with load balancing. These features make it ideal for ERP use and some of the benefits are:
- Reduced Cost of hardware
- Pay as You Go Model for reduced operational cost
- Delivery of ERP solution on Software as a Service (SaaS) model
- Reduced Upfront expenses
- Access using Smartphone, laptops, desktops, anytime, anywhere
When ERP is shifted to the cloud environment the browser becomes the main interface or thin client. This results in reduced costs by sidestepping client software and accessibility using virtually any device like desktop, laptop, tablet PC and Smartphone. The benefits are significant in a typical ERP environment with users operating in locations around the country or the world.
Shifting to the Cloud is not without its birthing pains. Some developers may simply migrate the existing package to the cloud, even the application, instead of scaling it and modifying it with web based software. This translates to longer installation time and complicated access software that may not work elastically across all devices. In addition vendors interpret terminology in a different way defined by the way the services are deployed. This can happen when a company deploys a private internal cloud that does not strictly fall within the definition of cloud services. If services are outsourced and hosted, these may not fall under the definition of cloud deployment. Then there is the question of multi-tenancy at the platform as a service, application level and infrastructure level.
When organizations shift ERP to the cloud, modifying applications to factor in scalability, elasticity and flexibility it results in improved efficiency, automation and business enhancement. True cloud modified ERP deployment permit users a total detailed command and overview as well as access anytime, from anywhere, using any device. And the best thing is that it can all be done in real time, all through the simple thin client browser interface that works just as well on a Smartphone as it does on a desktop. Cloud ERP deployment automatically detects the device, its capabilities and decides how to execute an app. Customers, staff, suppliers, collaborators and top management in different sections can easily connect with any of the parallel business processes.
A typical ERP suite may have three broad categorizations.
- At the enterprise application level we may have HR, Materials Management, customer care, financials and technical’s.
- The technology aspect could cover details such as mobile devices, smart card, digital signatures, tag readers, barcode scanners, fax and email.
- Interface to external systems such as OEMs, service providers, e-commerce, GIS and business partners forms the third wing.
As a measure of data protection, integrity and safety, ERP cloud vendors typically offer ISAE 3000/3402 Type II certification. You can also expect full support for different languages, currencies and methods of operation in different countries.
Typical Example: Oracle ERP Cloud Service
Oracle takes ERP a step further with cloud services that bring about changes in the way back office services operate. Social, mobile and analytic technologies seamlessly blend with financials leading to better collaboration and increased efficiencies as well as ease of use.
Oracle’s ERP offering is a software as a service model covering planning & budgeting, financials, procurement & sourcing, risk and control management, product master data management, project portfolio management and inventory & cost management. Designed for use in diverse environments, ERP from Oracle is full featured, including multi-currency, multi-subsidiary, multi language and multi-GAAP capabilities. In addition it is made to measure for mobile use, has integrated features that help users stay connected and collaborate. Business Intelligence and Contextual Analytic are advanced features of Oracle’s ERP. Oracle claims there are tangible benefits to switching to ERP cloud since users can become operational in a short time with assured consistency throughout the world while being able to take smart business decisions in a productive environment. Offered as a service, Oracle’s service does away with customization and inherent time delays.
Microsoft Dynamics ERP
If Oracle has done serious work in the ERP-cloud segment, Microsoft has done its share. Among others, Microsoft Dynamics ERP products are flexible in price and product options for both SaaS and on premises models. In the latter option, Microsoft Dynamics ERP can be hosted on location in conjunction with a suitable partner to configure hardware and software. This may be more advantageous to those organizations already in possession of software, hardware and manpower without any extra investments while being assured of guaranteed and predictable performance. The internet can sometimes become the weakest link. In the on-premises model users need have no worries on this account or about data security and integrity. The practical route is to work with an Microsoft approved Partner. Some organizations may choose to go in for cloud based hosting solutions in an arrangement where Microsoft partners provide hardware and software infrastructure while transferring control to the user or to a designated third party. Either way, users have access to proven technology, assured services and reduced costs with on-time implementations. From the perspective of purely cloud based deployment, Microsoft Dynamics ERP integrates with the Azure platform.
Whatever the path adopted, the writing is on the clouds that cloud shifted ERP reduce investment, entirely cut out the process of incremental hardware upgrades and associated costs; minimize initial investment, have you up and running in a jiffy; help you take better control of cash flow; go in for only the services you need on a pay-as-you-go model and make better use of your current IT personnel. It would be hard to ignore benefits of ERP clouds or stay aloof for any length of time.
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