Because so many people are still unsure of what exactly “the Cloud” is, we tend to think of it as a buzzword, a brand new addition to the world of IT. In reality, cloud computing has been around for the last 45 years, with the first documented usage in the 1970s. In fact, you may not have realized it, but the first time you personally accessed the Cloud was through that Hotmail or Yahoo account you signed up for in 1996!
Of course, today’s age of cloud computing is much more sophisticated and has a significantly wider influence across all industry sectors. Especially in the last few years, the impact of the cloud has spread leaps and bounds from the IT systems of cutting edge companies to our almost mundane interactions from on our personal phones.
The current cloud landscapes can be broadly classified as:
- IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service, which provides users with resources over the Internet;
- PaaS – Platform as a Service, which provides a development environment for applications, and;
- SaaS – Software as a Service, which allows users to gain access to applications and servers.
The cloud can be further broken down into categories such as: Private Cloud, Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud.
This litany of options can make it difficult for corporations to determine which solutions best fits their goals and budgets. In determining a cloud strategy, it’s important to:
Know Your Might
- As with any other implementation, it is crucial to focus on long-term ROI, not on the initial cost. In determining which cloud strategy is going to most enhance your organizational capabilities, consider the overall benefits and cost-savings that will empower your business most down the road.
Know Your Landscape
- Spend some time analyzing and breaking down your current IT landscape from all angles. Whether you’re a company that has a large central infrastructure or one that is broken into several smaller environments, make sure you know how exactly how all of your environments intersect and interact.
Know Your Benefits
- Consider all of the pros and cons for each cloud option, including: flexibility, cost effectiveness, data security, data integration, data mining and analytics options, and business intelligence capabilities.
Know Your Strategy
- Once you’ve determined your needs for IaaS, PaaS and/or SaaS, as well as the right mix of Hybrid, Private or Public Clouds, make sure you’ve laid out a complete roadmap for transformation, including milestones, and stick to it. Consider engaging a trusted partner to manage the migration or perform some of the heavy technical work
ERP to Cloud Solutions
These guidelines address most of the general issues and questions that arise in implementing the Cloud, but there are specific challenges that for ERP-to-Cloud migrations, a situation that Mark Hurd of Oracle called, “a not-so-classic case of several irresistible forces meeting a movable object”. Established companies are often entrenched in their legacy systems, and it can be particularly challenging for them to choose a cloud solution that preserves the integrity of their existing applications while enhancing and bringing them up to date with the new infrastructure. For ERP-to-Cloud migrations, be sure to consider:
- Flexibility vs Stability: Traditional ERP systems have often been modified to suit specific business needs and processes. A cloud-based ERP is much more stable, but much more rigid. Knowing your organizational needs and future initiatives is crucial in prioritizing these infrastructure qualities.
- Business Process Reengineering (BPR): Rigorous BPR prior to your migration will ensure that any application, process or modification no longer serving your organization is eliminated, allowing you to start fresh with a more productive and less redundant IT environment.
- Integration Needs: Migrating disparate systems into the Cloud can be tough, but investing in integration work during your migration can alleviate many of the issues that might arise and ensure a smooth, streamlined transition.
- Data Security: Data security used to be a huge concern when migrating to the Cloud, but it is rapidly declining with maturing in public cloud ERP. Private cloud solutions might be the best option for smaller corporations with more urgent data security needs, while a Hybrid Cloud can allow large companies to choose what information they store in their cloud environment.
For one cloud engagement, we relied on heavy integration work with Oracle ERP, ADP and Banks for a Workday implementation. During this process, we also invested significant time for our team to conduct BPR. As a result, we were able to identify the additional development and maintenance necessary for a fully implemented solution, for which we utilized Oracle SOA Suite.
While it may seem that these migrations require considerable technical “heavy-lifting”, the long-term benefits are well worth the investment. If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your company’s migration, contact us!
Stay tuned for out next blog post, in which we will take a deep dive into the features and benefits of Amazon Web Services!