Sage advice on cloud computing
Just where is ERP in the cloud today? That’s the question I put to Himanshu Palsule, executive vice president of strategy for Sage North America, last Friday.
Whether you call it cloud computing, on-demand or Software-as-a-Service, this new model for the delivery of business software systems is one we’ve all been hearing about for the last year. When it comes to ERP, most of the conversation has been from NetSuite. Now, other ERP vendors, including Sage, are developing solutions for the space.
According to Palsule, Sage is taking a different approach to what it will deliver ERP solutions. “The cloud has created a huge opportunity to provide remote access to a software application,” he says. “But much of the focus has been on users with access to an Internet connection. The focus is now shifting to the user who isn’t on their computer, whether that’s a CFO getting on a plane or a warehouse manager who needs to look at inventory when he’s outside the four walls. We’re using that as an opportunity to change how things are done.”
In Sage’s view, it’s customers – and there are about 6 million of them globally – don’t want to toss out the investment they’ve made in their existing ERP systems. Instead, they want to leverage their current investment by taking advantage of what’s happening on the web.
Sage will continue to offer an on-premise ERP solution. However, the provider is offering services that augment the ERP in the cloud. “Features that a customer may want to use now and then will be added in as services they can consume at their convenience,” Palsule says.
An application to take physical inventory is an example of the type of service that an end user could subscribe to in the cloud. “Customers don’t have to take a physical inventory every day,” Palsule says. “They can access it in the cloud and only pay for it when they use it.” EDI is another example that might be relevant to supply chain users.
Sage is also planning on rolling out several different ways to access ERP, depending on where your business is positioned in its growth.
An online business solution, the pure cloud model, might be appropriate for a customer just getting started with ERP but without an IT infrastructure in place.
An on-premises solution will still be available for those businesses that want to run their ERP in a conventional fashion.
Or, a user can use a hybrid model of on-premises ERP with additional services in the cloud.
“If they want to use the solution on premise, we’re fine with that; if they want to use it entirely in the cloud, we’re fine with that. And, there are connected services whether they’re on premise or in the cloud,” Palsule says.
As to supply chain execution solutions, like warehouse management, Sage does not offer those yet. But, like NetSuite, they are talking to their third party partners, like Accellos, to offer solutions in the cloud. “Our traditional supply chain execution partners are converting their products into cloud services,” Palsule says. “We’re not there yet, but I think you’ll see more parts of the enterprise that will be automated in the future.”