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Posts Tagged ‘SaaS’

Jumping In: Oracle HCM Cloud from a PeopleSoft HCM Consultant’s Perspective

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oracle hcm cloud

I decided to take the plunge into Oracle HCM Cloud when I joined MIPRO earlier this year after implementing PeopleSoft HCM for 15 years.

My first step was obvious: I took the Oracle On-Demand training with HCM Global Human Resources. Though Oracle HCM Cloud is built from the ground up, Oracle has taken the best of the functional concepts from PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite and them combined with modern approaches to address HR’s business needs. For instance, the concept of PeopleSoft HCM’s Profile Management is in Oracle HCM Cloud, but it is further extended through the likes of the Content Library which is used across multiple HCM modules.

I felt very comfortable moving to Oracle HCM Cloud as I knew many of these concepts from my long-term implementation experience with PeopleSoft HCM. One of the things I like about Oracle HCM Cloud is every business process has a review page at the end before you submit your changes. This gives a chance to review all the data elements that user has chosen before submission – a small but incredibly convenient feature.

Oracle HCM Cloud had its fledgling issues as any other software product that is evolving, but it is improving with each release (of which there are three per year). For instance, the entire Workflow Business Process engine saw major improvements from Release 7 to Release 8. On the security side, Oracle HCM Cloud has lot of flexibility. You have the ability to attach different data roles to different job roles, whereas in PeopleSoft you can only have only one data role for a user profile with different job roles. And while there are some complexities associated with Security, Oracle has published a roadmap on how they will be simplifying those in ensuring releases.

Oracle HCM Cloud is delivered with BI Publisher for reporting and embedded analytics to support the user in making decisions without needed to click over to different pages to get the needed information. If you are a SaaS customer you may need to change your business processes, as major customizations are not an option, but do you have the flexibility of defining workflow and approvals as well as the ability to add and disable fields and personalize dropdown and prompt lists. The upside for EBS and PeopleSoft customers is that they can adopt the co-existence model. So, if maintaining your current, say, HR and Benefits Administration system is important to you due to the types of customizations required, you can still implement modules such as Compensation and Performance Management in the cloud and maintain an integrated solution.

These are some high-level observations I’ve noticed as I’ve come into the world of Oracle HCM Cloud from a robust PeopleSoft HCM background. And let me tell you, the water’s warmer than some would have you believe. Oracle has done a great job with the rollout and maturation of HCM Cloud.

Why Some Firms Are Hesitant to Switch to Cloud for Key Parts of Their Businesses

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wsj pic

(Illustration by David Plunkert)


Steven Norton and Clint Boulton, writing for the WSJ
:

While many larger companies have turned to cloud software to manage systems like human-resources management, they are slower to adopt the cloud for applications that handle inventory management, billing and other processes they rely on to run their businesses on a daily basis.

For companies using this type of software to do things like manage the filling, sealing, shipping and billing for thousands of shampoo bottles every hour, there is still too much risk associated with potentially unreliable Internet connections and a dependence on third parties to manage computer servers. The chief information officer of a global consumer packaged-goods company said, “if our [enterprise resource planning system] goes down for five days, we’re out of business.”

This is a trend we hear each and every week: for critical business functions, on-premise software still reigns supreme. Why? Because businesses run on it. If these systems fail, the business stops. Organizations have triage processes and IT teams in place to keep these systems running, and abstracting them away to the cloud – for now – is simply too intimidating.

But as with most technology platforms, there is no black and white. The reality is that for many organizations, cloud and on-premise applications happily co-exist to keep businesses running.

“A lot of our effort has been helping customers pick up new product offerings and modules in the cloud while enabling them to coexist with what a company already has,” said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development at Oracle.

Cloud adoption from large enterprises often comes at the divisional level and through add-on modules. While Oracle offers services to help facilitate the switch to cloud, many core enterprise ERP platforms remain on-premise.

Horses for courses.

VIDEO: Get Smart About the Cloud and Cloud Providers

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This video is making the rounds, and yes it’s a marketing animation, but it really hits on a key point of cloud provider consideration: asking the right questions. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Most organizations we work with are looking for cloud solutions in one way or another. They want to ask the right questions, because the cloud provider landscape is complex, and there are many ‘confusingly similar’ value propositions. Problem is, it’s hard to ask the right questions if you don’t know what you don’t know.

So, it’s time to understand a bit more what you might not know, so you can have a better idea of who to believe and make the choice that best suits your business. In our experience, this video highlights many of the key considerations.

On Finding the Balance Between ERP and SaaS

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Recently, Naomi Bloom commented via Twitter on our blog post entitled, 7 Ingredients That Make or Break a PeopleSoft Upgrade:

tweet

We felt it deserved a longer reply than Twitter affords, so here is our President’s response:

Your comment implies that everyone is SaaS-ready or willing to ignore the investments they have made over decades.  If you want to post a comment regarding our blog, make it relevant to the market instead of degrading a solution that is embraced in the market and will be for many years to come. Over time, corporations will find the balance between ERP, SaaS or a blended model that fits their business needs.

Flexibility More Important Than Ever in Today’s Technology Environment

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Do these terms sound familiar: SaaS, on-premise, off-shoring, on-shoring, the cloud, Big Data, mobile computing? I’m betting that not only have you heard of them, but you’re inundated with them.

Customers today are flooded with choices on how they should or shouldn’t operate their enterprise systems. And naturally, the IT vendors in the marketplace are all too willing to provide a myriad of choices. Mind you, all these choices are relevant and provide good strategies for the enterprise, however, the key for customers today is flexibility as no customer likes to be treated as a template, a “one size fits all” cog.

Organizations have many similarities and compliance requirements in terms of business processes, i.e. accounting practices such as Sarbanes-Oxley, corporate governance and security and compliance. However, in many other areas, customers have flexibility in how they determine what makes sense for their enterprise. They want to know that they can have choice in how they deploy and implement and use these enterprise solutions.

I believe choice is a good thing. Never do customers choose a single path that works only in a single, linear way. With the choices available today through technology, customers have the availability to pick and choose the best solutions that meet their needs.

The solution wraps to fit the business, not the other way around. We’re long past those days, and good riddance.

Solution providers who offer configurable systems that can can change as business needs change will be highly desirable. In my conversations, the flexibility aspect comes up as critical path time and again. IT vendors that take the best of what technology solutions can offer today and bring them together to help customers run their businesses more efficiently and effectively are the ones that will maintain a happy, satisfied and committed customer base in the 21st century.

So simple. So overlooked when a project plan gets down to bare metal.

Flexibility is key. Insist on it.

ERP Makes a Comeback

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Dan Tynan, writing for CIO.com:

For the past decade, ERP has been the poster child for IT projects that overpromise and underdeliver. It was notorious for painfully complex rollouts that took years to implement, required massive customization, and were often only partially realized. Billions of dollars were spent just trying to get ERP systems to work as advertised.

Now ERP is back — and not just for big enterprises looking to refresh legacy systems. According to surveys by Forrester Research, roughly one out of four SMBs and enterprises plans to either upgrade their existing ERP solutions or implement a new one over the next 12 months.

We see this too. Every day.

What’s different? Isn’t ERP’s sometimes-broken promise giving way to the new promise of SaaS and cloud computing? Not just yet — ERP has been around forever, and in that time companies have learned a great deal. They now fully understand what works, what doesn’t and what mistakes to avoid. They’ve gotten their technology down, integrations minimized and streamlined, and they’ve tied smart business processes to their operations.

In short, they’ve grown up. Learned a thing or two.

Our clients tell us that while they’re looking at cloud apps, they have too much tribal wisdom wrapped up into their existing applications and business processes. Many of our clients have just now put in their first real cut at business intelligence and are using that information to make actual, real-world, daily business decisions.

Their ERP systems may be old, and they may not look as shiny as some of the new cloud platforms offered up by Oracle and other vendors, but they work. And organizations understand them completely. That’s why they aren’t afraid of expanding or upgrading their ERP systems — because finally, they’re delivering the promise that they whispered years ago.

In short, they’re finally humming.

It takes a brave soul to scrap something wholesale that is finally working in favor of something that, in essence, represents a great deal of starting over.

What’s your take? Does Tynan’s article sound like you?

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MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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Looking Forward: Why Enterprise Software Is Changing

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It’s clear that 2011 was the year of the cloud, with many traditional enterprise vendors accepting that the cloud is something they can no longer denigrate or ignore. The ‘cloud’ buzzword has been (sometimes annoyingly) tossed around for upwards of two years, but last year is when it hit critical mass in terms of action, not just marketing and positioning.

Chris Kanaracus, writing for IDG News, highlights a few enterprise trends we’re seeing and hearing in everyday conversations. These give real heft to the notion that the cloud is something everyone should be thinking about and/or planning around. It might not be happening right now, and it might not be top priority for you, but ignore this medium- to long-term direction at your peril.

Here’s one that struck us:

SAP buys SuccessFactors, Oracle buys RightNow, both accept cloud reality

Collectively, SAP and Oracle spent nearly US$5 billion this year to acquire software vendors based in the cloud.

Each sought different types of technologies, with SAP’s purchase of SuccessFactors boosting its human-resources software offerings as well as general cloud know-how, and Oracle’s RightNow buy giving it an array of customer-support capabilities.

But the deals have a common thread, marking a sea change for the traditional on-premise software world, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. “[It] signals the realization that cloud deployment will be the predominant approach.”

We do a massive amount of Oracle work, and what we’re hearing from Oracle and our customers is very real and perfectly synchonized: the cloud is real, it’s mature, and it’s time to start figuring out how it can help enterprise IT. It’s not just for early adopters or skunkwork labs anymore.

Along similar lines, you can’t ignore perhaps the biggest story out of Oracle, one that’s sure to mold future IT decisions for a long, long time:

Oracle delivers Fusion Applications

It took a while, but Oracle finally managed to deliver the first wave of its next-generation Fusion Applications, and its launch strategy also showed how cloud computing has influenced the enterprise software market.

The company has taken pains to stress that Fusion Applications can be deployed in a highly modular fashion, with no need to remove existing systems, and at a time of customers’ choosing. Users will also be able to run the software both on-premises and in cloud form, although some of the details of the latter remain to be made public.

Oracle’s strategy is partly a nod to reality, since few customers will rush to rip and replace their core ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems with new software, and Oracle also wants to ensure early users are successful. But its message of easier, more flexible consumption for Fusion is straight from the cloud-vendor playbook.

Now more than ever we are being asked by our clients to come in and help them simply assess: put executive/organizational expectations on a piece of paper somewhere (harder than it sounds, trust us), inventory current systems and capabilities, and plan roadmaps. Such basic blocking and tackling, but given the churn and change in what ‘enterprise IT’ will mean in three years, so important. We offer clients two very powerful planning workshops: our BluePrint Project Services and PeopleSoft Architecture Assessment, both of which are popular. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of our BluePrint workshops, largely because of the reasons discussed a few hundred words ago: things are changing, and smart planning has never been more important.

Questions? Don’t be afraid to drop us a line. Always happy to have conversations.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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SaaS Valuations Sky-High — And Staying That Way

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Barb Darrow, GigaOm:

Wolf’s numbers show that a select group of SaaS companies saw their values grow 313 percent from January 2009 to October 2011, compared to 154 percent growth for other software companies over the same period.

No wonder Oracle shelled out $1.5 billion for RightNow Technologies and Salesforce.com keeps snapping up smaller SaaS players every month.

“With Saas, the more vertical the better,” Wolf said in interview. SaaS companies offering financial services, healthcare services or employee benefits outsourcing services, are all hot now, he added.

So who’ll be buying? The usual suspects: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft.

Increased valuation begets consolidation, and SaaS is where all the buying is going to be happening. That much is clear. But this bubble, as it were, seems awfully vulnerable to macroeconomic factors and externalities. And as legacy software companies acquire SaaS players to broaden/deepen their portfolios, eventually valuations will get pretty muddy.

Something to watch.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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RightNow Opens Oracle’s SaaS Play; Puts Salesforce.com on Alert

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Two days ago, Oracle acquired RightNow for $1.5B, and many analysts immediately said the purchase was, for all intents and purposes, missiles aimed at Salesforce.com.

But  how? What does this mean? How to decipher this? What does the acquisition do for Oracle? Won’t Oracle’s ‘Public Cloud’ be comprised of technologies already in Oracle’s stack?

Not exactly. According to ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright (and Larry Dignan), Oracle’s purchase of SaaS pioneer RightNow basically signals Oracle’s intent to go cloud shopping and pick up a slew of tier 2 SaaS players.

With the acquisition of early SaaS pioneer RightNow Technologies, Oracle has signalled its intention to build out its Public Cloud offering with what will likely become a string of acquisitions of second-tier SaaS vendors. I’m in total agreement with my ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan that the official press statement was “basically shorthand for ‘Oracle is going cloud shopping’.”

So who might be on the list?

I’d expect the shopping list to include public companies including Taleo and several others in the talent management sphere, along with ServiceNow.com in the IT service management space and various less well known names from other sectors.

Things are going to get interesting in the next few months. The most interesting part of all of is is the ideological shift that’s taking place: Oracle might not be building out its Public Cloud with primarily in-house technology; it plans on creating it via acquisition. And we all know Oracle’s extremely good at identifying smart acquisition targets.

Popcorn, anyone?

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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Amazon Storing More Than 49B Objects in S3

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Derrick Harris, writing for GigaOm:

At Structure 2011 last month, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels told the crowd that S3 was storing 339 billion objects. At this same time last year, the service was only storing 262 billion objects. One might also draw a parallel to the ever-growing cloud revenues at Rackspace, the incredible amount of computing capacity AWS adds every day or the mass proliferation of new Software-as-a-Service offerings.

That’s 100% growth year-over-year. And be sure to click the Rackspace link, because they’re not doing too shabby either.  Right now AWS leads the way, with Rackspace running in second.

My feeling is that we’re still in the beginning stages. Cloud usage growth is going to go non-linear sometime down the line.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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