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Posts Tagged ‘SaaS’

Cloud vs. Cloudburst: Where Cloud Computing Is, Isn’t and Might Be

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Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me about the “cloud” and how I think it will impact the future of ERP.  Well, I’m not an expert in cloud computing, nor do I have a crystal ball.  But what I do have is 20+ years of industry experience.  So, while I can’t give you a definitive answer on the future, I can share with you my observations.

First, people have been talking about the possibility of distributed applications for over a decade.  Remember when Bill Gates said he envisioned a time when people would “rent” Microsoft Office over the web and we all snickered and scoffed?  Well, Mr. Gates, as it turns out, just may have one of those crystal balls.

So the cloud, or distributed processing, has arrived and will more than likely be here for many years.  But even with its many benefits (reduced hardware requirements, limited internal support needs, global availability and other pros listed by specialists of business IT support in London), distributed processing has its limitations.  One can argue that distributed processing is great for user-focused applications like CRM, word processing and logistics because these applications reach a broad range of industries with a minimal amount of customization.  It’s much harder to say the same thing, however, about back-office enterprise systems.

In the world of back-office enterprise software, applications must be configured to meet a wide and growing range of business processes.  Trying to herd all business types into “standard” business processes would keep change management companies busy for the next century and remove competitive advantages that some companies have built their infrastructure to support.  And there’s no way a discreet manufacturer would adopt the business processes of a healthcare provider — or vice versa.

So the next alternative is for enterprise software vendors is to utilize distributed applications to provide multiple “versions” of the application for various industries.  Viable?  Probably not — this alone would drive cost and support models out of control.  And I must admit, in my twenty years in the industry, I’ve never seen two companies attempt to configure the software the same way.  Even in similar industries, there are always differences that need to be addressed.

With all that said, I do think that you will begin to see additional applications being moved to and supported in a cloud environment.  Anytime a software vendor can standardize their product it lowers their support cost and appeals to a wider audience.  So look for the trend to continue.  And by all means, don’t confuse a hosted or managed services offering with a SaaS model.  Hosting and managed services are essentially your custom environment running on someone else’s equipment.  SaaS is a distributed software environment.  Lots of confusion, but the gods live in the details. Maybe I can talk more about that next month!

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For Oracle, ‘Choice’ Is Key Message

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Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect on Twitter) with a nice synopsis of Oracle’s new ‘choice’ messaging.  Given Oracle’s incredibly wide (and premium) stable of offerings, combined with its recent cloud-facing announcements, this is smart, solid positioning:

He emphasized choice in other ways as he discussed Fusion apps – more choice in portfolio of ERP apps versus competitive narrow, CRM, HR and other SaaS category offerings. He talked about choices in co-existence scenarios with current PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Oracle EBS products. He threw out names of a choice of SIs which were working with around 50 early adopter Fusion implementations – Price Waterhouse, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte.

Later when I met with Steve I asked him if the SIs were influencing the choices – given they were “traditional” firms, were they nudging customers towards private cloud implementations? He said he did not see it – they were being smart in going along with customer desire/direction.

The truth of the matter is from where Oracle sits, the choices they offer customers is mind-boggling — in a good way.  The challenge of the ‘choice’ message is that its analogous to the ‘open’ message in that it’s very fragile.  (Look at how much heat Google is taking when it announced that it would take tighter control of its Android OS — the cries of ‘But you said it was open!’ were deafening.)  If Oracle is truly offering choice, does that include, say, cloud technologies that lie outside its own product/service portfolio?  Does that include the use of SIs who might have their own technologies and methodologies that are in direct competition, to some extent, with Oracle’s own?

I suspect the ‘choice’ message’s permanence will rest on how Oracle manages its own offerings versus other directions customers may lean.

Nonetheless, Oracle’s doing all the right things when it comes to addressing the market (pay special attention to the progress of Fusion as evidenced by Principal and certain units of Easton and Alcoa).  Hopefully, it continues through the sales cycle and into implementation.  As Mirchandani says, “Time will tell.”

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What to Negotiate in Your SaaS Agreement

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There’s plenty of information out there about why to choose SaaS and which products lead their respective markets.  What’s not out there en masse is some cogent advice on how to deal with the underbelly of any enterprise software purchase: the contract.

Derek Singleton, an ERP Market Analyst for ERP Software Advice, rounds up his nine key points you’ll need to think about in negotiating your SaaS agreement.

So you’ve decided to go with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It’s easy to implement, easy to use and has a friendly subscription pricing model. You’re psyched.

Then comes the contract.

While SaaS has simplified enterprise software in many ways, you will still need to review, negotiate and execute a fairly complex contract when subscribing to an “enterprise-class” system. In this post, we will walk you through the nine most important things to consider when negotiating your SaaS agreement.

Nice to see these oft-discussed points collected and discussed evenly.  It’s a high-level consideration, but certainly these nine items should be somewhere on your contract checklist.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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A Video Tour of 37Signals’ New Office

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I’ve always loved architecture, even though I can’t draw or model myself out of a paper bag.  In particular, I love to see how other people work: the choices they make to enable them to be creative, think and do their jobs.  You can go read about micro-setups like what computers and tools folks use on The Setup, but to me it’s even more interesting when you expand it to the office environment.

37Signals, a SaaS-based B2B offering for information sharing and collaboration, recently moved into new offices.  If you know anything about this company, you know they’re all about smart technology and have a progressive management style.  Their new offices reflect their business identity perfectly.  I love the decisions about materials and lighting, especially how to share the influx of natural light.  Very smart.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More nerdery posts.

Oracle M&A: Who’s Next?

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Stephen Jannise over at Manufacturing Software Advice has an interesting take on where Oracle might go next with its M&A activity.  Some of these (RIM, for instance) are pie-in-the-sky plays, but they do make some sense in the larger enterprise space when you consider the most emergent trends.

As for me, I can see Informatica and Infor as reasonable plays (with varying degrees of messiness).  I don’t see much of a network play, nor do I see mobile being top-of-mind.  I can see EMC and Salesforce.com as massive targets, but both very pricey and, perhaps, out-of-reach today.

Regardless, some interesting thoughts by Jannise and a fun thought exercise to boot.  Give it a read.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More Oracle posts.

CIO: Cloud Computing Will Surpass Web in Importance

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Fred O’Connor, writing for CIO:

While a vision of the Internet’s future may appear murky, Nelson said that cloud computing will be pivotal. “The cloud is even more important than the Web,” he said.

Cloud computing will allow developing nations to access software once reserved for affluent countries. Small businesses will save money on capital expenditures by using services such as Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud to store and compute their data instead of purchasing servers.

Sensors will start to appear in items such as lights, handheld devices and agriculture tools, transmitting data across the Web and into the cloud.

‘Surpass’ is a loaded word.  I’ve always seen cloud computing as the next stop on the web’s evolutionary road.  The first phase, the vision, was to create an interconnected global network.  Shortly thereafter, the goal became to provide easy access to a plethora of shared resources via that network.

Now, with web technologies finally at a point where they rival those previously reserved for the thick-client computing, cloud applications are massively viable – and, to boot, offer tremendous advantages to their users (as well as their hosts).  It’s not just about sharing, it’s about the universal cloud being able to offer processing, analytics, logic and a common-man-accessible UX.

It’s been said before, but the Internet is a platform. It didn’t begin this way in the application sense, but it certainly has become the most fertile development and innovation soil for the next generation of enterprise (and, frankly, consumer) applications.

So, surpass the web? In the sense of being able to bring mature application and cloud processing to businesses and individuals, yes.  But it’s not a replacement – the use modes we see on the web now won’t go away – it’s an evolution.  Some, like me, would even argue a coming of age.

‘The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be’

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“The future ain’t what it used to be.” (Yogi Berra)

Yogi was half right.

The future looks bright and innovative when you consider the latest wave in technology, which is cloud computing. But the more I learn, the more it seems like the future is what it used to be.  Nothing new under the sun, right?

In a recent seminar I listened, politely, to a couple of young, up-and-coming SaaS project management stars speak about the great methodology to implement their products.  What they showed were reams of Word documents that stepped through their processes.  Again: a series of Word document pages laboriously detailing how and why to conduct a kick off meeting, followed by more, even less titillating documents that drill down on how to conduct a workshop on a singular feature of the product.

They ensured the audience that they can excitedly await more and more detailed text documents that can show everyone knows how to deploy each and every facet of their products.   And here’s what I thought: this tome of Word documents is a giant parallel to yesterday’s great mainframe Word Perfect documents in the library of Software Methodology Documents Left Unread.  It just baffles me that companies with so much innovative spirit in their technology are not innovative in their approach to creating a new way to convey how to implement their solution. I profess I don’t have the answer, but there must be a better way that matches the creative solution of your technology offering.

Right?

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog.  If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website.  If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More SaaS posts you should read.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on the iPad, Cloud 2.0

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, writing a guest column over at TechCrunch entitled Hello iPad. Hello, Cloud 2:Apple's forthcoming iPad

I’m sentimental this week, and thinking about the past, because I have seen the future. The future is not a Mac, or even a PC. Its father created a lot of the computers I’ve loved: Apple IIe, Mac, and iPhone. There have been others I have loved, even some PCs and yes, my Blackberry, but none of that matters anymore. Looking ahead, I am energized, a door is opening, and we are all going to walk through it. We’ll soon enter a new world of computing accelerated once again by the industry’s creator Steve Jobs, and amplified by someone conceived after the PC, Mark Zuckerberg.

The future of our industry now looks totally different than the past. It looks like a sheet of paper, and it’s called the iPad. It’s not about typing or clicking; it’s about touching. It’s not about text, or even animation, it’s about video. It’s not about a local disk, or even a desktop, it’s about the cloud. It’s not about pulling information; it’s about push. It’s not about repurposing old software, it’s about writing everything from scratch with a transcription service from www.appletranscription.co.uk (because you want to take advantage of the awesome potential of the new computers and the new cloud—and because you have to reach this pinnacle). Finally, the industry is fun again.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about a piece of technology.  And never before have I sat thinking about it and realized that what’s about to burst into our tech lives is so disruptive that it’s hard — actually hard — to imagine what applications and new usage models we’ll actually see.  That’s the thing about disruption: you know it’s coming, but you don’t know exactly what it will mean for you or your business until you look back one day and realize that the way you used to do things is so old.

It’s like the halcyon days of youth: when you’re in them, you know they’re good times, but it’s only when they’re over, many years later, that you realize they changed you forever.

My money is on the table: the iPad is going to change things monumentally.

What Topics Should We Write About?

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Ignoring the fact that I just ended a headline with a preposition while askingtopics what we should write about, I’d like to know what you’re working on or researching.

This blog has grown in readership considerably since its launch in mid-2008. Since that time, we’ve written over 140 posts covering PeopleSoft, Business Intelligence (BI) and general culture topics.

We get asked quite a bit to write about topics that our customers and prospects are interested in, and in the past we’ve done exactly that. We even create whitepapers if the demand is great enough.

This year, we’d like to hear from more organizations about what they’re interested in or where our expertise might be able to help. We consistently hear that companies must commit to tying IT spend to strategic goals (now moreso than ever), and there are a lot of topics that fall under that umbrella.

To that end, what topics would you like to hear about in the PeopleSoft or Business Intelligence worlds? I’ve started a discussion over on Facebook, and I’d love to hear what you’re interested in or what sort of information would be useful to you.  All ideas, comments and questions welcome.

Join the Facebook Discussion Now

The Best of Our Blog, 2009 Edition

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Since launching this blog in the middle of 2008, we saw readership grow  from  50 unique visitors per month emailsig-MIPRO-logoto    nearly 5,000 (and trending upward), so I’d like to get one thing out of the way before highlighting 2009’s top posts: thank you.

We appreciate all the kind words and referrals the PeopleSoft/Workday/Business Intelligence communities have brought to us, and we’ve done our best to reciprocate as best we can.

In chronological order, then, here are 2009’s top blog posts here on MIPRO Unfiltered, selected via a mysterious gruel of hits, comments, backlinks and retweets.  If you missed them the first time around, enjoy.

Using Business Intelligence to Survive the Recession, Part I

Using Business Intelligence to Survive the Recession, Part II

Business Intelligence in the real world: aligning metrics (Part I)

Business Intelligence in the real world: aligning metrics (Part II)

What Zappos Teaches Us About Business Culture, Character and Nuance

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