September 14, 2021
A cloud is a cloud, or?
During different periods of our lives, clouds have had a big impact in one way or another. In our daily lives, there is no doubt that most of us understand that there are different types of clouds. How have clouds impacted your life?
Personally I, Håkan Strömbeck (Senior Industry & Solution Strategy Director at Infor), learned the importance of clouds at an early age, when I spent my summers on my grandparents farm. They taught me how they would gaze up to the evening sky to predict the next day's weather forecast and thereby plan the next day's agenda on the farm. It has proven to be a valuable skill to know how to read the clouds, one I have practiced in different areas of my life. The clouds have guided me through life, from when I lived in the Alps and spent my days as a downhill ski guide, until present day when practicing different sports such as sailing and windsurfing. Today, clouds of another kind, has a big impact in my life in my role as Industry Strategist at Infor.
As a long-time professional in cloud solutions, I can sometimes be struck by how uniform the information, discussion and debate is about the differences in cloud in the IT industry, whether from journalists, analysts or industry colleagues. Usually speaking in sweeping terms about the cloud and making everything from inaccurate statements to generalizing conclusions based on the cloud description. In this blog post, I want to help you understand the differences in clouds in relation to ERP solutions. It's all about the level of responsibility, agility and security.
The four most used delivery methods
There are four types of delivery methods in today's mode of delivery of ERP solutions, and this also applies for other software solution areas.
- "On-Premise": In this case, it is not a cloud solution at all. The supplier provides the software, which is then deployed and operated by the customer on the customer's infrastructure. The customer can make modifications to the software themselves in cases where it is deemed necessary. Upgrading is usually done in a low intensity period of several years.
- "Hosting" (Outsourcing): In practice, it is the same arrangement as "on-premise" i.e. the provider provides the software. The customer chooses to add a 3rd party hosting partner responsible for the operation. Depending on the arrangement, hosting can include everything from operation, testing, application management and development, which means that a certain ambiguity in the boundary can occur. The customer can make modifications to the software themselves in cases where it is deemed necessary. As with on-premise, the upgrade takes place several years apart. Some ERP providers provide this type of service with different degrees of content and call it cloud delivery which is not entirely correct.
- "Single-Tenant" (Private Cloud): The supplier provides a service that includes access to the software as well as operation. Each customer (tenant) is separated into their own version of software and databases. As a rule, the supplier is also responsible for safety, back-up routines and upgrades (with varying frequency). The degree to which the customer can make modifications to the software themselves in cases where it is deemed necessary will vary. In some cases, it is made directly to the code, which causes problems during the upgrades, while in other cases they are made standalone in so-called "extensions" which should be the prevailing approach. It is also of great importance who provides the tools or platform to build these extensions, is it the supplier of the ERP or is it another supplier.
- "Multi-Tenant" (True Cloud): The supplier provides a service that includes access to the software as well as operation. Each customer running has its own tenant but shares identical (however individually configured) code. The supplier is responsible for security, back-up routines and upgrades (with varying frequency), which in Infor's case occurs once a month. The customer cannot modify either code or databases, but modifications are made exclusively through so-called extension with tools provided by the supplier or third-party solutions.
Learn more here about how cloud-based applications compare to on-premises solutions.
The cloud controls your tomorrow
Just as my grandparents made decisions about what to do the next day based on the shape and color of the clouds, companies' choice of cloud strategy will impact the company's future. Making decisions on general descriptions of the cloud without taking into account the technical differences and not least the division of responsibilities between different cloud options can lead in directions not wanted nor expected. The discussion and information about the cloud must be considered, and the different types of clouds that exist must be reflected. Otherwise, you not only risk giving the wrong picture about opportunities and potential challenges, but it can also lead to wrong and costly decisions being made.
In this blog series, Håkan Strömbeck will guide you through what the main differences between the different cloud options are, and why you should care about which cloud solution you choose for your company. It's all about the level of responsibility, agility and security.
Stay tuned for the next blog post, where Håkan will explore the differences between multi-tenant and single-tenant cloud ERP.
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