Cloud Computing - It Gets Bigger and Bigger
These technology revolutions unlike old fashioned revolutions are often hard to differentiate from incremental change until after the fact. One way to know if you are in a revolution is the “you can’t get there from here” factor. A real technology revolution turns economics upside down – things that were once scarce and expensive can suddenly be abundant and almost free. Processing power and memory were once wildly expensive, now they are nearly free in comparison. Bandwidth was so slow and expensive that companies charged for each word in a fax. Now bandwidth is abundant – something you get as a free perk for visiting a coffee shop, or provided with your hotel room. Business books are full of stories about defunct companies who intellectually understood everything about the revolutionary technology of their day, yet were helpless to change because the old rules were embedded so deeply in their cultural DNA.
We are now in the midst of a new technology revolution called Cloud Computing.
It’s bigger than you think. Cloud Computing is not just about using applications over the Internet, or SaaS. Even if you are just interested in computing on-premises, Cloud Computing technologies will change everything about how you do it and give you more for less. Cloud Computing is the next generation of Computing. It’s a revolution because it affects everything.
Cloud Computing changes the rules for Accounting, CRM and ERP applications.
The disruption is caused by the fact that existing Accounting, ERP and CRM applications cannot simply be ‘cloud enabled’. Cloud Computing technologies go right down to the core of applications so that the only viable option is to start over. To do otherwise would be like trying to make a car out of a horse carriage.
Cloud Computing enables cloud-based Accounting, ERP and CRM systems. Organizations with sophisticated requirements are now deploying these systems in increasing numbers. Why? Productivity can be dramatically increased. Applications can be conveniently and securely accessed from anywhere, on any device. Cost can be lowered.
Cloud-based systems can be deployed anywhere and supported via a variety of service models ranging from self-service to full-service. They can be deployed in virtualized, multi-tenant environments residing in private or public datacenters. Web standards enable more powerful ERP applications and rapid, cost-effective, seamless integrations between applications. The list goes on, but the reasons overwhelmingly point to a revolution in business processing made possible by Cloud Computing. It is a revolution enabled by the convergence of multiple technologies and their acceptance as standards, and most critically for the business user – it is a revolution delivering higher productivity – at lower cost.
ASC has offices throughout the US. Whether you are looking for Acumatica on the West Coast (San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Las Vegas) or East Coast (Philadelphia) Advanced Solutions & Consulting Co. can help. If we don’t have a location in your city, we will happily travel to your facility to deploy your new cloud ERP software solutions.
What Makes Cloud-Based Applications Better
1. Web standards
Statelessness—Cloud-based applications are ‘stateless’ and loosely coupled. It is largely the statelessness of cloud-based ERP applications that makes them usable over the Internet and makes them more scalable, more secure, and more reliable than their predecessors. Stateless applications are designed to remain stable even if a user disappears mid-session. But supporting statelessness requires a big shift in application design, and thinking – and is perhaps the key reason why so many cloud-based ERP and CRM systems today come from relatively new companies. It turns out that “cloud-based” just can’t be added as a feature to an older product—you have to start over.
2. Reduced Computing Costs
x86 standards—Standardization on the Intel x86 instruction set provides the foundation for scalable, inexpensive data centers. Almost all web server processing, and therefore almost all Cloud Computing, is done on x86 standards—from the smallest web site to Facebook with its 500 million active users. Google has somewhere around one million servers supporting 1 billion users weekly—all based on x86 processors produced mainly by Intel and AMD. The “Datacenter as a computer” is here. Cloud Computing comes in all sizes too. On-premises IT is not necessarily replaced by this revolution—it becomes less expensive, simplified, and empowered more than ever.
3. The Network Effect
Involving everyone—When a network effect is present, the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. A Cloud-based application organized around an integrated database, and accessible from anywhere, encourages a network effect because the cost of adding a user is negligible. At the same time, the more people you have contributing and connected to your ERP, CRM or accounting system, the more timely, accurate and complete the picture of your operations, and the more your system is to each user and to the organization overall. A Cloud-based business application lets you involve everyone including sales, operations, marketing, finance even vendors, customers, external auditors and consultants.
Connecting applications—The network effect operates between applications too. Because of web standards, Cloud-based ERP applications can interact with each other inexpensively, and with other specialized applications over the network. There are Cloud-based applications that can be used to inexpensively augment ERP, CRM and accounting applications for sales tax calculation, payroll processing, bank transfers, credit card processing, exchange rate calculations, credit checking, and web-shopping cart management to name a few.
Agility of Integration and benefits with Acumatica Cloud ERP Platform
Companies are investing time and money to improve their bottom line; yesterday, today and tomorrow? Most industries have similar value chains which include your Company, its Suppliers, and Customers. Increasing actual responsiveness lies in integrating underlying business applications to streamline e.g. Supply Chain companies; e-commerce, warehouse and shipping processes. Information flows seamless and everyone sees same data updated in real time.
Poor Integration Leaves Gaps in Automation
While companies are investing heavily in applications to support e-commerce, cloud-based ERP and mobility, these applications are not, however, tightly integrated and they often lack all of the features necessary to fully automate order management and fulfilment processes, especially across new fulfillment models. This often leads to pockets of manual work or gaps in automation, which creates labor-intensive clerical tasks, error-prone data entry and compromised customer service. For example, it’s typically a manual process to re-enter orders captured by e-commerce applications such as BigCommerce, Shopify and Magento into ERP solutions such as NetSuite, QuickBooks or Acumatica. Similarly, in the warehouse, purchase order receiving and picking processes are often paper-based, which are inherently inefficient and inaccurate. The challenge in filling these types of gaps exists for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike. While small- to medium-sized companies often lack the IT resources or expertise, the huge IT departments at larger companies are often consumed by bigger projects.
Many retailers are feeling the strain of disparate manual processes. When they launch their new e-commerce strategy and deploy e.g. Magento website to sell directly to consumers. When online sales began to grow rapidly, the lack of integration between Magento and QuickBooks becomes problematic. It created administrative bottlenecks as orders had to be typed into QuickBooks and, when shipped, status and tracking information needed to be manually entered into Magento. Another issue is ensuring the integrity of addresses. When traditional wholesalers open up e-commerce channels, they start shipping orders in the thousands to consumers versus the smaller number of repeat orders for dealers. For these retailers, integrating its e-commerce app into the order fulfillmentprocess and validating addresses prior to streaming them into QuickBooks resulted in powerful new capabilities.
For companies who take on an e-commerce strategy, supporting multiple fulfilment channels also has a huge impact on the warehouse. In other cases, companies born into e-commerce (i.e., sell only online since inception) find they need to expand fulfillment models as they attract attention from and become suppliers to large retailers. Take an example of leading fan Engagement Company in the sports consumer marketplace; Targeting youth, fan and collector markets with both physical and digital products; they have achieved tremendous growth selling both online to consumers and to specialty stores. This required, however, two different pick models in the warehouse to drive efficiency as consumer orders are high volume compared to lower volume specialty store orders. For consumer orders, the company integrated warehouse and inventory operations with its Acumatica Cloud ERP Platform to create a batch process where pack slips were all printed with shipping labels on 8.5×11 sheets. This allowed this retailer to efficiently pick multiple orders with one pass through the warehouse and pre-label for shipping. For specialty orders, it remained more efficient to pick orders one at a time. More recently, ongoing growth has seen this company add large retailers who require EDI, and also have orders with hundreds of lines where picking takes hours or even spans days. This workflow was also automated through integration. Shipping rules and profiles were also adapted to streamline fulfillment as EDI orders required Advanced Shipment Notification (ASN) information, printing UCC 128 labels, and a mix of small package and freight shipment.
Platform Technology from Acumatica Cloud xRP
Acumatica Cloud xRP is an application development platform for building web-based business applications. The platform allows ISV’s (developers) with a powerful tool to create new applications, or to migrate their existing applications to the cloud. The platform is geared to create highly scalable cloud solutions. These applications can be stand alone, or be integrated as part of a larger offering.
Acumatica Cloud xRP platform continues to increase its library of components to facilitate rapid development of industry and or product specific applications. These components include customization and integration tools, reporting tools, and content management tools.
Deep Benefits of xRP Platform are highlighted here:
Built-in functionality: Built-in financials, document management, multi-tenancy, security, reporting, and document management save you time so you can rapidly convert your expertise into software programs that run on Cloud technology.
Develop faster with built-in accounting and financials: Take advantage of pre-integrated accounting objects and modules to deliver business solutions that flow directly to the general ledger, AP, AR, fixed assets, and other modules.
Improve reach with on-premise or SaaS deployments: Applications developed on the Acumatica platform can be deployed on-premise, hosted, or offered as a service (SaaS) in a Cloud environment.
Scale your applications up and out: Applications inherit multi-tenancy support so they can be centrally managed and upgraded. High application density allows your applications to scale horizontally.
Built-in security: Cloud security is managed by the platform. Features such as server side logic, detailed access controls, are robust authentication are automatically available to your application.
Flexible licensing: Join Acumatica Developer Network to get access to Acumatica Framework and tools.
Leverage existing development skills: Acumatica platform is built on top of Microsoft technologies and the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment. This means you can use your existing .NET skills to the cloud.
Browser compatibility: Your applications are delivered via a presentation layer that includes support for Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. This allows you to concentrate on business logic and not worry about browser compatibility.
Built-in performance: A sophisticated presentation engine minimizes network traffic by caching static data classes and common elements. This allows your applications to run efficiently over unreliable Internet connections.
Evolve and customize: Applications developed using Acumatica include built-in customization support. Customizations are stored separately from core application code as Meta data. This preserves customizations during upgrades to the core application.
Please contact us for more information about the system requirements, licensing options.
Important Issues to Consider, Including Security, Before Deploying Cloud ERP
Many organizations considering migrating from existing, lower performance and aging ERP systems with Cloud-based system face important challenges. As with any other change there are misconceptions and fears such as how secure is the system from hackers?
Explanation: Cloud-based applications run over the Internet by default, but the same applications also run on completely private networks. Even if your company has no intention of letting “Internet users” access your Accounting or ERP system, the fundamental advantages of cloud-based applications still provide a game changing edge vs. older systems.
Misconception #2: “Cloud-based is the same as SaaS.”
Explanation: Cloud-based applications enable Software as a Service (SaaS) – not the other way around. SaaS is a powerful business model for delivering cloud-based applications and corresponding services, but it is not the only business model, or even the most predominant one. Cloud-based applications are available under almost every conceivable deployment, licensing and support model – from traditional license to open source and from on-premises to hosted deployment.
Misconception #3: “Cloud-based applications are not customizable.”
Explanation: There is no technical barrier to adding the most sophisticated features for customizability to Cloud-based applications. Differences in customizability between products are a result of developer know-how, skill, choices and focus. If a product is not customizable enough, look to the developer, it’s not the technology holding it back.
Misconception #4: The biggest concern of all, Security?
Achieving the highest levels of security in a cloud-based ERP application, at reasonable cost, is now possible using the same standards-based web technologies used by bank web sites. At a minimum these include:
Encryption: Web standards like SSL and TLS encapsulate application-specific protocols like HTTP to form encrypted HTTPS so no one can hijack a web session or read the data – even if it is passing through an open Wi-Fi network. HTTPS introduces negligible computing overhead so there is no excuse to not use it. Even Google’s free Gmail system supports HTTPS as its default behavior.
Server side processing: Most well designed ERP applications for the Cloud do not install files or components on user machines. Business logic is executed only in the server. Not only does this reduce expense by not requiring each machine to be updated with every version or patch, it also insures the system will not accept manipulated data from a malicious program in the browser.
Other techniques to improve security using cloud computing include:
Cloud Backup: Lost and misplaced backup tapes can potentially be the source of large security breaches. Even if you run your ERP application on-premises it may be safer and less expensive to automatically keep backups in the cloud. Vendors specialize in backing up live on-premises SQL databases and virtual machine images to large public cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon and Azure.
Security tokens: Borrowed or stolen passwords can circumvent the most sophisticated technologies. Augmenting passwords with key fobs that generate time limited passwords provides physical access control from anywhere at very reasonable cost. Secondary, one- time passwords can also be sent to a cell phone via SMS. Products include SecurID from RSA, and many others.