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Part II: True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud – Not All “Clouds” Are Equal

This is the second part of the “True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud” series.

Check out Part I: True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud – How Companies Can Tell the Difference in Distribution

What exactly is a Fake Cloud? Fake cloud software occurs when legacy applications are adapted and hosted on the internet, but never truly designed to be delivered and used via the cloud.

Not All “Clouds” are Equal

At the birth of enterprise resource planning (ERP) in the late 1990s, many ERP vendors that are still around today began running their solutions on minicomputers. The next decade saw a movement from distributed minicomputers to a client/server model in which personal computers (PCs) communicated with separate servers. All of these platforms provided businesses with only limited access to their systems. Now that internet access has become commonplace, today’s employees, customers, and suppliers expect to access their information anywhere at any time.

But in the rush to meet this need, most legacy ERP vendors didn’t update their applications to be true cloud solutions. In some cases, they moved their legacy software onto a server where they “host” it and provide access over the internet by way of adapter software. This is not true cloud software; it’s fake cloud software.

These legacy applications were never designed to be delivered and used via the internet. Here are a few reasons:

  • Some require specialized software for access, so the system has limited availability.
  • The user interface cannot be personalized by each user. It requires the assistance of a trained programmer.
  • The legacy solutions were written in tools and techniques that are not relevant today, and the expertise to modify them is becoming scarcer and more expensive.
  • Legacy ERP software may use proprietary tools to integrate third-party applications, making it difficult to communicate with other applications.
  • The systems often lack technology tools such as virtualization and load balancing to provide scalability. This restricts system performance.

For all these reasons and more, fake cloud solutions will increase long-term ownership costs and hinder business process improvements in the future.

Eight Ways to Identify True Cloud Software

Even after you’ve identified what seems to be a viable cloud ERP solution for your company, be aware that not all cloud solutions are created equal. Many fall short by not offering a feature or characteristic that’s easy to overlook.

Here are eight things your cloud ERP solution must offer:

1. Full functionality and reporting offered on common mobile devices as well as on the desktop.

Don’t settle for one of the many solutions that only offer a scaled-down app for mobile users.

2. Personalization.

You should be free to customize your dashboards, reports, and workspaces to the needs and preferences of your workforce.

3. Full integration of spreadsheets, data services, apps,
and equipment.

Your cloud ERP solution should “meet you where you’re at” by allowing you to connect all your current tools to the system. Don’t settle for a solution that will force you to rekey years of data before you move forward.

4. Software that was built using modern, commonly
available tools and standards.

If the vendor is not clear about how the software was written, what tools were used, how it will be customized, and how it will be integrated with other cloud systems, then you can assume they’re not using current techniques, software tools, and standards.

5. The ability to pay by resource usage, not by the user.

Most ERP software vendors charge you extra for every user you add to the system. This is particularly unfair to companies with distribution operations, which often need to add large numbers of occasional users to their systems. Look for a vendor that only charges for the computing power you actually use, regardless of your number of users.

6. Industry-standard security.

Your vendor must protect your data in a data center that meets the highest data and access security requirements. It should be a large, well-known facility that has the necessary resources for load balancing, backup and recovery, and security.

7. Deployment Options.

For many, deploying ERP in the cloud and letting their vendor host it is the most cost-effective and secure option. But your company may be different. If so, look for a vendor that also gives you the option of deploying on your own servers.

8. Easy upgrades.

Legacy software was painful and costly to upgrade because you had to rewrite all your customizations for the newest version of the software. A good cloud solution will upgrade quickly and easily without disruption to your business. In fact, in a true cloud SaaS model, the software provider handles all of that for you.

See True Cloud Software in Action

As you evaluate cloud solutions, consider what Acumatica has to offer. This full-featured ERP delivers the complete, real-time information you need to coordinate your staff, warehouses, and inventory in ways that optimize your business processes.

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