CEO Charles Phillips pushes Infor into hot new areas leading with slick new interfaces and cloud deployment on Amazon Web Services.
Charles Phillips doesn't have a lot of patience for old perceptions of his company. Bring up the many ERP, CRM, HCM and asset management pieces and parts rolled up into Infor, and Phillips, CEO, is likely to turn the discussion to the company's ION integration services layer, the slick new task-oriented user interfaces or the Ming.le social and event hub.
Sitting in a conference room in Infor's slick new headquarters in Manhattan's trendy Flatiron neighborhood, Phillips is filling InformationWeek in on the two latest initiatives in the reinvention of Infor. The first is UpgradeX, a program designed to accelerate Infor's move into the cloud by helping customers move to the latest, 10x versions of Infor applications managed by Infor and running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure.
The second initiative is Rhythm, a cloud-based e-commerce platform that Phillips says will help customers build state-of-the-art Web storefronts backed by product configuration capabilities, recommendation engines, search and content management capabilities.
UpgradeX and Rhythm are both scheduled to be announced on Thursday. Phillips is focused on the grand strategic vision, but he has ready answers on the nitty, gritty details. On UpgradeX, the "Upgrade" part is what Phillips is hoping Infor can help customers do more quickly and easily in the cloud. The "X" part is the fill-in-the-blank name of the application the customer currently has deployed on-premises, whether that's LN, M3, Lawson or SyteLine ERP systems or Infor's Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) application.
At least 20% of Infor's business is already in the cloud, whether that's EAM, the Enwisen HCM app or cloud hosted deployments of current applications. With UpgradeX, Phillips says Infor has built all the tools it needs to move customer data from on-premises to the cloud, and it's ready to move customers to the latest versions of its applications.
"It's like a normal application upgrade except now the machines, the patching and the upgrades will be managed by us and we make the move as risk free as possible," Phillips says. "We flip them to a subscription from paying maintenance, and from that point on they're paying a per-user fee just like any other SaaS application."
Phillips insists that most customers won't miss customizations when moving to a single (multi-tenant) version of their apps because the most popular custom capabilities have been built into the latest upgrades. What's more, customers will be able to pilot and test the cloud-based apps in sandbox environments before moving apps from their own data centers into the cloud.
Infor partners with both IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud capacity, but Phillips says demo deployments are handled on IBM's cloud while production workloads are handled on AWS because "it's in the countries we need to be in, it's cheaper and we don't need much more than ping, power and pipes," whereas IBM's strength is in offering cloud application management as well as cloud capacity, Phillips says.
SaaS As Innovation Driver?Software as a service is the clear No. 1 way enterprises consume cloud. InformationWeek's SaaS Innovation Survey reveals three tips to get the most from SaaS: Make it a popularity contest. Have an escape plan. And remember that identity is the new perimeter.
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.