Cloud // Software as a Service
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10/8/2013
10:27 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays

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.

[ Want more on Infor's latest enterprise apps moves? Read Infor Bets $500 Million On Enterprise App Refresh. ]

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.

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/11/2013 | 8:15:02 PM
re: Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays
He had more to say about that at launch http://ubm.io/ZK68tr. Ming.le is social meets transactions and events -- you can subscribe to events and threshold-triggered alerts. As a social tool it strikes me as a me-too -- other than the ERP/events angle.
anon4909676850
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anon4909676850,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/10/2013 | 12:11:55 PM
re: Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays
Customizations are like any other piece of code in that they become obsolete, no longer used, and need to be reviewed. Infor explicitly builds applications by microvertical and yes they have a product called LN with cable and dimension functionality that is used in alloyed metal manufacturers. That is precisely the strategy - to build ERP by industry. If you speak to their customers and you'll find that's exactly why they chose Infor over the generic ERP products. This is the one company that uses customizations for product ideas
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2013 | 5:56:27 PM
re: Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays
You are right on, Laurianne, especially in the mfg/B-to-B segment. Several units in our global company implemented BPCS (now called ERP LX by Infor). No way it could produce an invoice without a major modification to handle alloyed metal pricing. Does he really believe that exists in the standard ERP product now? In any vendor's standard ERP product not geared exclusively to selling alloyed metal wire products?
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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10/9/2013 | 3:43:09 PM
re: Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays
Retiring customizations will save money, but he makes that sound simple. Customizations hang on for business reasons.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2013 | 2:05:12 PM
re: Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays
Did he say anything about Mingle, which is Infor's take on enterprise social workflow (a crowded but interesting market segment)?

I just heard a little bit about that from Infor Chief Medical Information Officer Dr.
Barry Chaiken, who was presenting concepts for social UI in healthcare at the CHIME hospital CIOs conference this week. Sounded to me like they're still at the initial concept / brainstorming phase, so I haven't written about it. But I'd be interested in how they plan to compete in the social workflow arena.
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