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9/14/2011
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Infor 10 Marks Push For Unified Products

New CEO Charles Phillips unveils first major product upgrade with a shared interface, common mobile platform, and united integration middleware.

Infor 10, the next wave of enterprise resource planning products from a formerly sleepy midrange ERP vendor, was unveiled at a splashy party in New York Tuesday night. The event marked a coming-out party of sorts for CEO Charles Phillips and the team of veteran managers he brought with him from Oracle when he joined the company 10 months ago.

In a pre-launch interview with InformationWeek, Phillips said his team was pleased to discover great assets at Infor that had already undergone extensive upgrades, including complete rewrites of the Baan and Syteline ERP suites and enterprise asset management applications in recent years.

Infor was previously known for a loose-knit collection of acquired applications, but Phillips said the company has added some 400 software developers to accelerate unification efforts. The results in Infor 10 include a fleshed-out ION middleware integration platform, a shared "consumer-grade" user interface, and common event-management and workflow capabilities.

"All the products now look the same, and we have a series of ERP engines, specialized by industry, that look, behave, and install in the same way," Phillips said.

Infor's deep industry expertise is a key differentiator, Phillips said. For example, Infor addresses food and beverage companies with functionality specific to meat processors, bakery operations, brewers, and other specialties. Automotive manufacturing support includes functionality specific to plastic-injection molding, blow molding, wiring harness fabrication, metal stamping, and other specialties.

The company stressed that the Infor 10 release is complete and ready for these and other supported verticals including aerospace and defense, chemicals, distribution, equipment services, maintenance and rental, fashion, healthcare, hospitality, and the public sector.

Infor has rationalized its development approach in several areas, Phillips said. In just one example, at least six separate mobility development teams working on separate products were consolidated and refocused on developing a shared mobility platform. The result is a new Road Warriors mobile app with native iPad support that taps into sought-after information and transactions such as orders, order status lookups, and approvals.

Infor 10 delivers a shared workspace interface that's said to unify relevant information for all users on one screen with role-based workflows, tasks and alerts, in-context business intelligence, social media collaboration, and consumer-like search capabilities. The vendor's ION middleware is described as lightweight in terms of ease and speed of deployment and development, yet capable of integrating Infor and non-Infor applications through a shared Web-services-based communications approach and repository.

Infor acquired Lawson Software only recently, but ION-based integration is already underway with Lawson financials and other applications expected to tie-in with Infor apps by December.

Phillips claimed Infor can now deliver its applications on-premises or in the cloud in multi-tenant fashion from its own data centers, and it will also support hybrid deployments mixing both approaches. "We can take either approach with the same code, and we're working with our customers to take the approach that they are most comfortable with," he said.

Infor now ranks as the third-largest ERP vendor with roughly $2 billion in revenue. Most of the company's customers are midsize firms, but Phillips said a third of the company's business is among large companies--where the company would compete with the likes of SAP and Phillips' former employer, Oracle, where he served as president until last year.

SaaS productivity apps are good to go--if you can get past security and data ownership concerns. Read all about it in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek SMB. Download it now. (Free with registration.)

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