Enterprise application vendors have known for some time that the next replacement life cycle is coming. Client server business applications have got associated with terms like old, heavy, customised, complex, expensive, over the last twenty years of usage. Now they are on their way out and in a simplistic way of speaking are being replaced by cloud applications.
Having accepted this replacement cycle as the future, enterprise vendor continue to compete with each other on how true are the other’s cloud replacement efforts. “Our global corporate strategy is to be the first true industry cloud provider in the market. We have spent millions of dollars either re-writing our solutions completely from scratch or re-tooling them to be multi-tenant solutions with beautiful user experiences and artificial intelligence science infused and embedded in all of them,” elaborates Tarik Taman, General Manager for India, Middle East, Africa at Infor.
Taman draws the line on what is a true cloud application and what is not. According to him a true cloud solution is multi-tenant, has extensibility built into it, and has integration as a service capability. These allow the end user to configure and customise the solution around the core logic, and create real time web services moving back and forth between itself, upstream and downstream platforms. “If it does not have these built into it, it is kind of faking it.” While Infor’s competitors have cloud applications, the question for end users to consider is whether those vendors have rebuilt flagship, complex, mission critical applications into true cloud solutions using the three benchmarks of multi-tenancy, extensibility, and integration.
Other than meeting these criteria Infor has also reengineered its multiple offerings around its ION middleware flagship platform. It chose to use a unifying real-time integration platform to connect its offerings, rather than build a monolithic cloud offering. “We knew that we are a company that had lots of different heritage. We also knew that trying to re-write all of our industry solutions into a single, monolithic cloud solution was not a good idea. We have seen other companies try to do that without great success.”
The other advantage of ION was its ability to support a hybrid cloud approach. End users tend to have solutions in various forms of cloud deployment whether on-premises or multi-tenant as well at various version levels. ION was the way forward for Infor to build a common interoperable entry road map. “They all work together in an unbreakable fashion both from the reporting and upgrading perspective. Once you are in the cloud with us, they upgrade automatically and invisibly as well. These elements associated with integration are a big part of the benefit of moving forward to new versions of Infor,” explains Taman.
Another significant reengineering task has been to rebuild the user experience across all of Infor’s cloud offerings. A leading New York creative design agency took over the responsibility of rebuilding and standardising the user interfaces from the respective product engineering teams. The user interfaces also leverage a common social engine. “Starting five years ago, we created a core competence around beauty as a software. If you are in a hospital system or a hotel system from us, the user experience is nearly identical. Each of the engineering teams no longer control their own user experiences, they are handed the user interface controls.”
Reengineering Infor for the cloud
- Real time integration in the back end using ION
- Redesigned, common user experience
- Front end with social collaboration
- Option to use on-premises, public cloud, or hybrid
Reengineering Infor for its cloud journey has been both inward and outward focused. A key part of this success also stems from its relationship with Amazon Web Services. The global infrastructure and hosting services provider reduces its cost seven times a year, has endless compute power, offers high levels of availability, has inbuilt elastic scalability, has best of breed security environment, and offers geographic specific access for end customers. As Amazon Web Services expands its footprint globally, partners like Infor get to ride along on top of these investments.
In terms of positive gains around its core competency, by using the global infrastructure of Amazon Web Services and its high service level standards, Infor has been able to focus on re-engineering its software with a degree of confidence.
“Multi tenancy means that when one customer has a problem, all customers have a problem. And when one customer is down, all customers are down. So you really have to get to a point where development is zero defect. It takes a long time in a multi-tenant world to get really good at that. It does not mean that there is never a bug in the cloud in a multi-tenant solution, it just means that you have to got to be very careful,” elaborates Taman.
Taman’s go to market priority is now to get the early adopters from the region on board to test Infor’s cloud solutions. With Infor CloudSuite tested for mission critical reliability and scalability, and multi-tenant cloud based applications offering a real return on investment of 2X above on-premises applications, the offerings for early adopter customers are engaging. “The most important thing for us right now is finding our first batch of early adopters that we could focus on and prove that mission critical solutions in the cloud can save money, add value, and make customers more agile.”
These benefits for end customers are all the more important in the face of lackluster, stagnated and declining growth in the current macroeconomic environment, where oil based economies are transforming into services and private sector led economies driving real change.
Early adopters for Infor CloudSuite with mission critical workloads are expected to emerge from healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, and services vertical market segments. These four verticals separately represent: majority of Infor’s installed base, end customers who are most likely to appreciate Infor’s cloud offerings, and where Infor has distinct differentiation from other more generic cloud offerings.
While Infor has been relatively late into the market with its cloud solution offering, in some ways this is now working towards its advantage. “With our competitors pushing their customers to the cloud that are really re-implementations, they are creating tons of demand. People want to look at options and we think we have a better, more thoughtful and better cloud destination than most of our competitors. The net of all that is its creating a perfect storm.”
Another aspect of Infor’s cloud go to market is to separate the dynamics of perpetual, on-premises licensing through indirect sales channels, while driving net new cloud sales and migration from on-premises to cloud through direct sales channels. In essence, Infor is investing significantly in growing its direct sales channel strength in the region as a cloud only business, and will target sales from early cloud adopters.
Is there possible conflict of interest with existing channel partners? Taman does not think so.
Existing channel partners are still responsible for on-premises, perpetual licensing sales. Infor will sell directly only for cloud licenses and where a customer is migrating from on-premises to cloud via Infor’s Upgrade X programme.
“Channel partners are going to benefit tremendously from many more feet on the ground. We are creating new relationships and talking to present customers about new areas that partners may not know. As those customers chose to go with Infor, whether in the cloud or on-premises, there is a lot of business to be had on the consulting side. Some of our partners and customers will also chose to embrace the cloud full-on, but many of them are not quite ready.”
Infor is expanding the strength of its direct sales team for cloud in Saudi Arabia and UAE and later in Qatar and Egypt, and expects to make inroads into the services segment at an early stage. It currently has 1,600 end customer accounts in the Middle East region. But the investment that Infor is making into significantly expanding its direct sales team is for the future.
Winning the future means being able to get a few hundred customers to start using its CloudSuite offering from within the services and other vertical market segments. With the rapidly growing cloud adoption maturity of end customers in the region, this would be the next logical step forward for them.
- Groupement Berkine
- Afripack Holdings
- Foschini Retail Group
- Sun International Management
- Sinfa Isham
- Kenya Wildlife Service
- Life Healthcare Group
- Pharmacare T/A Aspen Pharmacare
Key channel partners
- Advanced Computer Technology, Egypt
- KCS, South Africa
- Ilanga, Kenya
- Currimjee Informatics, Mauritius
- Softworx, South Africa
- Bunengi Group, South Africa
- Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage
- Infor CloudSuite Fashion
- Infor CloudSuite Automotive
- Infor CloudSuite Aerospace & Defense
- Infor CloudSuite Industrial, Enterprise Edition
- Infor CloudSuite Industrial, SMB
Global SMB Business Platforms
- Infor CloudSuite Industrial, SyteLine
- Infor CloudSuite Business
- Infor CloudSuite Corporate
- Infor CloudSuite Hospitality
- Infor CloudSuite Healthcare
- Infor CloudSuite Public Sector
- Infor CloudSuite Business
- Infor CloudSuite Retail
Human Capital Management
- Infor CloudSuite HCM
- Global HR
- Talent Management
- Talent Science
- HR Service Delivery
- Workforce Management
- Learning Management
Customer Experience Management
- Customer Relationship Management
- Configure Price Quote
- Marketing Management
- Interaction Advisor & Outbound Marketing
- Service Management
- Infor Rhythm E-commerce & Collaboration Platform
General Business Platforms
- Infor CloudSuite Corporate
- Infor CloudSuite Business, SMB
- Infor CloudSuite Facilities
- Infor ION Integration Framework
- Infor Ming.le Collaboration Framework
- Infor BI Analytics Framework
- Infor Mongoose Development Framework
System i Applications in the Cloud