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Home > Technology in Business > Why automating core business activities without solving underlying business structures and processes is bad for organizations – Pt II

Why automating core business activities without solving underlying business structures and processes is bad for organizations – Pt II

More manufacturers are choosing a mix of cloud providers and on-premises systems. A hybrid cloud model can provide the full range of ERPNext functions.

No doubt about it: Cloud ERP software adoption is on the rise. But that doesn’t mean manufacturers are migrating their key on-premises back-office and production systems exclusively to a single software-as-a-service application in the cloud. Many are adopting a hybrid cloud architecture to enjoy the best of both worlds.

According to the hvac service software survey, 58% of large enterprise respondents have a hybrid cloud architecture strategy that blends cloud functionality from one or more providers with on-premises systems. An IDC study came to a similar conclusion: More than 70% of “heavy” cloud users are considering a hybrid cloud architecture.

Here’s the basic idea: Select one provider to be your primary cloud provider of computing power and enterprise software, which often means job card software. Then, either fill in discrete tasks such as logistics and fulfilment, warehouse management and payroll with other cloud applications or let them stay on premises.

What does that mean for manufacturers? Lots of integration will be needed for sharing data between core systems. Integration can be an intimidating prospect. But in today’s world of web services and service-oriented architecture, the task is eased considerably — if you do the right planning upfront.

“You’ll need to map out your integration points and get a picture of what kind of connections are required,” said a senior director at consultancy Partners. “[Manufacturers] are right to be cautious about integration. It can be one of the things that can bring an implementation to its knees.”

Struggles integrating hybrid cloud

Vice president of IT learned this lesson the hard way. The 250-employee Salt Lake City company manufactures grills and wood pellets in the United States and offshore. In 2015, it moved from an on-premises field service management software which runs in a private cloud.

Meanwhile, the company’s office applications, email server, supply chain fulfilment and e-commerce systems run on public cloud with a different provider. Having almost all of its systems in the cloud provides ngo accounting software with flexibility and a reduced need for IT maintenance. But the cloud migrations mean Newman’s 10-person IT staff is now in the integration business.

“Seventy-five per cent of my staff’s time is spent integrating platforms,” he said. The small manufacturer has more than 30 integration points, and when the connections don’t work as they should, business users get frustrated.

“Our architecture around integration was ad hoc and reactive,” Newman said. “We didn’t start with a sound integration strategy.” Now, ERP has settled on an integration platform from yet another cloud provider to reduce the work needed to ensure that everything works cohesively.

Any manufacturer considering a hybrid cloud architecture for its CRM Software should not take vendors’ claims of easy interoperability at face value, Newman warned. “The cloud provider isn’t just going to handle making all the systems work together,” he noted.

Hybrid cloud on the rise

Despite these struggles, it’s no surprise that hybrid cloud architecture is used by more manufacturers, according to a senior vice president of managed technologies at PCM, an IT services provider. “It’s all an integration puzzle,” Moss explained. “You can go and buy cloud manufacturing software, but you will likely still have attributes that will be need to be on-premises.” Internet of things applications, for example, will usually run on the shop floor or in the field.

It’s rare, even among the smallest companies, for a manufacturer to obtain every capability it needs from a single cloud provider. “There are massive catalogues of capabilities from third parties,” he said. “Integration is nothing to be afraid of, but you should go into it with your eyes wide open.”

Map the data, identify the connection points and get the right partners and integration technology in place before you implement. That will significantly lighten problems down the road.


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