Regardless of what you call it: “Cloud Computing”, “Software as a Service”, or “SaaS”, it is fast evolving from a futuristic technology into a commercially viable alternative for companies in search of cost-effective software solutions. In fact, it is predicted that by 2012, 80 percent of Fortune 1000 enterprises will pay for some Cloud-computing service, while 30 percent of them will pay for Cloud-computing infrastructure.
If you’ve chosen, or are leaning toward a Cloud version of Microsoft NAV, formerly known as Navision, here are 3 ways to simplify your implementation:
First, choose the right Navision Partner to help Minimize Risks and Maximize Benefits
The right Navision Partner will be able to help you minimize some of the risks inherent in a Cloud environment, while maximizing the benefits which include:
- Scalability: IT departments that anticipate an enormous uptick in user load need not scramble to secure additional hardware and software with cloud computing. Instead, an organization can add and subtract capacity as its network load dictates. Better yet, because Cloud-computing follows a utility model in which service costs are based on consumption, companies pay for only what they use.
- Easy Implementation: Without the need to purchase hardware, software licenses or implementation services, a company can get its Cloud-computing arrangement off the ground in record time – and for a fraction of the cost of an On-premise solution.
- Skilled Practitioners: When a particular technology becomes popular, it’s not uncommon for a whole slew of vendors to jump on the bandwagon. In the case of Cloud computing, however, vendors have typically been reputable enough to offer customers reliable service and large enough to deliver huge data centers with endless amounts of storage and computing capacity.
- Frees Up Internal Resources: By placing storage and server needs in the hands of an outsourcer, a company essentially shifts the burden placed on its in-house IT team to a third-party provider. The result: In-house IT departments can focus on business-critical tasks without having to incur additional costs in manpower and training.
Risks can be mitigated – but again, choosing the right Navision Partner can be key to making the best:
- Quality of Service: Network outages can send an IT department scrambling for answers. But in the case of Cloud computing, it’s up to a company’s selected vendor to offer 24/7 customer support and an immediate response to emergency situations. That’s not to suggest that outages don’t occur. In February 2008, Amazon.com’s S3 Cloud-computing service experienced a brief outage that affected a number of companies. Fortunately, service was restored within a few hours.
There is plenty of concern surrounding Cloud computing and its attendant security risks. What a lot of companies fail to understand, however, is that many vendors rely on strict privacy policies, as well as sophisticated security measures, such as proven cryptographic methods to authenticate users. What’s more, companies can choose to encrypt data before even storing it on a third-party provider’s servers. As a result, many Cloud-computing vendors offer greater data security and confidentiality than companies that choose to store their data in house.
Second, choose a Navision Partner that truly understands the Cloud and will help you make the best decision for your company
The “buzz” around Cloud computing has created a great deal of both interest and confusion. Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. There are three primary methods of deploying software applications today: On-Premises, Hosted or SaaS, (Software as a Service). Outlined below are some of the differences in these three deployment methods, including benefits and risks associated with each method.
On-Premise: This is the traditional software delivery method used since the introduction of the PC. The customer owns the software, network operating system and server(s) on which the software is installed. The server resides at the customer’s location. Internet access is not necessarily required for running the application. The customer is responsible for all maintenance, upgrades, installation and implementation, although, many times, this work is contracted to other firms.
Hosted: The customer owns the software. The software is installed on a remote server residing at an outside provider’s location. Typically, the customer rents space on a server at the Host. Alternatively, the customer may purchase the server(s) and pay the Host to keep and maintain it at the Host’s location. The Host provides IT services (network support, data backup, power backup, operating system upgrades and so forth) as a part of the monthly fee. Service Level Agreements may be provided (a Service Level Agreement or SLA, outlines the provider’s guarantee of service availability, for instance, 99% uptime).
Software as a Service (SaaS): The customer does not own the software or the server(s) on which it resides. You use software installed at the SaaS provider’s location. The customer pays a rental fee for software and server(s) usage. The SaaS provider performs IT services (network support, data backup, power backup, operating system upgrades, and so forth) as a part of the monthly fee. Depending on the agreement, the customer may or may not own rights of retention for their data. Service Level Agreements may be provided (a Service Level Agreement or SLA, outlines the provider’s guarantee of service availability, for instance, 99% uptime). NOTE: Some companies use the term Hosted for a Cloud or SaaS application. Types of SaaS Computing include:
- Public Cloud computing – your company uses an outside company’s Cloud infrastructure with computing resources shared by other subscribed members from the public. This may include virtual servers on shared servers.
- Private Cloud computing – your company uses Cloud infrastructure (for example, servers – whether on-premises or off-premises) dedicated to your company. You control the server resources. You may employ virtualization but the virtualized servers are for your company only.
- Hybrid Cloud computing – your company uses a combination of Public and Private Cloud infrastructure.
- On-Premise: You own the software and infrastructure. Your access to the software is not contingent on outside vendor’s financial or technical abilities to continue operating their business. You control access to your software. You have more control of everything.
- Hosted: You own the software. Your access to the software is not contingent on an outside vendor’s ability to pay a software vendor. You pay a fixed monthly fee for IT services related to your servers and operating systems located at the Host site application, regardless of technical problems with the servers and operating systems. The Host is responsible for the backup. On-going operating expenses may be lower than On-Premise. Hosted applications reduce internal hardware and support requirements. The Hosting provider has multi-company experience with supporting virtualized hardware/operating system environment.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Initial startup costs are the lowest of the three methods. You pay a fixed monthly fee for access to your application regardless of technical problems with the servers and operating systems. The SaaS provider is responsible for backup. On-going expenses may be lower than Hosted or On-Premise. SaaS may provide the highest security of the three. Check with the provider for independent security audits, like SAS70 Type II Audit (support SOX compliance). Technical expertise of the provider may be the highest if the SaaS provider specializes in your application. SaaS applications reduce internal hardware and support requirements. The SaaS provider has multi-company experience with supporting virtualized hardware/operating system environment.
- On-Premise: You have responsibility for every aspect of your systems maintenance, planning, updating, backup and service. You will either hire your own staff or contract with an outside firm. Your budget is subject to significant over-runs in the event of systems issues. You are solely responsible for understanding your system requirements and proper sizing of your system. You cannot react quickly to a sudden spike in demand by adding new equipment. If your demand decreases, there is no corresponding decrease in your software license or hardware cost. You pay all the costs of your staffing, hardware, operating systems, productivity, ERP and CRM software and maintenance costs. Your capital expense is much higher, as all items are purchased. Your fixed operating expenses may be much higher (depending on whether you staff your system with permanent or contract staff or out-source to a vendor.) If your system is down, you will be unable to run your business critical applications.
- Hosted: You have an on-going monthly expense for your network infrastructure. You have a lower capital expense as you do not purchase hardware and operating systems, but you still have the capital expense for your software and the implementation. You don’t have physical control of the equipment or facilities, so security is out of your domain. Your hosting vendor may not have specific experience with your enterprise software (ERP or CRM), so may not provide the best support or configuration for the applications. If your Internet or private connection to the host is lost, you will be unable to run your business critical applications.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): You have an on-going larger monthly expense for the bulk of your network infrastructure, productivity, ERP and CRM software. You still have the capital expense for purchasing implementation services. You do not have physical control of the equipment or facilities, so security is out of your domain. Your SaaS vendor may not have specific experience with your enterprise software (ERP or CRM) and so may not provide the best support or configuration for the applications. If your Internet or private connection to the host is lost, you will be unable to run your business critical applications.
A deployment method is only a delivery method of a software application. If the application delivered does not solve your problem, the delivery method is immaterial. Your Navision Partner who implements and supports your software plays a vital role in your projects success. No matter how you access your application, the application must help you solve your business problem or capitalize on your business opportunity.
Finally, make sure you choose a Navision Partner that truly understands your industry
Business Automation Specialists of Minnesota have been helping manufacturers, distributors and other companies solve real business problems and capitalize on business opportunities for 27+ years. As a full-service software solution provider and Navision Partner, we help businesses leverage technology for growth and improved profitability. We focus on your business objectives and challenges while helping to streamline the processes required to fulfill your business objectives through increased effectiveness and efficiency. Let us help you get better, faster, and stronger with Realistic Solutions.
If you would like help evaluating Cloud computing for your company, download the comparison chart we have put together. This chart shows the benefits and drawbacks of On-Premise, Hosted and Cloud (or SaaS) systems. Click here to download your copy. Then contact us for more information about On-Premise, Hosted or SaaS applications or to discuss the specifics of your implementation.