Posts Tagged ‘Virtual Servers’

Cortex Provisioning Optimizes ERP Cloud Delivery for Partner Channels

March 24, 2010

A combination of strategic features in EMS-Cortex’s “Cortex version 8.x” Provisioning System and Citrix’s new XenApp and XenDesktop product lines enables Managed Service Providers to add significant value to the offerings of existing global SME-focused ERP Partner Channels. The combined technologies enable complex ERP applications to be delivered in a fast, templated, repeatable, “cookie-cutter” approach which is provisioned and managed on-demand by the ERP partner and/or the customer’s IT department from their own branded provisioning portal.

The Cortex product enables Service Providers to delegate administration of provisioning and management of hosted solutions to resellers and reseller channels. It can also provision from a quick & simple process, the ERP application together with a selected template database, vertical solution add-ons, virtual servers, SQL database server and other business support applications such as email, SharePoint, CRM, VOIP etc. This facilitates up-sell opportunities for the ERP partners to sell a complete Cloud based offering, as well as the ability to quickly deploy temporary demonstration and pilot test environments.

Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop technologies enable Windows applications (most of the popular SME ERP applications are of this format) to be deployed through the Internet in a similar way to web-based applications. Furthermore, Citrix XenServer (or Microsoft Hyper-V) enables the full virtualization of each customer’s Private Cloud, which means the ERP Partner can customize the ERP solution in a similar way to an on-premise configuration.

The end-result is a win-win-win situation for the customer, the ERP Partner and the Cloud Provider.

The customer benefits from reduced capital outlay, a quicker time to value and a more professionally managed environment for mission critical servers and databases.

The ERP partner benefits from faster, repeatable, cookie-cutter deployments giving a known and easily accessible operating environment – meaning quicker delivery times, easier support access and the ability to up-sell complementary Cloud services.

The Cloud Provider or MSP gets a new channel to market where ERP channel partners are now selling their Cloud services.

My prediction is that over the next 12 months we will see a dramatic shift to the Cloud with SME ERP deployments. EMS-Cortex, Citrix and Microsoft will be key players in making this happen.

Multi-Tenanted ERP Applications Outflanked by Virtualization

March 23, 2010

In earlier days of Cloud Computing, there was an industry-wide presumption that all applications delivered in the Cloud needed to be multi-tenanted in order to achieve the cost efficiencies of a shared infrastructure. Today that is still more or less true, except that virtualization technology and server hardware has improved to the extent that similar platform sharing efficiencies can be gained through virtual environments for single tenant applications. In effect, virtualization gives the single tenanted application much of the benefit of a multi-tenant application.

In the case of relatively simple applications like email, web servers, banking applications, small business accounting, payrolls etc, I would suggest that the multi-tenant model is still the more logical, cost-effective design. Anywhere that there is a high degree of similarity of function between users, suits multi-tenanting because at the end of the day, all users are using the same instance of the same system.

However, for more complex systems where there is a relatively high degree of customization and integration to other external systems, I believe that the multi-tenant design becomes difficult, if not impossible to operate successfully. This is certainly the case with ERP systems for medium to large enterprises.

The most difficult challenge to multi-tenanted ERP systems would have to be version upgrades and the necessary change control processes required from the customers’ perspective. ERP upgrades require testing, sign-offs, documentation changes, user training, checking and updating reports and customizations etc. In short, an ERP system can only be updated for a customer, once these processes have been completed and signed off. So how do you manage that if you have many customers sharing a single instance of the ERP application?

Consider instead the option of a virtualized environment. Under this model, each customer has their own virtual server(s), running their own instance of their ERP software (plus other applications) all sitting on a shared infrastructure within the data center. Version upgrades can be performed at the customers’ pace as and when they are ready and their change-control processes have been completed. Cost efficiencies still apply, because the infrastructure is shared (in effect multi-tenanted at an infrastructure level instead of an application level).

I have tested this argument with many colleagues in the ERP industry and I haven’t yet found anyone to disagree with what I’m saying.

Why are the large ERP companies investing so heavily in multi-tenant ERP? Perhaps they didn’t foresee the rapid advent of virtualization.

What are your thoughts on this?