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Benefits of Managed IT Services For Your Business

Benefits of Managed IT Services For Your Business

Is IT at the heart of your company?

Imagine your company is a heart, and managed IT services provide the health benefits to sustain your entire business system. You do the work you love, and your customers, your employees, and your products keep the beat. Technology is the energy that feeds each beat, helping you keep your rhythm. On that note, let’s look at the top benefits of managed IT services and how outsourcing some of your technology infrastructure can bring new value to your business.

Benefits of managed IT services for IT networks

Attention from an IT managed services provider gives you freedom.

If you’re a small business owner, you might have core people wearing the hats of IT, without the time or resources to fully engage new technology. Whenever you supplement your internal resources with external IT consulting experts, you open up time to focus on what you do best. Likewise, you free your people, meaning they’ll have more time for creativity and thought leadership in your organization. By freeing your core team from the responsibilities attached to the fast-changing complexities of technology, you ensure focus on your products, your processes, and your customer service.

 

Risk management, as a central feature of IT solutions, ensures uptime.

Straightaway, one of the top benefits of managed IT services is that you don’t have to worry about your backups. Similarly, your cybersecurity infrastructure and your compliance adherence is always at its best. As a result, you experience more uptime. Less time is lost to researching the latest security software or the most recent regulations affecting your industry. Moreover, a managed services provider (MSP) provides a solid risk management plan:

  • Data management, including backup solutions and backup testing
  • Network care, including network administration and security
  • Systems and software support, including 24/7 incident response monitoring and assistance
  • User training and testing capabilities, including penetration testing and real-time analytics
  • Audit and assessment management, including planning and scheduling

Supporting in-house talent with out-house IT skillsets

You wouldn’t want to ask your employees to beat your heart for you. Many companies find themselves in this sort of “CPR for IT” scenario. A break-fix methodology might work for a glitch in your network. However, more robust attacks can quickly sap the life from your core.

 

Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in a situation that needs a more heroic save. Eventually, an aging server or a spear phishing attack will make you consider outsourcing some of the more difficult technology management. Whether you’re looking at cybersecurity or private cloud hosting, a good MSP doesn’t only provide a mere lifeline for your business. Rather, a managed services provider should prevent attacks and disruption.

 

Partnership with proven IT consultants and solutions gives you predictable costs in a scalable and adaptable framework.

Why choose an outsourced IT service? An information technology scramble can feel similar to a panic attack. If you fall behind on patches or updates, either on the software side or the hardware end of things, you open yourself up to ever-evolving threats. One of the great benefits of managed IT services is lower risk, and this means increased stability for your IT budget. Furthermore, you can know your investment brings your business the top solutions available to your industry.

 

Your partnership with a consulting firm of technology experts gives you talent aligned with your unique needs. Service level agreements define the relationship and the commitment. An MSP partnership acts as your metronome, meaning your technology is predictable and always set at the pace you’d like to keep.

 

Advanced technology means the sky’s the limit for business growth and success.

If your heart’s wish is to be a Boeing or a Lockheed Martin but you only have 100 employees to set your pace, rather than 100,000+, then partnering with an MSP levels the playing field by integrating advanced technology early in your game.

 

Why not implement advanced IT solutions in-house?

Malware is the tip of the spear in cyberthreat management, and compliance goes far beyond CMMC or HIPAA.  MSP consultants let you focus on core business initiatives, while your outsourced resources reduce risk at lower monthly costs than if you’d solo the challenge. Especially if you’re caught in a cycle of break-fix services, you know how unpredictable technology can be, and managed services takes all the worry out of IT.

 

An MSP opens your doors to highly qualified, certified and experienced IT technicians, engineers and architects. In the end, your managed services provider holds the responsibility of keeping your technology competitive and secure. New solutions can be implemented while you’re thinking about future products and new customers.

 

With cloud solutions on the rise, you can stay above the storm by utilizing a team specifically trained for virtualization. You can work in Loveland, Colorado (home to the EstesGroup headquarters), or you can work from any airport or hotel or office building in the nation.

Benefits of managed services for cloud solutions

Advanced persistent threats are moving businesses into the secure lining of cloud technology. Moreover, the cloud provides the most economical long-term infrastructure to scale your business. New challenges to data management surface daily. Cloud services prevent revenue loss by keeping you up-to-date and secure. Cloud-based IT circumvents natural disasters and human errors. Across systems and devices, your backups and your real-time data are secured against ransomware and other malicious attacks. This is especially true when considering complex cloud ERP architecture.

 

Due to complex sync and share capabilities, workers are empowered through remote enablement, including virtual office deployment. As a result, your business is keeping pace with new, mobile technology. Meanwhile, your sensitive information and valuable business assets (the heart of your business) are secured by SECaaS (security as a service) in the cloud. Remote monitoring keeps track of your hardware and software for you. With telemedicine on the rise, a managed services company enables privacy protection that exceeds regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability). Unquestionably, the cloud makes compliance cost effective, and your in-house IT team is free from monitoring new governance and regulation.

 

EstesGroup tailors managed IT services through solutions that meet everything from basic needs to advanced requirements (including, but not limited to, Microsoft, US Signal, Datto, SentinalOne, ThreatLocker, and Acronis). In addition, our EstesCloud managed services provide private cloud hosting to support advanced IT needs, and we call our hosting platform ECHO. Our co-located data centers protect sensitive data. Our IT services division is headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, but we have happy clients throughout the nation. Please ask to speak to them. EstesGroup also leverages the benefits of managed IT solutions with enterprise resource planning.

 

 

How to Stop Social Engineering Attacks

How to Stop Social Engineering Attacks

Cybersecurity in the Ballot Box, the Bistro and the Bedroom

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a time when organizations across America join together to educate the public about cyberthreats like social engineering (especially phishing attacks). This year, it’s also the last full month to decide your vote for the 2020 election. As citizens consider the future of our country, we see the tech giants coming together to prevent election crime, while tech users struggle to keep up with device security. With online fraud on the rise, how do you know your business is protected from a cyberattack, especially when considering advanced techniques like social engineering?

 

How to stop social engineering attacks with access, login, passwords, security
Digital integrity continues to drive decisions in both the public and private sectors. Your online presence creates data that can be used to influence you. How many times have you seen an ad in your web browser and thought, “How in the world!? I was just thinking about that!” Because everything we do online can be tracked, documented, exchanged, and sold, we need to be aware of the risks. However, there’s no need to fear for your online safety. Our security consultants can quickly scan the dark web to see if your data is in the wrong hands.

 

National Cybersecurity Month comes to us from organizations that promote assertiveness, rather than paranoia. We don’t have to be afraid of our connectivity or our devices. On the contrary, we need to embrace them holistically and attentively (and with a little help from the cybersecurity experts).

 

How to stop social engineering attacks at work and at home

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

 

Home Connectivity: This week’s cybersecurity awareness theme is “Securing Devices at Home and Work.” When reviewing the year, did you spend time working from home? Did you have children suddenly in Zoom classes, rather than in a traditional classroom? Did you have the resources you need (virus, malware, and ransomware protection) to stay safe online?

 

Business Technology: Your business couldn’t operate without digital interactions with devices outside of your office walls. Furthermore, your business can’t operate without a dedicated plan for protecting employee and customer data. How do hackers get into your system? Common external penetration methods include baiting, phishing, and spear phishing.

 

Baiting: Curiosity killed the network

 

First of all, baiting attacks can begin with hardware or with software. For example, a hacker can leave a corrupted flash drive on your desk, and the attack begins with the physical action of a user plugging it into a laptop and then clicking through files that install malware throughout the system. How to stop this social engineering technique from attacking your business begins with employee cybersecurity awareness training.

 

October is a perfect month for bringing in external cybersecurity resources to help bolster your team. To begin, we can provide system assessments that surface hacker access points. Then, our engineers can test your users. For example, our security technicians can engineer a scareware drill to make users think they’re clicking to patch, when really they’re getting tricked into a click. If your employees understand the various forms of baiting, then you can prevent a data breach.

 

Phishing: The one that got away

 

Did you ever see a prompt to “click here” or “download now” from an email that was obviously fake? In the past, phishing emails were more obvious. A strange font or a missing signature was clue enough. Unfortunately, advanced social engineering technology now lets a cybercriminal twin a real user’s software behaviors.

 

Because phishing is the most common social engineering tactic, NIST recently developed the Phish Scale, a cybersecurity tool that helps businesses surface network vulnerabilities by assessing cues, click rates, and user interactions in regard to phishing email difficulty levels. This new method of testing phishing attempts assists cybersecurity experts by evaluating spoofed emails through advanced data analysis. CIOs, CISOs, and other technology experts can use this tool to optimize phishing awareness and training programs.

 

Spear Phishing: In IT together

 

Often, a phishing email comes to your inbox addressed specifically to you but without personal information as part of its composition. Therefore, signs of imitation are more easily observed. “Click to download” prompts hesitancy if the email comes with a generic invitation. 

 

When an email comes through with more personalized data, like a personal email signature or an attached thread of coworkers, it can trick you into thinking the sender is legit. In this case, a hacker follows the digital footprints of a user and engineers that data to create a personalized phishing attack. Think of this as the Shakespeare of social engineering, and the play is written for you and with you as the inspiration. 

 

When organizations create security strategies in an effort to prevent social engineering attacks, phishing prevention is always a sign of a thorough plan. When considering phishing emails, keep in mind that malware can stay undetected in a system for months before the IT department discovers the penetration. Spear phishing can prompt a sly malware that quickly infects an entire network.

 

Vote to Stop Cybercrime

 

At EstesGroup, we know how to stop social engineering attacks from harming your business. Furthermore, we know how to take the worry out of IT. Protecting everything from saved credentials to individual clicks, our cybersecurity experts defend your business while you do the work you love. Do your coworkers need practice in recognizing the fraudulent behaviors fueling social engineering attacks? October is a perfect month to initiate new security policies and procedures, and to test your cybersecurity plan.

 

EstesGroup is a 2020 National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion. Please join us for a webinar on the most advanced cloud solutions available to businesses. Read more about National Cybersecurity Month at the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) or at the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

 

Private Cloud Solutions For Businesses Webinar
What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

A DRaaS Solution For Drastic Measures

A look at word origins surrounding business continuity can help answer the question, “What is disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)?” The word “disaster” contains the ancient weight of misfortunate heavens. As history goes, disaster is simply a bad star, and recovery is the return from unfortunate fate. In today’s technological culture, “recovery” (to the core of IT) means a return to digital health following a software or hardware mishap. On this note, let’s take a closer look at the fate of your business to help you clarify both the “what” and the “if” of your disaster recovery as a service strategy.

 

DRaaS Disaster Recovery as a Service

Is Your Data on a Close Cloud or on a Faraway Star?

It would take you more than 1000 human lifetimes to reach the closest star in our galaxy. If your current disaster recovery plan is at that same pace, then you might need to bet your luck on a different disaster recovery plan. This is where DRaaS services benefit companies. With real-time backups and fast restore solutions, the hybrid cloud architecture of DRaaS keeps your business operating on proven luck, rather than on hopeful wishes.

 

First of all, your lucky stars in IT (especially when it comes to disaster recovery) are always at a distance. Your business creates volumes of data, especially if you’re operating in an ERP solution. You need a backup that isn’t directly on-site in case a natural disaster takes out your IT infrastructure. By creating a virtual office environment, for example, you can securely work from home if your office has a fire.

 

If you’re asking “what’s DRaaS?” then it might be a good time to revise your disaster recovery policies. Data recovery services contain, in essence, a distance of time. Therefore, you need to consider how long can you survive before a data restoration returns your business to normal activities. How much downtime is acceptable? Hours? Days? A week or longer? Hopefully, you’re not merely wishing on stars for things like business continuity and business resiliency. 

 

Backup and Data at a Distance

Distance is a protective step for backup and disaster recovery planning. However you choose to copy your data locally, you need to protect your on-premise data with a remote recovery solution. As a feature of top DRaaS solutions, co-located data centers ensure that nothing you want to keep is lost in the shuffle of a disaster recovery. DRaaS allows you to exclusively focus on your business, while data recovery specialists carry the weight of replication stability and everything else, like clean rooms and compliance regulations.

Fundamentally, if you’re a business owner, you need two things when developing your disaster recovery plan:
  1. A protected (often remote) environment that holds your backups
  2. A plan for data recovery in the event that you need to tap into your backups

 

What’s DRaaS According to Fate?

A DRaaS solution is simply a private cloud computing environment on a partner’s server. Your data backups sync to a secure cloud, and an auxiliary server comes to the rescue when disaster strikes. For example, if your system goes down, and you’re using our DRaaS solution, your business seamlessly moves to a cloud-based server reserved for your data during the duration of a disaster data loss. What exactly happens following a disaster? Is your data recovery software ready?
  • First, you experience a hardware or a software failure. This might be ransomware, or this might be a hurricane.
  • Next, you realize your system is in the middle of a disaster, but you don’t worry because you’ve chosen DRaaS as part of your business continuity plan.
  • Then, business goes on as normal because your solution keeps your business running in a third-party computing environment. Your virtual server prevents downtime and data loss by moving you to a comprehensive virtual office. When your physical servers are compromised, your hybrid cloud infrastructure serves to keep your company running smoothly, ensuring productive employees and happy customers in your near future. This often means working remotely because what’s DRaaS good for on-premise if your facility is in shutdown mode?
  • Finally, you’re restored to business as usual, according to your recovery and restoration plan. The disaster is over. Your business continues, and your customers don’t even know you were compromised. 

 

How to Choose Between Basic Recovery Solutions and DRaaS

DRaaS is a robust solution, allowing complex manufacturing facilities to operate without the threat of server failure. But how do you decide if you need the best available disaster recovery services? First, consider your luck. Then, consider your backups. What is the likelihood that your business will experience a disaster?
  • Do you live in an area with hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes?
  • Are you on a rural grid with frequent utility outages?
  • Are you light on cybersecurity, and therefore at risk of a cyberattack?
  • Did you ever spill a coffee on your keyboard and delete important data in the cleanup?
  • Do you have old hardware that might fail from normal wear and tear?

 

More than half of data loss is caused by human mistakes. From cyber attacks to deleted files, human error is as steady as the constellations. Unfortunately, 58% of small and midsize businesses are not prepared for any level of data loss. On the same note, 29% of hard drive failures are due to accidents, and this data loss in such an event is entirely preventable.

 

At first and at last, consider your losses. If you were to experience a “bad star” data disaster, what are your expectations for your data restore?

  • Can your business survive a few days of downtime?
  • Can your employees and your customers handle a few days or weeks of data erasure?
  • Do you need failover and failback to maximize uptime and secure data by the minute or the hour?

 

 

We “R” in the Cloud

Replication, Retention, Recovery, Restoration, RPO, and RTO

 

Data replication and retention couple for data protection. You create copies of your data so that you can recover any losses in your future. Data replication can create real-time copies in the cloud. Backup services for data replication and retention can also migrate data into cloud storage for backup or even for analytics. Data from physical servers can be replicated, or copied, to support easy availability during a disaster recovery. Because data retention is often a requirement for compliance, companies benefit from data replication services, even if they don’t require a hot site during a disaster.

 

Data recovery and restoration couple for data continuity. To create a disaster recovery plan, you need to consider RPO and RTO. Understanding these helps you define your best options when recovering data.

 

 

What’s DRaaS RPO?

Recovery point objectives are based on your data replication needs in terms of frequency of application backup. At the end of the day, how much data loss can your business withstand?

 

What’s DRaaS RTO?

How much time can your lose? Your recovery time objective refers to your accepted timeline to data recovery and application restoration. Do you want your business to live on the cloud until on-premise resources are restored? Or can you handle a day or two of downtime?

 

 

What is Disaster Recover as a Service for the Future? 

Do you want seamless cloud environments to allow for full business continuity during a disaster? Future-focused, a virtual server provides 100% RTO by moving your work into a failover cloud computing environment, regardless of your disaster scenario. The fate of your business with private cloud hosting keeps you thanking your lucky stars that your disaster recovery plan continuously protects your digital well-being.

 

 

 

EstesGroup can help define and design your recovery process based on your operating systems and your private and public cloud usage. We can even perform data and backup testing so that you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe, secure, and always protected. We’ll count your data stars for you, so you can focus on the work you love.

 

How to Update Multiple Tables in Epicor DMT

How to Update Multiple Tables in Epicor DMT

Multi-table updates for Epicor implementation and beyond

As part of Epicor ERP’s overall implementation and optimization toolset, the Data Management Tool (DMT) is a fundamental aspect of a successful implementation strategy. It gives you the ability to load, update, and even remove data. These capabilities allow you to cleanly load the setup and master file data as part of an environment build activity prior to go-live. When a user imports data, DMT keeps upload and update behaviors in check so that data migration is efficient and effective.

Multiple Table Updates Data Management Tool Epicor

Epicor DMT also enables you to load live transactional records such as sales orders and purchase orders. These are essential to a successful cutover. Better yet, DMT possesses the ability to maintain records and improve the system’s data integrity long after the system is live. This allows an Epicor admin to efficiently clean up and even optimize the master file. This benefit also applies to transactional files in the live environment.

The Epicor ERP “Part” Routine

Within this context, one especially helpful capability involves the ability not only to update multiple columns of a table but to also update multiple related table records at once. For example, DMT’s “Part” routine allows for the creation and maintenance of records existing in the “Part” table. But DMT’s “Part Combined” routine allows not only for the creation of Part records. It also provides the ability to simultaneously add and/or update related Part Site (PartPlant), Part Warehouse (PartWhse), and Part Revision (PartRev) records. One could update these records individually, but Epicor provides the ability to perform multiple row updates in a single pass.

Sometimes DMT necessitates a multi-table setup in order to load and update data

For instance, the Resource table requires that you utilize the Resource Group routine to make updates to the Resource table. Let’s assume that you are the Epicor admin for your company. What if your operations manager decides to forgo using Epicor’s finite scheduling functionality? As such, you need to run an update to uncheck the Resource.Finite flag on all active resources. Should you search for a routine in DMT to update the “Resource” table, you will discover that none are available. Only the “Resource Group” load program is available:

Epicor ERP DMT Search Resource Group
DMT Engineering Resource Group
Fortunately, you can utilize the Resource Group load program to update the Resources related to all Resource Groups. Within Epicor’s Data Management Tool, multiple table update routines utilize a specific field naming convention to differentiate the primary table from its child tables:
 
  • Primary Table: The field names are sufficient—given that the program knows the table context, the parent table (in this case, the “ResourceGroup” table).
  • Child Table: Epicor utilizes a [ChildTableName]#[ChildFieldName] convention when defining the fields for the child table to be utilized.

For example, should you click the “Required” fields button for the “Resource Group” load, you will discover that to update the “Resource” table, you will need a number of key Resource Group fields but also the “Resource#ResourceID” and the “Resource#ResourceDescription” fields:

multiple table updates in Epicor DMT resource group required fields

This is also evident when using the “Template Builder…” functionality to create a load template. 

Given the above scenario, I opted to include the “Resource#Finite” field when creating the load template:

DMT Resource Group Template Builder
To perform the ResourceGroup-Resource parent-child table update to the finite-scheduling field that I had intended, I now have a load template with the following fields, named as follows:
 
  • Company
  • Plant
  • JCDept
  • ResourceGrpID
  • Description
  • Resource#ResourceID
  • Resource#Description
  • Resource#Finite

As is the convention with Epicor’s Data Management Tool loads, I entered my data into a spreadsheet:

DMT Resource Group Template

Finally, by loading the spreadsheet file into DMT, I can now perform the necessary update. The file, as defined below, loads without error:

Multiple Table Updates in Epicor DMT Resource Group Finite Update

Epicor’s Data Management Tool is replete with capabilities.

However, these features that are not always well documented or communicated. But with a little foreign key fiddling and a few Epicor consulting friends, DMT can be of great assistance to your Epicor ERP implementation.

Cloud Business Solutions for the Virtual Office

Cloud Business Solutions for the Virtual Office

Virtual offices become the business solution of the now

The term “cloud” is a term as elusive as it is enormous, and a virtual office these days often appears to be anything you want it to be. The sky, after all, is a big place. And fitting lightning in a bottle is no easier than pinning a hard-and-fast definition on the digital computing donkey known as the cloud. When it comes to software deployments, cloud application deployment can mean different things to different people. Unfortunately, this amorphous ambiguity has tangible, deleterious effects on the user community. At its core, a cloud business solution implies real-time data access, and a virtual office is simply a cloud-based environment that enables secure and complete data interaction from anywhere in the world.

Remote Worker in a Private Cloud

SaaS vs. Managed Application Hosting

Let’s begin with the simple admittance that not all clouds are created equal. In cloud computing, you can make a vast sky-and-earth distinction between web and private hosting environments. Let’s lightly look at both.

 

Web-based solutions:

Purely web-based applications are hosted by a vendor, not the customer. The customer accesses these applications over the internet, often through a simple web browser. Technology consultants often call these deployments “software as a service” (SaaS). This is due to their subscription-based costing model.

 

Private cloud business solutions:

Private cloud deployments replicate on-premise versions of the software. Customers work with a surrogate hosting partner. The hosting of the application isn’t controlled by a software vendor.

 

These are the basic options for cloud deployment in a computing environment. This is important to know because if you choose the best cloud business solution for your company infrastructure, you can expect tremendous impact on your company’s capabilities. Thus, you can achieve your strategic objectives.

 

Does your hybrid cloud lining need a business solution tailor?

In software circles, “tailor-ability” refers to the customization capabilities of an application. Can you safely tailor your application to the needs of your organization? Compare this to core code modifications that were common and often detrimental to ERP implementations of earlier eras. An easy customization process ensures that your cloud solution can adapt to your business like a good ERP lets you easily upgrade.

 

In this new world, software vendors tout themselves based on toolsets. These computing tools allow customers to tailor an application. The IT department, or an IT consultant, can then address idiosyncratic needs. These solutions promise maintainability and upgradability. And all is well in the world.

 

However, as software vendors move enterprise platforms increasingly to web-based cloud architectures, the highly touted tailoring functionality can vanish faster than a morning mist in the desert. Moving from traditional office to virtual office is obviously the future of application management, but a web-based infrastructure can limit users.

 

Fortunately, a hybrid cloud environment assists companies with needs that revolve around complex business environments. Premiere data centers, secure virtual conference rooms, remote worker empowerment, and even futuristic capabilities like machine learning, all become accessible and customizable computing tools.

 

 

Will SaaS be enough?

As cloud deployments go, hybrid cloud computing can save companies time, money, and headaches. This is especially true if SaaS is not the most applicable cloud management application available. Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a management tool that is ideal for companies with standard requirements. Cloud infrastructure for configure-to-order environments, for example, needs highly adaptive and robust capabilities. Virtual office services create a cloud-based business address for remote teams to securely meet.

 

An ideal solution often isn’t the first choice of companies moving to cloud services. Cloud applications are as diverse as the businesses that could benefit from a computing solution that transcends a physical office. What if the sales cycle ends with meeting rooms in the cloud that aren’t specifically helpful to the software buyer? You might regret ever giving out your phone number.

 

 

Are you on-premise and going cloud?

I once heard the CEO of a software vendor describe his own transition to the cloud this way: “On-premise vs. cloud has become a matter of customizability vs. configurability.” That is to say, if you are bound to the web-based or SaaS version of the application, and you’re in search of customizability or tailor-ability, you’re out of luck.

 

Unfortunately, this memo has been slow to reach the prospective user community. Sales engineers demonstrate the software in its on-premise form, on locally-deployed machines, with the full gamut of features and capabilities, only to have the customer ultimately sign the dotted line for the web-based cloud version of the application, a neutered version, bereft of many of the bells and whistles that were so brightly touted during the beauty contest that was the software selection phase. Tricky cloud.

 

What happens when tire meets the cloud terrain of virtual office?

Companies frequently move through a software selection cycle that ends with a cloud-based solution deployment:

  • Closing the sale and finally owning the software license
  • Implementing the purchased software
  • Training employees and customizing the solution based on business needs

In the third phase of cloud-based application deployment, disappoints surface. For example, clients often struggle to implement an enterprise resource system in a large, and complex business environment. One customer came to us amid such disappointment. Company management purchased an ERP application in the cloud in its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) form. In this case, “cloud” meant an underpowered, web-based subscription service version of the application. Vapor-ware.

 

 

What are some alternatives to SaaS?

Alternatives available in private cloud hosting become necessary in complex environments common in the manufacturing and distribution industry. Frustrated with the limitations of the web-based version, our customer first came to us scrambling to understand just what they had been mandated to implement and whether there were any other options for implementing the software that did not so badly hamstring the organization. Had the management team received an impartial explanation of “the cloud” and its variants, they may have averted many of the frustrations of trying to implement an enterprise system in a complex business environment with a tool that was frankly too underpowered to be up for the task.

 

A business cloud solution can surface confusion.

If you’re looking at a web-based cloud version of a software, ensure that the vendor’s demonstrations use that specific version. Similarly, if you’re deliberating between the on-premise application and a version of the cloud, work for answers to the following questions:

  1. Web-based applications operate largely on the server, and operate in a shared environment. This normally limits the amount of server-side tailoring available. Given the thin or zero-client environment, what kinds of tailoring capabilities are available in such an environment?
  2. Reporting solutions frequently operate on the server, creating challenges when trying to develop custom reports. Does the web-based solution have answers to these challenges?
  3. User-defined data is often a key capability in complex manufacturing and distribution environments. How does the system in question handle these requirements when deployed in a web-based manner?
  4. What options are available when it comes to cloud-based versions of the application? How do they differ, in terms of features and capabilities?
  5. What are the core capabilities of the application, in terms of both configuration and customization? Are these capabilities present in all versions?
  6. Are there any specific modules of interest that might be affected by a cloud decision, such as field service or product configuration? Do these modules differ in their capabilities based on their cloud versions?

Addressing these concerns at the time of selection verses the time of reflection is key. Nobody wants to reflect on an overlooked version of a software, especially when making the decision to move to a business solution in the cloud.