Epicor is set to become the latest ERP provider to use Microsoft’s Azure platform to take its applications the Cloud.
The company had previously offered a SaaS delivered small business version of its Epicor ERP product - Epicor Express - along with some hosted solutions for functions such as HCM and retail merchandising.
But at last week’s Insights 2012 conference in Las Vegas, the firm confirmed that the third major release of Epicor ICE will provide Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings using Windows Azure.
"Epicor was an early adopter of Windows Azure at its inception," said Erik Johnson, vice president, product marketing for Epicor. "And we have worked with a number of Epicor ERP customers to test the benefits of Windows Azure and SQL Azure, which we view as the next game-changers for Cloud Computing. We are pleased with the performance, scalability and flexibility of these technologies and look forward to leveraging the benefits of Windows Azure to provide our customers with extended capabilities and rich consumer-driven experience today's end users require."
Microsoft has itself begun moving its own Dynamics ERP to the Cloud platform, delivery planned for the fourth quarter, while Sage also recently announced plans to port its ERP offerings to Azure.
Constellation Research analyst Frank Scavo said that the Azure announcement can be seen in three components:
- Epicor will allow its Epicor ERP product to be deployed on Microsoft's Azure Cloud platform
- Epicor will also use Azure to provide interoperability between on-premises Epicor systems and Epicor point solutions deployed on Azure.
- A new version of Epicor's SOA middleware ("ICE") will also be deployed on Azure to provide a PaaS offering, facilitate mobility apps, and satisfy other integration needs between Epicor and third-party products.
Scavo reckons that the strategy of using Azure as a platform of choice for enterprise applications is attractive. “I have long felt that, just as on-premises database management systems have been standardised on just a few popular products, so also Cloud platforms should be standardised,” he argues.
“Why should SaaS providers build their own Cloud infrastructure?” asks Scavo. “ Salesforce.com did it. NetSuite did it. Workday did it. But how many more can or should roll their own IaaS and PaaS platforms? There is a tremendous amount of cost and effort involved in doing so, not to mention the economies of scale that can only be realized by having thousands of customers. Epicor, Sage, Infor, and others are making the right choice by building on an established public cloud infrastructure provider.”
Moving to an Azure-centric strategy will allow the firm to scale, he adds. “The current Epicor Express offering is limited to customers with under 20 users. I do not believe Epicor's current infrastructure architecture allows customers to scale beyond that point in a multi-tenant environment,” he says.
It also opens up more global opportunities, he concludes. “Moving to Azure immediately allows Epicor to offer Cloud ERP in a number of geographies where it does not have partner data centres,” he says. “Epicor ERP has good international capabilities. Now customers in international locations will also be able to choose Cloud deployment in their own geographies to meet regulatory or performance requirements.”