Infor Rolls Out Cloud for Heavy Equipment Biz
October 2, 2012 Alex Woodie
Infor is launching a cloud version of its Lawson M3 ERP system targeted at companies that track and manage pieces of heavy equipment. The new cloud, called Infor Equipment, is the product of Infor partnerships with IBM and Velocity Technology Solutions, an established cloud hosting provider with lots of experience running and managing IBM i ERP systems.
Infor is relying on standard cloud math to help attract new and existing M3 customers to the Infor Equipment cloud. Standard cloud math says that CFOs and CEOs dislike the big upfront capital outlays, long timeframes, and risks that are inherent in standing up a new (or upgraded) ERP system like M3 on IBM i servers. (The fact that the IBM i architecture is proprietary and nearing age 40 also give these top executives pause before signing the bottom line.)
The cloud model, on the other hand, shifts much of these upfront costs and risks to the data center operator, which then charges the customer a regular monthly fee that is more palatable to budgeters and budgets. Customers typically pay more over the long term (like five years) with the cloud than if they had bought and managed the ERP system themselves, but this fact often seems to get outweighed by other factors in the cloud equation.
Infor Equipment gives companies access to the Java-based Lawson M3 application running on IBM Power Systems and IBM i servers hosted by Velocity. This application’s functionality automates processes in the areas of production, sales, service, warranty, finance, and rental operations.
Infor expects to widen its Infor Equipment cloud in the future to other applications besides M3, and to use other managed service providers (MSPs) besides Velocity. The company is going after both new customers, as well as trying to get existing customers to sign on to the cloud. It’s offering M3 on shared and dedicated environments.
The heavy equipment business is big for Infor. The company says it has more than 5,500 customers in equipment-centric businesses. It also recently founded an innovation center around the heavy equipment industry, and also founded the Infor CAT Dealer Advisory Council. Caterpillar and its dealers are big users of the IBM i servers, and have been for decades.
Last week’s announcement was timed with IBM’s announcement about the cloud. IBM says that it intends to use partners like Infor and Velocity to serve the growing market for cloud solutions for midsize companies. This was an affirmation that IBM won’t put a lot of money into launching its own production cloud environments, and will push that business to its partners.
IBM, which is the biggest IT solutions provider on the planet through its Global Solutions division, does indeed offer production cloud environments. But, alas, it still hasn’t launched an IBM i cloud, even though it has AIX, Linux, and Windows clouds for Power and X86 environments. IBM’s traditional midrange community is even more sensitive to competition than the Unix, Linux, and Windows world, and IBM’s announcement last week shows respect for that.
IBM wants to be a technology enabler of the cloud businesses of its partners, and folks like Infor and Velocity are eager to sign up. “Infor has a number of cloud initiatives with IBM in different stages of development including collaboration on joint programs leveraging IBM SmartCloud and SmartCloud+, System i hosting, and more,” Ali Shadman, SVP of global upgrades and business cloud at Infor, tells IT Jungle via email.
Velocity Technology Solutions is a cloud hosting provider that runs and maintains ERP and related systems for about 250 companies. The New York City-based company specializes in running Infor Lawson M3 and Oracle JD Edwards World and EnterpriseOne ERP systems. The company also runs the payroll and human capital management (HCM) software from Kronos, and Oracle’s Hyperion OLAP system.
Infor also has an IBM i cloud partnership with the managed service provider Abacus Solutions. The System i Cloud offering that Infor and Abacus launched earlier this year provides access to core IBM i-based ERP systems from Infor, including Infor10 ERP Discrete iEnterprise (XA), Infor10 ERP iEnterprise (LX), and Infor10 ERP iBusiness (System 21).