There’s No i in Infor Xi
September 23, 2014 Alex Woodie
Infor used its annual user conference last week to unveil Xi, a new cloud-based platform designed to provide a common technological underpinning for advancing its collection of enterprise applications, specifically in the areas of mobility, cloud computing, and big data analytics. Infor says that none of its IBM i applications will run directly on the Xi platform, but they may benefit in a tangential manner.
The introduction of Infor Xi was the big news at last week’s Inforum 2014 show in New Orleans, Louisiana. Infor Xi is a follow-on to the 10x initiative that Infor unveiled a year ago at the Inforum 2013 show.
APIs were the heart of Infor 10x. Any Infor product that was “10x-enabled” had the APIs necessary to connect to the ION service bus, which opened it up to taking advantage the latest social, cloud, and mobile features that Infor developed; to the great-looking new HTML5 interface; and to SkyVault, the business analytics offering based on Amazon RedShift.
A number of IBM i applications got the 10x treatment, including the big three, ERP LX (BPCS), ERP XA (MAPICS), and ERP System21. A number of other IBM i-based apps, such as A+ (Daly.commerce), Infinium, and Lawson M3 products, also benefited from the creation of XML-based business object documents (BODs) that facilitated communication with the all-important ION bus.
With Xi, Infor is doubling down on the cloud and getting serious about running ERP and other enterprise applications on Amazon Web Services, a move that is not surprising, considering the launch of the AWS-based CloudSuite earlier this year. Applications across the ERP, EAM, HCM, CRM, and SCM spectrum that have been designated for Xi assignment will see changes in the APIs, just like with 10x.
But that’s where the similarities with 10x end. Whereas the 10x initiative had a broad impact across all current Infor applications, the Xi initiative has a much narrower focus and is strictly a cloud affair. And not only is it just cloud, it’s a strictly AWS affair.
Under Xi, Infor is committing to make extensive changes to enable its ERP systems to run on the cloud more smoothly and efficiently. The modifications include supporting new APIs for AWS-specific constructs having to do with multi-tenancy, auto-scaling, provisioning, and other functions.
It’s all about becoming a cloud 2.0 business, Infor CEO Charles Phillips said during his keynote. “The fundamental decision we made was we didn’t want to be in the data center business,” he said. “It makes sense to focus on the application. So we chose Amazon for a reason. Not just the fact that they have more capacity than anybody else. But it’s the services that we like.”
While Infor offers some of its IBM i-based ERP applications in a private cloud setup, none of them run on AWS, and therefore none of them will benefit from Xi. Here’s what an Infor spokesperson told IT Jungle when we inquired into the Xi impact on its IBM i offerings:
“Because these ERP systems are based on IBM i and not on AWS, they will not be on the Infor Xi platform; however, Infor will continue to enhance these products as it always has and will include elements from Xi where possible.”
The SkyVault appears to be the one area where users of Infor’s IBM i-based ERP applications may be able to benefit from Xi development. The company is looking to cultivate expertise in data science and develop a collection of machine learning algorithms through its new Infor Dynamic Science Labs initiatives.
Infor plans to build big data capabilities into applications as part of the Dynamic Science Labs initiative. It will create a new class of apps that can help customers “anticipate problems, uncover opportunities and recommend next steps,” the company says.
Currently, the company has only two such applications, including revenue management system that can optimize 350,000 hotel rooms a day, and a talent identification application that has conducted behavioral assessments for 11 percent of the US workforce, according to the company.
There are possibilities that IBM i-based apps can benefit from the machine learning program. “Any ION-enabled ERP, including IBM i-based ERPs, [produce] XML BODs and can send information through ION to SkyVault,” an Infor spokesperson told IT Jungle. “Advanced analytic applications, like Infor d/EPM [Dynamic Enterprise Performance Management], will be infused with science from Infor Dynamic Science Labs and will be available to i-based ERP customers.”