Infor CM3 to Provide On-Prem Alternative to Cloudy M3
April 20, 2022 Alex Woodie
For years, Infor has been leading with the cloud when it comes to M3, the ERP system formerly known as Movex. But now, the software giant is readying a new hybrid deployment option called CM3 that will run in a Linux or Windows container and IBM i.
Long before Infor completed its Lawson acquisition in April 2012 — even before Lawson finished its acquisition of Intentia in 2006 — plans were solidly in place to migrate the core RPG code underpinning the Movex suite to Java, thereby opening the software to run on platforms besides just IBM i, its historical home.
Since Infor obtained M3 it has encouraged new customers to deploy the Java-based package on platforms other than IBM i, although it is still supported on IBM i. And even more recently, Infor’s focus has been all about cloud deployments on M3.
This approach has worked well for Infor, which has staked its competitive advantage on having a diversity of ERP systems tailored to specific vertical niches. To that end, Infor has leveraged Movex’s traditional strengths in clothing manufacturing and the food and beverage business, among others, with M3 running on X86 servers in the public cloud.
Infor would like the large installed base of M3 customers who run on IBM i to move off Power servers and run in the AWS cloud, too. But that largely hasn’t happened. Despite six years with no updates for the on-prem version of M3, there is a large contingent of M3 users who have stubbornly remained on the IBM i server. Some of these users haven’t made the upgrade from Movex to M3, let alone moved up to version 13.4, which was unveiled in 2016.
That’s the background behind a new initiative underway at Infor that’s designed to accommodate this stubborn tranche of IBM i users — or at least meet them halfway. Instead of using the continued lack of new ERP features and functionality as a stick to get these customers to move whole hog to the cloud, it’s offering something of a carrot.
The compromise is called CM3, or “Core M3.” It’s hybrid IBM i deployment option for M3 that has the application component running in a containerized X86 server running Windows or Linux, and the database component remaining on Db2 for i on a Power server (or PostgreSQL or SQL Server for those looking to get entirely off the platform).
This setup would provide “proven M3 functionality” from the cloud version of the product to customers who want to continue running on-prem on their Power boxes, according to an Infor presentation seen by IT Jungle.
The presentation states that the platforms supported by CM3 would include Windows, Linux, and “IBM P-Series/DB2/400,” which is clearly a typo but which likely means Db2 for i running on Power. The presentation also states “IBM P-Series (AS/400 & Power Linux) are supported OS platforms, along with SQL Server, Postgres, and “DB2/400” at the database layer.
The CM3 offering would give on-prem customers “regular delivery of new features,” the presentation says. It would also give them access to other functionality available via Infor OS, its “cloud operating system,” as well as XtendM3, a Groovy-based framework that allows users to “modify and extend M3 business engine logic” via exit points in M3.
Infor’s presentation says CM3 was planned to be released at the end of 2021. It’s unclear if the company has actually launched it yet.
Torbjörn Appehl, an IBM Champion for IBM i who has been working as a liaison between IBM and ISVs via his consulting company Built on Power, says CM3 gives Infor an opportunity to reconnect with IBM i customers who are frustrated with the lack of new functionality for the past six years and who likely will never move to the public cloud.
“They went the AWS path and since then, they’ve heavily promoted cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud,” Appehl tells IT Jungle. “ I have emails from customers telling [me] they’re going to leave Infor because they’re not going into the public cloud.”
Torbjörn, who has written about CM3 at his Built on Power blog, says that CM3 can benefit everybody involved, including Infor, IBM, and the customers.
Customers get something out of the deal, because they can now get new functionality while still running on-prem, which is a requirement for latency purposes at some shops. Infor gets something because they maintain the relationship with M3 customers while getting customers moving toward the new cloud architecture running containers. And IBM gets a win because it gets IBM i customers to start upgrading their hardware and operating systems.
“We have to focus on the goals that we’re have in common,” Torbjörn says. “Keep it calm and stay on M3, because you will be able to run it in the future on-prem.”