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March 06, 2017

Add-on applications pour down from clouds

Acrylic-finish-paint-250x250Forecasting software has been a $2 million addition to enterprise resource planning systems. The P in ERP signifies a mission to search for a view of the future. Add-ons like McConnell Chase's FD7, purchased for an additional $2-$4 million on top of software investments in monolithic apps like MANMAN, generate a strong business for vendors. In-house systems are a good match for that kind of app. Today's IT options can bring this kind of forecasting power onto the pallettes of many more companies.

The analyst and software experts at The Support Group have been implementing the Kenandy ERP solution at an HP 3000 MANMAN site. Kenandy runs on the internal architecture of Salesforce, the cloud IT supplier to millions of sites. In a cloud IT solution a company buys a subscription to an application. Kenandy, for example, is an application choice in the world of Salesforce. Rather than hoping for a third party to create a tool that can access Kenandy, the new cloud model delivers forecasting as an option on the bill of fare.

Forecasting was never a built-in MANMAN module, Terry Floyd of TSG reminded us last week. David Floyd of the company recently returned from data integration work at Disston Tools in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Together the two men explained how cloud ERP can bring essentials like forecasting within reach. They're in the the second generation of software expertise at TSG. Terry Floyd wrote archiving software for MANMAN during the 1980s, for example, a product that was sold and added to MANMAN sites. This sort of software can be added to a cloud ERP solution like Kenandy's. Today, however, it's a subscription option, as quick to integrate as adding a tier of TV channels to a cable subscription.

Changes that spring from the migrations forced by HP have been costly. Not every new look triggered by HP's drop of the 3000 is negative, though. Adding planning power has been a multi-million dollar bet in the old 3000-era strategy. There are, however, a few aspects of cloud computing which the old-era model continues to beat.

For example, the Floyds say archival storage can be tricky to cost out in the cloud. Storage can cost more in a cloud solution;  5 to 10 years of company transactions based in the cloud might be a questionable choice. Cloud-based history can be costly. Local storage of history—that familiar disk array sitting beside an in-house host—still is at least as inexpensive as cloud, and often cheaper.

In another example, the data extraction ability of Minisoft's ODBC has been helping David Floyd at the Disston project. Other tools on the non-3000 side of the migration do transformation and loading. The same software being used in 3000s all over is cost-effective and powerful enough to move Disston data into and out of 3000s. The error-handling facilities of the ODBC standard are up against a Salesforce tool in Kenandy, though. Data Loader is a graphical tool that helps get data into Salesforce objects.

Integrated, subscription-based modules for software aren't exactly a new concept to the 3000-era manager. The 3000 shipped with tools like QUERY, for example. It was a crude tool that could be used for sophisticated tasks, so long as a manager had the skills to deploy it with subtle strokes. A little like painting a portrait with a spoon and acrylics. Today's software, included from the cloud, is something like a smart paintbrush that knows exactly how those strokes should appear, and where the best colors are, too.

TSG looks to be on the vanguard of a real replacement for MANMAN. The learning curve can be worth the return—for companies who are able to let go of their MANMAN and 3000s. Change is a rising tide that can lift all ships for the sailors who are watching the horizon. It's a good idea to make sure you have a navigator for this journey.

10:28 AM in Migration | Permalink

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