On-Premise vs Cloud

We are exploring the possibility of moving to CloudSuite Industrial in the cloud. Has anyone had any experience with the cloud-based platform vs. on-premise? Pros? Cons? Any input would be appreciated!

  • Cloud solutions can either be a blessing or a curse. I'll try to run down as many as I can remember (we're on prem still):

    -System maintenance & patching is removed from the on prem list of responsibilities. Infor maintains the servers & CloudSuite patches for you so all you need to do is use the system. On the flip side, you as an admin do not have any control over when an OS is patches or what/when Infor patches are applied, as Infor controls it. In the case of CSI 10 , at TechEd 2018 we were told that on prem 10 patches would be delayed one month after cloud for further polish. Another problem here is outages. Things happen. With a cloud solution, you can't get to any of the servers to see what's going on. you can't call your IT Dept to find out what's going on. You have to wait for Infor to fix the issue. Granted, the issue is probably affecting more than just you but your hands are still tied. You will have to wait for Infor to fix the issue before your CSI deployment is available for users again.

    -Cloud can provide access from anywhere on the planet. The downside is, you can access the data anywhere on the planet. If a user is on an infected/hostile network, it's possible that the cloud traffic could be sniffed. This is NOT an Infor specific problem. this is a cloud problem in general. I know Office 365 allows you to geo-control where Office can be accessed from but I cannot speak to Infor's cloud offering. I mention this for completeness.

    -Cloud may cause you to rethink solutions you've implemented in your environment. The simplest example is the SQL Server itself. In the cloud, you are forbidden from directly accessing the SQL Server. So any SQL trickery you may be doing (Stored Procedures) can't be used. If you have third party applications integrated, they may not function. You'll need to know all the things your installation is doing & have a plan in place to deal with anything that comes up.

    -Your Internet connection needs to be robust. If you opt for the cloud, all of your CSI traffic now moves from LAN to WAN, increasing the use of your bandwidth. We had an issue here with Office 365 where IT forgot to check bandwidth usage & once we moved to the cloud, our Internet connection was strangled. I don't know how much traffic Infor's cloud solution generates, but it is something to consider in order to give peak performance to your users. Also, if your Internet connection at work goes down, then so does your CSI access. Whereas if your solution is on-prem, the worst that happens is any Internet related CSI activity can't happen but your local users can keep working.

    -The cloud version is the Web Client only (I'm pretty sure. Please correct me if I am mistaken.) At least on 9.X, there are things the web client can't do that the smart client can. I know that the goal with 10 is to move exclusively to the web, so this could be a non-issue. However, you would be moving to a web browser based solution. It's possible some things may behave different or not function. You may need to get your IT Department involved to possibly tweak browser security settings to be sure that CSI can function as intended.

    I think that's all I can recall for the moment (My Monster Energy hasn't totally kicked in yet). With everything I've said, I'm *NOT* saying don't go to the cloud. Cloud based solutions are currently popular for various services. What you and your company need to do is lay out the risk/rewards for a solution, make sure all parties fully understand what could happen, and then make an informed decision based on your company's needs.

    I hope this is a good start for you & I'll try to answer any additional questions if you have any. I'm sure the group will chime in too. :)

  • Benefits:

    • Performance, security, reliability of the Amazon AWS hosting services (they are really good, better than other CSI hosting services)
    • Automatic patching of Operating Systems and CSI applications*
    • More bang for your buck - Infor packages more modules into your base Cloud package then on-prem customers get
    • License cost is lower than on-prem cost
    • Retain full customization capabilities, as long as you use Mongoose Framework technologies (IDOs, UETs, Form Script, IDO Custom Assemblies, Form Reports)

    Cons:

    • SQL Developers will feel lost - Cloud is for .NET Developers (C# and/or VB.NET)
    • * Patches are applied, but you still need to vet them, and then selectively apply them with the Form Sync utility
    • Patches do not include Service Packs (CSI 9 issue)
    • Support is equally as good/bad as on-prem
    • CSI 9 Cloud customers have had lots of issues, mostly due to they can't clear their own IDO Cache. CSI 10 corrects that.
    • Shop-Trak/Doc-Trak not supported - could be if Lake Company re-wrote it as a Mongoose Application

    Access to data everywhere being a security problem... Unlikely, all CSI data is encrypted over SSL. Of course, if you use weak passwords, the cause of most security compromises, yes your data could get exposed. But no different if that happened on-premise. But that is another reason to use group and user authorizations to control what data users have access to. Don't use Super User in Cloud. Don't use the "sa" account. Get Developer licenses.

    You can use both the web client and the Smart Client in the Cloud. They want you to use the web client, because that is how you get exposed to the Mingle integration, which provides the all the bells and whistles they demonstrate in their marketing presentations. Some people will use that, most won't.

    Bandwidth-wise, unless you are operating over dial-up, you probably won't have an issue. Most companies have access to and are using 50MB+ connections which is plenty. Most bandwidth issues are related to companies that do not have their networks configured to segregate traffic, heavily use Internet filters, or think they can run their 1000 employee company on a 25MB Internet connection.

    Yes, if you have enhancements currently to your system, you will have to redevelop them the .NET way. But a lot of SyteLine users going from on-prem to Cloud are jumping multiple versions, so the enhancements would likely have to be redone anyways, even if they upgraded on-prem.

    Most of my CSI 10 customers are happy they went the Cloud route. Those that aren't are ones that think they can run their business without IT people, and want a whole bunch of enhancements, and balk at the cost to have consultants do the work.

    -Tim

  • In reply to TimBoyden:

    Tim,

    Are any of your customers FDA/ISO regulated manufacturers? We are trying to figure out the implications of going to the cloud yet having to re-validate after each update. Although we have a full and competent IT department the prospect of monthly re-validation seems daunting. Technically, the software would need to be re-validated before use so it appears that we would have the remainder of the monthly maintenance weekend to undertake this.

    -Kris
  • In reply to Stephen Cena:

    Just to comment on Stephen's response about SQL.

    Cloud offers Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant. In the Single-Tenant environment, you can use SQL and the Command Node in IPA. These however, are not permitted in the Multi-Tenant environment.

    So, if you are eyeing up the Cloud and have a number of SQL queries/stored procedures in place, see if you can go to Single-Tenant. I understand Infor is pushing to have their clients move towards Multi-Tenant. Not sure how they can do this if clients have heavy use of SQL and the Command node in IPA.
  • In reply to KPaul:

    Let me ask a question to narrow down your question... Do you re-validate your Windows workstations everyday after they receive an anti-virus patch, or every month after a monthly patch? How about your cell phones? Probably not right?

    So why do your auditors claim there is a difference with your ERP software? There is a higher chance that data could be compromised through your operating system or cell phone than through your ERP software. My guess is someone is reading a regulation too narrowly and/or someone is too afraid to ask for a waiver - waivers are given all the time if you have a reasonable business reason. An aerospace company we work with had similar concerns as to what you mention. I pushed them to ask for a waiver, and with a good business reason, it was granted.

    That said, Infor is spinning up special instances for government agencies, so you should have a conversation with them and see what you can work out. I am sure their lawyers would work with your lawyers and the auditors to get to the meat of the issue and work out a solution.

    -Tim