Ten Ways to Spot ERP Vendors Who Are Cloudwashing

March 17, 2015
Don’t be fooled by cloud pretenders. Make sure that your enterprise application provider is providing true cloud, not a cloudwashed version of outdated on-premise software.

Don’t be fooled by cloud pretenders. Use this ten-point guide to make sure that your enterprise application provider is providing true cloud, not a cloudwashed version of outdated on-premise software.

  1. Every cloud customer is running a different, highly customized application. This is a sure sign that an ERP application isn’t cloud based and there is no scalability in the application architecture. One of the greatest benefits to cloud ERP customers is standardization of new applications and a rapid release cycle that delivers new features quickly. These two factors drastically reduce the need for customization and reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) very quickly.

  2. You have to buy a special cloud server or appliance to run their version of the cloud. Incredible but true, there are software vendors selling cloud-based applications that require their own servers. These servers can be $1M+ and ironically lack the scale of more pervasive cloud platforms. When vendors sell hardware to run cloud applications it’s a sure sign their software isn’t designed for broad network access, resource pooling, and rapid elasticity. This isn’t cloud; it’s client/server in disguise.

  3. Their sales teams think multitenancy is about complex apartment leases. A sure sign any enterprise software vendor is cloudwashing their applications is when their sales teams have no idea what multitenancy is and how it relates to your business strategies. Quiz them on what the cloud means to your business and the truth will come out fast. They frequently have no idea of how to apply their applications to your business strategies and needs.

  4. Thinks a data center audit is what happens when Amazon counts its servers. A true cloud-based ERP and enterprise software vendor has extensive plans, processes and programs in place that audit data center performance in real time. This not only provides invaluable performance data but also fuels predictive analytics to determine reliability, security, and detailed preventative maintenance analysis to ensure consistently high levels of performance.

  5. Takes up to two years or more to provide new application updates. A true cloud ERP application and for that matter, all enterprise software delivered over the cloud, is updated at least three to four times a year. There are multiple releases a year that many cloud ERP vendors give their customer the opportunity to opt in or out of. It would be a financial disaster for any cloud ERP vendor to wait over a year to update their software as many of them have customers on one-year contracts who would go elsewhere.

  6. Complex, confusing and often very costly pricing that blends the best of what on-premise license, subscription and monthly service charges have to offer. The more complex the pricing, the more likely there’s serious cloudwashing going on. A true cloud ERP provider relies on subscription-based pricing alone, as do many other honest cloud-based enterprise software vendors. The greater the complexity of licensing, subscriptions and monthly service the more likely the applications being sold are on-premise and delivered only on a hosted platform, not a true cloud platform.

  7. Calling hosted applications cloud based and saying all that matters is that it runs in a browser. This is a favorite for many on-premise and enterprise software vendors who don’t have actual cloud applications. There’s shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), grid and dedicated hosting approaches being used by ERP vendors to mask their applications as cloud-based. Shared hosting is by far the most common as it is the cheapest. The application is shared from a specific system alone. VPS hosting is based on the concept of multiple servers acting as a single logical device to increase reliability. VPS hosting however pays a performance penalty since they are allocating a guaranteed amount of resources to each client that can’t be rerouted to others. Grid hosting integrates together multiple servers to scale resources, yet applications hosted on this platform often pay a performance penalty. Dedicated hosting includes a specific server and disk storage capacity and resources. None of these approaches to delivering enterprise applications over hosting make them more scalable. When applications fail to scale as vendors promise they will, customers are charged even more for additional system resources.

  8. Taking months, not just minutes, to add users, groups and entire divisions. A true cloud platform and applications are capable of scaling from a few users to thousands in seconds. All that’s needed is to turn on individual user accounts. The same can’t be said for cloud washed applications. It can take weeks and often months to get new accounts turned on across global locations. Any cloud-based applications can immediately scale to full performance regardless of its location anywhere in the world, at any time.

  9. No unified security across all applications and platforms. A sure sign there’s cloudwashing going on is when a different security exists for each application and platform. Real cloud applications share a common security model across all devices and user interfaces because it’s embedded into the infrastructure and platform layers of the architecture. True cloud applications are based on platforms that are complaint with FISMA, SSAE 16 (formerly SAS 70), ISO 27001, PCI-DSS Level 1, Safe Harbor & TRUSTe standards.

  10. Inconsistent and non-existent user interfaces across mobile, tablet and PC platforms. A sure sign any ERP and enterprise application has been cloud washed is that every device has a different interface or none at all. Ask to see the application running on every device your company uses to see how well it scales on this point. True cloud applications can scale across multiple devices with identical functionality and performance.

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