For some time, there’s been a quiet war going on between the top three providers of enterprise ERP software—SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. Lately, that war has been taking place on a new front: the cloud. All three major players have pushed out cloud versions of their flagship ERP software within the last few years, with varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at who’s currently winning, and what IT managers should know.
SAP’s S/4 HANA
As a product of SAP, the HANA database now forms the core of its legacy applications. Unfortunately, the database has been experiencing some teething issues. A recent survey shows that 9 out of 10 SAP customers have no plans to upgrade to S/4 HANA, with many longtime users deserting the platform altogether. To add insult to injury, no less than the COO of Under Armour (a flagship SAP customer) has revealed that attempting to implement HANA “caused delayed shipments and loss of productivity.”
HANA is a newer application, so some early issues are par for the course—but this dissatisfaction is on a whole other level. In the final analysis, it looks like the database just isn’t a good SaaS application. It’s not hosted by SAP, so enterprises must run it in their private clouds. This defeats the purpose of SaaS, turning what should be a relatively simple application into an unmanageable sprawl.
Microsoft Dynamics is relatively unique, since it can be deployed as either a CRM or an ERP software suite. It can also run on-premises or as a SaaS application, or even as part of a hybrid public/private cloud. Last year, however, most of the services under the Microsoft Dynamics umbrella were re-packaged and re-branded as Dynamics 365. While on-premises versions of the software suite are still supported, the emphasis appears to be cloud-only going forward.
For customers who already use the Office 365 suite of products, Dynamics 365 offers useful integrations for both CRM and ERP. Having the CRM and the ERP applications as essentially one product also helps break down data silos. If you don’t currently use a wide universe of other Microsoft products already, however, you may wind up feeling a bit constrained
Oracle vs. SAP is a very familiar fight, and in the cloud era Oracle might finally be gaining the upper hand. Last year, it sold $3.4 billion worth of cloud applications, all told. This year, its offerings—including ERP—are being reinforced with buzzword-appropriate technologies such as AI, IoT and blockchain. In theory, adding AI to ERP means that information and payments from suppliers can be folded into the enterprise balance sheet with greater accuracy and on a larger scale.
What’s so great about Oracle’s cloud ERP? It seems as though its flexible integration with other products is what makes it most attractive. For example, it’s designed to be easy to set up, rapidly importing data from pre-existing systems to eliminate the pain of migration. This is especially useful for companies with legacy applications that they can’t readily replace.
Choose Your Cloud ERP Platform Wisely
Regardless of whichever SaaS ERP platform your company chooses, it most likely needs to undergo continuous monitoring. We’ve written about cloud ERP before, and long story short, it can be a lot less stable than other applications in the cloud. Administrators need a granular solution that can tell them whether the application failure is in the network, the WAN or the application itself. Modern monitoring will likely be part of a successful cloud ERP software deployment.