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As small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) scramble to revive their supply chains and gain the agility and flexibility to compete, they’re adopting cloud-based capabilities to improve performance and reduce costs. This is part of a greater need for digital transformation to align manufacturers and distributors with today’s modern customers and supply chain partners. 

Next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms, such as SAP Business One with HANA, bring affordable cloud capabilities and functionality to SMBs. Growing companies are moving ERP into the cloud and gaining transparency and flexibility with the core systems that run their businesses. 

The result? SMBs are rapidly adjusting to new market models and safeguarding their competitive edge.

  1. What is cloud ERP?
  2. Best Deployment Model
  3. Why Cloud ERP
  4. Cloud for your Industry
  5. Single-Tenant Vs Multi-tenant
  6. Your Cloud ERP Options
  7. Moving to the Cloud
  8. Vision33 Cloud Services
  9. Integration
  10. Success Stories
  11. The Future of the Cloud

 

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What is Cloud ERP

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Cloud-based computing (aka software as a service, or SaaS) takes advantage of software applications that run on shared computing resources. These computing resources are hosted in multiple data centers that run many types of applications on numerous platforms.

Cloud ERP is ERP software that runs in cloud data centers accessible over the internet by any user with permission. A benefit of some cloud ERP systems is that the customer has choices regarding system deployment: 100 percent hosted in the cloud or partially in the cloud and partially on-premises, also called ‘hybrid cloud.’

Depending on the ERP platform, cloud deployment can either be a multi-tenant environment (MTE) or a single-tenant environment (STE). With MTEs, companies save money by allowing the cloud vendor to host their ERP deployment alongside other companies’ in a shared server environment. However, some businesses want the added security and greater flexibility of having their ERP on cloud servers dedicated only to them, so they choose STEs.

Whether you choose an MTE or STE, hosting ERP in the cloud saves money on internal infrastructure costs and protects your valuable information in secure, world-class data centers. Your staff gains anytime, anywhere access to your ERP, so you have more time to focus on running your business and less on IT.

Cloud ERP offers:

  • Access to your data anytime, anywhere, on any device
  • A safe environment with multiple layers of security
  • No risk of downtime or data loss
  • Shortened time to market

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Best Deployment Model

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The best cloud ERP for you depends on your business circumstances. If you run operations in remote areas with a single IT professional and incur slow internet speeds and frequent telco outages, a highly distributed, pure cloud ERP deployment would offer the most innovation at the lowest cost. If your business runs critical on-premises applications that interact with ERP and you have a talented IT team, you may prefer a hybrid cloud ERP model. There’s no right or wrong answer, so you should seek a deployment partner who offers all cloud ERP options and asks the right questions to help you choose.

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Why Cloud ERP

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As with customer relationship management (CRM) and other major business applications, businesses are tired of managing hardware, software, data storage, data protection, network connectivity, etc. By moving ERP to the cloud, everything is managed and updated for them.

But the benefits of cloud ERP are more significant than a reduced headache. The powerhouse infrastructure providers behind cloud ERP, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), have shifted the playing field so cloud-based systems are more secure and reliable than their on-premises counterparts.

Cloud ERP’s five major benefits:

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A cloud ERP provider can proactively maintain your IT environment to minimize downtime, control threats, and avoid unexpected costs. For example, SAP Business One Cloud through Vision33 provides nightly backups of Business One databases and retains them for a week. Customers can run backups and configure snapshots automatically or manually using a variety of backup options, including EBS data backups, protection from accidental deletion, continuous archiving for long-term storage, and secure backups for on-premises data.

In addition, software upgrades are carried out remotely with redundancy to ensure valuable business data remains safe. AWS, the cloud provider for SAP Business One Cloud, provides a service level agreement commitment of 99.95 percent availability.

Disasters come in many varieties; two of the most common are ransomware attacks and unforeseen business outages. Organizations prepared with cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) for their ERP system perform better when faced with disasters.

Every company is vulnerable to outages and disasters. From common computer viruses and ransomware attacks to network outages, fires, and floods, interruptions wreak havoc on your daily business activities. Losing data, especially transactional data, negatively affects your bottom line, partners, vendors, and customers.

By creating a disaster recovery plan, your business can minimize downtime associated with a data loss outage or disaster. Vision33’s disaster recovery preparedness and solutions for cloud-based ERP provide businesses with an automated cloud disaster recovery plan that protects valuable data, no matter where it resides or which disaster a business faces. Whether your SAP Business One system is on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid cloud environment, Vision33 creates and delivers disaster recovery plans and associated data continuity solutions that fit your budget, systems, and processes.

Read how Vision33’s cloud disaster recovery capabilities for SAP Business One saved the day for four organizations facing different disasters in different industries.

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Watch this presentation to learn the best practices for disaster recovery in the cloud.

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For a full checklist for ERP disaster recovery preparedness, read our blog.

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Cloud ERP performs better than on-premises ERP for organizations with remote and mobile workers who want to access the system at various times from multiple locations.

The VPN problem: VPNs aren’t equipped for a remote workforce. A VPN restricts remote access to applications because it must verify that each user is present and on site, whereas the cloud authenticates users from anywhere and provides secure, flexible access. VPNs also lack scaling, cannot optimize for user experience, and provide over-simplified authentication that fails to meet the requirements of a sophisticated, modern workforce. 

Cloud ERP systems leverage modern security techniques and authentications suited to the cloud and remote worker access to applications. They also provide flexible scaling on demand. This means you can easily adjust the storage, network connectivity, bandwidth, and computing power to match your evolving business needs – and pay only for what you need.VPNs were never designed to provide app-level optimization.

With cloud ERP, your users can skip proprietary, closed databases and read your valuable data into other analytical systems, such as predictive analytics. The leaps forward in AI, and particularly machine learning, allow you to spot trends and stay ahead of competitors who have no high-capacity means for making sense of Big Data.

It’s never too late to safeguard and protect your data. One of the biggest advantages of clouds like AWS is their flexible, yet highly secure environments. As the user, you have the sole authority on where data is stored. AWS operates, manages, and controls the components from the host operating environment down to handling the physical security of the facilities where the service operates.

When businesses adopt cloud ERP, they incur no upfront costs – no licensing, registration, or maintenance fees. They simply pay a monthly fee and can cancel any time. This model eliminates the high-stress, all-or-nothing commitment organizations once had to make with ERP. ERP costs are reduced in the cloud, as there’s no need to purchase and maintain the supporting computers and network infrastructure.

Businesses need a cloud-delivered solution that provides access at the application layer and reduces the security attack surface, providing the best performance without hindering employee privacy.

Businesses need a cloud-delivered solution that provides access at the application layer and reduces the security attack surface, providing the best performance without hindering employee privacy.

Cloud ERP: an inevitable part of your digital transformation

Digital transformation is a requirement for survival.

Consider these companies that rejected digital transformation and where they are today:

  • Kodak
  • Polaroid
  • Blockbuster
  • Blackberry
  • RadioShack
  • Borders
  • Palm
  • Sears, K-Mart, JC Penny

These companies, however, embraced digital transformation:

  • Amazon
  • Uber
  • Netflix
  • Nest
  • Carvana

Your customers have gone digital. They consume content, engage with brands, and complete transactions via the web, mobile, and social media. Your B2B customers want to consume goods the same way they consume them in their personal lives. Consider these statistics:

69% of Americans say they've purchased an item online. (NPR/Marist, 2018)


78% percent of online shoppers value the availability of product reviews by other shoppers.(NPR/Marist, 2018)

74% of consumers say there has been a direct link between watching a video on social media and purchasing something. (Adweek, 2018)

92% of America's online shoppers say they've bought something on Amazon(NPR/Marist, 2018)

87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media plays a vital role in their shopping decisions.

In 2018, Forbes projected that 20 percent of grocery sales would occur online by 2020 and reach $100 billion. In reality, that number is far higher due to the rapid move to working from home and the permanent changes brought about by worldwide lockdowns. Citrix data shows that 89 percent of workers access business applications from locations other than corporate offices.

The pace of change driven by digital transformation compels SMBs in all industries to get on board with their own digital transformations. It makes sense because cloud ERP easily connects with other SaaS applications, including analytics, mobile apps, databases, websites, enterprise apps, and cloud-based workspaces.

Eighty-six percent of companies believe cloud technology is critical to digital . It’s the only way to connect physical and digital worlds, leverage powerful analytics, and avoid becoming irrelevant.

Cloud for your Industry

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It may not seem obvious to small manufacturers and distributors with many physical operations and goods that cloud ERP can help them – but the cloud can help virtually any company.

Consider warehouse management. You can’t move your inventory to the cloud, but the cloud can generate and hold valuable data related to your inventory management. With handheld scanners, barcodes, and RFID tags, warehouse employees can link inventory data to purchasing, sales, and accounting to answer questions like, “Which items need reorders?” “Which sales promotions should we use next month?” “Which inventory should we write off at tax time?”

On the manufacturing side, equipment health data such as temperature, flow rate, and pressure help management schedule maintenance and downtime. Once products are out in the field, post-sales service becomes a significant revenue and profit center through the tie-in between IoT data and ERP. Your field services team becomes more productive when they can access digital information about products while at customer sites.

The more digital innovations become ‘baked into’ products, the greater the need to track product, inventory, and inputs data and respond to it via the enterprise-wide information sharing available through cloud ERP.

Not everything is cloud-ready

In both manufacturing and distribution, elements of an ERP implementation will continue to run on-premises for several more years, and quality control systems and other localized operational equipment require hybrid cloud deployments. This is why some cloud-only ERP vendors struggle to gain manufacturing and distribution customers. Instead, it’s the ERP vendors and their partners with decades of industry experience that overwhelmingly serve the cloud ERP needs of manufacturers and distributors (discussed in later sections). There is no substitute for industry-specific subject matter expertise.

As an SMB leader, your first step toward the cloud should be engaging with a partner with expertise in your industry, in-depth ERP knowledge, and a history of solving similar challenges for other companies. Vision33 is that partner – we solve challenges for hundreds of small and medium sized businesses every day.

Visit the links below to see how Vision33 helps businesses like yours succeed in specific industries.

Single-Tenant vs. Multi-Tenant

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The architecture in a single-tenant environment (STE) is dedicated to a single company that has its own ERP solution and supporting infrastructure. In a multi-tenant environment (MTE), multiple companies share the same infrastructure for their ERP software and business data. The cloud provider partitions the business information to ensure that each company’s data remains separate and secure.

There are advantages and disadvantages to STEs and MTEs:

Advantages of single-tenant cloud ERP:

  • Increased privacy
  • More control over upgrades
  • Improved backup and recovery

Disadvantages of single-tenant cloud ERP:

  • More expensive

Advantages of multi-tenant cloud ERP:

  • Lower hardware, power, and upgrade costs
  • Seamless upgrades performed by the vendor
  • Optimized vendor support

Disadvantages of multi-tenant cloud ERP:

  • Company-specific needs may be impossible to achieve
  • Updates may happen unexpectedly and disrupt business

Your choice of a single-tenant cloud ERP solution versus multi-tenant depends on which is the best fit for your business operations and the makeup of your growing business.

Your Cloud ERP Options

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There are approximately 50 cloud ERP solutions on the market, some with highly recognizable names. While we’re partial to SAP Business One Cloud, Oracle’s NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, and Acumatica are also viable options. The best solution for your businesses depends on each solution’s strengths and weaknesses in underpinning business operations and using information to win/retain modern customers.

Here’s a comparison of several solutions:

Established only 12 years ago, Acumatica’s shift to a cloud focus was easy because of its short history in on-premises ERP.

With a narrow set of capabilities, Acumatica focuses on just a few industries (lightweight manufacturing, distribution, and construction) and a single-tenant cloud deployment model. While Acumatica does offer on-premises deployment, its strength is cloud-only ERP.

Instead of using value-added resellers (VARs), Acumatica makes its cloud ERP code available to customers. Although this gives customers additional control, it also introduces risks associated with making unsupported code changes.

Microsoft Dynamics isn’t as focused on full-cloud ERP as other ERP brands. For example, CRM isn’t included and requires a separate implementation. Additionally, Dynamics CRM runs on a separate database with a different data model, which makes reporting (a critical ERP function) challenging.

Dynamics also fails to provide significant workflow capabilities beyond alerting, and there seems to be a general lack of what cloud ERP is intended to be: fast, flexible, and simple for a variety of users.

Download a Useful Comparison Guide: Sap Business One Vs. Microsoft Dynamics.

NetSuite serves a narrow customer audience with NetSuite ERP. The solution is cloud-only and doesn’t address hybrid cloud or on-premises needs.

To help cloud-only customers get running faster, NetSuite offers a “SuiteSuccess” methodology meant to speed deployment time. This solution, which NetSuite says is based on best practices, puts the implementation burden on the customer. This may be the right solution for customers who are new to ERP, don’t sell or buy much internationally, and have limited IT capabilities. As a company grows, however, NetSuite’s limitations are obvious.

NetSuite also doesn’t run their ERP over a major cloud infrastructure provider like AWS or Azure. Instead, customers are locked into NetSuite’s infrastructure, which lacks a robust international presence. NetSuite’s database architecture limits performance, and the need to constantly purchase add-ons slows progress and increases deployment costs.

Download a Useful Comparison Guide: Sap Business One Vs. Netsuite

 

Limitations of cloud accounting solutions

QuickBooks and Sage 50 users get frustrated when they attempt to run a desktop software package remotely.

Small and medium-sized businesses are moving from accounting solutions like QuickBooks to cloud ERP solutions – particularly SAP Business One. While accounting software works well for startups, growing businesses need the broader and deeper capabilities ERP delivers, like platform integration, support for growth, and reporting.

Most of Vision33’s cloud ERP customers migrated from QuickBooks. The move helped them eliminate incorrect orders and late shipments and improved satisfaction with their overall experience.

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Read what’s different between accounting software and ERP applications.

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Are all cloud ERP solutions the same?

With over 60,000 customers and one million ERP users, SAP Business One is the clear choice among growing SMBs. SAP Business One provides complete integrated functionality for accounting & finance, sales & customer management, inventory & distribution, purchasing & operations, and reporting. With SAP Business One, you can operate faster and more efficiently at scale because your business information is immediately accessible and secured for company-wide use.

Ultimate flexibility of SAP Business One deployments

SAP Business One can be deployed in any cloud flavor you choose – 100-percent cloud, hybrid cloud, single-tenant cloud on AWS, or multi-tenant cloud on AWS.

SAP Business One is a certified solution on the AWS cloud. AWS is five times the size of other cloud vendors combined, provides a service level agreement commitment of 99.95 percent availability, and shows the lowest downtime and fastest system performance across the board.

High-performance cloud ERP

SAP HANA is the in-memory computing platform for SAP Business One that supercharges the application performance for speed and allows you to analyze massive amounts of data in real-time. SAP Business One powered by SAP HANA is part of SAP Business One Cloud ERP, making it the highest-performing cloud ERP on the market.

Read about the unmatched performance of SAP HANA.

So, the short answer regarding whether all cloud ERP solutions are the same is a resounding “No.” Want further evidence?

Read the ERP vendor comparisons against SAP Business One on HANA

Moving to the Cloud

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Whether your business is starting with ERP in the cloud, moving ERP to the cloud, or simply comparing costs, this section summarizes how to consider your move to the cloud.

Five factors typically drive an organization to the cloud:

  1. Ensuring a good work/life balance for employees
  2. Speeding up the business
  3. Making core business systems more flexible
  4. Better equipping a mobile or remote workforce
  5. Expanding internationally

Even when two or more of these goals can be realized by moving to the cloud, many business leaders still worry about moving. Common questions include:

  • If I already invested in on-premises software, can I move to the cloud?
  • How difficult is the transition?
  • How costly is a cloud initiative?

Fortunately, answers are readily available. At Vision33, we’ve taken our vast knowledge from numerous cloud deployments among our 1,000+ SAP Business One customers and consolidated it into a valuable cloud information kit you’ll benefit greatly from reviewing.

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Vision33 Cloud Services

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Vision33 gives businesses flexibility in ERP implementation, offering 100-percent cloud, hybrid cloud, and single-tenant or multi-tenant environment options. With each option, we ensure maximum payback and fast deployments with three focal points:

  • Efficient deployment. Vision33 has more experience deploying your solution than any in-house IT employee. We leverage the cloud to perform fast and effective ERP deployments and upgrades. And there’s no need for on-premises work from us, which allows you to enjoy the benefits of your solution faster and with fewer roadblocks – especially with current limitations of on-site visits.
  • Streamlined business operations. Vision33 unlocks the full potential of the cloud, extracts the benefits, and reduces the complexity of your business processes. This allows you to integrate disparate systems and consolidate your data into a single, user-friendly platform.
  • Advanced analytics. Vision33 leverages the SAP Analytics Cloud – the most advanced cloud-based analytics solution on the market – to give you more insight into your business. Accessing company data, dashboards, and reports from virtually anywhere gives you the information you need to provide additional value to your customers and remain agile in your market.

For businesses without the available IT resources, Vision33 offers SAP Business One certified on the AWS cloud, so you can rely on one partner for all your global ERP needs.

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Here are a few facts about Vision33’s leadership in the cloud: 

  • Vision33 is the only SAP Business One partner that holds the AWS SAP Competency
  • Vision33 strategically allies with AWS
  • Vision33’s prestigious status, recognized by the AWS Partner Network (APN) highlights technical proficiency and proven success in helping customers implement, migrate, and manage SAP Business One on the AWS cloud
  • Vision33 is the only global SAP Business One partner with this status
  • 300+ Vision33 customers use innovative AWS technology
  • AWS & Vision33 ensure disaster recovery

Remote implementations from Vision33

Vision33 is pleased to announce a delivery model for remote cloud ERP implementations of SAP Business One on AWS. Already tested on clients in 2020, this delivery model allows you to get up and running in the cloud without being in your office and saves on the travel, meetings, and incidental costs that go with in-person deployments.

Here are a few examples of our recent 100-percent remote deployments:

  • Final stages and go-live shift for a UK-based power tools company
  • Go-live on Amanda Version 7 for an entire county in California
  • Upgraded an Ontario, Canada city to Accela version 19.1 from their previous version 8.x, including go-live.
  • Progressed the Development System Office to go-live of a U.S. city under strict COVID-19 lockdown. The client said, “I appreciate the excellent work the Vision33 team did to get us to this milestone on time and on budget.”
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Integration

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Integrations & Add-Ons

The Saltbox Platform by Vision33 is a cloud iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solution for enterprise integration, workflow, and collaboration between business applications. It provides a large list of pre-built connections for common business applications like Shopify, HubSpot, Concur, and Salesforce and technology connectors for SQL Server, JSON Converter, SAP HANA, REST API, and SMTP.

These integrations ensure compliance with a broad set of regulations, supercharge your SAP Business One environment, and increase the value of your existing business applications that integrate with SAP Business One. To learn more about the Saltbox integration platform, visit the integrations & Saltbox web page.

Want to achieve compliance and streamline EDI processes simultaneously? If so, check out this blog and included video links to learn how.

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Success Stories

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With over 300 SMB customers already taking advantage of SAP Business One in the cloud, it’s clear that SMBs are having great success with Vision33. Below are several examples we hope will inspire your business to realize the potential of the cloud.

"SAP Business One has streamlined our processes and helped us become one of the fastest shippers in the industry. Whereas the competition can take several weeks to deliver an order, VIETRI can do it within 2 to 3 business days on average."


- Jody Davis, Customer Service and IT Manager, VIETRI

 

The Future of Cloud

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A brief skim of expert analysis about cloud computing in the 2020s quickly indicates that SMBs will benefit considerably from SAP Business One on AWS. This recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine highlights six key drivers of ERP cloud. They sound nearly identical to the capabilities of SAP Business One Cloud today when combined with the flexible deployment options offered by Vision33. They include:

  1. The continued rise of hybrid cloud
  2. Edge computing
  3. Hyper-scale data centers
  4. Demand for disaster recovery as a service
  5. Interest in hyper-converged infrastructure
  6. Increased use of AI (analytics) in the data center