ERP in 2016: the year's most important developments
2016 has been a turbulent year to date, and it looks like more of the same will become the rule rather than exception going forward. For example, SAP has completed its enhanced SaaS-oriented HANA function set, thereby allowing the brand to better support virtual machines, easily apply prebuilt Ariba Cloud Gateway systems, and accept beta versions of workflow and business rules servicing, in addition to the introduction of smart data streaming channels that quickly allow users to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT). All of these innovations allow enterprises to better-integrate on-premise to cloud infrastructures, leading to better employment of a number of multi-channel values that in turn are guiding and driving ERP-centric growth.
Meanwhile, a newly retrenched concept of ‘right sizing’ ERP systems has also caused a bit of a stir of late, particularly in the hybrid cloud segment. Newly emerged, ‘under the cover’ capabilities have emerged including more efficient implementation of Big Data elements, and hosts of enhanced security tiers, supported by better transparency throughout by use of a number of agnostic-data systems and functions. In the end of the day, these enhancements mean that if you are still not sure that pure cloud operations are the right fit for your company, there’s a ready workaround in the event.
Along with the product innovations mentioned above, there are a number of other emergent 2016 initiatives that apply to ERP as well, including:
The ever-evolving cloud
In the past ERP platforms were largely seen to be stand-alone systems. This is no longer true given the advent of an active global market, highly-sophisticated RDBMS engines, applied data-analysis values directly supported by mobility, and today’s enterprise driver, Big Data. The exponential growth in enterprise-scale data development has in turn, caused immediate problems in terms of the ready provisioning of active/passive storage, supporting infrastructures, security, and a need for more and more demand-based processing power.
As a result various network concepts focusing on better ways to move and manipulate large-masses of data in real-time created what we know today as ‘the cloud.’ And among the host of innovations that followed once the approach evolved to become an entirely coherent set of business value, ERP platforms stood at the forefront of the movement. This growth expanded further, to create a number of extended system values ranging from variously scaled ERP variants, individual utilities, and process engines, to completely new development methodologies.
Extended SaaS, IaaS and PaaS
Along with the general discourse associated with the cloud, where it came from, and how ERP applied operationally, today’s general environment houses several layers that form what we now refer to as the ‘cloud stack.’ These include;
SaaS (Software as a Service): the ERP application itself, and resides at the top-level of the environment.
PaaS (Platform as a Service): mid-level programming languages that link and interoperate elements such as databases, web servers, and file storage. Practical examples include; the “Google App Engine” and AWS’ “Heroku” which manages the Amazon Web Services tier. Other more general systems included various cloud configuration systems such as Docker, Chef, and Puppet.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): the low-level of the cloud stack, allowing elemental processing of ERP operations including; server management, storage array interactions, and network utilities. Practical examples here include; Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Microsoft Cloud, or the HP, or Helion Cloud variants.
Together these layers form a composite environment that creates a scalable cloud ERP fabric, which allows global and transparent operations on-demand.
The further extension of mobility
2016 was big on mobility, and it looks as if things are picking speed up, rather than the inverse. ERP has always required constant data-mining, however in concert with the cloud, mobility systems have created a host of new channels to trap, track, manipulate and drive resources-based information.
These elements barely scratched the surface of what happened this year, but regardless of the brevity of this discussion, the point should be clear, ERP is on the front of the power curve, and its looks like even brighter days are on the horizon systemically, and at a business level.
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