Part 1 of this blog series highlighted the comparison of best-of-breed (BoB) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and when BoB is the best choice for supply chains. Part 2 of the series dove deeper into the specific needs of supply chain planning and execution and the tightly vs. loosely coupled interoperability debate. Part 3 of the series provided a deeper dive around how to run your BoB software solution. This part of the blog series will cover deploying on a BoB software vendor’s managed cloud and making the choice for a BoB managed cloud.

Deploying on a BoB Software Vendor’s Managed Cloud

In part 3 of this blog series, I discussed a few cloud options available today, such as public, private and hybrid. The final option to consider is if the vendor provides a managed hosting or managed cloud offering.  This offering should be from the original vendor to be the BoB option.  While it may not be a SaaS offering in contractual terms, ideally end users have no idea how or where the software is running – they are just happy with the performance, access and results.  And if you can get single tenant vs. multi-tenant, you always want to consider that.  Without a significant price difference, I recommend always choosing single tenant, as it will be safer and give you the most flexibility.

The disadvantage of this option is often cost or perceived cost.  When possible you will want a fixed fee service, and since you are getting an all-in price, you may be surprised how different it looks compared to the first two options.  When customers dig into their own versions of cost and really look at what is direct vs. a general allocation, the numbers are usually much closer than they first look.  I’d also recommend never simply comparing a managed cloud offering to a capacity cloud price.  The first is buying a car and the second is buying an engine – to get apples to apples you need to factor in building the rest of the car yourself.

There are numerous advantages to this option.  The first and direct advantage of this option is that it is their software and they know it best. The software vendor has nowhere to hide if there are problems, especially if you use their implementation consulting as well.  You get not only one throat to choke, but often even better, one ear to hear.  If the vendor is structured well then communication channels should be fast and seamless – skipping multiple stages between a problem being noticed and it being resolved.  Overall number of customer cases are reduced – sometimes the vendor will notice and resolve directly without any need for customer involvement, but mostly because the vendor has experience with hundreds of customers so common mistakes just don’t happen.  Upgrades should be included and, if possible, you should get the choice of when. Having them included means your resources to upgrade are greatly reduced so you can take advantage of upgrades on a more reasonable scale.  The whole process is faster and with fewer issues given that the vendor does this many times compared to every upgrade and patch being the first and last time an individual customer applies it.

Services should be 24/7 and include interfaces to get a complete managed solution.  With IT departments stretched, often one person is watching multiple solutions.  If they have to react to middle of the night or weekend issues then chances are it is going happen once a month or even more often with so many solutions involved. And no one enjoys being called on their time off.  The vendor will handle the majority of these issues, with no need for customer interaction – which can improve job satisfaction for some IT groups.  The vendor should have a follow the sun approach to make sure this coverage extends around the globe, so if your users are spread out they get the same service.

With the vendor providing the software and hardware, the metric to measure them by is business availability.  Unlike third party services simply having the hardware up and running doesn’t matter, especially if your users can’t get their job done and the system is not available.  The vendor should be supplying service level objectives not only for availability, but for incident resolution.  Performance should also be a service level objective and based on business metrics.  You as the customer should not have to care how much horsepower, disk space, etc. the solution needs to meet your business metrics.  The vendor should be the expert in this and on the hook for providing whatever is needed with no additional cost.

You may find third parties offering hosting for a separate vendor’s software, but you should be sure to ask how many customers they have and how often are they successful.  With BoB software, it is rare to find anyone but the vendor who has any significant experience.  They may be cheaper, but maintaining high levels of availability is not easy and they don’t get any more preferential access to the vendor than you do.

Making the Choice for BoB Managed Cloud

You have a lot of choices and you are used to balancing cost and risk.  There are two more areas you should consider; ensuring you can meet your project timeline and the reduction in hassle both in implementation and long term.

Generally speaking, a BoB managed cloud might speed up your project timeline a little, but more importantly will help ensure the timeline you have set out is met.  Once you sign the contract, the dates for systems become firm commitments.  You are skipping all the internal processes needed to acquire hardware, get your IT resources lined up, etc.  Adding additional capacity internally again kicks all those processes off, but it is an immediate expectation from the vendor.

Reducing the hassle associated with a project and software is another underrated feature.  The BoB vendor will often include extra services to make sure common requests are easy to make, easy to provide and do not require extra fees.  Users and project teams can be free to focus on the business results and not going through red tape just to get simple things done.  Overall stress levels are lower and teams are more productive.  This should be a minimum expectation from BoB vendors, and is important to the vendor as well since they want you to be a happy customer of all their services and to buy more software.

How JDA Can Help with Managed Cloud Offerings

JDA understands the importance of focusing on business results, meeting project deadlines and a managed cloud offering to support them. That’s why JDA has invested in developing a robust, versatile and high-performance integration capability that not only provides an accelerated time-to-value through pre-built interfaces and easy-to-use configuration tools, but also establishes a high degree of flexibility and adaptability, permitting support and evolution of this integration over the long term. To learn more about how JDA can help, contact us today.