According to Wikipedia, “A management information system (MIS) focuses on the management of information systems to provide efficiency and effectiveness of strategic decision making. “. Until fairly recently, enterprise MIS systems were generally “on premise” systems (or held in computers on the premises), but over the last number of years we have witnessed a period where organisations have started to transition from enterprise to cloud computing.
In this short blog, I want to look at the offerings of one of the big boys of MIS computing, namely Oracle.
Oracle is one of the older generation of computer companies established in 1977 best known for their database technology, though they have an extensive repertoire of enterprise business applications encompassing ERP/SCM/CRM/HCM/EPM product lines using the Oracle RDBMS as a backend and Oracle middleware (mid-tier) products. Traditionally the Oracle eBusiness suite (eBS) product line up to and including Release 12 “on premise” software, was expensive to buy and maintain, but was business critical! It required highly skilled and often diverse IT teams to implement, support, extend and upgrade. The modular Oracle eBS ERP system encompassed many lines of organisation business including Financial Management, Project Management, SCM, CRM, HCM, and Business Intelligence Applications. As the modules were integrated, they were built from the ground up to talk to one another. So ‘Person’ information held in HCM flows to Purchasing in a buyer set up and PO information transfers to Accounts Payable when a payables invoice is created and on to the General Ledger module, all data flows taking place via standard product interfaces. For some not all companies, the adoption of Oracle eBS went hand in hand with (unfortunately for them!) a rather long list of application customisations which were implemented, rather than reengineer business processes to suit standard application functionality. Thus the eBS application was no longer an out of the box implementation that Oracle would support, the in house customisation meant that the customer would have to support a mission critical system themselves! It also led to difficult and expensive upgrades when Oracle decided that they were desupporting the old version, as in house customisations would need to be compatible with perhaps a new code base or changes to a database table structure.
Then one day the cloud came along…
Initially Oracle senior management were in denial about the ‘threat’ posed by newer cloud companies such as Workday (primarily HCM/Finance), Netsuite, Salesforce (CRM) to name a few. However it was clear by 2012 Oracle were reinventing themselves and had shifted their corporate strategy to the cloud . A lot of work was done to get all its product lines up on the cloud. At the time of writing, a wide portfolio of Cloud services including Saas (Software as a Service), Daas (Data As a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) are available. In terms of SaaS, Oracle continue to enhance an integrated suite of Financial Management, HCM, SCM, EPM & Data Analytics applications all with built in social networking functionality. Thats a huge breadth of integrated modular application product lines in the Cloud that are built from scratch to talk to another. That is in in fact one of the major value propositions that Oracle push, in that they see themselves as a one stop shop for database, middleware, applications and analytics for every type of business rather than other cloud companies they consider to be “niche players”.
As well as the SaaS offering, Oracle IaaS offers “elastic” scaleable storage and compute in the cloud, Oracle PaaS offers the capability to handle your (big) data applications, plus other tools to handle the seamless integration of your oracle and non-oracle applications in the cloud. The PaaS offering also includes data analytics including ways to prepare data as well as business intelligence and visualisation tools. Oracle PaaS cloud platform is the technology which underpins and provides the foundation for their SaaS applications.
Sounds pretty impressive, are there no drawbacks?
There are pros and cons to cloud computing versus an on premise Oracle solution.
To date whilst Oracle Cloud applications are mostly available they are not as comprehensive as in Release 12 Oracle eBS, particularly in the SCM modules, though new functionality continues to come on stream. So if you are in the Supply Chain or Manufacturing business, you should verify if the cloud can do the same as eBusiness Suite for now. On the other hand if you will only be using Financial Modules, maybe Oracle cloud functionality is closer to meeting your requirements. If your business requires application customisation, this will be easier if you hold your applications on premise, though there is more scope for customisation in a single tenant rather than multi tenant SaaS deployment where the instance may be shared for multiple users.
Implementation speeds are impressive for an Oracle application cloud implementation compared to on premise, therefore implementation costs lower. In general, the on premise costs are higher overall due to ongoing infrastructure and staffing costs. The cost of upgrading is much lower if you are on the cloud also since you don’t need to be concerned with new equipment or additional staff to undertake them. Upgrades on the cloud will be ongoing and automatic.
As with any move to the Cloud, Organisations must consider the loss of Control when they consider outsourcing the entire system that runs their business. Also to be considered is security. However, maybe a Tier 1 Managed Services cloud provider offer superior security to an in house system in a data centre that is under patched and under resourced. Below is a summary of the pros and cons of Cloud versus On premise to be reflected upon.
And what exactly is XaaS? XaaS is an acronym for everything as a service. Oracle offer PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, DaaS so I think they could be included under the XaaS banner.