There are several reasons for a company to move its ERP to the cloud. The main arguments in support of this initiative, which can be fairly costly would include: rapid deployment, scalability, long term total cost of ownership [or TCO] reduction, flexible settings for each virtual machine, and increased fault tolerance.
Though migrating can be a painful process, there are steps and milestones which can be targeted, to make the process somewhat easier. To achieve success a firm with an ERP that should be partially or fully cloud enabled [private, public, hybrid], will need to actively manage several parties including: customers, the cloud-software provider, in-house and external developers.
Plans must be made to keep the existing operations and system in place to satisfy external and internal clients, while building the 'new' or replacement cloud system, which at some point will replace the legacy system.
Questions that a business must answer in planning to move an ERP to the Cloud:
- Is this our first ERP migration ? Is there a methodology to follow to calculate the risks and benefits of cloud-enabling all of part of the ERP ?
- Is the data center internal, or external ? What are the costs and benefits of Self vs. External hosting ?
- Do we have to adapt our standard ERP systems to cloud specific code ? If so how and who should do this ? How much will migrating ERP code to web-services standard code cost ?
- What processes, and functions are going to be cloud enabled ? Why ? How much data is it and what are the security risks ? [related to above question]
- What loads do we expect in our cloud application or system ? Among other things, the virtual machine's memory must be reserved (physical server recommended maximum load is 80 %). One must also adopt restrictions to avoid overcommitting the CPU and at the same time to allocate the virtual machine CPU according to the “from minimum to the required” rule. The paravirtual SCSI adapter and RDM LUN are also recommended for use. Do we have the in-house knowledge to properly setup and secure the VMs?
- Security: How can we set up a high-quality system for client data protection such as: vShield EDGE, a dedicated VLAN, differentiated datacenter access permissions, the use of vGate or other information security tools.
- What tools should we use to establish a database backup configuration (backing up is possible by means of the database or the data storage system tools, as well as via virtual machine snapshots).
- Finally moving the system. What are the detailed steps to migrate codes, systems, and end users to the new platform ? What are the costs and benefits ? QA – who, how, and for how long?
If this is a first time migration of a critical ERP system than it is a reasonable option to involve a knowledgeable vendor, a cloud-software provider who can host and can help with code, processes, and system migration and server setup.
Cloud software providers should be able to give information on:
- Service Level Agreements [SLA], including, uptime, availability, reliability and redundancy
- Key parameters involve network availability, delay, bandwidth, packet loss rate, and amount of allocated resources.
- Backup SLA (backing up and test recovery quality, backup copies’ recovery and storage time.
- SLA control tools (monitoring system and backup system logs).
Migrating, or even forklifting an ERP or client-server environment to the Cloud, will take longer and usually cost more than forecast. Following a methodology and defined, articulated steps in this journey is mandatory.