Anecdotally, ERP in the cloud is experiencing a Dickensian dichotomy - a "best of times, worst of times" scenario. On the one hand, numerous public observations repeat the observation that businesses are moving ERP to the cloud more slowly and deliberately than applications such as e-mail and CRM. The reasons cited are numerous, and the citers convinced that their assessment of the situation is accurate and likely to remain so for at least a while yet.
On the other hand, vendors ranging from Acumatica to Aplicor, from Lawson to NetSuite and even SAP offer varying takes on ERP in the cloud. There are several ERP and "ERP-like" solutions offered to Salesforce.com customers via the Salesforce.com AppExchange. And MyERP.com claims to have been offering ERP in the cloud since 2008. It has now fully integrated that solution with Google Apps, offering it via the Google Apps Marketplace with pricing starting at free for two users.
More to the point, businesses are adopting cloud-based ERP solutions, and achieving success with them. Many of these businesses began their explorations of ERP in the cloud with an open source solution, Compiere. Launched in 1999, by 2006 Compiere had been downloaded as many as a million times and had an ecosystem of some 100 supporting partners. In 2007, there were Community, Professional, Enterprise and Cloud Editions of the software, overseen by executives funded by venture capital.
But then, as has happened repeatedly when open source solutions have been commercialized, a schism erupted between those who wanted to realize returns on their software development, marketing and support investments and those who wanted to see the software remain free and open. The latter group formed its own community, Adempiere, and the commercial and community-supported editions of the software "forked" or diverged.
Enter Consona, a company founded in 2003 as a result of the privatization of a previously publicly traded ERP solution provider, Made2Manage Systems. In June 2010, Consona acquired the commercial elements of the Compiere ecosystem, including a network of distribution partners. "Compiere gives us a great entry into the cloud market because it's probably the most advanced" cloud-based ERP solution, stated a Consona executive.
Some other cloud-based ERP offerings, including some of those from leading premise-based ERP solution providers, are largely unproven. Some others come from companies with little to no track record of delivering "business-class" support and service. Still others come from vendors with limited partner ecosystems. While integration of its various ERP solutions remains a work in progress, with Compiere, Consona is poised to claim with some credibility that it suffers from none of these drawbacks. Consona is also addressing limitations that previously hampered Compiere users. Compiere now works with multiple databases, for example, including the open source EnterpriseDB offering.
Video conferencing is quickly becoming one of the most important communication channels for both small and big businesses. As more businesses turn to this technology, expectations about the experience are also rising. It’s not enough to just offer video conferencing as a communication method. You also need to meet minimum audio and visual standards, and there’s even proper etiquette to consider. more