Cloud has been an important part of our strategy at QAD for well over a decade. In fact, among the established global manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain software providers, QAD was one of the first to offer cloud-based solutions, starting with QAD Supplier Portal in 2003 and then ERP in 2007.
Despite our early start in the cloud, it took several years for cloud ERP to reach critical mass in general and in particular the manufacturing markets, which are QAD’s focus. IT departments, comfortable with running their own data centers, were cynical about cloud’s ability to deliver the right level of availability, scalability, security and performance.
Driving manufacturing cloud ERP adoption
There were two key drivers behind increased cloud ERP adoption. First, the recession in the late 2000s forced IT departments to move away from being cost centers and toward being profit centers. For example, IT departments found ways to increase speed to market, added efficiencies to processes and provided decision-makers with useful analytics. This segued into the second driver of the move to the cloud: removing the burden of running ERP and allowing more time for business differentiation. Moving to QAD Cloud not only provides support 365 days a year, but also delivers 99.987 percent application uptime, disaster recovery and a complete suite of Defense in Depth Security.
Another milestone in QAD’s evolution toward the cloud came in 2015, when we unveiled an initiative, called Channel Islands, to begin rearchitecting our applications and the underlying platform for the cloud era, for Industry 4.0 and for smart manufacturing. We also started to take better advantage of emerging technologies.
Moving to a global cloud provider
These drivers have sustained cloud growth of roughly 30 percent year over year for several years for QAD. While we were already working with a few cloud providers, it became clear to us that we needed another cloud provider that was strong outside of North America. IBM, which had acquired SoftLayer a few years earlier, and which had an excellent reputation for cloud management, was operating IBM Cloud in places like Australia. We investigated further and found that IBM had international cloud facilities in several key regions that matched well to our expanding customer base, including Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong.
IBM was also a front-runner vendor based on its system availability run rate. Its data centers are at the high-tier classification and are designed to provide the highest level of availability and security that manufacturers need. These factors, coupled with its crisp and consistent execution, made IBM the obvious choice.
Maximizing IBM Cloud collaboration opportunities
IBM’s delivery of service has continuously met our needs. We have service level agreements (SLAs) with IBM, and we extend those SLAs to our customers. Our track record working with IBM has been excellent. The company understands that the job is not done by simply delivering to current SLAs. We have weekly operational calls with IBM to align our business and track the KPIs that drive our excellent service to our customers. We also collaborate at monthly strategic meetings to discuss short-term technology roadmaps such as improvements to our VMware deployments to ensure we maintain the highest availability. Finally, IBM’s recent acquisition of Red Hat cements our relationship even further since Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the primary OS used for QAD Adaptive ERP in the cloud.
Speaking of collaboration, I was recently invited to join the an IBM customer advisory board. In that role, I’ll be providing feedback as the voice of the customer and the voice of the customer’s customer. With this kind of input, IBM can continue to provide technology that supports the next generation of ERP and supply chain solutions. IBM has had a really open mind in terms of working from the outside in when it’s developing on its cloud technology roadmap.
What is the number one benefit to working with IBM? Understanding that the highest availability is assumed, and that teamwork and collaboration produce results that exceed the SLA in terms of service delivery. IBM provides enterprise class service delivery to us and we extend that to our customers. Whenever we pick up the phone and ask for guidance or support, it’s always there. I cannot think of a single time when we needed IBM and IBM wasn’t responsive.