Cloud, SaaS, Cloud-Native & Tenants: why it pays to pay attention to ERP architecture | Unit4
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Cloud, SaaS, Cloud-Native & Tenants: why it pays to pay attention to ERP architecture

from  March 10, 2023 | 4 min read

What’s the difference between Cloud, SaaS & Cloud-Native?

Sounds like a trick question, right? But it’s not. Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are critical differentiators between them.

This is especially true when it comes to major deployments like ERP software ­– where understanding exactly what you’re getting is key to your business’s capacity to meet its goals & future proofing your business for the demands which are coming your way.

So what’s Cloud?

“Cloud ERP” is a term used to refer to ERP software that’s delivered through remote servers operated by the vendor, rather than an on-premises deployment. Within Cloud, you choose to either use public cloud (part of a general datacenter) or private cloud (specific to your organization). I know right – even more terms!

Vendors provide the functionality and specific resources (in terms of data storage, compute power, user seats, and so on) that their customers require.

Because they’re accessible remotely via the internet, cloud solutions provide real-time data access, supporting faster workflows and accelerated decision-making processes. This makes them significantly more flexible compared to their on-prem counterparts, scalable to your needs and built for simple and secure collaboration with outside suppliers, partners, and customers.

And how does SaaS fit in?

“SaaS ERP” is a subset of cloud ERP with specific features and, crucially, sold to buyers on a monthly subscription for a per-user fee and distributed entirely online.

SaaS ERP generally has a few advantages over other cloud deployments. It’s designed to be easy to use “out of the box”, with minimal implementation necessary, and the vendor usually manages updates, maintenance, and fixes as part of the service's subscription costs.

Click to read SaaS: accelerating digital transformation Gated

Finally, Cloud-Native?

“Cloud Native ERP” is an ERP solution that has been developed & built from the ground up, specifically (& only) for use in the Cloud – with its functionality, deployment & architecture optimized in the Cloud. SaaS (as a commercial model) remains a subset here too.

So, what is tenancy about?

Ideally, an ERP solution of choice will be built on a multi-tenant architecture. This means your vendor will run your solution on the same software instance and infrastructure as other customers, but keep your organization’s data tightly separated.

Single-tenant options are also possible when absolute security is necessary. This keeps your data on a separate software instance and database for an additional layer of security (usually at a higher cost.)

It pays to pay attention to questions about architecture

With all the Cloud terms available - one of the most critical questions is: is your solution really cloud?

Very few enterprise software vendors have achieved a cloud-native solution so far. Lots of vendors offer dedicated hosting, but this isn’t the same. They’ve simply lifted and shifted their old on-premise software into the cloud.

There’s nothing wrong with this. But it doesn’t offer you access to the full suite of efficiencies (such as single version replacing costly update cycles) offered by truly cloud native solutions.

What does a truly cloud native solution look like?

At Unit4, we’re uniquely positioned to answer this because we provide one of the few truly cloud-native solutions available to the market. Because it’s been built solely for the cloud, it’s designed to take full advantage of the scalability, rapid deployment, real-time data accesses, and efficiency made possible by cloud architecture. It’s delivered as a SaaS solution to make it as cost-efficient and simple to run as possible. And – most importantly – it’s built to be infinitely customizable to your individual.

“The most modern enterprise application platform” - what makes Unit4 ERPx different?

Released in 2020, ERPx is the most modern cloud-native ERP solution available to the market. The next-most recently developed cloud-native ERP solution is over fifteen years old.

What makes ERPx particularly special – according to analysts – is that it brings to bear all the advantages of a multi-tenant Cloud ERP solution while eliminating some of the key disadvantages of many other solutions on the market:

  1. It’s scalable and high performance
  2. It can deploy innovation more quickly
  3. It offers unmatched user-driven flexibility & integration capabilities
  4. It has 99.8% availability, geolocated for high availability wherever you are
  5. It has industry strength disaster recovery
  6. Has best of breed security

And it’s fully cloud-based. There is no on-prem deployment of ERPx. This gives it the considerable advantage of having exactly one version at a given time, which you’ll always be up-to-date on without needing costly upgrade projects and the disruption & resource losses to deliver them.

But beyond all this, ERPx leverages its modern architectural foundation to make genuine flexibility and customization simple and readily achievable for all customers. ERPx comes complete with a development center that’s no-code as standard, making changes to workflows and the adoption of new integrations as simple and streamlined as possible. Critical in a world living through change.

The system can be extended and enhanced without invasive changes to the core application – meaning your customizations will be preserved even after quarterly platform updates without the need for costly testing and retesting.

This is part of what makes the solution “right for your business” – although it runs on our servers, it’s built in a way that allows you to make it yours, and serve your needs, whatever they might be - now and in the future, all backed up with a secure and robust foundation that can be implemented in your organization with industry-specific best practices at any time.

Want to learn more?

To discover more about what makes Unit4 ERPx different as a truly cloud-native solution – and how we’ve worked to make it exemplify the potential of a Cloud ERP platform in the capabilities and efficiency it can bring to your organization – check out our dedicated product page here or click here to book a demo.

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Neil Georgeson

VP Global Product Marketing & Marketing Operations

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