Cloud Myth #4 - Interoperability in the cloud? Forget it!

Posted by  Richard Cole

Cloud computing has been the subject of more interest and comment than almost any ICT phenomena in recent years.

How the cloud works, the benefits it brings, the risks it exposes you to; each has generated prejudices and half-truths, many of them completely unfounded. In our new blog series we will debunk the most common myths, dispel the prejudices and bring the facts to light.


Myth number 4: Interoperability in the cloud? Forget it!

For years organisations have been striving towards ‘integrated’ applications that improve cross functional visibility and efficiency.

Many companies have already made considerable investments in implementing and integrating on-premises software and some mistakenly believe that cloud can’t connect and would detract from these efforts. You can understand this misconception with debates that span the web perpetuating cloud vs on-premises polarisation.

However the two are not mutually exclusive. For years Unit4 has been helping its customers improve their business systems by, where appropriate, implementing cloud to work in harmony with on-premises software.

For Unit4 the problem doesn’t lie with the cloud, it is usually the capability of the on-premises software to integrate with external applications. A prerequisite for hybrid interoperability is the ability of the internal corporate data-centre to function with cloud. Failsafe lines and a stable network connection between cloud and on-premises systems over a WAN (Wide Area Network) are required to integrate applications. The connection must be ensured sufficiently fast with encrypted data transmission.

Of course if you use Unit4’s on-premises solutions you needn’t worry about this. Its standardised interfaces and high-levels of security mean that the question of Unit4 on-premises or cloud is dependent on what you want to do - rather than whether it is possible. Unit4 believes in ‘cloud your way’, we don’t advocate a certain model to suit our agenda; we work with clients to understand what is best for them. Customers can move into the cloud, port between different cloud models, move back on-premises, or operate a combination of models.

There are many ways in which this interoperability can be of benefit, for example cloud could be rapidly rolled out to field and home workers so that they can interact with valuable on-premises services on a mobile device of their choosing. This supports cost-effective BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategies and removes the need for employees to carry around multiple devices.

Seasonal business may wish to scale cloud services to match demand - recently Unit4 began working with the Scottish Qualification Agency providing Software as a Service. For the first phase of the project Unit4 ERP will underpin the financial activities of 700 core employees; in subsequent phases however the Software as a Service element will come into its own by accurately reflecting the demand generated by an extra 17,000 SQA employees who work during peaks in the academic calendar carrying out activities such as course development, exam invigilation and marking. This level of flexibility just wasn’t available with the previous on-premises solution.

So rather than building barriers, with the right vendor, cloud actually offers exciting levels of interoperability that link people and processes so that the skills and valuable information held within organisations can be unlocked and used to their full potential.

More information on Unit4 Cloud can be found here.


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Richard Cole