Recent years have seen cloud technology growing rapidly in the IT estates of businesses around the world. And with Gartner predicting exponential growth in the cloud services industry over the next three years, there’s no sign of this trend slowing down.
It isn’t hard to see why. When it comes to software, cloud models offer a whole host of benefits over traditional on-premise solutions. They’re easily scalable, extremely quick to implement, and with regular updates being handled automatically on the vendor side, you can be sure you’re always using the latest, most secure version of your software.
Infor first introduced the cloud version of Infor M3 (M3) a few years back, and with more companies than ever before favouring software-as-a-service solutions for enterprise applications, we at Vince expect to see a rapid increase in the number of M3 customers migrating to the cloud in the coming years.
M3 in the cloud is both flexible and agile, and it’s great that Infor are offering their customers this option. But while the benefits are clear, there are a few consequences associated with taking M3 online that users need to be aware of. Chief among these is how mass data updates are handled.
With an on-premise M3 solution, mass updates are typically managed with SQL. While making updates directly to the database can be a little risky (and let’s face it, who hasn’t messed up an M3 update using SQL at one time or another), this method is convenient and as a result has been widely adopted.
But for companies using the M3 cloud solution, it’s no longer possible to carry out mass updates using SQL. This leaves users with two options: either roll their sleeves up and do mass updates manually, or make use of APIs.
For the vast majority of businesses, this is going to be an easy decision. That’s because manual updates simply aren’t feasible for most companies. The sheer amount of data involved means manual updates would take a prohibitively long time for all but the smallest of companies (for whom M3 would likely be overkill in the first place), and the resource investment required would be considerable.
So, that leaves us with APIs.
APIs—which represent the foundation of communication in the cloud—are a great way to make mass updates in Infor M3. And Infor have done a truly fantastic job of introducing a rich variety of APIs to their cloud solution, with users also able to update APIs and add new ones as their needs demand.
Well, not exactly. The problem is, APIs are relatively complex from a technical standpoint, requiring a great deal of know-how and expertise to implement effectively. All this external connectivity also introduces a whole new set of security challenges. This is, after all, a completely new way of connecting to M3. Some companies will be prepared to work their way through these challenges alone or will be happy enough to bring in external consultants to assist with setup and maintenance. But at Vince, we believe we have a much better solution – Vince Excel (VXL).
VXL allows users to extract and maintain M3 data directly in Excel. This makes mass updates incredibly straightforward—simply update your data in Excel, then apply the changes in the cloud with a single click. You can update data from multiple sources, or carry out several updates at once. VXL also comes with a whole host of other great benefits too, helping you get more out of your ERP by giving you the ability to generate charts and tables, or map trends and analyse your historical data.
There’s no complex technical implementation either—installation takes mere minutes, and since VXL utilises Microsoft Excel as its front end—a program many of your staff will use regularly—we can train your teams in under one day.
Whichever approach you decide to take, don’t forget that you need to consider how you’re going to handle mass updates when upgrading to M3 in the cloud. With a bit of planning, your transition can be a smooth one!