Magento NetSuite Integration
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In Magento NetSuite Integration: Part I we discussed what makes Magento such a powerful and well-liked E-commerce platform. In Part II we’ll take a look at why using a cloud based ERP is the right move for your e-commerce site.
Making the move to the cloud
In the late 90’s, at the height of the dot com bubble, the application service provider (ASP) protocol came into being, and with it the cloud was born. ASP, also called Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to offering clients remote access to a centrally located software platform that is hosted, and maintained, by the vendor. Originally, SaaS’s were intended as a more affordable, if slightly less functional, alternative for the small-to-midsized businesses that got priced out as on-premises software solutions became more complex and costs rose. However, as the advantages of using the cloud became more apparent ASP’s matured into full featured, robust, enterprise-level business solutions, becoming as complete and functional as their on-premises counterparts and appropriate for use by companies of all sizes.
Advantages of the cloud
Taking to the cloud for your back-end software solution makes a lot of sense and will save your company time and money over the traditional model, read on to see how a cloud-based software solution will impact your business.
1: It’s in the cloud – and not your server room…
Cloud-based SaaS solutions are hosted and maintained by the vendor directly, which leads to quite a few benefits to the end user. At the implementation phase, for instance, there’s no new hardware to purchase, or maintain, and having no physical limitations or issues to deal with during installation means the focus will be on your business’s needs not your IT infrastructure. And once the product is up and running, direct hosting means that all upgrades and add-ons are processed directly by the vendor with little-to-no downtime (note: it’s almost always no downtime); no more getting stuck with a choice between an outdated and unsupported version of software or paying out the nose to upgrade to a more current version even though it offers you no more functionality than the old one. Additionally, the cloud model makes it such that configurations can be changed with the click of a button, as opposed to manipulating the underlying code like with many traditional on-premises ERP’s, so all your settings will migrate along with each upgrade.
2: Global, Not Local, or “Cloud Catchphrases”.
Anytime, anywhere access is the first thing anyone says when discussing benefits of the cloud; this is, of course, true – accessing your information, updated in real time, natch’, is as simple as having an internet connection. And this means there is just one “version” of your business data out there, obviously this is of tremendous value for decision making. A second catchphrase is scalability, which refers to the capabilities of the software to handle larger tasks without suffering a loss of functionality or efficiency. Unquestionably, cloud based ERP’s have matured to the point that there is nothing too big for them to handle. Consider Gmail, a classic example of a cloud based service, and its more-than 450 million subscribers – when you’re building software scaled to the world even the largest corporations pale in comparison. A third phrase often used in conjunction with cloud-based, SaaS systems is “disaster recovery” which refers to the ease with which you can regain access to your data no matter what catastrophe strikes your business; a very nice benefit indeed.
Some (Supposed) Cons
Indubitably, the two reasons most often given for not making the switch to the cloud are security and downtime concerns: CEOs simply fear relinquishing control over their data or uptime. The reason I call these “supposed cons” is because logic dictates that since cloud based companies operate on such a massive scale any downtime or security breach would be global news and carry devastating consequences for the offending company. Additionally, these companies have resources and staff far outpacing those of their clients and are thus far better equipped to meet these challenges. Indeed the facts belie these fears: the standard for solid SaaS companies is 99.5% uptime, with the strongest companies outpacing even that number. For example, as per Google Gmail was available 99.984 percent of the time in 2010, which translates to seven minutes of downtime per month, and NetSuite, a leading SaaS ERP, which makes their uptime statistics available on their website, boasts 99.98% uptime over the past 12 months. I’ve yet to meet a company running a traditional on-premises ERP that can match such uptime claims.
3: Self-contained = Streamlined
The fully digital, all-in-one nature of cloud based systems lend themselves very nicely to maximized efficiency, making it easier than ever to reduce the amount of steps required to complete some basic business functions, and boosting your company’s eco-profile. For instance, payroll used to entail many steps and involve shuffling paper between offices for approvals and signatures and then back out to employees now, it takes just a few clicks and the system does the rest via automated processes like direct deposit and emailed stubs; with built in compliance standards, saving time and paper. Freeing your financial staff from mundane, rote activities leaves more time for forward thinking and development. Likewise, instead of spending a bulk of time treading water just keeping the system running – as is often the case with traditional ERP’s, your IT staff, now free from any maintenance or development responsibilities, is able to focus on business growth opportunities like UI/UX.
These are just a small sampling of the many benefits of SaaS and the cloud, and if the trend continues to grow as expected, the lure to make the switch will become even stronger as the benefits become even more obvious and pervasive.
To begin transforming your E-commerce experience now – Magento NetSuite Connector from Hara Partners.
In Part III of the “Magento NetSuite Integration” series we’ll discuss what makes NetSuite so great.
In part IV of the “Magento NetSuite Integration” series we’ll discuss what is entailed in integrating the two systems and examine an actual integration case study.