Is upgrading to the cloud the right move?
By Carol Livingston, GP Practice Director
Many of our customers have been hearing the buzz around going to the cloud with their ERP and other systems. At first, many CFO’s and CIO’s were leary about moving any of their systems off their premises and felt it was more secure to have their data stored onsite, where they can keep an eye on it and protect it.
We have seen a shift happening with our customers. Many are moving their enterprise applications like CRM and Office to a cloud-based application, and the IT team is asking to move off of old, aging servers to the cloud to reduce their cost of maintenance and capital outlays every few years.
With GP2013, many customers had to evaluate their systems and upgrade to newer versions of SQL and Operating Systems. This requires new hardware or servers to be in place before upgrading their software, which is a considerable decision to make along with the cost of upgrading. Talk about being kicked when you are already down!
We are seeing clients consider the option of moving GP to a hosted provider or Azure. Makes sense, right? Why not move your ERP system to a cloud based solution along with your other applications. The cloud is then where your software resides, but you can still own the software licenses and data—it’s just hosted. You get to relax from all the server maintenance and let the hosting provider do all the dirty work to support the servers and keep them up and running.
Top reasons to upgrade GP to the cloud:
- Capital outlay versus Operating Expense – When considering a purchase of hardware there are some fixed costs and this potentially can be capitalized. However, moving to Azure or hosting provider is a monthly hosting fee which is operating expense. This might be beneficial depending on financial arrangements like bank debt requirements or tax benefits of being able to expense the hosting fees.
- Aging Servers and server migrations – With aging servers and support ending on some operating systems, customers need to make a decision whether to buy new servers or to go to the cloud. Azure and other hosting options are available and there are monthly hosting fees. When you are migrating to a new server or Azure, it’s a great time to do the upgrade as you will have less costs overall to do both at the same time.
- System Requirements for GP 2013 and higher versions – The system requirements to upgrade must be considered when planning your upgrade. With Microsoft ending main stream support for GP 2013 in April 2018. That means that there will be no more year end updates available after April 2018 and also there is limited support from Microsoft for this version. If this applies to you, this is a good time plan to upgrade of your GP software and servers.
- Ransomeware or system attacks – Some customers believe that their systems are more secure keeping them on their premise. However, we are still seeing customers with system downtime due to ransomware or other cyber attacks. Recently, one customer had a ransomware infect their environment and could not get their GP data and they did not have a good backup. So they reimplemented GP and had to start from scratch which can cost a lot of money and inconvenience. It’s difficult for most smaller IT teams to keep on top of security and preventing these attacks.
- Disaster recovery planning – Imagine a natural disaster and your business systems are down due to flooding, fires or other disaster situations. Another client in Houston, Texas recently had us help them move their GP system to Azure when the Hurricane Harvey storm was bearing down on the city. We were able to move their entire GP System and on Monday morning they were able to work remotely, even though their plant and offices were under threat of flooding. Their Azure install kept them running their business even when their on premise servers were unable to stay up with power and internet outages. What are your disaster recovery plans if your system was down and unable to keep running?
- Backup data to the cloud – You would think most modern companies have a good backup system to an offsite location. However, we are seeing more and more that companies think they have a backup somewhere in house, only to find out that they do not have a recent backup. Having services to backup your data to Azure or offsite is critical when you need that backup.
- Web Client available in GP – Some customers want to take advantage of the web client in GP for full users and for employee self-service users. The web client can be another way to keep your users able to access the system with just a web browser. Occasional users or employees that need to access their payroll information can use the self-service features. There is also Purchase Requisitions and workflow to enable users to interact without having to install GP on their computer or laptop.
- What is the current version and when is next major release? GP 2016 R2 is current release and will enjoy main stream support until 2021. GP2018 will be available in December 2017. GP 2018 does require SQL 2014 or SQL 2016, so check the system requirements when planning your upgrade.
- Outsourcing your IT – Many clients are challenged with keeping up with these system changes and don’t have a large IT team or dedicated resources to manage systems. While moving to a cloud environment, you can add additional services to manage the systems and provide additional value so that your IT team can be focused on other strategic initiatives.
There are many reasons to upgrade your system to the cloud and our experienced team is waiting to help you plan your upgrade.