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WMS in the Cloud: Is it Ready for Prime Time? – Part One

Feb 27, 2012

Cloud computing is nothing new. Most of us already use cloud-based consumer applications every day: Facebook, Flickr, etc. Many of us already use “front office” business applications deployed through the Cloud: CRM, HR, Accounting, etc. Some of us are even beginning to use the Cloud to access Supply Chain Execution software like WMS, TMS, and LMS.

But is the Cloud ready for robust WMS deployments? When does it make sense to deploy in the Cloud versus the traditional On-Premise model?

With all of cost reduction and time-to-benefit advantages that Cloud computing can offer, is it only a matter of time and technology before we see Cloud-based WMS deployments in even the highest-volume DCs?

What about customizations? And response times for RF networks with many users? Can the Cloud handle a WMS that’s integrated with a Warehouse Control System (WCS)?

In Part One of this Series, we’ll lay the groundwork for answering these and other questions. We’ll review the term “Cloud Computing” and clarify the technology and trends associated with this software deployment model. In Part Two we’ll review the impact that the Cloud is having on Supply Chain Execution software: WMS, TMS, LMS, etc.

What is Cloud Computing?

  • Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over a network (typically the Internet).
  • Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet.
  • The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that's often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.
  • Cloud services are typically elastic – a user can have as much or as little of a service as they need at any given time.
  • Cloud deployment is an alternative to the On-Premise model where software is installed and run on computers on the premises of the person or organization using the software. It is generally owned and controlled by the acquiring organization and therefore provides a significant amount of flexibility regarding configuration.

Cloud computing services have three main categories:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

A software deployment model in which software is owned, delivered and managed remotely by a software provider. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is used by multiple customers anytime. Also known as "software on demand," SaaS is an application hosted on a remote server and accessed through the Internet. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. With SaaS, the software vendor will license the application to many customers as a service on demand, through a subscription, in a "pay-as-you-go" model. SaaS is multi-tenant and the vendor manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance.

Platform-as-a-Services (PaaS)

Provides a computing platform and a solution stack as a service. SaaS offerings can be hosted through a PaaS.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

A provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. Sometimes referred to Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS).

With the above concepts and definitions in place, we’re ready to review the impact of the Cloud on Supply Chain Execution software solutions. Tune in for Part Two!

To receive the PowerPoint presentation from our recent webinar with DC Velocity magazine: WMS in the Cloud: Is it Ready for Prime Time?, email us at in4mation@go4sight.com.