An interview with Glenn McPeak - Principal of Data Masons about EDI and his vision for the cloud.
1.) When we think about cloud solutions, scale & agility are two attributes that typically take focus in people's minds. Can Data Masons speak to the scale their EDI cloud solution offers customers?
"Interestingly, our largest volume EDI processing customer is cloud-based and has processed more than 5 million sales order lines in a single day into Microsoft Dynamics AX. This customer receives point-of-sales data from thousands of retail stores each day. The customer then has to transform those sales transactions into invoiced orders in order to relieve inventory that needs tracked at the store level so that they can control and plan inventory replenishments. Fortunately, the processing power of the cloud-based data center could be leveraged to handle the spikes in transaction volume that is inherent in EDI relationships. Replicating this processing power in an on-premise environment would have been prohibitively costly.
As far as agility is concerned, there are actually pros and cons that many cloud-based solutions bring to the table. In a multi-tenant environment, where many organizations share a single application instance, the ability to customize the solution can be quite restricted and there is no control over software updates and releases – the software updates and releases are executed at the timing of the solution provider – which is not necessarily beneficial to the customer. The advantage of the multi-tenant solution is that the cost of maintenance is lower for the software provider, which can be passed on to the customer.
Data Masons provides the best of both worlds – a cloud-based EDI solution that can be run in a multi-instance or a single-instance scenario. While the multi-tenant solution has slightly lower operating costs, either option is available based on the needs of our customers. We think it’s important for mission critical solutions to offer this level of control and flexibility for our customers."
2.) Another focus for a lot of companies is making sure their data is secured. Can Data Masons speak to the security that helps govern within the application, as well as access points for the solution in general? Further how was security considered, when thinking about creating the "EDI for the Cloud" offering?
"Data Security is paramount to the types of transactional data that is the norm in an EDI processing environment. We employ AS2 communication and PCI compliant transaction handling (when appropriate) through our Value Added Network solution (VAN). Data Masons is thoroughly committed to the Microsoft Azure platform and our application follows all of the best practices set forth by Microsoft."
3.) The next major focus for customers, when they start to evaluate cloud solutions is the service level. What kind of service level agreements exists for the "EDI for the Cloud" offering?
"Service level agreements for cloud-based applications are more definable as the solution provider is responsible for application, data and infrastructure. As a result, cloud-based options are more appealing to organizations that want to limit the points of failure and have those failures rest on a single (or a few) set(s) of shoulders."
4.) In looking towards the future, what is Data Masons doing for investments towards their "EDI for the Cloud" offering?
"Our architecture and technology design enables our solution to be run on-premise or in the cloud using the same code set and data. If a customer decided to utilize Data Masons’ cloud-based offering and later bring it ‘on-premise’ there would be no loss of data or functionality. The same applies in reverse – an on-premise instance of our solution can be moved to the cloud in a multi-tenant or single instance scenario. "