Product Lifecycle Management in the Fashion Industry is all about collaboration. To become more efficient the industry requires new and innovative solutions that help improve that communication. Cloud computing is one such innovative – an idea that is being talked about as the future. Anything new naturally raises questions:
a) Is it really available and ready for “Prime Time”?
b) Does it also really offer valuable benefits to those who “sign up” early?
The answer to both questions is “yes” – without question. Cloud computing leverages both old and new approaches to open up exciting new opportunities.
In the early days of computing, the model was a centralized mainframe computer and software with a bureau style approach to servicing user needs. Local users did not have to worry about the software and interacted with the central computer through terminals. However, the user interface was very basic and the experience was certainly not rich, in fact, totally unacceptable by today’s standards.
Today’s organizations rely heavily on PCs and tend to own many different servers and software applications. For a period of time – this gave way to a totally decentralized environment – where every cluster of PC’s would pool around a simple server – and islands of information were created all over the organization. Each PC, server and application needed to be managed and maintained. Finally someone asked “why do we need to own and maintain all this hardware and software”? “Couldn’t we outsource it?”
Then along came Software as a Service (SaaS) and it attempted to address this question either through a 3rd party or by the software vendor hosting the solution. However, with the SaaS model:
a) you usually still buy the software (but not always),
b) your software runs on dedicated server(s), which do not expand or contract elastically as your computing needs increase or decrease so you are often paying for capacity you don’t need, and
c) you still make a large license payment up front or have a leasing agreement on your balance sheet.
So, now enter Cloud computing. The Cloud enables you to gain access to hardware and software without necessarily owning either. Software can be virtualized and deployed as a component (virtual appliance) on this 3rd party hardware infrastructure (the Cloud). Often these 3rd party server organizations are larger companies that are selling surplus server capacity (we’ll have to talk about the ‘grid’ at another time). Your users access these applications across the web. At Lawson we have an agreement with Amazon to use their global computing power to provide specific parts of our software on the Cloud. The computing capability available to you can be increased or decreased as your business evolves or as your season needs change, so you only pay for what you need and can easily access more or less capacity as your requirements adjust to needs.
You can choose whether to purchase the software in the traditional model or rent it on an annual subscription basis. Either way, the system is managed and maintained for you. Of course subscription offers the benefit of an operating cost versus a capital cost, with the possibility of getting up and running faster with a lower initial investment (not to mention keeping the asset off your balance sheet).
Cloud computing can definitely help your business become more agile. As your business grows, you can request extra computing capacity. Your focus will be on developing your products and Lawson manages your system. The Amazon infrastructure provides 99.95% availability and Lawson takes the hassle out of owning, deploying and maintaining the hardware and software.
From 14 February 2011, Lawson Software is offering customers the opportunity to deploy the Lawson Fashion PLM solution on the Cloud as an alternative to the traditional ‘on premises’ model. Collaborative web-based solutions such as Fashion PLM are ideally suited to deployment on the Cloud. PLM on the Cloud offers greater agility, more choice and hassle-free ownership – that’s Innovation!
What do you think? Could PLM on the Cloud help change your business?
If you would like to know more about Lawson and our partners, and how we can help you with your enterprise software systems, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org