Infor, one of the world’s leading providers of enterprise applications, is fundamentally changing the way information is published and consumed in the enterprise, helping over 73,000 customers in more than 200 countries and territories improve operations, drive growth, and quickly adapt to changes in business demands. Infor offers deep industry-specific applications and suites, engineered for speed, and with an innovative user experience design that is simple, transparent, and elegant. The company works closely with customers across a number of industries, including healthcare, aerospace and defense, public sector, manufacturing, and hospitality. Infor is an Advanced Technology Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN) and has worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for over four years.

In Infor’s traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market space, the team saw the demand from its customers to move to cloud, and developed 40 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, including 10 deep vertical CloudSuites. As the company anticipated the needs of its growing customer base, the Infor team realized that they would face significant challenges from a load-predictability perspective and in terms of their ability to meet demand quickly if they continued to develop solely in their traditional environment. “It became very clear that we needed something different,” said Jim Plourde, Vice President of SaaS Solutions at Infor.

Pam Murphy, Chief Operating Officer at Infor explained that Infor’s strategy was to take a three-pronged approach to developing the Infor CloudSuite product, by focusing on:

  1. Industry specialization and providing integrated, end-to-end solutions for specific micro-verticals
  2. Developing a durable integration platform to connect applications and suites together, and
  3. Providing customers with a beautiful end user experience

Infor decided to utilize the AWS platform to deploy the Infor CloudSuite product. “We decided instead of generating and delivering horizontal ERP solutions in the Cloud, we were going to specialize and focus on certain industries to build in the last mile of industry features for those industries, so that customers have complete solutions and suites on the AWS Cloud, avoiding the need for customization,” Murphy explained. As the organization continued to push to innovate in the enterprise software space by deploying deep, integrated, large solutions suites for Infor customers, the team needed to ensure they developed a robust, scalable, and efficient architecture to allow for the launch Infor CloudSuites at a very fast pace.

“We made the decision very early on that we were in the business of building enterprise applications, and that this was our core competency. We took the view that if it’s not your core competency, don’t do it. Partner with somebody whose core competency it is. It was a no-brainer going with AWS,” said Murphy.

Lisa Pope, Senior Vice President of Global Strategy and Sales of Infor CloudSuite explained, “We leverage and capitalize on the research and development (R&D) AWS invests in developing a comprehensive cloud infrastructure, and we believe the result is a much better offering for our customer base, particularly given the fact that we’re focused on driving mission-critical applications.”

The organization set up an Infor Labs function to develop an efficient, scalable, robust platform on AWS. The goal was to automate as much of the process as possible, and to ensure that as the team built applications moving forward, they were designed with a cloud-first principle in mind. The AWS platform met the detailed criteria outlined by the Infor team for a Cloud infrastructure provider. The team needed to ensure their applications could be optimized for, and work efficiently in the Cloud, with emphasis on criteria such as scalability, high availability, and the ability to utilize open-source technology. “AWS not only provides us with Infrastructure-as-a-Service, but also provides a number of additional services we can leverage from an application perspective that allow us to drive speed and ultimately scale and expand the global reach of our platform,” said Brian Rose, Senior Vice President of Infor CloudSuite.

By building on AWS, the company has been able to address a number of critical criteria for the successful development of mission-critical enterprise applications for its customers, including:

  • High Availability: The ability to build everything with no single points of failure is critical for the Infor team, given work with customers such as global manufacturers who run 24X7, or hospital providers who can’t afford downtime. Infor spreads all of its products across multiple AWS Availability Zones (AZs), which provides the organization with fault tolerance.
  • Rapid Elasticity: The AWS Cloud provides the Infor team with the ability to develop and host mission-critical enterprise applications with different server configuration requirements and varying utilization. “Infor utilizes Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for all of our server needs. We quickly found that Amazon EC2 could replace the vast amount of physical server hardware that we’d have to purchase and deploy around the globe to meet our needs on-demand,” said Rose.
  • Auditing and Compliance Requirements: “Given the industries that we serve, compliance and audit needs are at the top of our list to ensure that the data we store is secure and that we are in compliance with the requirements of those industries,” Rose explained. AWS’ high compliance standards for the underlying infrastructure is essential for Infor as the company provides software solutions to customers on AWS with specific compliance requirements, such as ITAR compliance and HIPAA compliance. For example, “We use Amazon Glacier for the storing and archiving of data to meet compliance and audit needs.”
  • Disaster Recovery: According to Plourde, “We’re leveraging AWS’ capability to provide both the production site and DR capability in one.” Utilizing AWS has enabled the Infor team to build fault-tolerant systems and ensure business continuity during a DR event.
  • Automation: A key objective for the Infor team in moving to the AWS Cloud was to have the ability to automate as many of their processes as possible, which the company has been able to achieve through utilization of AWS Services such as AWS CloudFormation.
  • Ability to Scale Wide: AWS allows the Infor team to scale wide, rather than high, as the business continues to grow. “Auto scaling and Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (Amazon ELB) are key services for us as we work with large-scale enterprise applications. We use Amazon ELB in place of the very expensive load balancing hardware that we would have had to deploy in our data centers. The Amazon ELBs automatically scale to cover our growing capacity requirements,” said Rose.
  • Global Reach: As its customers are located around the world, the number of AWS regions and availability zones around the world was an important consideration for Infor in their decision to work with AWS, and the company has experienced success in utilizing the continued growth of AWS’ footprint worldwide. For example, “AWS’ infrastructure in Europe, with the Dublin Region and now the new Frankfurt region, has allowed us to approach European customers with a very strong message,” said Pope.
  • Ability to Easily Leverage Third-Party Tooling: Infor works with a number of APN Partners to leverage their additional capabilities on the AWS Cloud, including:
    • Trend Micro to enhance security capabilities and the security capabilities that are already in AWS which Infor leverages heavily
    • Boundary for enhanced network visibility and diagnostics
    • Sumo Logic for log aggregation and analysis
    • Dynatrace for application performance monitoring

Through their work with AWS, Infor has been empowered to think like a startup, and to consistently develop and implement disruptive technology in its industry. “AWS gives startups the benefit of being able to operate at the resources that billion dollar companies have, but it also allows billion dollar companies like ourselves to be as nimble as a startup,” said Murphy.

Building on the AWS platform has enabled Infor to see great improvement in their time-to-market and in the speed of customer adoption of the company’s solutions. “Working with AWS has allowed us to provision complete, integrated end-to-end suites for customers in minutes, compared to the weeks it would have taken for us to do that for an on-premise customer,” said Murphy. Further, in developing on AWS, internal Infor development teams are enabled to focus more on developing innovative business solutions, and less on the infrastructure required to support them. “Customers have also reaped the benefit of speed in accelerating time to market. One example is Harsco, a large manufacturing customer, who started a new joint venture (JV) in China. They needed to be up and running in 90 days, but we were able to beat that and they were live on the cloud within 60 days.” said Rose. Abraham Kurian, Divisional Information Officer at Harsco states, “We were able to achieve the goal of bringing an international site up and running well under budget and on-time, thanks to cloud deployment. We are also benefiting from the expert operational knowledge and industry best practices that are built into the standard solution.”

From a growth perspective, Infor’s cloud business has and continues to grow substantially: there are now over 35 million Infor cloud users with 2,600 customers, and the company has seen over a 70 percent growth in SaaS bookings in the past 12 months. “We’ve seen very large growth in this part of the business,” said Murphy.

Finally, Infor has experienced great success in working with the AWS team supporting them, including their Account Manager, Technical Account Manager (TAM), Partner Solutions Architect (SA), and Partner Development Manager (PDM) on the AWS Partner team. “We have outstanding resources who connect us with the AWS resources and expertise we need,” said Rose. The Infor team has worked closely with AWS executive, field, and partner teams across the globe to effectively go-to-market with AWS in different regions. “Our relationship with AWS is strong at all levels, and we expect our relationship with AWS to continue to grow as we adopt more services and expand to additional geographic regions,” said Rose.

Over the next year you can expect to see a continued focus on the development and launch of new Infor CloudSuite solutions on AWS, according to Pope. Infor recently announced the upcoming launch of their Infor CloudSuite Business solution, which provides businesses with an integrated ERP solution to enhance performance and efficiency throughout organizations, and the team is expecting to launch an additional 15 CloudSuite Solutions on the AWS platform throughout 2015, to address a number of additional micro-verticals.

To learn more about Infor, please visit the company’s AWS Partner Directory listing. To check out Infor’s session at this year’s re:Invent, click here.