by Eric Helmer, October 2014
When it comes to deploying Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), chief information officers are faced with more options than ever before: on-premise, third-party hosting, or a Software as a Service (SaaS) model such as Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service. While these options present new considerations regarding total cost of ownership, maintenance service windows, and capitalization policies, each option presents its own set of limitations and benefits.
The Use Case: Companies with a mature, established internal IT organization
Pros: Control over all aspects of IT operations; complete integration to source or target data systems; servers internally protected
Cons: Large capital expenditure; expensive IT maintenance staff
It is no surprise that the majority of EPM customers deploy the solution internally within their own data centers. The most compelling factor of on-premise deployments is that all data operations are handled within their own data center walls, and IT groups generally follow internal compliance and support criteria.
For internal deployments, the first critical success factor is creating a solid IT server design and support process. To do so, a joint internal IT/Finance team must work in tandem to map business requirements to technical specifications. Building an environment internally requires a deep knowledge of how the Oracle EPM stack handles scalability, security, high availability, integration, and performance.
Internal systems can be a huge cost burden. Together, servers, software, and a team of functional and IT administration staff can be a big hit to the bottom line—especially when expensive, fault-tolerant redundant failover, backup, and disaster recovery systems are required. Between annual upgrades and periodic hardware refreshes, it can seem like a continuous cycle of upgrading and patching. Additionally, modern companies employ comprehensive health monitoring tools, job scheduling programs, helpdesk systems, and change control processes that ensure smooth operation.
Some customers use many different solutions to provide the best mix. When deciding, consider all of the true initiatives of the EPM environment.
As such, most on-premise implementations use external consultants to assist them in hardware design and best practices support processes.
The Use Case: Companies with a resource constrained IT group, or those that prefer hardware to be an operating expense
Pros: Companies can offload ownership and maintenance of servers to a third-party provider with EPM competency
Cons: Servers are outside the company walls; shared multi-tenant model (potentially longer service/helpdesk times); may be locked into contracts
With the growing number of datacenter and hosting providers, Oracle customers can choose to outsource hardware and servers. By doing so, companies can “rent” the servers, saving on large upfront hardware capital expenditure, while still owning the software licenses.
In general, there are two different hosting models: the dedicated server model and a public cloud model. Hosting providers that offer dedicated server resources often offer a multi-year contract to house your EPM solution on their servers, in their datacenter, along with offering a variety of managed services such as helpdesk, operating system patching, and backup/recovery services. This model is great for those who know their IT infrastructure will not change and want a cheaper approach to IT maintenance.
Public cloud providers, or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers, offer an ad-hoc, pay-as-you-go service that bills by the hour or minute the resources are used. This model is great for companies that require rapid changing environments, but not necessarily 24 hours a day. However, in this model, the customer is responsible for installing the software, maintenance, and support just as they would in on-premise.
The Use Case: Companies that do not want purchase the software
Pros: Extreme low costs, great for considering EPM for new adopters
Cons: Only Oracle Planning product at this time; limitations on capabilities and functionality
This year Oracle announced the first EPM product to be introduced to their cloud services. Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service makes planning and budgeting affordable to almost anyone. With each instance, subscribers get access to a development and production environment, which includes a plethora of on-line tutorials, how-to guides, and application wizards to keep you creating applications according to best practices. Also included are on-line support, automatic product patching and upgrades, and the necessary hardware to run it all.
Eric Helmer is vice president of IT Services at ADI Strategies and an Oracle ACE Director.
It’s important to note that this service, like most SaaS structures, simply give you access to the website URL by providing you an administrative ID/password that can be used to access the system over the public internet and set up end user IDs. It does not give you access to the servers themselves. Subscribers do not own the software, so if they wanted to go to a more traditional on-premise or hosted solution later, they would need to purchase the software at that time.
Whether you choose to deploy Oracle’s EPM solutions through an on-premise, third-party hosting, or SaaS model, it is vital to weigh all the pros and cons. Some customers use many different solutions to provide the best mix. When deciding, consider all of the true initiatives of the EPM environment. Assess your internal IT staff capabilities, drill-back and source system integration requirements, security vulnerability, and on-going support needs.