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Q&A: Jim Lein on Practical Approaches to Cloud Computing for Midsize Organizations

Jim Lein has worked closely with hundreds of midsize organizations since joining the JD Edwards team in 1999. Now senior director of the Oracle Accelerate Program Office, he has spent more than a dozen years with a laser-sharp focus on the needs of midsize organizations—and the ways they can leverage ERP solutions to produce value for their organizations.

Lein has now authored an e-Book called Practical Cloud Computing Today—Private Cloud ERP in Hybrid Cloud Development. We sat down with him to discuss why he believes the best way forward for midsize companies is a comprehensive strategy that combines public and private clouds with on-premise solutions.

Q. What larger economic forces are driving so many midsize companies to consider replacing their ERP systems?
A. There are a couple of reasons. First, many organizations postponed the decision to upgrade their ERP solutions during the recent recession. At the same time, the need to upgrade is rising as midsize companies have increasingly global operations, global supply chains, and the need to manage multiple currencies. And of course, they are increasingly competing with much larger companies that have deeper pockets to modernize their own ERP systems.

Q. As companies update their ERP systems, why should they consider moving to the cloud at the same time?
A. For many midsize companies, cloud computing is perhaps the single most important development in IT since they last upgraded their ERP systems. Modernizing ERP solutions represents a major milestone, and as I work with midsize companies, I find it the ideal opportunity put everything on the table, including hardware and middleware.

Q. What about the cost structure of cloud computing is advantageous to midsize companies?
A. Every company wants to manage costs, and of course cloud computing offers tremendous potential for savings because of resource pooling, from shared hardware to shared management costs. Just as important, costs are predictable, since you are only paying for what you use. Yet you can still scale as your business grows—without purchasing and managing a lot of redundant resources.

Q. In your e-book, you concentrate on a hybrid approach that combines public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises solutions. Why?
A. In today’s IT environment, business leaders at an individual midsize company may find it hard to craft an all on-premise strategy or an all-cloud strategy. Based on each company’s unique needs, such an exclusive strategy may limit choice and flexibility and not be a good match for their available IT resources.

Here’s an example. I’ve spoken with many of Oracle’s midsize customers that have deployed Oracle ERP solutions on premise because they are top-tier solutions that provide the deep industry functionality they need. Likewise, they have also deployed Oracle CRM On Demand because it is the best fit for their sales and service requirements. This hybrid deployment model works for our customers because Oracle also provides a highly robust and interoperable technology platform that more easily ties together different deployment models.

As cloud computing solutions become more mature and prevalent, there are simply more choices. With a carefully crafted hybrid deployment strategy and the right underlying infrastructure, decisions can be based solely on the merits of each solution irrespective of its deployment model.

Q. Why do you believe Oracle offers a great foundation for a hybrid strategy?
A. Oracle brings it all together. Besides being the leader in ERP applications, we are #1 in database technology and also middleware. That makes Oracle uniquely able to provide a common platform for a hybrid strategy.

Just as important, Oracle takes a unified approach to loading and replicating data, as well as integrating transactions and business processes. That means midsize organizations can retain optimal control while achieve faster time-to-market.

Read Jim Lein's e-book, Practical Cloud Computing Today—Private Cloud ERP in Hybrid Cloud Development.

Learn more about Oracle's cloud strategy.

Watch a brief video of Oracle President Mark Hurd discussing why Oracle is the technology that powers the cloud.
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