To provide some insight into how Cloud might improve your company’s WMS, let’s examine some of the top WMS software vendors — JDA, Manhattan, SAP and Infor — along with one of the original WMS Cloud vendors, 3pl Central.
JDA has a successful history in hosting applications for customers and has made a logical progression to incorporate a Cloud model with managed services.
JDA has established a strong initial set of customers deploying JDA WMS in the Cloud with a variety of deployment scenarios. The service level agreements (SLAs) associated to these deployments reflect the “application-centric” approach to managed services which is highly applicable and appropriate to making WMS in the Cloud a long-term proposition.
Some of the SLA specifics:
- Connectivity to onsite devices
- Data interface processing
- WMS order allocation speed
- WMS integration to host systems
- WFM connection performance with WMS
- Optimized encryption for sensitive WMS data elements
Companies familiar with WMS will recognize these SLA items as core elements to successfully running a WMS solution.
Manhattan has made a move to the Cloud with both WMS and Transportation Management System (TMS). Manhattan recently deployed its SCALE WMS into a Cloud solution for the on-line grocer RedMart.
RedMart’s co-founder Vikram Rupani commented:
”With RedMart’s technology strategy already leveraging Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud-based infrastructure, Manhattan SCALE was also deployed in the AWS cloud. RedMart worked closely with the Manhattan team to optimize performance and ensure there were no latency issues for onsite devices including printers and scanners. RedMart reported zero issues related to AWS or Manhattan’s ability to deploy in this manner.”
Manhattan has added “Tapping into the Cloud” as way for on- premise applications to leverage the collaborative aspects of the Cloud community. Collaboration across the supply chain has typically been limited by the extensive requirement to build integrations and web portals and sign up providers. In the age of multi-channel and collaboration on transportation costs, a TMS system can now leverage the Cloud to more effectively tap into a carrier community portal to simplify the bid process for transportation providers and other “collaborative combinatorial” processes. Manhattan has seen rapid adaptation of this capability with its TMS product. This functionality can extend toconnecting WMS to Big Data, Predictive Analytics solutions and supply chain partners without the outdated need to build a nightly extract or series of costly integrations.
SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) is becoming a solid competitor to JDA and Manhattan. SAP differentiates its product with the company’s “Big Brain” R&D capability and a two pronged Cloud “rapid deployment” option. Customers can kick start a WMS project both quickly and with less upfront capital costs by spinning up an EWM Training environment in the SAP cloud and utilizing pre-configured business processes to get project members up to speed with EWM functionality before engaging in design discussions. The pre-configured business processes and Cloud capability makes this WMS project accelerator a good model for other WMS deployments to emulate.
Infor has moved decisively to provide Cloud services across its entire suite of supply chain offerings and has over 45 apps available today in the Cloud.
Infor is investing in moving all its ‘CloudSuite’ solutions to multi-tenancy and has roadmaps that differ by solution. That should create some creative and attractive pricing and deployment alternatives for every type and level of implementation.
3PL Central’s Saas (software as a service) is arguably the pure Cloud model. Born in the Cloud back in 2006 the company has leveraged the Cloud to produce an inexpensive and smart way to run a warehouse. As a true Saas provider, 3PL shares all upgrades and makes some additional features available via an up-charge.
The beauty of the 3PL solution is there is no software to install, maintain or update and your data is accessible globally – from any PC connected to the Internet. The product has expanded to now include functionality for retail store and e-commerce fulfillment and to include work orders and kitting.
I will continue to watch how these and other WMS packages move forward with Cloud and provide featured updates on successful implementations.