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The Benefits of Cloud-Based Infrastructure

Cloud-based infrastructure is rapidly being adopted across industries. That said, many organizations are still new to the value of cloud computing. With technology in a constant stage of evolution, organizations are constantly looking for the best solutions to maximize efficiency, improve operations and stay competitive.

Many organizations using the Epicor Prophet 21 system currently have on-premises systems. These systems are installed locally on your servers and managed in-house. While you may only purchase the platform itself once, you’ll run into further ongoing costs that impact your budget.

On-premises infrastructure expensive isn’t just expensive. It also requires your IT staff to manage it. This can take them away from other working on other initiatives. Your business is distribution—not datacenter management.

A robust cloud-based infrastructure in Microsoft Azure is both secure and scalable. With a virtual private cloud solution, your ERP system is still in an isolated network; you just don’t have to purchase hardware. Your network is connected to your main office via a secure VPN connection. This gives the same connectivity to resources as if the servers were on-premises, but with added benefits.

Migrating your ERP to a virtual private cloud environment not only takes away the burden of system maintenance, but it also provides instant updates. Having automatic, weekly updates via the Microsoft Azure platform ensures your data is on the latest versions of your operating system to avoid any potential issues from being too far behind.

In addition to efficiency, virtual private cloud-based infrastructure enables efficient remote work. At a time when remote work is becoming increasingly common and necessary, a cloud presence enables communication and ensures your team maintains productivity.

When determining whether cloud-based infrastructure makes sense for your company, consider these ways the cloud can transform your business.

1. Critical Infrastructure Redundancy

Catastrophic losses can happen in an instant. Incidents like power outages, operator errors and natural disasters can result in network outages, system downtime and even data loss. In addition to system failures, security breaches can be just as devastating and completely compromise your system.  

Protecting your system with infrastructure redundancy ensures you always have duplicate copies of your data and core systems. Having infrastructure redundancy isn’t just a best practice—it’s invaluable.

With an on-site ERP system, you’re typically having to pay top dollar to store off-site tape backups, or ship backups to a remote offsite backup. While useful, this still creates a potential for disruption in service. You also might not have the most up to date versions available. Your team could spend hours trying to restore old versions.

Having an on-site ERP system also makes you responsible for data security. While keeping things in-house may seem ideal, your IT team has other responsibilities, not to mention you may not have the premier resources at your disposal.

Migrating your P21 system into a virtual private cloud provides a strong failsafe. Since Microsoft Azure is one of the top cloud platforms worldwide, they have allocated millions, even billions, of dollars in cybersecurity. Putting your system in the hands of one of the world’s top technology platforms seems like a pretty safe bet, right? 

Azure enables critical infrastructure redundancy to reduce the threat of downtime or data loss. Replicating critical components of your ERP system and ensuring automatic failover protects your business and guarantees continuity.

2. Backup Storage

Infrastructure redundancy keeps you protected in the event of catastrophic data loss and network outages. But what about system backups? System backups store copies of your data and network configurations to ensure you can access past versions and important files when needed. This could include accidental deletions, individual computer crashes or auditing needs. Simply put, having system backups ensures that you’re able to recover information when you need it.

When choosing to move your P21 system to Microsoft Azure, you may choose to partner with a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) to maintain your virtual private cloud and provide additional solutions including added security and database management.

One of the benefits of leveraging a CSP is ensuring backup retention. The best CSPs will work with you to understand your business needs and can customize backup retention time frames to suit your situation. Additionally, a good CSP will take a multi-layered approach to backups. The best CSPs will use a combination of solutions such as snapshots, database, and transaction log backups.  

Cloud-based infrastructure offers application consistency. This ensures you can recover a complete version of your system should issues occur. Your data is also encrypted when stored to keep your files secure. Partnering with a CSP is the best way to efficiently back-up your system. It also protects your business against malware with the help of Azure’s advanced security features. 

3. Path to Disaster Recovery

We’ve talked a lot about how cloud-based infrastructure can protect your business from disaster with redundancy and backup storage. That said, your success hinges on uptime. These are important points to drive home. Fortunately for P21 users, Microsoft Azure offers one of the best paths to disaster recovery.

Major disasters can have severe impacts on your productivity, sales and reputation. Being able to resume business operations after a disaster is critical to the success of your business. The only way to bounce back quickly is with a thorough disaster recovery plan.

Infrastructure redundancy and data backups are two major aspects of ensuring your system’s resilience. But as we’ve discussed, having your ERP system on-premises can still present issues in the event of a natural disaster.

Implementing a cloud-based ERP allows you to more easily back up and replicate data continuously. In the event of a disaster, your team can still operate remotely via VPN login without interruption. Transitioning your P21 system to a Microsoft Azure based virtual private cloud and partnering with a CSP provides the platform and expertise you need to develop a complete disaster recovery solution. Cloud Solutions Providers manage server support and system upkeep to provide peace of mind for all stakeholders.

4. Testing and Development

As an evolving business, you must have a way to efficiently test and develop new systems and applications. An Azure based virtual private cloud enables you to easily test and develop in a sandbox environment without disrupting your existing system or putting it at risk.

Having your infrastructure hosted in the cloud provides an elastic environment. This allows you or your CSP to quickly set up testing environments. An ideal CSP would configure database servers with self-service tools to make common tasks, like a Play to Live restore, easy for your team.

This is also valuable in terms of your organization’s future growth. A major benefit of a virtual private cloud is its ability to scale. This allows your CSP to quickly build testing environments for your newest technology needs. Your team can work through the issues and get into production with no risk to your existing P21 or other critical systems.

5. Easy Scaling

That brings us to our final reason your company needs a cloud presence: scalability.

No matter how you need to scale, an on-premises database doesn’t naturally lend itself to scalability without a significant impact to your budget or uptime.

Having your P21 system on site can make it hard to grow quickly. With a cloud-based infrastructure, the sky’s the limit. The Azure platform has, for all practical purposes, infinite capacity. You can just buy the fraction you need, when you need it. As a bonus, scaling happens in an instant. This eliminates the system downtime you would endure with an on-premises upgrade.

You can also easily shut it down if you don’t need it. Because cloud services are purchased on a “pay for what you use” basis, your growth will not come with an automatic larger capital investment.

Conversely, if you run a smaller operation, a cloud-based infrastructure can offer you world class tools at a fraction of the cost. You may not be able to afford the quality of on-site infrastructure needed to operate efficiently. Fortunately, Microsoft Azure is an affordable solution that grants you the same quality servers as enterprise companies.

No matter the size of your business, moving to a cloud-based infrastructure with the help of a CSP provides endless opportunities for growth. With an efficient and resilient cloud platform like Microsoft Azure, users can conduct business effectively and stay productive, even in a remote environment.