Epicor kept its annual Insights consumer meeting this week in NEVADA. This was the first gathering for customers of both Epicor and Activant since the two companies merged last year. As a result, it was a good chance for the firm’s executives to introduce what they are calling the “New Epicor” to 4000 conference attendees. Although Epicor made many announcements, in this blog post I favor to focus on three elements of Epicor’s strategy, along with my perspective. Blending of Two Cultures.

Protect, Extend, Converge. The next component is Epicor’s strategy and eyesight to protect, extend, and converge the merchandise collection. Finally, “converge” indicates a gradual advancement of current products with new technology. Azure as the Cloud Platform. The third element is Epicor’s evolving cloud strategy. To the conference Prior, Epicor’s cloud strategy was limited to a small business cloud version of its Epicor ERP product (“Epicor Express”) along with some hosted solutions for functions such as HCM and retail merchandising.

However, the proper direction announced at Insights proceeded to go much further. Taking these three elements in reverse sequence: although I really do not see the Azure strategy as unique, I do see it as attractive. In fact, it is more appealing since it is not unique. Epicor is at least the fourth major business software vendor before three months that has announced plans to deploy ERP in the Azure cloud.

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The first, of course, is Microsoft Dynamics, which in March announced its plans to deploy Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV on Azure by the finish of 2012.Then, this month earlier, Sage announced similar programs. I’ve without doubt that others shall follow, making Microsoft Azure a first choice for delivery of cloud-based business applications.

I have long felt that, just as on-premises database management systems have been standardized on a few popular products just, so also cloud platforms should be standardized. By way of analogy, today write their own DBMS’s very few on-premises vendors, with Oracle being the exception that makes the rule. Why should SaaS providers build their own cloud infrastructure then?

Workday achieved it. But how many more can or should move their own PaaS and IaaS platforms? There’s a boat load of effort and cost involved in doing so, not to mention the economies of scale that can only just be realized with a large number of customers. Epicor, Sage, and others are making a good choice because they build on an established public cloud infrastructure supplier.

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