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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spotlight: To the Cloud with EDI via Data Masons

Today's, I wanted to do a spotlight post on EDI and specifically options for EDI in "the cloud." In looking to have more information on this topic, I always revert to blog sponsor and top ranked ISV Data Mason's. They are the true experts when it comes to EDI and Microsoft Dynamics AX and the defacto choice for EDI needs by Dynamics customers.

With that in mind I virtually sat down with Glenn McPeak - Principal of Data Mason's about their EDI solution, and vision for the cloud. The following is the result of that interview.:

Glenn McPeak - Principal of Data Mason's

1.) When we think about cloud solutions, scale & agility are two attributes that typically take focus in people's minds. Can Data Masons speak to the scale their EDI cloud solution offers customers?

"Interestingly, our largest volume EDI processing customer is cloud-based and has processed more than 5 million sales order lines in a single day into Microsoft Dynamics AX. This customer receives point-of-sales data from thousands of retail stores each day. The customer then has to transform those sales transactions into invoiced orders in order to relieve inventory that needs tracked at the store level so that they can control and plan inventory replenishments. Fortunately, the processing power of the cloud-based data center could be leveraged to handle the spikes in transaction volume that is inherent in EDI relationships. Replicating this processing power in an on-premise environment would have been prohibitively costly.

As far as agility is concerned, there are actually pros and cons that many cloud-based solutions bring to the table. In a multi-tenant environment, where many organizations share a single application instance, the ability to customize the solution can be quite restricted and there is no control over software updates and releases – the software updates and releases are executed at the timing of the solution provider – which is not necessarily beneficial to the customer. The advantage of the multi-tenant solution is that the cost of maintenance is lower for the software provider, which can be passed on to the customer.

Data Masons provides the best of both worlds – a cloud-based EDI solution that can be run in a multi-instance or a single-instance scenario. While the multi-tenant solution has slightly lower operating costs, either option is available based on the needs of our customers. We think it’s important for mission critical solutions to offer this level of control and flexibility for our customers."

2.) Another focus for a lot of companies is making sure their data is secured. Can Data Masons speak to the security that helps govern within the application, as well as access points for the solution in general? Further how was security considered, when thinking about creating the "EDI for the Cloud" offering?

"Data Security is paramount to the types of transactional data that is the norm in an EDI processing environment. We employ AS2 communication and PCI compliant transaction handling (when appropriate) through our Value Added Network solution (VAN). Data Masons is thoroughly committed to the Microsoft Azure platform and our application follows all of the best practices set forth by Microsoft."

3.) The next major focus for customers, when they start to evaluate cloud solutions is the service level. What kind of service level agreements exists for the "EDI for the Cloud" offering?

"Service level agreements for cloud-based applications are more definable as the solution provider is responsible for application, data and infrastructure. As a result, cloud-based options are more appealing to organizations that want to limit the points of failure and have those failures rest on a single (or a few) set(s) of shoulders."

4.) In looking towards the future, what is Data Masons doing for investments towards their "EDI for the Cloud" offering?

"Our architecture and technology design enables our solution to be run on-premise or in the cloud using the same code set and data. If a customer decided to utilize Data Masons’ cloud-based offering and later bring it ‘on-premise’ there would be no loss of data or functionality. The same applies in reverse – an on-premise instance of our solution can be moved to the cloud in a multi-tenant or single instance scenario. "

Further the following are closing words from Glenn & Data Masons.:

"We look forward to sharing more information on this subject with the AX community in a few weeks at the AXUG Summit. If you’re making the trip to Seattle, email us and let us know if you would like to schedule some time to see a product demonstration or to just talk further about your own EDI-related projects. Or you can stop by expo booth #233 to see one of EDI experts.

We also invite you to join us during our ISV Partner Showcase, “EDI Trends: The Outlook on What EDI Should Deliver.” During this informative session, you’ll learn the latest trends in EDI that are driving customers to adopt an innovative technology model that eliminate common inconveniences and streamlines EDI integration and compliance requirements without AX platform customizations. Check the AXUG Summit agenda for times and locations."

I would like to thank Glenn and the team behind Data Masons for the taking the time to sit down and talk about EDI and what the cloud means for EDI customers. As stated, make sure and connect with them, and further schedule a time to speak while attending AXUG Summit! I know I will be there as well!

That's all for this post, but check back soon as more to come. Till Next Time!
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