February 17th, 2021

Instead of taking the more traditional approach and beginning this blog with a bunch of information that you may or may not already know, we’re going to switch things up and get straight to the point: Forward-thinking businesses, regardless of industry, have already migrated all or most of their data to the cloud. To keep up, their competitors are following suit.

There are plenty of reasons for this, and we’ll get to them all, but it basically comes down to simple logic. We’ll be candid:

Do you want your business to grow?
Yes? Then you need a scalable solution.

Do you want to run into unexpected software and hardware costs?
No? Then you need a steady, predictable pricing model.

Do you want to keep hiring new employees to cover the workload?
No? Then you need to automate redundant, time-consuming tasks.

Do you want full transparency across business processes?
Yes? Then you need integration.

Do you want to virtually guarantee that all of your business data is secure?
Yes? Then you need a backup.

The Right Time to Migrate to the Cloud

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Well, the thing is, most businesses recognize that they would be better off migrating to the cloud. It’s not so much a matter of “Should we?” but rather “When should we?”

In all honesty, there’s never a right time for a business to undergo a huge data migration project—but there is a wrong time. For instance, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led many businesses to reactively make drastic changes within their organizations, many of which were cloud-related. These changes came out of pure necessity as a way to keep the business up and running despite countless disruptions, adjusted schedules, and new working environments.

Ask yourself this: Have you ever heard a story that involves one of these businesses crashing and burning because they attempted to upgrade their data infrastructure? Probably not. And even if you have, it’s likely that there were a billion other contributing factors to the downfall. Okay, maybe not exactly a billion, but you get the point.

Don't Procrastinate 

Migrating to the cloud is like ripping off a Band-Aid. It has to happen at some point, and there’s no use prolonging it. And considering the hit many businesses have taken over the past year, any debate around the utility of the public cloud has been put aside. Now, businesses are being proactive. To back this assumption up, let’s move on to what would, in usual circumstances, serve as the starting point for this blog. Here’s the overview:

1. What Is the Cloud?
2. What Are Cloud Services?
3. Cloud-Based EDI

What Is the Cloud?

To begin to understand “the cloud,” it’s good to know that “the cloud” is an overarching term for cloud computing. The cloud isn’t some magical fourth dimension, and contrary to what you may think, it is not entirely virtual. For cloud computing to exist, physical components are always involved; it’s the delivery method of these physical computing services that lead to the cloud’s seemingly invisible presence.

To elaborate, cloud computing consists of various IT resources—servers, storage, physical data centers, networking, software, and more—deployed over the Internet. In short, cloud computing means that you have access to all the necessary data infrastructure required for running your business, but you don’t have to manage it on your own. Instead, there’s a third-party service provider out there keeping an eye on it for you, and you only pay for what you use.

So whenever you hear someone say “it’s stored in the cloud,” it’s as if they’re saying “it’s stored on a very powerful computer (server) that you can’t see because it’s located somewhere else.” This holds true for all types of cloud computing, of which there are three: public, private, and hybrid.

Without going into too much detail, public clouds are owned and operated by third-party service providers, and it’s similar to renting an apartment. You don’t own any of the infrastructure, but you pay a monthly fee for a certain amount of space alongside other renters. On the other hand, a private cloud it like renting a house. You don’t own the cloud and you aren’t responsible for maintenance and upkeep, but you have the luxury of having your very own space. There’s no rental analogy for a hybrid cloud, but it enables businesses to combine public and private clouds for data sharing purposes. Maybe it’s like living in a very small neighborhood with renters and homeowners where everybody knows everybody else’s business—but we say this lightly.  

What Are Cloud Services?

It may seem like we’ve already answered this question above, but we’ve only laid out your cloud computing options: public, private, and hybrid. It’s true that all three of these options are available as a service, but cloud services come in many forms and sort of build upon each other. Let’s take a look:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is cloud computing at its core. It is, like all XaaS solutions, a subscription-based offering that provides basic cloud computing infrastructure for both public and private clouds. As mentioned before, cloud services and infrastructure go hand in hand. So when it comes to cloud and infrastructure services, there’s not really a separation between the two. Cloud services always have an infrastructure component; it’s the very premise of cloud existence.

Think: physical data center, servers, networking, storage.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is an extension of IaaS. This type of cloud-based service can likewise be deployed on both public and private clouds, but it includes a broader range of cloud services. Meaning, in addition to everything you get with IaaS, you also get everything else you need to develop your own software and other web applications. PaaS is, relatively speaking, almost SaaS, but not quite; it consists of all the cloud services necessary to create software, but doesn’t include the final product.

Software as a Service (SaaS)
In most cases, SaaS is the way to go. Unless your primary business revolves around developing new software and apps to ultimately sell to consumers or other businesses, or you have an in-house development team that never sleeps, there’s no room for debate. SaaS is by far the most convenient of all cloud-based solutions. It’s also the most popular.

So what does SaaS mean in cloud infrastructure terms? SaaS means that everything is included, and you don’t have to worry about it. It’s a hands-free deployment model in which the SaaS service provider is responsible for providing you with all the necessary cloud computing systems required for hosting your data in the cloud (most likely public). It also means that all software updates, improvements, and maintenance is taken care of.

Cloud-Based EDI

AKA SaaS. Let’s say it again: Cloud-based EDI is SaaS.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. More and more businesses are migrating to the cloud. That’s a fact. The question then remains, what are they migrating to the cloud? To which we reply, their outdated EDI systems (among other things)!

This brings us back to the questions we so straightforwardly presented to you at the beginning of this blog. Every single one of these questions applies to nearly every migration scenario, EDI or other. So when it comes to making the switch to cloud-based EDI and moving all of your data to the so-called “EDI cloud,” the same logic applies. Here’s how they relate to EDI cloud migration specifically.

Do you want your business to grow?
Yes? Then you need a scalable solution. Unlike on-premise EDI solutions, cloud-based EDI is scalable. That’s because, with a monthly SaaS subscription, your EDI service provider is responsible for providing cloud infrastructure services to host your EDI data. If your business is growing and you double the amount of documents exchanged on a monthly basis, you don’t have to worry about investing in and managing additional hardware to support this change. Cloud-based EDI can easily scale up or down to meet your needs.

Additionally, you don’t have to worry about compliance with new and/or existing trading partners. With a cloud-based EDI solution, everything is always up to date. You just have to make sure the SaaS provider you choose can support the data formats, standards, communication protocols, and networks you may need—either now or in the future.

Do you want to run into unexpected software and hardware costs?
No? Then you need a steady, predictable pricing model. Expanding on the previous question, cloud-based EDI eliminates unexpected costs. What you’ve agreed to pay in you SaaS contract is what you pay. If something goes wrong in the back end of cloud-based EDI solution, it’s not up to you to fix it, and you won’t be blindsided with any additional fees.

Do you want to keep hiring new employees to cover the workload?
No? Then you need to automate redundant, time-consuming tasks. Procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes are just that: redundant and time consuming. Instead of investing in one new team member after another, it’s important to be smart. For large corporations and SMEs, it’s always more cost effective to invest in a cloud-based EDI solution for a monthly SaaS fee than to add someone else to the payroll. That’s because cloud-based EDI enables process automation for quicker transactions and no human-entry errors.

Do you want full transparency across business processes?
Yes? Then you need integration. Outdated EDI systems are, in most cases, extremely difficult to integrate with new software. Cloud-based EDI solutions eliminate this complexity. That’s why it’s common for a business to upgrade their EDI system when they migrate to a new ERP. Integration can get pretty complicated, but overall, it’s becoming a business priority. It’s important to understand the impact an outdated EDI solution, or an EDI solution with limited capabilities, can have on your business. Flexibility and connectivity should be top of mind when evaluating potential cloud-based EDI solutions.

Do you want to virtually guarantee that all of your business data is secure?*
Yes? Then you need backup. This a hot topic as of late, and for good reason. Especially in today’s scattered working environment, data accessibility and security is of the utmost importance for any business. With cloud-based EDI, you’re covered on all fronts. This is typically detailed in the SLA with your EDI service provider, in which you choose the level of security you wish to obtain.

Check out The Link Between Business Continutiy & Disaster Recovery to discover how running parallel environments in the cloud in a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) dramatically enhances your data secuirty.*