Infor cements SOA roadmap

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Enterprise software vendor Infor detailed its three year roadmap for the technology platform at its customer forum in Las Vegas this week.

Announced in December and launched in March, Infor Open SOA has been firmly cemented into all of the company's offerings. Using it firms are able to hook into what have now become typical enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP solutions.

"Firms say that their businesses are changing," said Mike Frichol, vice president of marketing. "They want the flexibility and stability that enables this change. They need solutions, not new technology."

Frichol said that Infor's response to that was an SOA, "we can enrich the existing applications and modernise them with ease". To ensure interoperability with existing solutions Infor uses the OAG document standard for event modelling.

"We are architectured for interoperability", Frichol added. "Openness is there for the customer. If they have homegrown applications, then they can plug them right in."

This functionality can also be extended to solutions from other technology providers that might not be directly supported. If a business wants to link in to's CRM products, for example, they would be expected to pay a small licensing fee.

"Part of being open is meeting customer expectations," added Frichol. "We want to let the customer build their own ecosystem".

The firm is also embracing enterprise, or web 2.0, tools with the launch of Infor365, a Facebook like online resource that links customers with others using the same applications and product sets, this is supported with blog posts by Infor staff, as well as technical and support resources.

Role-based homepages for users have also been created. These give a top down view of their systems, providing alerts and information about such things as key performance indicators. Frichol called this a web 2.0 mashup, explaining that it was underlined by multiple systems and enabled by the same SOA infrastructure. It uses a component-based approach, meaning that each user can simply drag and drop their own components into the homepage. This will be offered to all users as part of their ongoing maintenance agreements.

Although the firm has often said it was happy with the limited range of on demand solutions it offers to its customers, mostly in areas such as asset tracking, or people management, it is likely that this area of its business could be expanded according to Jim Schaper, chief executive at the firm. However, no concrete plans exist at the moment.

"We do not see a lot of demand for SaaS, but we could dramatically expand our on demand offerings, whether through partnerships with IBM, or directly. We are not limited to what we currently offer" he explained.

"Our software can support the on demand model," added Bruce Gordon, chief technology officer. "It is a good model, and for firms without the expertise to run their own applications it can work well."

Infor remains a firm owned by private equity investors, but according to Jim Schaper, chief executive, an IPO remains a definite possibility. "There are many benefits of going public. As a business you get a lot more brand visibility, which is something we do not have," he added. "More people start to look at your firm and you get mentioned alongside of Lawson, SAP, and Oracle – the household names that we compete with."

He added, "we suspect it would be a very large offering if we went to an IPO, and would give us a lot of currency to expand the business."
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