Lawson Looks To Cloud To Woo New ERP Customers

In a bid to attract new customers and better compete with NetSuite and other vendors moving their software offerings to the cloud, Lawson Software this week revealed plans to launch its suite of ERP and other applications on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Lawson will offer its core Lawson Enterprise Management Systems and Lawson Talent Management suite on Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure starting in May as Lawson External Cloud Services, said Jeff Comport, senior vice president of product management for St. Paul-based Lawson.

As part of its Lawson External Cloud Services, Lawson will also launch Test Drive, an offering that lets users test products for up to 14 days before purchasing. Test Drive will launch with Lawson's S3-directed Smart Office offering and its Enterprise Search product.

Lawson's move to the cloud comes as other software makers like NetSuite, Workday and SAP's upcoming Business ByDesign embrace cloud computing to give customers more choice and flexibility on where and how to leverage once cumbersome enterprise software solutions.

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According to Comport, Lawson lost out on plenty of deals due to pricing and lack of a cloud offering, which partially fueled Lawson's move to the cloud. Comport wouldn't say which competing vendors won those deals, but said "a lot of times these went to no decision."

Comport said Lawson is targeting a new customer base and aiming to hit midsize organizations looking for full-function enterprise software in the cloud. Provisioning and set up of software instances can be automated and users can configure their capacity to scale up and down to meet peak demands.

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Leveraging cloud infrastructure also enables users to leverage scalable software options with a monthly subscription fee that can cover the hosting, application management, upgrades and various deployment model and licensing packages.

"We're looking at new customers, though this will be of interest to some existing customers," Comport said, adding that users also have the option of taking the software off the Amazon cloud and hosting it on-premise after the subscription runs its course.

The goal, Comport said, is to make the ERP experience faster and more agile, while alleviating the headaches of bulky, complex and costly on-premise installations.

"This offering includes financial, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, procurement and other core processes," Comport said. "These are not the lightweight versions you find from niche vendors or the one-size-fits-all offerings from other providers. It's the same software our customers can deploy in their own data centers but now can be placed off-premise and run and accessed from anywhere in the world on AWS [Amazon Web Services]," said Comport.

Teaming with Amazon lets Lawson offer the shared EC2 infrastructure due to its multi-tenancy. Meanwhile, deploying on the cloud introduces new customization options and a pay-per-use model. Comport added that Lawson is investigating partnerships with other cloud infrastructure players, but wouldn't elaborate.

"We'll look at alternatives to complement this," he said.

Comport said Lawson's cloud software will be available through the same channel and sales force as its on-premise offerings, meaning solution providers can now add cloud software to the mix.

"We're looking at this through the same field force as an alternate option," he said.