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Thursday, October 2, 2014

DevOps and Infor’s Journey to the Cloud

 (also posted on

Infor, a leading provider of micro-vertical application suites, has introduced DevOps as part of an initiative to migrate its enterprise application suites to a cloud platform. The significance of this should not be lost.  Infor is not a young, Web 2.0 unicorn that was born with DevOps DNA.   Infor is a 14 year old privately held software supplier with over 70,000 customers across multiple micro-vertical markets.  Infor’s industry-specific applications are mostly deployed and managed on-premise.  The move to a cloud based AWS platform is as much of a paradigm shift for Infor as it is for its diverse customer base.

Infor’s leadership team launched the company’s annual user conference last week with keynote details about Infor XI’s cloud strategy and partnership with Amazon Web Services.   CEO Charles Phillips explained the reasoning behind the move while COO Pam Murphy recounted the technical efforts behind the scenes.   Both acknowledged the necessity of creating a function that would be dedicated to cloud operations. Standing in front of thousands of customers, Ms. Murphy described Infor Labs and how its DevOps practices would ensure that the right operating procedures were inserted into the development lifecycle.  According to Ms. Murphy, DevOps would bring “fully automated hands-free cloud operations that improves efficiency, effectiveness, consistency and security while reducing manpower requirements. “

Infor’s recognition of DevOps as a critical business success factor for its next generation of industry suites is impressive.  Brian Rose, Senior Vice President of Infor Labs and a key member of Infor’s management team for the past nine years provided some insight.  “The motivation behind developing and growing the DevOps team was driven by our ‘Cloud First’ strategy.  Over the last 18 months, Infor underwent a significant transformation to deliver industry solutions in the cloud.   This required development teams to gain a new understanding of the technical operations so that our products operate optimally and cost effectively in the cloud.”

“Our DevOps team worked closely with the development and cloud operations teams to develop standards for the cloud.  Further, they were responsible for setting and maintaining the cloud standards including the development of architectural components  that allowed for the automation of provisioning, patch processing, upgrades, backups, restores, monitoring and the development of a portal to provide a self-service option for these functions,” Rose explains.

Infor Labs has already seen results from DevOps. “The benefits that we have experienced include the reduction of the provisioning of an industry suite from weeks to minutes, decreased implementation time and costs for our customers, and solutions that are optimized from a technical ops perspective that allow our cloud infrastructure to scale so that we can support the thousands of customers that we have today in the cloud and the ability to scale to support the thousands more that we see moving to the cloud in the future, ” says Rose.

While DevOps is not intended solely for applications in the cloud, software providers such as Infor that publicly promote the value of their own DevOps culture increase proof of concept while serving as role models for their enterprise customers.    If the primary objective of DevOps is to improve speed to market and time to value, who better than a trusted commercial software provider to demonstrate real world insight and results.  

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