SAP Business One in the Cloud: Interview with Cloud Provider Ancar-B
Ancar B Technologies is a UK based supplier of IT Services and Solutions, ranging from business critical support to infrastructure and hosted solutions.
One area of Ancar B’s specialism is hosted services in the cloud. Looking at how it does this for hosting SAP Business One business management software for SMEs, Richard Payne Ancar B’s Sales Manager tells us more:
Q: In brief, how does SAP Business One in the cloud work?
A: We provide the infrastructure for ERP providers like Signum Solutions to be able to offer businesses ‘Software as a Service’ packages. This means that rather than buy expensive servers, we are able to run their IT infrastructure for them, for a much smaller monthly fee.
Q: What would an SME need to do to set this all up?
A: Just let us know how many users are required for applications. For instance, how many SAP Business One users there are. We then factor in the cost of Windows, SQL and Remote Desktop licenses and send a quotation, which includes a Set-up fee. If we get the go-ahead we set up the virtual server and send the user log-in details. All that users then need to do then is to click on a desktop icon and log-in using a username and password.
Q: With SMEs in mind, what would you say are the top 3 benefits that SME businesses realise by hosting SAP Business One in the cloud?
A: Firstly a lower capital expenditure. Money for IT infrastructure can move to the operational budget where it can be better spent!
Secondly, as a virtual platform, the service we provide is easily scalable – expand or contract users in line with business needs.
Thirdly would be remote working. Users can access their data in the cloud absolutely anywhere that has an internet connection.
Fourthly I’d also say the type of server infrastructure that we use to run the cloud on. Ours server/cloud infrastructure is located in a Data Centre that is ISO7001 certified, which means that we have extremely high levels of security, backup and fire safety.
Overall, I would say the top benefits are finance, flexibility, security and remote working access.
Q: What do SMEs generally worry about the most when considering whether to make the move to cloud or not?
A: Usually the security aspect. However, our servers at Ancar-B are controlled by secure VPNs (virtual private networks) and have a very, very powerful Webscreen firewall to prevent hacking. It’s far more secure than even a really good, in-house server would be.
Q: How does paying for SAP Business One in the cloud work?
A: There are charges for various licenses: SAP Business One licenses, remote access licenses, SQL licenses and Microsoft licenses. We then factor in our support costs, which includes UK based, personalised high quality support from 9-5 and also out of hours if necessary. Finally, we charge a nominal fee for the cost of resources used to host users’ data on the cloud, which covers things like electricity and bandwidth. This is then all combined into one monthly fee.
Q: Do SMEs need to budget for anything else other than SAP licenses and hosting charges?
A: Yes, I’d recommend a decent business class router from the location that users will be connecting from, plus a reasonable internet connection using ADSL2, Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) or Ethernet First Mile (EFM). They would obviously also need to budget for PCs, laptops or tablets to use and connect to the cloud.
Q: What do SME users tend to think the negatives to working with the cloud are? And how do you help allay these fears at Ancar B?
A: Connectivity is something that people are often a bit worried about. At Ancar-B we don’t just give users a log-on, we provide a much more tailored service. If a business was having trouble getting online we would diagnose any issues and recommend better solutions for getting online. Alongside our UK based support teams, we are also slightly different to other cloud providers in the way that we are able to host lots of applications. If a user has been told that they can’t host a certain application, such as SAP Business One, on the cloud then our bespoke solutions can help to make it happen.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 considerations SMEs need to bear in mind when choosing a cloud provider?
A: One would be whether the provider offers a personalised service. It’s not as simple as giving a user a log-on and leaving them to it sometimes and it’s good to know that you will be well supported by professionals.
Where the data will be stored is also important. We ensure that our data is stored within the UK and not in foreign countries to ensure avoidance of any data sovereignty issues or falling foul of any overseas legal regulations.
Thirdly, I would say whether the provider can work on a commercial level without blinding you with the technical side of things. Business owners are generally interested in business benefits; is the cloud going to work better for them, will it work quickly enough and be available are the types of things they want to know. We take care of the technical side of things without drowning our customers in jargon that they don’t need to know about, by finding out what will work best for them and letting them know just that.
Q: Is the cloud suitable for all SME companies?
A: I’d say most. There are some where it will work, but it isn’t ideal. Businesses such as architectural practices, where there are lots of CAD design drawings aren’t best to store them within the cloud because the files are large and cumbersome, so take up a lot of bandwidth. It would be fine for them to use the cloud for email, ERP and CRM systems, but these types of businesses would be best to store high bandwidth documents locally.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 indicators that an SME should make the move the cloud are?
A: One would be if there are a lot of remote workers or branches, where money could be saved by not having separate servers, infrastructure and support and where workers could easily access data on the go or from home.
Secondly, if the business is a start-up. It is a lot cheaper to choose a cloud solution, which can cost as little as £70 per month, rather than pay out for a standard £5,000 on-premise server solution
Thirdly, if a business is expanding steadily or quickly. We can build a system up to meet the business’ needs really quickly and easily. Having cloud users is so flexible and by adding more, it’s not going to slow processes down like it would do with a smaller internal server.
For more information about how SAP Business One in the cloud can add benefits to your business, contact Signum Solutions on 01244 676 900.