How to Upgrade your ERP System in the Cloud

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There’s the Cloud, and then there’s the Cloud.

There are different levels of Cloud functionality and they are not equal when it comes to upgrading and ongoing maintenance. There are a lot of technical considerations happening behind the scenes that can greatly affect how your system is upgraded.

We are all familiar with office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel. The source code is locked for these programs so it is relatively simple for Microsoft to maintain backwards compatibility with prior versions as it upgrades to the latest and greatest. This works fairly well for versions installed on local machines, networks, or running from the Cloud, such as Office 365.

Sometimes people automatically assume everything available on the Cloud has this same transparency between versions and that often isn’t true.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or accounting systems may be offered over the Cloud, but you often have a customized or complex database on the backend that needs to run through the same upgrade process as a system installed in-house. You don’t save any money on the upgrade process. There are systems that are moving towards separating source code from the data or having a limited customization option, both of which allow the systems to be upgraded in the background with standard database scripts. The results are upgrades that are nearly invisible to the end user unless there are significant changes in the user interface or processes. Upgrade costs are very low or non-existent if they are bundled in with the periodic Cloud charges. Sometimes, having a complex upgrade is necessary due to the need for a heavily customized database but many customers do not have this requirement.

So, to find out whether a solution is truly a Cloud solution, determine what the strategy is for handling upgrades and what that cost looks like.

By Malcolm Roach of Open Door Technology, Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner in Calgary, Alberta

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