Epicor moving its applications to Microsoft's Azure cloud

The move comes as Microsoft itself is doing the same with its competing Dynamics software

Epicor is planning to work with Microsoft to bring Epicor's ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications to the Azure cloud service, the companies announced Tuesday during Epicor's Insights conference in Las Vegas.

The companies already had a close relationship, as Epicor's software uses Microsoft's .NET development stack. In addition, Epicor has been working on Azure-related products for several years, including a search engine. But the pending move of its ERP software to Azure represents a bigger step to the cloud for Epicor.

For some time, Epicor has sold a SaaS (software as a service) product called Epicor Express, but this is aimed at small companies with limited user counts. Azure will allow Epicor to target larger cloud deployments, said analyst Frank Scavo, managing partner of IT research firm Strativa.

This week, Epicor also unveiled the third major version of its ICE (Internet component environment) application integration platform. Epicor plans to use ICE together with Azure's on-demand SQL database service and compute infrastructure to create a PaaS (platform as a service) to develop add-ons and tie together its software.

The company's plans for Azure emerge as Microsoft itself has begun moving its own Dynamics ERP software lines to the cloud platform, with the first set for arrival there in the fourth quarter. Epicor's announcement didn't state a timetable for its own plans.

While Epicor goes head-to-head with Dynamics in many software deals, Microsoft tends to be "very good about serving an ISV community that does compete with them," Scavo said.

In any case, Azure hasn't been ready until now to handle the features and performance needed to run cloud ERP, Scavo said.

The move makes sense for Epicor, since it will also gain the use of Azure's global data center footprint. Nor does it need to worry about developing its own PaaS, as cloud-centric companies like Salesforce.com have done, Scavo said. "There's a case to be made to leave the structure of the platform to someone who's good at it."

Overall though, "it's a forward-looking move," he added. "There's not a large percentage of Epicor customers today that are demanding Epicor give them a way to leave their on-premise systems and go to the Azure cloud. But the tide is moving in that direction, especially with new customers."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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