Lawson moves to back private clouds

Lawson Software announced a number of services and products Monday for running its software in a private cloud environment, following up on its recent move to support its ERP software on Amazon’s public Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

The ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor has developed grid-computing technology for distributing application workloads over clusters of servers; the first two in a series of virtual software appliances; and a drag-and-drop Cloud Console tool for managing the appliances.

While Lawson built the grid technology, the appliances are VMware images that use a Linux OS and IBM’s WebSphere application server.

The first two appliance products are for Lawson’s Smart Office and Enterprise Search applications. Lawson began with this pair because they are considered add-ons to its core ERP systems, said Lee Kilmer, global director for technology product management.

“For customers who want to get started with it, these lend themselves very well to that,” he said.

Lawson is considering support for other virtualization technologies, such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V, but is not ready to make any public announcements, Kilmer said.

The appliances will be available worldwide in May. Kilmer declined to discuss pricing information.

Lawson’s announcement is more a telling indication of cloud computing’s growing ubiquity, rather than a major technological breakthrough.

But the new cloud console is significant because its ease of use should help customers reduce staffing costs, said analyst Ray Wang, partner with Altimeter Group.

Overall the announcement reflects the fact that much of Lawson’s base wants private rather than public clouds, he said.

“These are state governments, health care organizations, people dealing with a lot of HR data. Granted it’s fairly secure in the [cloud] environment but they still have to answer to their constituents,” he said. “It’s probably not the cheapest thing in the long run, but it’s the right thing for their company.”

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