Infor tries for reinvention with Infor10 software launch

The world's third-largest ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor is rolling out Infor10, a next-generation suite

Infor and its CEO, former Oracle co-president Charles Phillips, are hoping to jump-start the ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) software vendor's profile and revenues with Infor10, a major new rebranding and technology effort that was launched Tuesday at an event in New York.

Phillips was named Infor CEO last year and since then has kept a low public profile, avoiding press interviews and other appearances while meeting with customers around the world and as company teams put the final touches on Infor10.

It's not well-known that some of Infor's most widely used applications, such as Baan and Syteline, had been completely rewritten in recent years, Phillips said in an interview prior to Tuesday's event.

Despite those investments, private equity-backed Infor, which is the third-largest ERP vendor after SAP and Oracle, has had a reputation as more of a holding company for its many acquisitions than a cohesive software vendor with a focused vision.

Infor10 is supposed to change that by tying together Infor's own applications as well as third-party products with a new middleware suite called ION, which is based in part on open-source components.

"Instead of buying a huge middleware suite, we wrote something with the benefit of modern standards," Phillips said. "It comes on three CDs. It takes nine minutes to install."

That compares to dozens of install discs for other middleware suites, he said. Oracle, for one, is well-known for its sizable Fusion middleware stack.

ION can't do everything, but that's the point, Phillips said. "We're not trying to build trading floor applications. That's why it's fast. "

Infor10 also includes a new common user interface called Workspace. The products Infor gained through the recent acquisition of Lawson Software will also get that treatment, although the Smart Office UI favored by many Lawson customers will remain an option, he said.

In addition, Infor10 gives companies the option of running its ERP software as a cloud service, or in hybrid form, with some components remaining on-premises.

Existing customers will receive some Infor10 functionality as part of their annual maintenance fees, but other aspects, such as ION, will be licensed separately "at a reasonable charge," Phillips said.

While Infor10 represents a major engineering effort, it's ready for market, according to Phillips.

"We have production customers with all of this stuff," Phillips said.

About 60 customers are working with ION, a sample size that has given Infor the ability to test ION thoroughly. "There's less to test," he added. "It's not 70 CDs. There's only so many things that can happen."

Partners will need some time to get up to snuff on Infor10, he said. "We have an education task ahead of us. We're probably running faster than the partners are used to seeing Infor go."

Infor10 also includes a number of offerings packaged for various industries, but Infor also intends to go after "micro-verticals," or companies within subsets of broader categories.

For example, instead of simply targeting food and beverage manufacturers, Infor might look to roll out a suite for breweries.

"For us, [micro-verticals] are very profitable," he said. "There's a lot of white space."

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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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Topics: Internet-based applications and services, applications, enterprise resource planning, SAP, Infor, software, Lawson Software, internet, cloud computing, Oracle
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