Infor launches open-source strategy, embraces Red Hat stack, MySQL

The ERP vendor will port its software to a variety of open-source middleware and databases, starting with Red Hat, MySQL and MariaDB

Infor has certified some of its products for Red Hat's Linux and JBoss middleware and added support for the MySQL and MariaDB databases, as part of a new push into open-source software, the companies announced Wednesday.

Specifically, Infor's LN ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite, along with its ION integration framework, have been certified for Red Hat's stack. LN and ION customers can also now use MySQL and MariaDB, the latter of which is a fork of the MySQL codebase.

Along with lowering costs, the open-source option will allow Infor LN customers to run hybrid deployments spanning on-premises and cloud environments and give the applications "a high degree of portability," said Ali Shadman, Infor's senior vice president of global upgrades and business cloud.

The other goal is to give Infor's products more appeal for cloud service providers, he said. Open-source software is widely used in by cloud providers in part because it allows them to scale out their services in a more affordable manner than paying for increasing usage of proprietary products.

LN is serving as a test bed for Infor, Shadman said. "Our strategy is to take LN, look at that, understand the nuances of what we need to do, and extend it out to other areas."

The open-source stack will be offered directly by Infor, which will also provide first-line support. But it will be offered as an "advanced technology" option, with Infor taking each potential customer on a case-by-case basis to be sure there's a good match, Shadman said. "We just want to keep tabs on the initial deployments."

Open-source infrastructure will make sense for some of Infor's products but not others, such those built entirely with Microsoft technologies or which have architectures that are tightly coupled to a given database, Shadman said.

Infor's announcement makes sense from a few perspectives, said analyst Frank Scavo, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "From a big-picture standpoint, enterprise vendors always want to commoditize the thing in the technology stack that they don't provide. If you're an Oracle you're never going to commoditize the database. But Infor doesn't provide those [infrastructure] pieces."

Customers save money on operating system and database licenses, which in turn frees up cash for them to buy more Infor software, Scavo added.

The flexible deployment model offered through the open-source stack is also a plus for customers, he said. "If you're running your Oracle database on the back end, you can't just pick that up and move it, you have to negotiate with Oracle." In contrast, "a customer can now move Infor LN from on-premises to cloud and not worry about re-licensing the infrastructure stack."

Still, Scavo doesn't expect many existing LN customers to take advantage of the open-source offering right away. "This is really a long-term strategy for Infor," he said. "Customers that already have stable running instances of LN probably don't want to move them to the cloud."

But Infor is also trying to get customers running older versions of LN and other applications to upgrade, in order to take advantage of new functionality developed in recent years, Scavo said. Offering a lower-cost open-source option, combined with the ability to package the software up for deployment as a virtual appliance, "might be a way to push them over the edge to an upgrade," Scavo said.

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

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