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Cloud Based EDI, EDI "In the Cloud," SaaS...What Does it Mean?

Cloud Based EDI, EDI

One of the biggest topics of conversation in technology these days is "in the cloud." What does it really mean? Just typing this term into Google gets you 1.7 billion hits. Essentially, "in the cloud" means service rather than product, whether you are talking about ERP systems, accounting applications or EDI. And usually the data is passed back and forth over the Internet.    

In terms of EDI, if you are using EDI SAAS (software as a service) or EDI managed services...then you are using cloud based EDI. One could even argue that Web-based EDI is in effect, a cloud based EDI solution. Either way, what you should be aware of is that there is software sitting on some machine somewhere...it's just not on your property. And that someone is pushing the buttons. 

Advantages to Cloud EDI

There are several advantages to using a cloud EDI solution. One of the biggest advantages of cloud based EDI is that you do not need a technical staff because someone else is acting on your behalf - they are your staff. Also, another benefit is that most EDI SAAS solutions offer multiple tiers of service. You can go big or you can go small, depending on your needs AND later you can upgrade to a more sophisticated solution. This is especially important to small businesses who start out with limited EDI requirements but anticipate rapid growth. With software in-house, it's quite often all or nothing. And in-house software usually requires a larger up front investment. One of the drawbacks of course, is that you have limited access to your data. And these types of solutions require a great level of trust as you are handing an important part of your business over to a third party. It goes without saying that you need to check references and do your homework. 

Future of Cloud EDI

Cloud based services are growing by leaps and bounds! According to IDC, cloud computing sales brought in a revenue of more than $21.5 billion in 2010. That number will grow to $72.9 billion by 2015. As more and more companies see the benefits of SaaS, my guess is that EDI providers will up the ante in terms of their cloud offerings. And in this competitive climate, what sort of bells and whistles will we see being offered? Only time will tell.

GraceBlood LLC specializes in EDI implementation and data integration solutions. For more information, please contact Shandra Locken, slocken@graceblood.com. 

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