Epicor focuses on Microsoft technology to speed up apps

The move to .NET will make life easier for customers, according to one executive

Epicor has gone all-in on Microsoft, optimizing its flagship ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite on .NET, SQL Server 2014 and Windows in order to speed up applications and streamline product development.

"We tried to clean house, which is going to make customers really happy," said Erik Johnson, vice president of technology strategy. Epicor 10, which was announced Monday, moves away from the vendor's long-time practice of certifying the software on a variety databases and operating systems, instead focusing on Microsoft's software stack.

Epicor initially made multiplatform support a key part of its strategy because it feared not doing so would prove to be a competitive weakness over time, Johnson said. Today, however, "I could hold up two hands" to count how many customers really needed that flexibility, he added.

Epicor 10 doesn't introduce too many changes at the application process level and is really focused on the technology upgrade, according to Johnson. Epicor 10 will run twice as fast as Epicor 9 on comparable hardware, he said.

Other upgrades include support for touch-based inputs; the ability to personalize ERP user interfaces; embedded social networking and search functionality; a new BPM (business process management) design tool; and a services-based architecture that provides the ability to run either centralized or distributed implementations.

The same Epicor 10 code line is used for cloud-based and on-premises installations as well, Johnson said.

The release, which was announced during Epicor's Insight conference in Las Vegas, also presents an opportunity for the privately held vendor to reassert itself in the marketplace. Despite having nearly US$1 billion in revenue, Epicor has kept a relatively low profile of late.

"We've been heads down making sure we get this right," said Malcom Fox, vice president of product marketing.

Epicor shares some similarities to Infor in that both companies are large, privately held ERP vendors built up through a series of acquisitions. Both companies also have a large installed base of customers running older applications.

Some 4,000 Epicor customers out of 20,000 overall are running the flagship ERP, which includes some of the best features of those legacy products. "We're looking to build more bridges to make the journey easier," Fox said.

There are other matters for Epicor customers and prospects to consider, said analyst Frank Scavo, managing partner of consulting firm Strativa.

"Standardizing on Microsoft's infrastructure stack certainly makes life simpler for Epicor, and it also improves overall system performance," Scavo said via email on Monday. "But if I were an Epicor prospect, I'd be more concerned about product quality and whether there are enough skilled resources readily available to help me implement this new version. I'll be very interested to hear reports from early adopters of Epicor 10 concerning their experiences."

For its part, Epicor said the beta for version 10 was "the most collaborative program in company history." It began in July 2013 and about a dozen companies are now live on the software, according to an company document.

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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