Cloud computing: SaaS ERP revs up auto parts supplier

By Sandra Gittlen, CIO |  Cloud Computing, ERP

The Inteva/Plex team completed the migration of 14 sites within 12 months. In January, Inteva added users from its acquisition of ArvinMeritor's Body Systems business--a task made easy, according to Hodges, because of the SaaS model.

Averting Disaster

With ERP as a core application for the company, Hodges has been careful to ensure high performance, disaster recovery and security, as executives requested.

Peers warned Hodges that it would be difficult to get data in and out of a SaaS system, but he has not experienced problems. In fact, he downloads data every night for integration with other corporate applications.

Users access the system via the Web, and Hodges added bandwidth to handle the increased wide-area demand. In addition, users have regional access to the system to shorten the distance data has to travel.

Perhaps most encouraging is the two-hour disaster recovery offered with the SaaS model. Hodges concedes it would have been difficult and costly for the company to try to mimic that timeframe itself.

Hodges does have a backup to his backup plan, though. The company regularly downloads ERP data and escrows a copy of the software so in the event of a worst-case scenario for the provider, Inteva can get up and running by itself.

Adopting a SaaS-y Attitude

Hodges, who reports to the CEO, has enjoyed re-inventing the concept of IT at Inteva. For instance, instead of bulking up with network and systems administrators, the lead person on the ERP project has analytics, data warehousing and reporting expertise.

"He doesn't have to know the infrastructure, hardware and operating system. He can focus on how to leverage analysis to manage the business better and drive costs down," Hodges says.

Hodges regards the cloud as "a blank-slate opportunity" for CIOs. "It's a chance to move away from making sure that wires are plugged in to making a difference in the business," he says.

Sandra Gittlen is a freelance business and technology writer based in the greater Boston area. She can be reached at

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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