[caption id="attachment_4339" align="alignright" width="142" caption="Mark Symonds, CEO and President, Plex Systems"][/caption] By Mark Symonds, CEO and President, Plex Systems What an exciting time to be a player in the enterprise software industry! Last month, the Cloud enterprise software firm Workday launched an IPO that was successful beyond even its own expectations – with a 73-percent pop in the stock price at the start of trading and a total of $637 million raised at a $4.5 billion valuation. Then last week, Enterprise Irregulars editor Brian Sommer called this “The Month IT & ERP Permanently Changed.” He based this declaration on what he’d been hearing over the last month at more than a dozen analyst briefings, conferences and related events. Sommer argued that the days of on-premise solutions are ending as businesses rapidly ascend into the Cloud. This message and the success of Workday certainly foreshadow rapid growth for Cloud providers. Why Now? Is this move to the Cloud the result of a gradual process where businesses have inched their way toward comfort with the delivery model? Or is it a tipping point of some kind forcing a mass exodus from legacy on-premise systems? Yes… and yes. Having talked with hundreds of businesses over the last decade since we launched Plex Online Cloud ERP, I can testify that it has taken a while to overcome some concerns about security, cost and the like. We have seen ERP selection teams move from curiosity about the Cloud model several years ago to serious consideration and even insistence today. Our annual growth rate of 25%+ over the last several years is a clear signal of that evolution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE7zA7j_oL4&feature=g-user-u At the same time, there is a point in the life of some disruptive, innovative new business models where they’ve got enough momentum to get the attention of the mainstream. For Cloud solutions, that point has come, thanks to the convergence of fast, reliable Internet service and powerful, mature software products that can challenge the old guard. The big names in legacy on-premise systems are scrambling to try to introduce “Cloud-based” products; some are buying their way into the Cloud. What’s Next? For the large providers who are new to the game, their biggest challenge is playing catch-up. Many companies, like Plex Systems, have been in the Cloud for many years. We’ve had time to perfect our offering and build active user communities that collaborate on ongoing enhancements that improve the product constantly, not just in big, painful annual or biannual releases. For businesses still uncertain about the Cloud, it’s time to investigate the model. They need to learn more about its benefits by exploring real-life examples of cost savings, industry-leading security and speedy, pain-free launches. It Just Makes Sense As Sommer points out, businesses shouldn’t want to maintain their own data centers for the same reason they don’t own their own power plants: other companies can provide those services much more efficiently. At the end of the day, the impending full-scale migration into the Cloud isn’t mystical at all. It’s just common sense.