All posts tagged 'Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)'

Simplifying Infrastructure Management with Microsoft Solutions

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
27. July 2015 07:00

James Hanauer, CTO and VP Engineering of CTSI-Global, and Art Saisuphaluck, Solutions Architect and R&D Lead of CTSI-Global, recently provided their expertise on Microsoft Solutions for a special Microsoft edition of CIO Review.

Simplifying Infrastructure Management with Microsoft Solutions

Throughout my career, I have had the luxury of fulfilling various roles responsible for steering the technologies used by enterprises and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. What I have found to be ubiquitous in each role is the need to have the right people around you to develop joint strategies and a joint vision. Gaps in knowledge and experience -- for IT or other subject matter experts -- present the risk of an organization falling into a mostly maintenance or survival mode. I consider vendors as part of my team, so I look for them to have a vision and the ability to execute just like any other team member. Microsoft is a technology provider that has continued to meet the current needs of many IT organizations globally while also contributing to the future of the technology landscape.

Microsoft's effort in establishing technology platforms is key to ensuring organizations remain agile and focused on business value. Successfully establishing platforms that meet the need of IT teams and business operations requires having a unified focus in providing solutions for your infrastructure team, development team, and the vertical business functions of the organization. With Microsoft Solutions, CTSI-Global is able to keep the costs of training, development, and operations down since the solutions Microsoft offer fulfill the needs of both our enterprise operations and our product research and development teams.

Our primary Solutions Architect and R&D Lead, Art Saisuphaluck, has utilized Microsoft Solutions to enable our existing teams to achieve more in many areas such as advancing our DevOps adoption, simplifying infrastructure management, strengthening our high availability, increasing our product development throughout, and improving quality. He is enthusiastic about the direction Microsoft is headed.

"I'm always looking at our processes to see where we can gain the most efficiency. Years ago when Microsoft expanded the enterprise capabilities of Hyper-V, I was thrilled because our current staff could leverage it to address the server managerment needs of the infrastructure team while also addressing the testing and resource needs of our R&D team. Hyper-V provided a means for reducing our rack space and power consumption while increasing server density and maintainability. The developers are able to utilize predefined machines for isolated testing of software. The Live Migration capabilities of Hyper-V allow the virtual machines to be migrated across hardware boundaries without the need shut them down. Windows Server Datacenter enhances the value of using Hyper-V by providing a better means for cost control in its virtual machine licensing model," says Art.

Our development team utilizes Microsoft .NET and Microsoft SQL Server to provide robust solutions quickly, so they spend a significant amount of their time in the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE. Developing applications in Microsoft Visual Studio has brought regular increases on our ROI as Microsoft advances coding functions -- such as refactoring capabilities -- and continues to integrate the IDE with their server technologies and their Azure cloud technologies. Since Visual Studio has native support for the Microsoft Web API REST services framework, HTML5, CSS3, and rich JavaScript development, the developers can stay in the Visual Studio to develop, test, and debug services and applications while also having the ability to spin up and manage VMs, connect to SQL Server, provision Azure resources, and deploy into isolated testing environments -- all within Microsoft Visual Studio.

Since CTSI-Global provides a hosted suite of transportation and logistics services that are customizable extensions to ERP systems, we are always enhancing our testing capabilities to improve quality and prevent regression. Using Microsoft's Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V, PowerShell, and Visual Studio in our testing solution, we were able to establish an automated method of creating ad-hoc testing environments that isolate changes for various levels of testing.

Microsoft's evolution of Azure is beneficial to anyone utilizing Microsoft products. Since they are using their own technologies -- like Windows Server, Hyper-V, IIS, SQL Server, and Visual Studio -- to build Azure, Microsoft becomes a major consumer of their own products. This means that needed features and bugs that Microsoft observes will be much closer to the perspective of their customers. Features needed to enhance Microsoft's ability to evolve the Windows Server versions that organizations use on-premise. A feature in Windows Server 2012 that relates to cloud capacities and has helped us is the ability of VMs to leverage virtual fiber channels for attaching SAN storage directly to a VM."

Microsoft is serious about the cloud and specifically Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). This initially became apparent to me when Scott Guthrie was moved from Corporate Vice President of the Development Group to Corporate Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise in 2011. His work over the development group dramatically changed the development experience with Microsoft technologies, and he is doing the same throughout Azure and Microsoft's cloud enabling technologies. Under his guidance since 2011, Microsoft Azure has gained a solid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering that is simple but powerful to use along with many additions to its PaaS offering. The Azure platform services now comprise of Azure SQL Service as a service, Azure Active Directory as a service, Azure Websites as a service, Azure Service Bus, Azure Mobile Services (NodeJS as a service), Azure Media Services, Azure BizTalk as a Service, Azure Traffic Manager Service (Global DNS as a Service), and Azure Machine Learning (Data Analytics as a Service) as examples. To increase adoption, Microsoft offers a free version of the Visual Studio development environment, and to enable community involvement they open sources many parts of the .NET framework. To CTSI-Global, this shows Microsoft has a vision toward the future of their platform while executing solutions for business today.

CTSI-Global is a company with 60 years of experience in the transportation and logistics domain, and like Microsoft we have a vision of adoptiong modern technologies and methodologies to package and deliver our expertise to our customers in a way that is simple to leverage for all areas of the organization while continuously delivering value along the way.

As CTO, the technology solutions and platforms provided by Microsoft allow me and my team to spend more time with decision makers focusing on how to build the company and less time implementing and managing specific technologies. Having time to work on business strategy is vital now that the role of the modern CIO consists of being a strategic business partner and solutions provider in the organization.

SaaS? PaaS? IaaS? Which "as-a-service" is best for TMS?

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
18. April 2012 08:04

Cloudy outlook for IT investments

25% of business executives believe that cloud computing will influence business strategy, according to a January 2012 study from IDG Enterprise.

Worldwide spending for Software-as-a-Service is expected to increase by 17.9% in 2012, according to Gartner's figures released on April 10. Several regions are forecasted to have substantial spending and revenue increases from 2011 to 2012:

  • Japan's SaaS market is projected to increase from $427 to $495.2 million (~16.0%).
  • North America's SaaS market is projected to increase from $7.8 to $9.1 billion (~16.7%).
  • Western Europe's SaaS market is projected to increase from $2.7 to $3.2 billion (~18.5%).
  • Latin America's SaaS market is projected to increase from $331.1 to to $419.7 million (~26.8%).
  • APAC's SaaS market (excluding Japan) is projected to increase from $730.9 to $934.1 million (~27.8%).

How do SaaS, PaaS and IaaS stack up?

In the words of Professor Christopher Barnatt, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) are "the three building blocks of cloud computing." As the video details, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS are suited to different uses because "each offers a different level of user flexibility and control."

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Shipper runs cloud-hosted applications provided by a vendor.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Shipper builds its own applications using the cloud vendor's tools and programming languages.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Shipper runs its own software on cloud-hosted hardware.

Should shippers use PaaS or IaaS for TMS?

What's in the cloud: PaaS? SaaS? IaaS?

If a shipper were looking to build its own transportation management applications, Platform-as-a-Service would be one possible solution, although Barnatt warns that the shipper would not be able to transfer the apps it develops to a new vendor's platform.

If a shipper were looking to host transportation management software that it had developed internally, Infrastructure-as-a-Service would be a sensible solution to reduce hosting costs and the IT team's maintenance requirements.

Why use a SaaS-based Transportation Management System?

Software-as-a-Service is cost-effective for manufacturers and other shippers. Because of its multi-tenant architecture, SaaS is also scalable, which is necessary for a logistics service provider's TMS.

When using a SaaS-based Transportation Management System like the one CTSI-Global offers, the TMS provider is responsible for developing and maintaining both the software (applications) and hardware (servers). This enables the shipper or 3PL to focus on its core competencies while the TMS provider focuses on transportation solutions.

See also: INFOGRAPHIC: Get SaaSy: Top 4 reasons TMS needs SaaS

Supply Chain 2012, pt. 1: An EMEA perspective

by Donal Brennan
22. December 2011 15:54

As we quickly approach the passing of 2011, people and organisations begin the process of looking into the big crystal ball to see what 2012 will hold for them. Fortune teller: Technology, Opportunity, Cost, Value I know that fortune tellers and supply chain gurus will be trembling with fear in the knowledge that I have dipped my toe into the supply chain prediction arena.

As I gaze into my crystal ball, it is hard to see anything but a difficult year ahead for all involved in the supply chain. The economic crisis within the EU will have a big impact globally and will lead to continued uncertainty within the business community. All areas of cost will continue to come under review. More...

INFOGRAPHIC: Get SaaSy: Top 4 reasons TMS needs SaaS

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
8. December 2011 16:59

Get SaaSy: Top 4 reasons TMS needs SaaS
View full-size: Get SaaSy: Top 4 reasons TMS needs SaaS

Why is Software-as-a-Service ideal for Transportation Management Systems? More...

VIDEO: My favorite TMS vendor

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
11. October 2011 15:28