#Infor #ION – a brief walkthrough
Infor ION is really creating a lots of hype and myth amongst Infor family and those who are considering to be the part of Infor family. What is it all about ? What is this ION ? Another buzzword ? Is this a BI tool ? If I get ION, I don’t need anything else to install ? Lots of questions come up from people who have heard that some product coined “ION” is launched by the third largest ERP vendor “Infor”. Trying to answer some of the questions, basically a brief overview of what is ION and what it can do better.
ION stands for “Intelligent Open Network”, its a middle-ware developed by Infor which can be used with Infor and non-Infor products. Its not something which is very new to the enterprise industry. There is a huge list of middle-wares which are existing which might be even better than ION and also experienced in this area. Now lets see, how ION makes itself different from its peers and what is the best maximum we can achieve from it.
Wait wait !! what the damn is this middle-ware ?
Keeping aside all the technical jargon lets try to understand what the middle-ware is with a simple day-to-day example? Have a look at the image below, and try to figure out what it says
There is English gentleman , who understands only English and a Sumo wrestler who can only understand Japanese and they both wanna communicate , they can talk in action, but that’s not the effective way to communicate, it will take hours for them to understand a single statement. There is a problem!!
Now Stewie comes along, he knows both the languages , he becomes a translator in between and helps them communicate. Stewie plays a major role for a effective conversation to take place between the English and Japanese Sumo.
Middle-ware plays the same role as Stewie, this is though a very broad explanation of a middle-ware just to understand how important the middle-ware is. Some big names in this area are TIBCO , webMethods, IBM etc.
In technical terms, Middleware is a software which enables the communication and management of data in distributed applications. Services that can be regarded as middleware include Enterprise application integration, data integration, message oriented middleware (MOM) and Object Request Brokers (ORBs).
What we are mainly concerned is EAI.
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is an integration framework composed of a collection of technologies and services which form a middleware to enable integration of systems and applications across the enterprise.
ERP applications , CRM applications , BI applications etc typically cannot communicate with one another in order to share data or business rules. Not only this application landscapes require a midlle-ware to communicate , but also two similar applications from different vendors can’t effectively communicate without a middle-ware. “EAI is the “unrestricted sharing of data and business processes among any connected application or data sources in the enterprise”. This is what Gartner talks about EAI.
One large challenge of EAI is that the various systems that need to be linked together often reside on different operating systems, use different database solutions and different computer languages, and in some cases are legacy systems that are no longer supported by the vendor who originally created them. Baan can be considered as an example of legacy application, though Infor have very beautifully adopted and raised it like its own kid.
How ION is different from its peers and how can it help improve our business ?
ION as I have already mentioned, is an middle-ware from Infor. Being an Infor product, connectivity between Infor application landscape is possible in matter of few minutes. As Infor says “3 minutes installation – 3 minutes configuration and 3 minutes Live”. This is great is’n it ? This is very much true when we talk about Infor application landscape communication via standard BODs, but when it comes custom BODs and 3rd party applications in the landscape, it is obvious that it won’t go live in 9 minutes, you will need a little more efforts, but it will be minimal.
Now the above points doesn’t mean that you replace all other middle-wares being already used in your organisation with ION. The other peers are equally good or may be better , but when most of the application in the landcape belongs to infor family, it is recommended to use ION as it will definitely reduce the implementation time and as standard business processes are already defined, there will be minimal time in customization as well.
ION effectively enable you to organize your information, act on the information and follow or monitor the information. Infor have adapted the social platforms for real time data operation, alerts and hats off for the very beautiful and stunning user interface. The Pulse reminds me of “Bottlenose”, the only thing missing here is “sonar”. All the data that will be traversed will be through a secure business vault, without compromising on data security. In an enterprise, data security should be always given the top priority, and Infor have done it very well. This approach will reduce a lot of ETL process, normally involved in integration and you can move on to Real Time.
Most (Not All) of the middle-wares will just serve your connectivity needs, but again for reporting, event management, and routing the business flow you will need to undergo multiple surgeries to your applications, this can be higly avoided with ION Suite. ION takes a single touch point approach and lots of the custom and point-to-point integrations can be avoided.
ION service Suite includes ION Pulse which manages and follows the information, ION workflow for automated document routing and approvals across multiple infor/non-infor applications, Event Management for automated task monitoring and pro-active alerting of any exceptions, ION Connect for communication and secure sharing of data across on-premise and cloud applications and a intuitive browser based interface used for configuring and monitoring the ION services. Below figure is the pictorial representation.
If you have used bottlenose, Pulse is like its brother for enterprise applications, mainly meant for reducing the huge load of feeds and alerts, its basically for managing and following the loads of information.
How is ION priced ?
This is again an important question that comes in the mind, when you are thinking of buying ION.
Infor has bundled the ION services in three different SKUs
- ION – CONNECT ( ION-CONNECT, ION-DESK and Infor connectors )
- ION – CONNECT 3P ( ION-CONNECT, ION DESK + IO BOX Connectors for 3rd party apps)
- ION – PROCESS ( ION CONNECT, ION DESK, ION WORKFLOW, ION EVENT MANAGEMENT and PULSE)
ION Server-based pricing based on CPU-Cores. The pricing is based on the effective used / assigned cpu-cores and not per the physical number of cpu-cores present on the hardware. So if you are thinking of buying ION for your Infor application, ION connect is what you need . For Infor to 3rd party connectivity, ION connect and ION connect 3P will be required and for the combination of both and also need event management, workflow etc. you will need the ION-Process.
Hope I could answer at least some of the questions related to ION and bring some idea about what ION is ?