The Future of ERP: SAP, Plex and Rootstock

Cloud ERP suites are here. SAP Business ByDesign is re-entering the fray and players like Plex and Rootstock should compete well with them.

Much of the press the last few weeks has concerned SAP and other vendors as user conferences were everywhere in May. SAP, SAGE, Mercer and others invited me to events all on the same week. I went to an overseas client as I had a long-standing commitment.

Nonetheless, SAP’s Business ByDesign SaaS solution is again getting a lot of visibility. Fellow ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett will be updating our opus on this product line very soon.

But I believe a different vendor deserves more notice: Plex Systems. They also had a user conference last month and this is a vendor whose SaaS ERP solution has been out for years and has, I believe, about 1,300 customers.

In the last few months, I have interviewed several Plex customers, Plex’s CEO (Mark Symonds) and even crafted a research report (with the help of colleague Tom Ryan) on the company. In all, this firm is hard to fault. In fact, I could only suggest that they:

- Make their PaaS development toolset available to systems integrators and resellers - Accelerate their rollout into other vertical markets

I can also state that much larger entities are looking to Plex as a replacement solution for older on-premise ERP solutions. I spoke at length with a CIO who is considering this across their North American and European operations.

While their install base has had a very North American focus currently, you can expect this to change soon. If you’re a SaaS scorecard keeper, Plex is a true multi-tenant solution.

Bottom line: This is one of those vendors to watch

Rootstock Software has an ERP suite built on the NetSuite cloud and NetSuite cloud development tools. I like them enough already that colleague, Tom Ryan, and I are planning a briefing with them soon. I ran into them at NetSuite’s SuiteCloud a few weeks back but our behind the scenes poking around suggests we need to learn more about them.

Rootstock, like Plex, has its roots on the shop floor, not the back office. In Rootstock’s case, the product uses the NetSuite applications (e.g., Financials, CRM and HR) while building out their own core products. If my notes from SuiteCloud are correct, the Rootstock software has 2995 custom fields, 93 database/tables and 202 suite-lets.

Bottom line: Vendors like Rootstock will be particularly disconcerting to older on-premise vendors. Their ability to create big, functionally rich application suites fast is their core competency: a competency that is made possible via a powerful platform as a service (PaaS). I would also add them to my watch list.