In what one company official describes as "the next evolution of SaaS," open source ERP provider Compiere has announced that its flagship product is now available on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud.
Under the novel deployment, dubbed Compiere Cloud Edition, customers can access the ERP suite through a Web connection, while leaving the associated computing and storage functions to Amazon. Customers license the software from Compiere (or a reseller) at a yearly per-user cost of $795, including support, and then contract with Amazon for the server processing and storage needed to run the application. Amazon maintains a by-the-drink pricing scheme, with typical processing fees for a 40- to 200-person deployment costing approximately $3,500 per year, annual support totaling $1,200, and database storage and backup running $0.10 per gigabyte provisioned and $0.10 per 1 million I/O requests. Inbound Internet transfers cost $0.10 per GB; outbound, $0.17 per GB.
Like SaaS in general, hosting and processing applications in the "cloud" is a modern-day version of utility computing, allowing an application user to off-load the infrastructure requirements to a third party. John Cingari, chief marketing officer at Compiere, likens the computing power provided by Amazon to an individual's home phone service. "You plug it into the wall and it works," he says.
Compiere differentiates itself from proprietary ERP software providers in part by giving end users more customization power. Through a dictionary-based programming schema, Compiere's customers can modify screens, create extensions, and otherwise tailor the open source application to suit their needs. Each user company licenses its own instance of the software, such that when Compiere delivers an update, any customization work carries through to the latest version for that particular customer. The Amazon cloud version of the product will retain these features.