Is the warehouse-management system (WMS) sector ready to move to the cloud? "We definitely think that's true," says Radunz. Many warehouse customers have already moved into hosted systems, he adds.
There's still a lot of progress to be made, however. Several factors have slowed the adoption of cloud-based WMS, including the complexity of the software, concerns over interfacing with the back-end data center, and the use of radio-frequency handhelds within the warehouse.
At the same time, says Radunz, there are a number of arguments favoring a cloud-based approach. They include significant cost savings, greater operating efficiency and the chance for companies to shed themselves of activities that they don't view as core competencies.
When they first appeared on the market, cloud applications generated a number of concerns among companies with established on-premises software systems. They worried that the proprietary data conveyed through hosted software would be less secure. They were also cognizant of the possibility of a communications disruption that could paralyze a facility. Radunz believes those concerns have largely been addressed by the new breed of hosted applications, and that the advantages of using them outweigh any potential drawbacks. Latter-day models feature "high securability," he says. "Most cloud offerings we see today are in very high-end data centers."
The cloud isn't for everybody. Radunz says companies should scrutinize their financial models, and weigh the cost and benefits of maintaining an on-premise operation. Nevertheless, he believes the technology is sufficiently reliable and secure to benefit a large number of WMS users today. "The cloud is a good way to network different facilities around the world," he says.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain management IT, inventory management, inventory control, logistics management, warehouse management, warehouse management systems, cloud WMS
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