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Sage 200 Online cloud ERP launched on Microsoft Azure

On-premise option means no 'cloud or nothing' approach for UK software firm

UK-based software vendor Sage has made its first move into the cloud, launching an online version of its Sage 200 enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite on Microsoft's Azure platform.

The ERP software, named Sage 200 Online, is aimed at the small to mid-sized business with up 200 employees, and will give customers access to the same financial management features as the Sage 200. Users will also be able to add additional modules to the suite as part of a pay-for-use model.

Sage 200 Online will be available through a monthly subscription payment, but users will also continue to be able to purchase as a desktop license should they wish. The company promised that existing Sage 200 users will not be forced onto the cloud model, with continuing support for the desktop software, and both versions will use the same code.

Sage CIO and CTO Stuart Lynn said that the release of Sage 200 online shows that the UK software vendor is willing to embrace the cloud, but does not intend to turn its back on customers which are not swayed by software as a service.

"Our strategy is to embrace the online world, but we also don't want to turn our back on on-premise, as the majority of online software revenues are still coming from these deployments," Lynn said at a launch event in London on Thursday.

"Having both on-premise and online is a USP for us - not many of our competitors have both and are able to satisfy customers' needs.

"It is not 'cloud or nothing', it is cloud and on-premise."

The software will sit on Microsoft's Azure platform, and hosted in multitenant data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam. Sage will then run its own services on top of the platform as a service (Paas) provided by Microsoft.

Part of the reason for the decision to use the Azure platform - as opposed to Amazon Web Services, which runs Sage One - is due to the ERP platform being developed using the .NET framework, making integration with Microsoft easier.

According to one Sage customer, Northern Irish firm Electraction, which had been trialling the software in beta, the cloud solution has given staff more flexibility and saved money on upgrading internal hardware systems as the company looked to move on from Sage Line 100.

"We are quite a small company, so I could be in the office doing accounts one day, and the next day doing sales," said Electraction General Manager, Donna Rae. "It means that I have all my up to date data with me wherever I go as long as I have an internet connection.

"Also you don't have the initial outlay of buying a server and upgrading everything. That has saved quite a lot of money, as we had been putting off an upgrade to Sage 200 because of hardware costs."

Sage has previously indicated its intention to drive business growth by investing in mobile and cloud services, as the firm also moves to reduce complexity in its range of products.

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