Infor announced enhancements to its software maintenance offerings today. The program, dubbed Infor Flex, allows customers at little or no license costs to upgrade to the latest, SOA-enabled versions of their Infor products or to exchange those products for other, newer products in Infor's portfolio.
I won't spend more time describing the program, as Infor has a good blog post on Infor Flex
with embedded presentations. On balance, I would say it is a good move on Infor's part.
As I've written in the past
, with its huge installed base, Infor has an opportunity to differentiate itself from its competitors in terms of its maintenance program. Many of its customers are on older legacy products, which Infor or its predecessor companies acquired over the past several years. Some of them pay maintenance, others don't. Most of them are going to do something in terms of new systems in the coming years. Infor has some decent up-to-date products in its portfolio, such as Baan and Syteline. But how can they compete against SAP, Oracle at the high end, or Microsoft, Lawson, IFS, and others in the mid-tier? The only way is to make upgrading or exchanging the customer's legacy products a no-brainer. This is what Infor Flex is intended to do.
It remains to be seen whether this program will succeed in moving significant numbers of its installed base to its newer products. On the one hand, I spoke to one early adopter of Infor's Open SOA products a couple months ago, and he was very positive about the experience. He also spoke well of Infor's maintenance and support services. This is a good sign and it says more to me than any number of vendor press releases and statements about future direction.
On the other hand, by my observation, Infor gets "outsold" by other vendors, even in situations where it is the incumbent supplier. Current economic conditions are likely limiting its ability to more aggressively and thoroughly present its leading products, such as Baan and Syteline. Hopefully, the new Infor Flex program will provide a more compelling value proposition, allowing Infor to win more deals where it already has a customer relationship.
I would like to see this program succeed. In these days, customers need more alternatives, not fewer.
I see Vinnie has already posted his view on Infor Flex. Read Flex should also include down, not just up.
Vinnie points out that the "flex" option is only for more product and services, not less. A good point, but Infor is reluctant to give customers an option to pay less than they're paying now. Of course, Infor is not alone in this reluctance.
Dennis Howlett weighs in, in his usual style: curmudgeonly
. Read the whole piece, at least to see how Dennis can manage a reference to Hulk Hogan when talking about ERP.
Infor's opportunity: value in maintenance and support
Infor buying SoftBrands, owner of Fourth Shift
Enterprise software: who wants to be the low-cost leader?