Sage has launched Sage Business Cloud, a solution designed to provide an integrated framework with united platform services for all their separate cloud products. It is intended to improve the customer experience, simplify migration between products as customer needs change, and further drive the inexorable movement to the cloud.
“Sage Business Cloud is a business solution that scales across different sizes of companies with different needs,” said Klaus Michael Vogelberg, Sage’s Chief Technology Officer. “It brings all our different cloud solutions, which are separate, discrete applications, under one umbrella, and provides them with platform services which already exist, and which will be expanded going forward. This will create a more coherent customer experience in terms of migrating from a startup to a scaleup solution.” In addition to providing a new unity for Sage’s diverse array of core accounting products, it will also unite them with more recently acquired business management solutions like Intacct [Cloud Financial Management], Fairsail [Human Capital Management] and Compass [Analytics and Benchmarking].
Sage is emphasizing the unity of the Business Cloud in being able to support customers across their business journey, with the tagline that this is the only cloud platform that businesses will ever need. That can make the Business Cloud look like more of a marketing concept. It’s more than that however, and those services are a key value-add here.
“Take for instance sales tax,” Vogelberg said. “It is addressed in country-specific statutory reporting. Our discrete applications replicate that time and again. It’s in each one. That’s a very inefficient way of addressing this. So what we are doing with Sage Business Cloud is externalizing those building blocks and providing them as a microservice fabric. This applies to many areas, like banking services and payments, which will be microservices in this approach.”
Vogelberg said doing things this way will let Sage react more nimbly to advances in technology, and incorporate them in the microservices.
“Innovation in our space is driven by emerging technologies like machine learning and natural language processing, to provide intelligent automation,” he said. “These are now part of that microservice fabric. On top of that is the developer experience, and it is now done in a more consistent way.”
The Sage Business Cloud is a natural extension of what Sage has already been doing.
“We’ve been on this journey for a while, particularly with our “C-line” products – with C referring to Connected or Cloud,” Vogelberg said. “The on-prem world was a product-centric world. The cloud is not. You deliver an accounting experience, and the customer expects it will scale. With the Business Cloud, it’s easy and seamless to move up between solutions, and you keep a lot of things when you move. You don’t have to set up things like the banking feeds again when you move. It makes for a much more scalable and customer-centric experience. That’s why we are emphasizing that it’s the only cloud solution you will ever need, because of that flexibility.”
Vogelberg compared what Sage is doing with Sage Business Cloud to Microsoft’s progression with what is now the Office 365 cloud suite.
“If you go back to the early 1990s, Word, Excel and PowerPoint were all separate, discrete products,” he said. “Then Microsoft combined them into the Office Suite. Then they evolved that to where we are today with Office 365. The Sage Business Cloud is similar, in creating a seamless experience from what had been separate products.”
While Sage has been signalling for some time that the cloud is the future, it continues to maintain and develop its separate line of on-prem products, while developing subscription-based versions with the “C” lines. Sage Business Cloud directly touches only the cloud products. It will, however, provide indirect benefits to the others. And it provides an impetus to get on-prem customers to move to the cloud.
“We can leverage the ecosystem of the business cloud to deliver some of the customer benefits to the on-prem customers, through the microservices,” Vogelberg said. “They will also provide immediate benefits to those customers. It will also drive further conversions, creating a stepping stone for progressive migration to pure cloud solutions.”
Vogelberg emphasized that the Sage Cloud is not something new that existing customers will have to buy.
“Existing cloud customers are automatically on it,” he said. “If you use Sage One, you are part of the Sage Business Cloud.”
Vogelberg also emphasized that the Business Cloud is very much a work in progress, and that more capabilities and more microservices will be available going forward.
“The Business Cloud is also a road map,” he said. “We will be working on this for the next couple of years. It will get better with every release.”
Customers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K can use the Sage Business Cloud today. Global roll out beyond those countries will take place in the rest of this year, and next year.