SAP Business One in the Cloud: Interview with Cloud Provider Ancar-B

Ancar B Technologies is a UK based supplier of IT Services and Solutions, ranging from business critical support to infrastructure and hosted solutions.

One area of Ancar B’s specialism is hosted services in the cloud.  Looking at how it does this for hosting SAP Business One business management software for SMEs, Richard Payne Ancar B’s Sales Manager tells us more:


Q: In brief, how does SAP Business One in the cloud work?

A: We provide the infrastructure for ERP providers like Signum Solutions to be able to offer businesses ‘Software as a Service’ packages.  This means that rather than buy expensive servers, we are able to run their IT infrastructure for them, for a much smaller monthly fee.


Q: What would an SME need to do to set this all up?

A: Just let us know how many users are required for applications. For instance, how many SAP Business One users there are.  We then factor in the cost of Windows, SQL and Remote Desktop licenses and send a quotation, which includes a Set-up fee.  If we get the go-ahead we set up the virtual server and send the user log-in details.  All that users then need to do then is to click on a desktop icon and log-in using a username and password.


Q: With SMEs in mind, what would you say are the top 3 benefits that SME businesses realise by hosting SAP Business One in the cloud?

A: Firstly a lower capital expenditure.  Money for IT infrastructure can move to the operational budget where it can be better spent!

Secondly, as a virtual platform, the service we provide is easily scalable – expand or contract users in line with business needs.

Thirdly would be remote working.  Users can access their data in the cloud absolutely anywhere that has an internet connection.

Fourthly I’d also say the type of server infrastructure that we use to run the cloud on.  Ours server/cloud infrastructure is located in a Data Centre that is ISO7001 certified, which means that we have extremely high levels of security, backup and fire safety.

Overall, I would say the top benefits are finance, flexibility, security and remote working access.


Q: What do SMEs generally worry about the most when considering whether to make the move to cloud or not?

A: Usually the security aspect.  However, our servers at Ancar-B are controlled by secure VPNs (virtual private networks) and have a very, very powerful Webscreen firewall to prevent hacking.  It’s far more secure than even a really good, in-house server would be.

Q: How does paying for SAP Business One in the cloud work?

A: There are charges for various licenses: SAP Business One licenses, remote access licenses, SQL licenses and Microsoft licenses.  We then factor in our support costs, which includes UK based, personalised high quality support from 9-5 and also out of hours if necessary.  Finally, we charge a nominal fee for the cost of resources used to host users’ data on the cloud, which covers things like electricity and bandwidth.  This is then all combined into one monthly fee.


Q: Do SMEs need to budget for anything else other than SAP licenses and hosting charges?

A: Yes, I’d recommend a decent business class router from the location that users will be connecting from, plus a reasonable internet connection using ADSL2, Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) or Ethernet First Mile (EFM).  They would obviously also need to budget for PCs, laptops or tablets to use and connect to the cloud.


Q: What do SME users tend to think the negatives to working with the cloud are?  And how do you help allay these fears at Ancar B?

A: Connectivity is something that people are often a bit worried about.  At Ancar-B we don’t just give users a log-on, we provide a much more tailored service.  If a business was having trouble getting online we would diagnose any issues and recommend better solutions for getting online.  Alongside our UK based support teams, we are also slightly different to other cloud providers in the way that we are able to host lots of applications.  If a user has been told that they can’t host a certain application, such as SAP Business One, on the cloud then our bespoke solutions can help to make it happen.


Q: What would you say are the top 3 considerations SMEs need to bear in mind when choosing a cloud provider?

A: One would be whether the provider offers a personalised service.  It’s not as simple as giving a user a log-on and leaving them to it sometimes and it’s good to know that you will be well supported by professionals.

Where the data will be stored is also important.  We ensure that our data is stored within the UK and not in foreign countries to ensure avoidance of any data sovereignty issues or falling foul of any overseas legal regulations.

Thirdly, I would say whether the provider can work on a commercial level without blinding you with the technical side of things.  Business owners are generally interested in business benefits; is the cloud going to work better for them, will it work quickly enough and be available are the types of things they want to know.  We take care of the technical side of things without drowning our customers in jargon that they don’t need to know about, by finding out what will work best for them and letting them know just that.


Q: Is the cloud suitable for all SME companies?

A: I’d say most.  There are some where it will work, but it isn’t ideal.  Businesses such as architectural practices, where there are lots of CAD design drawings aren’t best to store them within the cloud because the files are large and cumbersome, so take up a lot of bandwidth.  It would be fine for them to use the cloud for email, ERP and CRM systems, but these types of businesses would be best to store high bandwidth documents locally.


Q: What would you say are the top 3 indicators that an SME should make the move the cloud are?

A: One would be if there are a lot of remote workers or branches, where money could be saved by not having separate servers, infrastructure and support and where workers could easily access data on the go or from home.

Secondly, if the business is a start-up.  It is a lot cheaper to choose a cloud solution, which can cost as little as £70 per month, rather than pay out for a standard £5,000 on-premise server solution

Thirdly, if a business is expanding steadily or quickly.  We can build a system up to meet the business’ needs really quickly and easily.  Having cloud users is so flexible and by adding more, it’s not going to slow processes down like it would do with a smaller internal server.


For more information about how SAP Business One in the cloud can add benefits to your business, contact Signum Solutions on 01244 676 900.


An interview with Tom Brumwell, Operations Manager at Polyurethane Progress Ltd

Polyurethane Progress Ltd has seen tremendous growth over recent years and has ambitious plans to ensure its place as a market leader within the industrial plastics marketplace.  Find out more about the business and the processes it has put into place to continue its success, from our interview with Operations Manager, Tom Brumwell:


Q: Tell us about Polyurethane Progress Ltd

A: Polyurethane Progress Ltd is a family owned company, which has been in the manufacturing industry for almost 30 years. We offer the highest quality in our products with the most advanced designs, material specifications and technical solutions in the manufacturing industry.  Operating from a modern processing facility based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire we are constantly producing high quality polyurethane goods with fast turn round times, operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Unlike many of our competitors, Polyurethane Progress Ltd operates a full ‘in-house’ system, which means that none of our products are imported – they are all produced onsite.


Q: What is your role within the business?

A: My role is mostly sales based – taking on new enquiries from customers, quotations, order inputting etc. However I also take on other roles too, such as: purchasing, social networking, dabbling in IT support and website projects, to name just a few!


Q: What industry does Polyurethane Progress sit within?

A: Polyurethane Progress are specialists in both cast moulding and injection moulding of Polyurethane and other industrial plastics. Our parts serve industries around the globe at opposite sides of the spectrum.  From automotive bush components through to sealing solutions for oil rigs, we can do both mass production and smaller batch production of parts, based on our customers’ needs.


Q: What are your products and services?

A: Our products range from seals to bespoke components, we offer both cast and injection moulding and also have our own in house tooling department, which allows us to take on new enquiries and make the required moulds in house; minimising lead times for our customers.


Q: How many products do you have?

A: In the region on 12,500.


Q: What has the last year been like for you?

A: This last year has seen the company grow at a dramatic rate across the board, allowing us to further expand and future proof our company with a new ERP system – SAP Business One from Signum Solutions.


Q: What made you decide to implement a new ERP system?

A: The existing system was disjointed, slow, difficult to use and allowed for too many mistake.  Support was lacking too, with required changes or fixes taking an age to resolve.


Q: When is SAP Business One going to be implemented?

A: We are due to begin implementation later this month!


Q: What’s different about the new ERP system?

A: The new system will encapsulate all of the inner workings of the company.  Whilst before we had various different procedures in place, some paper-based and others using the old system, everything will now be covered within SAP Business one, which will make it easier for us to operate as a business and easier for our customers to operate with us too.

Also, the solution that we have chosen will be hosted in The Cloud, which means that we are able to save money by not buying, storing and maintaining our own  servers.


Q: What are the benefits that you are expecting from implementing SAP Business One?

A: We think the benefits will include: increased productivity, fewer mistakes, ease of use and an increase in profitability by having the ability to highlight areas of concern that we currently may be unable to see, due to the limitations of the existing system.


Q: How did you come across Signum Solutions?

A: I was searching for ERP solutions online and found the Signum Solutions website.


Q: What made you decide to partner with Signum Solutions for your ERP project?

A: Their experience in dealing with situations similar to our own, where medium sized businesses had outgrown their current ERP system and needed a robust and long-term solution, gave us the confidence they could successfully implement and support our new system.


Q: You’re officially Signum’s 50th customer – how does that feel?

A: It’s good to know that we have partnered with a company that has a good level of stability and a customer profile that is well represented by businesses similar to ours. We know that Signum also has 100% customer retention, which is impressive when dealing with 50 different businesses over more than 10 years.

View customer case studies to find out more about how Signum Solutions’ experience within manufacturing and wholesale industries has helped similar businesses achieve streamlined processes and financial benefits, with SAP Business One.