According to a recent DC Velocity article, A 'cloudier' future for warehousing software?, while cloud deployments for Warehouse Management Systems initially lagged in comparison to TMS (transportation management systems), ERP (enterprise resource planning), and LMS (labor management systems), adoption rates are now increasing.

From the onset, smaller organizations with less sophisticated operations and smaller IT budgets were driving this growth, but now their bigger counterparts are climbing on board.

The cloud warehouse management system market cloud is gaining serious traction as larger, more sophisticated distribution centers embrace the cloud model.

Jeff Atkins, Senior Director of Product Management and Chief Architect of the irms|360 Cloud Warehouse Management System, envisions the cloud driving mission-critical software in the very near future for all organizations regardless of size or complexity. We sat down with Jeff to discuss how concerns about transitioning to a cloud WMS are largely outdated and misunderstood, and how important cloud technology is to the future of supply chain technology.

A primary concern with a cloud WMS is that your warehouse’s Internet connection could go down at any moment. How do you address the risk of losing Internet connectivity with a cloud system?

Atkins: As with all components of the computing ecosystem, redundancy/failover is recommended when moving to the cloud. Failover Internet connection(s), from a provider other than your primary, is a common practice in today’s environments with both the telco and cable companies having representation in the overall solution.

How do the response times in the cloud compare with an on-premise WMS? Can a cloud WMS handle real-time requirements for high-speed scanning and highly automated environments?

Atkins: The irms|360 cloud application has been built to minimize payload and traffic required for web, mobile, and integration transactions. Response times are very comparable to on-premise provided that the appropriate networking environment is in place and that data communication lines are not saturated with traffic from other external applications like email and CRM.

With the risk of protecting customer and partner data being so high, do you feel that a cloud WMS is as secure as hosting onsite?

Atkins: Absolutely. Cloud providers spend quite a bit of human and financial capital ensuring the cloud environment is secure with multiple layers of security and intrusion detection strategies.

The surge in cloud WMS adoption has been attributed primarily to small- and medium-sized organizations that are not using advanced warehouse technologies and high-speed automation systems. Do you see larger, more sophisticated organizations transitioning to a cloud WMS?

Atkins: Yes. Not only is it already happening, it is inevitable for organizations that want to survive in today’s competitive landscape. The cloud allows organizations of all sizes to offload burdensome tasks such as infrastructure administration, maintenance, and upgrades as well all other responsibilities that come along with on-premise software.

Cost is the primary factor driving a transition to the cloud. Do you see the economics of the cloud driving decisions for multimillion- and multibillion-dollar enterprises in the future?

Atkins: Absolutely. Cost is a driver for businesses of all sizes, but so is the categorization of their spend (CAPEX vs. OPEX). The ability to offload infrastructure and software responsibilities to the cloud provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to focus on their core competencies and redirect dollars to operational needs.

For businesses running on legacy technology, how will the cloud position them for the future?

Atkins: The cloud enables businesses running on legacy technology to move to a platform that will support their business needs as well as their customers’ business needs. For the irms|360 WMS, having an open architecture allows bi-directional communication via a myriad of methods. This has proven to be key for our clients to ensure their portfolio of continued operational capabilities during times of change.