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Most ERP vendors are trying to move their on-premises ERP customers to the cloud. To help encourage migration, cloud customers often get more functionality. Epicor takes a different approach, illustrated by its latest upgrade.
It improved its Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA), and added a new engagement tool, Collaborate. It also introduced a new tool, Service Pro, which can handle service calls, dispatching, work orders and other functions.
The latest upgrades are available to Epicor's ERP customers -- whether they're in the cloud or on premises. Both will have access to the new tools.
The upgrades take advantage of advanced capabilities of Microsoft Azure's platform. In 2018, Epicor standardized on Azure. With this shift to Azure, Epicor also changed its support policies at about the same time.
On-premises Epicor support policy
The shift in support policy got attention from Epicor's partners.
"Historically, Epicor has been one of the few major ERP vendors to virtually support every version of the software it ever produced," Epicor partner Datix Inc., noted in a blog post. The new support policy changed this.
Terri HiskeyVice president of global product marketing, Epicor
Prior to the support change in 2018, Epicor did not have a published support policy for on-premises ERP users. But the firm said that customer agreements advised them to stay current to ensure optimal support.
According to a statement from Epicor, the updated policy is now this: "Customers will need to upgrade every two years to remain on active support/full support. We will continue to support customers beyond those two years, but fixes are only available for an active release. An exception to this is if a customer chooses to invest in extended support, which gives them one more year of critical bug fixes," or a total of three years of fixes.
Epicor said it is committed to supporting on-premises deployments and won't be moving away from them "in any foreseeable future," according to Terri Hiskey, Epicor's vice president of global product marketing.
"What we really emphasize here at Epicor is that if you want to be on premises, you need to be current," Hiskey said." "It's not tenable for our company to support versions going back 10 or 15 years."
Epicor said it will continue to improve the ability of customers to customize their code in a way that makes it easier to upgrade, Hiskey said.
Epicor had to decide where to invest
Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif., said Epicor's approach makes sense because many of their users are on premises. "The reality is a lot of their customers are happy not being in the cloud, but that's their existing customers," he said.
Matt Schuval, CEO at Datix, said that Epicor put the support policies in place "to actually help customers stay current, relevant and competitive in their respective industries."
In order to do that, "Epicor had to make a choice to invest in allocating resources to consistently improving the Epicor platform to add more value to customers," Schuval said. That meant Epicor "is unable to continue expanding the software support group to maintain old versions as they have in the past," he said.
Epicor upgrades its platform every six months. The Microsoft agreement gave Epicor access to its Azure and AI capabilities. The introduction of EVA earlier this year was part of that.
EVA is being used to help people answer questions and complete small tasks, Wang said. "It's a first step in automating a lot of these back-office business processes and helping to accelerate the front-office staff so that they get to the answers more quickly," he said.
Epicor had an on-premises collaboration tool called Epicor Social Enterprise that it's cloud customers couldn't use. The new Collaborate tool replaces the earlier tool, which is available to its cloud and on-premises users.