JDA Software Group Inc. said today it has chosen Google Inc. to host JDA's future cloud-based software apps, enlisting one of the industry's leading names to spearhead the supply chain technology provider's march to the cloud.
By building its new apps on the Google Cloud Platform, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based JDA will be able to focus on its core expertise—creating supply chain planning software—while Google manages the back end of the cloud computing operation.
JDA's new cloud partnership also allows it to match a recent move by rival supply chain software developer Manhattan Associates Inc. The Atlanta-based company announced in May that it would use IBM Corp.'s "IBM Cloud" to host the infrastructure behind its cloud-based e-commerce applications. Manhattan, which has been selling cloud-based versions of software such as its transportation management system (TMS) for more than a decade, said the IBM arrangement will offer improved power, security, visibility, and flexibility.
Both initiatives are examples of Platform as a Service (PaaS), a business model that allows a host company such as Google or IBM to manage a foundation of networks, servers, and storage, while charging developers such as JDA to launch new apps on the platform. Other PaaS offerings include Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
The model is a good fit for supporting cloud-based omnichannel and supply chain apps, which need to be scalable and flexible to keep up with the ebbs and flows of supply chain demand cycles, according to JDA.
"Google Cloud Platform offers the unparalleled speed, performance, scalability, and reliability we need to launch truly differentiated solutions," JDA executive vice president and chief technology officer Serge Massicotte said in a release.
As a measure of the importance JDA places on cloud-based initiatives, the company said it plans to run the Google Cloud Platform business from a new research and development unit called JDA Labs, launched in Montreal in 2014 as a rapid-development innovation hub.
Workers assigned to JDA Labs forecast the impact on supply chain businesses of technology trends ranging from drones and robots to the Internet of Things, JDA's chief innovation officer, Jean-Francois Gagne, said in an interview. They then build prototypes such as "augmented reality" eyewear that allows warehouse pickers to see a display of data tailored to their task and location in the distribution center, Gagne said.
One application these researchers will explore is JDA's "Flex" platform strategy, the company said. Flex is a tool for connecting both existing cloud-based software and on-premise solutions with next-generation applications built on the Google Cloud Platform.