Ramco Systems - Diversity Marshaled Through Flexibility:
2: Market Impact
The market is bound to hear more about Ramco Systems in the future.
Although India-based ERP solutions provider may be only slightly more
than a decade old and not well known outside the Asian market, it might
have found a winning market tackling strategy in delivering a new agile
component-based development (CBD) framework that provides the much-needed
flexibility in enterprise applications.
one of the first India-based companies to design and develop an ERP product,
has not been relying on reinventing the product time and again to play
in the ever-changing mid-market ERP arena. Instead, Ramco's market expansion
strategy is to grow through partnerships with external service providers
and/or end-user companies worldwide. See Part
One of this note for details.
offshore development capabilities has increasingly been an effective strategy
for major vendors seeking high-quality software development skills. Both
vendors and system integrators are under increasing pressure to reduce
costs in an ever-tougher and cost conscious market. For these, offshore
programming may improve their ability to compete effectively not only
with each other, but also with the major offshore players including Ramco,
Ramco Systems' profile has been rising as a consequence of increasingly
cost-conscious IT decision makers. India remains the most fertile ground
for offshore programming because it offers the best combination of both
technical and business acumen, along with the English-language skills.
is Part Two of a three-part note on recent announcement by Ramco
Systems. Part One contains the announcements. Part Three will discuss
the challenges faced by Ramco Systems and makes User Recommendations.
the fiscal year 2000-01, Ramco transformed from a predominantly core ERP
provider to a complete solutions company with a broader portfolio of products
(e.g., ERP, EAM, HRMS, etc.) and services (e.g., network solutions, network
security, modeling and simulations, etc.). Today, Ramco Systems has more
than 1000 customers worldwide, and with the company restructured into
different strategic business units (SBUs), more aggressive investments
in people & marketing, and strategic partners in place, the company will
have successfully transformed into nearly a one-stop-shop solutions provider
with a potentially prosperous future.
Ramco's currently available flagship Ramco e.Applications (formerly
Ramco Marshal) product suite goes well beyond the conventional ERP modules
and provides gateways that help enterprises to leverage on the Internet,
e-commerce and electronic data interchange (EDI). Also noteworthy is the
Ramco Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) product, which addresses the specific
needs of asset-intensive organizations. Out of the box integration for
complementary solutions such as project management tools like Primavera
and MS Project, automated data collection devices (e.g., bar coding, radio
frequency (RF) units, etc.), real-time control and automation systems
in process industries, EDI, and material data safety sheets (MSDS), have
often been cited as a reason for opting for the product.
e.Applications has been developed with an attempt to grasp the forces
of change in the business world, and the consequent requirement for rapid
development, deployment and customization. The product caters for many
companies' needs to operate from multiple locations and with multiple
currencies and/or languages. Further, it answers to the organizational
growth and diversity needs that require a broad range of applications
and features and continual business process change. To that end, Ramco
distributes the processing load between the client and the server - the
application logic that does not require any external data and the graphical
user interface (GUI) are placed on the client, whereas the application
logic that requires access to external data resides on the server. By
controlling the computing load on the server, one should be able to control
the desired network traffic. The system also allows the application modules
to be distributed over multiple servers, which may balance the processing
load even more effectively. At the same time, it provides transparent
access across this distributed area, making all the databases appear to
be a single, integrated database.
Ramco e.Applications consists of 35 core business applications in the
following functional areas: Process Production, Discrete Production, Logistics,
Sales, Treasury, Financials, Human Resources (HR), Logistics, Plant Maintenance,
and Statistical Process and Quality Control (SPC/SQC), Web Products, Advanced
Planning, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Enterprise Intelligence.
The suite also includes security features and various productivity tools
such as Ramco Process Architect (RPA) (a process mapping tool), an Application
Configurator, Dcube (a data drill-down tool), the Workflow Engine and
the Report Writer.
of Ramco's application modules is capable of working standalone or with
other Ramco module or third-party applications in many configurations,
in order to meet specific business needs. The system is fairly scalable
too, allowing the addition or subtraction of users, functions, applications,
servers, or locations with a reasonably low effort. Moreover, the suite
was devised using solely industry-wide popular Microsoft standard tools
(Visual C++ for Microsoft Windows NT and SQL Server) to simplify future
additions to or modification of the source code.
tools and utilities facilitate customization on almost every level from
the entire screen to individual data fields - for a single user, an entire
organization, or any number in between. In addition to its intuitive GUI
(with nice-to-have features like, e.g., information list boxes and defaults
that reduce code memorization and redundant data entry), the system also
offers compelling security features. Namely, security authorizations may
be defined and customized for application modules, roles, users, and/or
transactions, based upon organizational structure and/or company policy.
The system also generates an audit trail for specific transactions to
track changes to the data.
Ramco also provides implementation services through a proprietary structured
implementation program called RSPRINT (Ramco Strategic PRogram for ImplementatioN
and Training), which may entail the following phases: implementation scoping
and management, training, application consulting, business engineering,
modeling, extension development and roll out services. The methodology
has been adopted based on gained experiences through previous implementations,
and a typical all-encompassing RSPRINT implementation plan spreads over
26 weeks for a deployment of the Ramco e.Applications suite. However,
the implementation strategy for every customer can be tailored in tune
with the organization's preparedness, knowledge and skills levels for
adopting a new IT solution. Therefore, Ramco's implementation team does
not necessarily have to carry out all the above-mentioned phases, which
can make the implementation time significantly shorter.
The key element that contributes to the uniqueness of Ramco's offering,
however, is Ramco VirtualWorks, a virtual enterprise platform for designing,
developing and deploying enterprise applications. In other words, it is
a model-driven code generator that generates complete component-based
applications from specified business requirements. Ramco VirtualWorks
incorporates all the stages of software development life cycle (SDLC)
including Requirements Modeling (done by functionality specialists/consultants),
Design Specification (done by a design engineer/software architect), Construction
(done by a developer), Testing (done by a quality engineer), and Deployment
& Administration (done by business analyst/system administrator).
service providers/system integrators and Ramco partners can use the business
process modeling or object-oriented analysis and design tools to define
the business requirements specifications. These are afterwards sent back
to Ramco and converted into terms understood by the VirtualWorks Requirements
Workbench, with the idea to possibly later reuse the produced components.
The other VirtualWorks Workbenches generate the database schemas, user
interfaces, and process flow control software. Finally, the resulted software
components are sent back to the partner for onsite testing and implementation.
VirtualWorks runtime architecture is based on layered software approach
(see table bellow) to match the functional layers in on-line transaction
processing (OLTP) systems. The layers are invariant to the computing technologies
to be employed in system implementation, and can be implemented in a single
hardware resource or in a highly distributed infrastructure.
ActiveX, DHTML, CE specific, Active Server Pages (ASPs)
and later versions, Netscape 6.0 and later versions, ASPs on Internet
Information Server (IIS)
& Gateway Layer
DCOM, HTTP, MSMQ, XML
Transaction Server (MTS), Windows NT/2000
Server 6.5, 7.0
concludes Part Two of a three-part note on Ramco Systems. Part One detailed
recent announcements. Part Three discusses the challenges faced by Ramco
Systems and makes User Recommendations.