Don’t Settle for a Landline: Cloud-Native SaaS for MES

  • Published:
    Jul 12, 2023
  • Category:
    White Paper
  • Topic:

Executive Summary

Is your on-premise MES vendor preparing for a cloud migration? Brace yourself for the bumpy road ahead.

Vendor cloud migration is a complex and costly endeavor. And just like transitioning from an outdated landline to a cordless phone, and then a cell phone, it often requires multiple phases — meaning multiple deployments, validations, and user trainings on your end.

But what if there’s an easier way?

In this white paper, we’ll uncover the challenges and limitations of on-premise MES vendor cloud migration. We’ll then explore modern solutions that can circumvent these challenges.

Read on to find out how to navigate this journey wisely so you can help your organization make the right choice for a tech-forward future.

Jump to…

Cloud Migration: An Overview

The landscape of manufacturing software solutions has witnessed a significant shift towards cloud-based platforms, fueled by the undeniable benefits they offer.

These benefits, including improved agility, scalability, and data visibility, have compelled numerous organizations, including major players in the traditionally conservative pharmaceutical industry, to switch to cloud-based solutions to stay ahead in the market.

According to McKinsey, 16 out of 20 pharmaceutical companies have already embraced cloud technology. Interestingly, this transition is often driven by vendors rather than customers themselves.

As the pharma industry and others continue to transition to the cloud, the crucial question becomes: How will you make this leap?

As the historical providers of MES, on-premise vendors have considerable experience and credibility in the industry, leading them to be the logical choice for many pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

However, the rapid rise of cloud computing is changing the game.

Now that legacy on-premise MES providers are migrating to the cloud, it’s a whole new ballgame — with cloud-native architecture holding a distinct advantage over migrated on-prem to cloud offerings.

In the next section, we'll dive into common challenges that may be encountered during MES cloud migration. We'll then explore ways to avoid these obstacles by leveraging cloud-native architecture.

The Burden of Vendor Cloud Migration

If your on-prem MES vendor decides to undergo a cloud migration, it's crucial to consider the limitations and challenges that will arise from sticking with them during this process.

Cloud migration involves the process of moving existing applications and services from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based environments.

To stay competitive and access the enhanced scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency of cloud computing, many on-prem MES providers are now making this transition. If your current MES vendor uses on-premise architecture, it’s highly likely that they will undergo a cloud migration in the next 5 to 10 years as cloud computing continues to sweep the industry.

However, this journey presents significant risks and challenges that customers of legacy MES organizations must navigate.

These challenges include:

  • Scalability
  • System integrations
  • Performance optimization
  • Security considerations
  • Data management
  • Time and resource costs

Traditionally, organizations have adopted the “lift and shift” approach for migration, which involves transferring existing applications to the cloud infrastructure without significant changes to the underlying on-premise architecture.

While vendors may offer this partial “lift and shift” migration approach as an appealing option, it's important to assess the long-term sustainability and implications of this approach. It’s likely there will need to be subsequent augmentations or system refactoring, resulting in multiple rounds of deployments and updates for clients.

Luckily, a new paradigm has emerged with cloud-native SaaS platforms that have been purpose-built for the cloud from the ground up, eliminating the need for such migration efforts altogether.

This means that savvy companies can circumvent the issue of cloud migration altogether by partnering with a cloud-native, cloud-first MES provider.

Consider the Landline: A Cautionary Tale

When considering the complexities and challenges involved in MES cloud migration, it can be helpful to compare it to other ways our society has embraced new technologies in the past.

As Apprentice VP Marie Forshaw illustrates, you can think about this multi-step approach in terms of another popular technological revolution: the telephone.

“Remember landlines from back in the day? Let’s say you’ve still got one, and your telephone supplier wants to upgrade you to a more modern phone.

However, they’re not able to give you the latest technology at this time — a cell phone. Instead, they promise to upgrade you to a cordless landline this year, and then they’ll switch you to a cell phone a few years down the line.

Would you go through all that hassle, in this day and age? Transferring all your contacts, voicemail, and hardware not once but twice?

Why do that, when you could just jump straight to a cell phone in one move? Why not make one decisive switch that lets you start benefiting from the latest technologies right out the gate?”

— Marie Forshaw, Apprentice VP

The pharmaceutical industry is notoriously slow to embrace change — and that’s not always a bad thing.

With stringent regulatory requirements, complex manufacturing methods, and patient safety on the line, sticking with a tried and true approach can feel like the safest option.

However, the rise of cloud computing has ushered in a whole new era. Software once considered as the gold standard in the industry is now sliding into obsolescence. Just like landline telephones, options that used to be the default are now nowhere to be found.

When to Consider Alternate Vendors

The decision to stick with a vendor undergoing cloud migration or explore other options requires careful consideration. 

Factors such as downtime, integration challenges, training requirements, and resource allocation should be thoroughly evaluated to make an informed decision that aligns with your organization's goals and long-term objectives.

That’s why as organizations evaluate their MES software strategy, it's essential to consider alternate vendors that can offer fluency and flexibility in cloud-based architecture.

Still not convinced? Here are four compelling reasons to explore different vendors and consider a cloud-native MES offering for your organization:

#1: Access advanced data analytics.

  • Cloud-native SaaS platforms allow for seamless and instantaneous data capture and transfer, providing much-needed real-time data visibility to connect distributed teams and sites along the drug production lifecycle.
  • With scalable infrastructure and powerful processing capabilities, cloud platforms give organizations an efficient way to extract valuable insights from their data, through advanced machine learning algorithms, AI models, and predictive analytics tools.

#2: Take control of your cloud adoption.

  • Instead of allowing your current vendor to dictate your cloud migration timeline, reassess your options and regain control over your cloud adoption strategy.
  • Consider the opportunity to align your organization's goals and requirements with a vendor that offers a seamless cloud-native solution.

#3: Avoid painful and costly migrations.

  • The migration process, whether through "lift and shift" or subsequent augmentations, can be laborious, time-consuming, and expensive.
  • By considering alternate vendors, you can open the door to cloud-native SaaS offerings that can eliminate the need for complex migrations and potential system updates in the future.

#4: Enhance cost efficiency.

  • Cloud-native solutions offer cost optimization through flexible pricing models, reduced infrastructure maintenance costs, and efficient resource utilization.
  • Capitalize on the reduced resource burden provided by cloud platforms, enabling you to allocate your organization’s resources effectively and maximize cost savings.

These four considerations can help you make an informed choice for your MES vendor selection.

Change is never easy — but sometimes it’s worth it.

Although continuing the cloud migration journey with your current vendor may seem logical, it's essential to evaluate whether it's the right path for your organization. This process can be more arduous, time-consuming, and costly compared to opting for a new implementation with a cloud-native provider.

Cloud-native platforms are built directly with cloud architecture from the onset, which eliminates the need for complex migrations and potential future system adjustments.

Make the Right Choice, at the Right Time

Now is the perfect opportunity to make a smart decision for your organization.

Why now? It boils down to two main reasons:

#1: Change is coming, whether you like it or not. 

With your vendor undergoing a migration that will come with its fair share of costs, upgrades, and efforts on your end, it's essential to explore alternate vendors and find the best solution that offers the greatest return on investment with the least amount of hassle.

#2: The cloud is finally ready for pharma.

The technological landscape is evolving, and it's all coming together at the right moment.

Edge computing and the widespread adoption of IoT have revolutionized cloud technology, resolving issues like latency and seamlessly integrating equipment. These advancements have opened up new possibilities for more efficient and effective pharmaceutical manufacturing processes.

So, take advantage of this pivotal moment to evaluate your options.

Opting for a cloud-native MES platform is the savvy choice. Not only will you minimize disruptions, but you'll also reap the long-term benefits of cloud technology while keeping your manufacturing costs in check.

“Choosing cloud-native MES over legacy migrated systems can help pharmaceutical manufacturers stay agile and competitive.”

— Marie Forshaw, Apprentice VP

By embracing the transformative power of the cloud, you can position your organization for success, unlocking innovation, scalability, and cost-efficiency while staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

It’s time to consider cloud-native vendors who can provide the agility, scalability, and innovation you need to propel your business forward.

Closing Thoughts

In the fast-paced realm of pharmaceutical manufacturing, prioritizing cloud-native solutions is not just important — it’s imperative. And this decision holds the key to your organization’s long-term success.

The inevitability of cloud adoption means that the smartest decision organizations can make is to choose a trusted cloud-native, cloud-first provider. Anything less would be a compromise.

By opting for a purpose-built cloud-native platform, you can unlock the full potential of cloud technology while avoiding the pitfalls of legacy systems and costly migrations.

Don't confine yourself to on-premise vendors and their potentially limited cloud expertise. Instead, embrace the boundless opportunities offered by purpose-built cloud-native solutions.

By selecting a cloud-native MES vendor, you can set yourself on a seamless path towards cloud adoption, unlocking transformative and sustainable benefits for your organization.

Embracing a cloud-native, cloud-first approach not only future-proofs your organization, but also ensures your place at the forefront of innovation, agility, and competitiveness in today's digital landscape.

It’s time to leave behind outdated technologies and embark on a journey empowered by the expertise and capabilities of cloud-native providers. Your journey to SaaS success starts now.

Our Featured Thought Leader

Marie is passionate about cloud technology and its ability to revolutionize the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Read on to learn more about her background and industry insights.

Marie’s Background

Marie brings over 7 years of experience from Gainsight, the leading Customer Success Platform, where she played a pivotal role in building the market category through her work in Product Marketing.

At Gainsight, Marie led initiatives that enhanced the platform's value proposition and drove successful go-to-market strategies. She also has direct experience in software migration projects and helping customers navigate their own transformation from on-premise architecture to the cloud.

As VP of Marketing at Apprentice, Marie is responsible for the company's marketing strategy, branding, and communications. She is passionate about using data-driven insights and innovative techniques to develop and execute successful marketing campaigns that drive growth and customer engagement. 

Marie is based in St. Louis, MO, where she lives with her husband and young daughter. In her free time, she loves exploring new places with her family and taking advantage of all the outdoor activities that the region has to offer.


Cloud-Native MES: Marie’s Perspective

“The benefits of cloud-native MES are undeniable... especially in contrast to the challenges associated with legacy on-premise vendor cloud migration.”

— Marie Forshaw, Apprentice VP


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