Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie, Tim Hinds, Sanjeev Sharma, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Online Collaboration Improves Procurement

Ariba Network helps Cox Enterprises manage procurement across six different ERP systems

The latest BriefingsDirect podcast, from the 2012 Ariba LIVE Conference in Las Vegas, explores the latest in cloud-based collaborative commerce with Cox Enterprises, a $15 billion communications, media, and automotive services company.

We'll learn how Cox, through the Ariba Network, manages multiple ERP systems for an improved eProcurement strategy, and has moved toward more efficient indirect spend efforts to improve ongoing operations and drive future growth across more than 50,000 employees.

To hear more about how they have done this, Interarbor Solutuons Principal Analyst Dana Gardner interviews Brooke Krenn, the Senior Manager of Procurement Systems for Cox Enterprises, based in Atlanta. [Disclosure: Ariba is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: A lot of organizations either have organically developed multiple systems for different groups or, for merger and acquisition reasons, have different ERPs. How has that been a challenge, when it comes to procurement?

Krenn: We have six separate ERP systems spanning major subsidiaries, including Cox Communications, Manheim, Cox Media Group, and Cox is a very interesting company in that our business units are very diverse and very unique. Across four divisions and our holding company we have those six ERP systems.

So with that, obviously, there are a lot of challenges. There's not a lot of common ground, when it comes to purchasing. Across those six ERP systems we needed some way to drive consistency, as we focused on really capitalizing on our indirect spend across all the business units.

Procurement systems team

My team is the Procurement Systems Team. We fall under supply chain in Cox Enterprises. I have a team of three, and we manage our eProcurement platform, with which we do about $50 million year-end POs, and average about 1,500 POs a month. We also manage our P-Card program, which is about $130 million a year in spend, and also our fuel card program, which is about $50 million a year.

Historically, our spend, specifically the indirect spend, has been all over the place. We haven’t had a lot of visibility into that spend and haven’t had a consistent manner in which we purchased.

Ariba was one of the top contenders, simply because of the user experience was most important to us, and also how quickly we could implement it.

We had an eProcurement solution for about 10 years. We were on that software for a decade, and it was just very dated. It wasn't supported very well. We knew it was time to make that change. Where we were in the economy, everyone was looking at the most logical places to save time and money and to become more efficient. Obviously, procurement was one of those areas where we could do very quickly.

We knew the first step was replacing the software that we did have. Immediately, Ariba was one of the top contenders, as we looked for a new solution, simply because of the user experience was most important to us, and also how quickly we could implement it.

Gardner: So you’re going from an on-premises software installed affair to now more of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud affair. Was that something that was difficult or something you were looking forward to?

Krenn: Moving to the cloud in an on-demand solution was great for us. Having the on-premises software in the past, any time there was an upgrade or an update, we had to be sure IT knew about it and we scheduled the time on a night or a weekend. We had to call on resources internally within the company. So it was very exciting for us to move to an on-demand solution and all of the technology that was available with that.

A great change

For the users, it's been a great change, because now they consistently know there's one place to go. When they need to order office supplies, when they need to order something for their break room, when they need to order business cards, they know where to go. In all of our divisions and all of our locations, employees want to do the right thing. They want to purchase the right way. A lot of times they're just not sure of what to do.

So with this implementation of a new tool, we were able to really drive them in the right direction, and it was an easy solution for them. It was easy for us to implement, and it's been very easy for our end users and our employees to adopt.

Gardner: Has that, in fact, translated into other metrics of success that you could describe for us?

With this implementation of a new tool, we were able to really drive them in the right direction, and it was an easy solution for them.

Krenn: Probably one of the biggest wins for us has been just driving compliance against our contracts. We’re able to see very easily now when a location or a business unit within one of the divisions is purchasing off-contract or when they're not utilizing one of our preferred or negotiated suppliers. That's probably been the biggest win for us.

We have the visibility now to see very quickly within our P2P tool and also within our spend management tool to see where this spend is taking place and able to reach out directly to those locations or to those employees that are purchasing off-contract. Obviously, the more purchasing power we have, the more spend we are driving to these contracts, the better our pricing is going to be going forward.


We went about implementing our new P2P solution a bit unconventionally, you could say. About 98 percent of our transactions are actually on a supplier card -- a P-Card model, which has just been tremendously successful for us. With that, we didn't have to integrate directly into our six separate ERPs because our payment method is with that supplier card.

Ease of implementation was one of the biggest wins. Also with that is the ease of use for the end user. There's no reconciliation for them at the end of the month. We’re taking care of all of that GL coding information, all of the approvals, upfront. The supplier card model, again, has been great on the end user side as well as on the AP reconciliation side.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively.
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show h...
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
Achim Weiss is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ProfitBricks. In 1995, he broke off his studies to co-found the web hosting company "Schlund+Partner." The company "Schlund+Partner" later became the 1&1 web hosting product line. From 1995 to 2008, he was the technical director for several important projects: the largest web hosting platform in the world, the second largest DSL platform, a video on-demand delivery network, the largest eMail backend in Europe, and a universal billing syste...
There once was a time when testers operated on their own, in isolation. They’d huddle as a group around the harsh glow of dozens of CRT monitors, clicking through GUIs and recording results. Anxiously, they’d wait for the developers in the other room to fix the bugs they found, yet they’d frequently leave the office disappointed as issues were filed away as non-critical. These teams would rarely interact, save for those scarce moments when a coder would wander in needing to reproduce a particula...
Last month, my partners in crime – Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, Lee Reid, my colleague from IBM and I wrote a 3-part series of blog posts on We titled our posts the Simple Math, Calculus and Art of DevOps. I would venture to say these are must-reads for any organization adopting DevOps. We examined all three ascpects – the Cultural, Automation and Process improvement side of DevOps. One of the key underlying themes of the three posts was the need for Cultural change – things like t...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction....
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Jesse Proudman, Blue Box CTO, has been appointed to the position of IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jesse is the first employee at Blue Box to receive this honor, and I’m quite confident there will be more to follow given the amazing talent at Blue Box with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate. I’d like to provide an overview of what it means to become an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Opinions on how best to package and deliver applications are legion and, like many other aspects of the software world, are subject to recurring trend cycles. On the server-side, the current favorite is container delivery: a “full stack” approach in which your application and everything it needs to run are specified in a container definition. That definition is then “compiled” down to a container image and deployed by retrieving the image and passing it to a container runtime to create a running...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how busine...
If you are new to Python, you might be confused about the different versions that are available. Although Python 3 is the latest generation of the language, many programmers still use Python 2.7, the final update to Python 2, which was released in 2010. There is currently no clear-cut answer to the question of which version of Python you should use; the decision depends on what you want to achieve. While Python 3 is clearly the future of the language, some programmers choose to remain with Py...
The web app is agile. The REST API is agile. The testing and planning are agile. But alas, data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes that force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software organ...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at th...
As we increasingly rely on technology to improve the quality and efficiency of our personal and professional lives, software has become the key business differentiator. Organizations must release software faster, as well as ensure the safety, security, and reliability of their applications. The option to make trade-offs between time and quality no longer exists—software teams must deliver quality and speed. To meet these expectations, businesses have shifted from more traditional approaches of d...
Ten years ago, there may have been only a single application that talked directly to the database and spit out HTML; customer service, sales - most of the organizations I work with have been moving toward a design philosophy more like unix, where each application consists of a series of small tools stitched together. In web example above, that likely means a login service combines with webpages that call other services - like enter and update record. That allows the customer service team to writ...
JFrog has announced a powerful technology for managing software packages from development into production. JFrog Artifactory 4 represents disruptive innovation in its groundbreaking ability to help development and DevOps teams deliver increasingly complex solutions on ever-shorter deadlines across multiple platforms JFrog Artifactory 4 establishes a new category – the Universal Artifact Repository – that reflects JFrog's unique commitment to enable faster software releases through the first pla...
Somebody call the buzzword police: we have a serious case of microservices-washing in progress. The term “microservices-washing” is derived from “whitewashing,” meaning to hide some inconvenient truth with bluster and nonsense. We saw plenty of cloudwashing a few years ago, as vendors and enterprises alike pretended what they were doing was cloud, even though it wasn’t. Today, the hype around microservices has led to the same kind of obfuscation, as vendors and enterprise technologists alike ar...