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Orange Business Services is implementing the communications infrastructure underpinning a cloud-based ERP platform as part of a project to develop IT standards for the shipping industry

Orange Business Services is implementing the communications infrastructure underpinning a cloud-based ERP platform as part of a project to develop IT standards for the shipping industry

Orange Business Services on Thursday joined a European Union-sponsored initiative based in Germany focused on developing IT standards underpinning ship management tools for the shipping industry. The move will see Orange Business Services implement a communications infrastructure solution that will provide a platform for a vertically-specific, cloud-based ERP suite.

The “Exzellenzinitiative Schiffsmanagement” or EIS, a project backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the City of Hamburg, Germany, a major European maritime centre, is focused on making it easier for vessels to access inventory, human resource and scheduling information, and develop IT standards around the application infrastructure to help facilitate that.

The move will see Orange Business Services partner with global ship management firm Columbia Ship Management and provide all of the communications hardware for the vessels, linking the vessels to one another and onshore datacentres via satellite. The company will also implement a fully-managed VPN service with private access to the web and an ERP platform hosted in a private cloud.

“Communication at sea constitutes specific challenges and was historically a source of problems in terms of cost, performance and support,” said Timothy Scheller, project manager at Columbia Ship Management.

“We want to utilize this project to test and design solutions that help the industry take a giant leap forward and set new standards in maritime IT. With this initiative, we want to build a remotely managed, integrated communication and application infrastructure onboard that intelligently connects the vessel to the office at the lowest possible cost,” Scheller said.

The shipping industry has long-used distributed networks and hosted ERP platforms, but systems interoperability has been a consistent challenge among ship operators and management companies; the goal of the EIS project is to create architectural standards underpinning the cloud-based ERP service, which can also help deliver more agile applications for ship management companies.

“With the new cloud-based platform in this project, we can demonstrate how improved communication between vessels and their management will streamline business tools and decisions,” said Michel Verbist, head of international business development, satellite at Orange Business Services. “We look forward to providing innovative cloud solutions for other players in the maritime sector in the months to come.”

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