Unit4 ditching on-prem in favor of SaaS come 2025

Clients have a little over a year to get their affairs in order

Exclusive Unit4, the enterprise software provider popular with government and medium-sized businesses, has announced it will end support of its on-prem systems on December 31, 2024.

The decision, which CEO Mike Ettling announced in a letter to customers earlier this month, affects on-premises Unit4 ERP, Unit4 Financials by Coda, and Unit4 FP&A, as well as earlier systems. Unit4 ERP is the most recent moniker for Business World, previously known as Unit4 Agresso.

Unit4 on-prem systems are relied on by a long list of UK councils, public sector bodies, and universities because it is especially well adapted to service-style organizations. They include the University of Sussex, the Atomic Energy Authority, and the University of Southampton.

In his letter [PDF], Ettling said: "Unit4 has taken a strategic decision to provide only SaaS solutions going forward ... Consequently, we are announcing the transition of on-premises [systems] to being fully SaaS-based solutions. With effect from December 31, 2024, our on-premises solutions will no longer be supported or maintained, and we will offer all our customers a clear and attractive migration to the Unit4 SaaS."

He promised the company would ensure that all customers receive access to the support they need to navigate this journey based on a "Cloud Migration Assessment" from the Unit4 account manager.

Observers might question if customers will struggle to execute a complex ERP migration in a little more than 12 months.

In a statement sent to The Register, a Unit4 spokesperson said its vision is to "develop an innovative enterprise platform which automates and empowers both organizations and their people."

"We believe this can only be achieved once all our customers are onboarded to our latest and most innovative, secure, and reliable SaaS solutions, which can only happen with customers migrating off on-premises Unit4 products," they said.

The company argued the cloud had become "industry standard" so it was "the right time" to offer customers SaaS-only technology.

Unit4 explained that regional and customer requirements would differ so "there may be some variations in the timelines and migration dates but in all cases, we are offering our on-premises customers, in all regions, a clear and attractive journey to migrate to SaaS with Unit4 and our colleagues are working closely to support customers as they work through this process".

They said the Cloud Migration Assessment service would offer details on how to migrate customizations, integrations, number of transactions, size of the database, and other criteria.

In 2021, Unit4 was bought by private equity firm TA Associates for $2 billion. In a statement, Unit4 and TA said they would "partner to further accelerate the company's vision of 'people-centric ERP' for mid-market enterprise organizations." Unit4 was founded in the Netherlands in 1980. In 2000, it merged with Norwegian ERP software company Agresso, which had become a popular name among European public sector organizations.

In the last five years, Unit4 declared it would rebuild its software in a multi-tenant cloud model and on a modern API-based architecture, available only in Microsoft Azure, not Google Cloud or AWS.

In 2021, Ettling told The Register that a close relationship with Microsoft – Unit4 also claims integration with Teams and Office products – is like "cuddling a grizzly bear: it can be incredibly comfortable and warm, but it can also be very dangerous."

Microsoft has its own set of ERP, finance, and HR software under its Dynamics branding. ®

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