Microsoft made yet another foray into the cloud with its Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and displayed some of its collaborative work with Hewlett-Packard, during this week.
week centered on the cloud, with the worldwide launch of the Microsoft Dynamics
CRM Online platform-the company's hope for blunting similar competition from
Oracle and Salesforce.com.
A Jan. 17
statement by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized the cloud platform's
"familiar user experience, enabling greater collaboration, streamlining of
processes and access to real-time data." The release comes at a time when
Salesforce.com and Oracle have been making very public their own product-line
updates and swipes at Microsoft's market position.
Dynamics CRM Online service became available Jan. 17 for customers in 40
markets, with an on-premises version scheduled for release Feb. 28.
marketing strategy has focused increasingly on the supposed benefits of its
integrated hardware and software stack, and Salesforce.com widely touts its CRM's
focus on real-time social networking, Microsoft is emphasizing how its cloud
CRM leverages other Microsoft software such as Office. According to the
company, these "connected experiences" include "Windows Azure interoperability,
contextual Microsoft SharePoint capabilities and the new Microsoft Dynamics
Marketplace." The company is also touting the offering's real-time dashboards
and in-line business-intelligence capabilities.
been pushing aggressively into the cloud space over the past few months. Other
platforms include Office 365, which groups Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online,
Exchange Online and Lync Online as a subscription service. Microsoft released
Office 365 in limited beta on Oct. 19, with general availability expected in
2011. The release comes as Microsoft's other big opponent in the cloud arena,
Google, pursues federal and large-enterprise contracts for cloud-based applications.
Even as it
geared up its competitive profile, though, Microsoft also announced a new
collaboration with Hewlett-Packard, with the two companies on Jan. 19 publishing
a roadmap outlining their launch plans for four new converged appliances.
The four appliances are based on HP servers and run
Microsoft software. They include HP Business Decision Appliance, HP
E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange Server, HP Database Consolidation
Appliance and HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance. In theory, they will all
streamline configuration, deployment and management in ways that reduce IT
complexity-to the point where, also in theory, IT teams could deploy
business-critical applications in as little as one hour.
announcement is part of the two companies' three-year $250 million partnership
announced in 2010. It also follows the November launch of the HP Enterprise
Data Warehouse appliance, which simplifies data-warehouse deployments and
integrates with the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform.
This week also
saw substantial executive shakeups at two major Microsoft competitors. Apple
CEO Steve Jobs announced Jan. 17 that he would be taking a leave of absence for
health reasons, while Google CEO Eric Schmidt indicated he would hand over the
reins to company co-founder Larry Page. Both those announcements are
significant for Microsoft insofar as they affect the search and mobile-device
markets, where Redmond is seeking headway via initiatives such as Bing and
Windows Phone 7.
those CEO adjustments will ultimately play into Microsoft's attempts to gain
more share in those markets remains to be seen.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.