Microsoft has offered up its Dynamics AX 2012 to business customers. The ERP application integrates cloud features, part of the company's "all in" cloud strategy.
Microsoft made Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, its enterprise resource planning application, available Sept. 8 to business
customers in 25 countries. The software is yet another litmus test for
Microsoft's "all in" cloud strategy, which involves leveraging its formidable
position in traditional, desktop-bound software to convince users to sign up
for subscription online services.
In a speech broadcast online, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
described the new offering as "powerfully simple," a buzz term repeated by
other Microsoft executives during the launch. Certainly the company wants
potential customers to perceive the solution as a flexible one, with the
ability to provide a broad array of business intelligence for decision-making.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 has been designed to play well with other Microsoft
products, including Office and SharePoint.
For most companies, though, the more interesting aspect of
Dynamics AX 2012 might be its integrated cloud offerings, notably the Rapid
Start, Payment and Commerce services available via Windows Azure. In theory,
that draws public cloud services into a private cloud or on-premises
deployment. That hybridization could add an extra element of flexibility to an
Microsoft's "all in" cloud strategy involves convincing
businesses to embrace a subscription-based model for software. The Office 365 suite,
which bundles online versions of Microsoft's productivity software, is a recent
example. However, Microsoft also faces considerable competition in the
"professional cloud" arena from the likes of Google, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP,
In order to provide a competitive differentiator from those
aggressive and well-funded rivals, Microsoft has emphasized how its cloud
solutions interoperate with its existing software, such as Office. Microsoft's
long history and wide range of solutions, in theory, provides a value-add
unmatched by the other companies' emphasis on offering a combined
hardware-software stack, say, or an easy-to-use interface modeled after
However, Microsoft continues to draw a significant
percentage of its quarterly revenues from traditional, desktop-bound software,
which its nascent cloud applications have yet to eclipse. Microsoft executives
doubtlessly hope to see greater uptake, accompanied by more sales, over the
next several quarters. At the very least, that would validate this "all in"
Until that time, products such as Dynamics AX 2012 show
Microsoft easing into its cloud role.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
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.