Microsoft is taking another step in cloud functionality, with the announcement that future Microsoft Dynamics ERP will migrate to the cloud, with hosting on Windows Azure.
Microsoft is unveiling yet another
front in its intensive battle for the cloud, with the announcement at its
Convergence 2011 conference that the next major releases of the company's
enterprise-resource planning applications will be running on the cloud-based
Windows Azure platform.
By positioning its Dynamics ERP
offerings as a hosted service, Microsoft expands further beyond the on-premises
solutions that comprise its traditional stable. The company is also using the
Convergence conference in Atlanta to offer a glimpse of Microsoft Dynamics AX
2012, an ERP application whose beta is due this month, followed by a final
release expected in August 2011.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 includes
Unified Natural Models, a library of business processes for real-world
situations, and enhanced business intelligence capabilities for discovering
fresh insights in data. The core ERP functions assist in financial, human
resources and operations management.
Microsoft claims that its ERP
applications due to migrate to the cloud will share the same functionality as
the extant on-premises solutions. Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will serve as
a hub for services and cloud-based add-ons designed to help businesses meet
their workflow needs.
At Convergence, Microsoft also announced
general availability for Microsoft Dynamics SL 2011, its ERP solution for
larger SMB (small to midsize business) projects, and that Microsoft Dynamics GP
2010 R2 will be available May 1.
Earlier this year, Microsoft released
Dynamics CRM Online, a cloud competitor to similar offerings from the likes of
Salesforce.com and Oracle. In trying to set its cloud products apart from its
rivals' platforms, Microsoft chooses to emphasize how customers who select its
cloud option can leverage it in the context of other Microsoft software such as
Office-in effect, creating a software-centric competitor to Oracle's tightly
integrated hardware-and-software stack. In the case of Dynamics CRM Online,
Microsoft claims that integration imbues it with more functionality than
Salesforce.com, whose own CRM concentrates more on real-time social networking.
In addition to ERP and CRM, Microsoft's
other business-cloud initiatives 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 Oct. 19, with general
availability expected later this year. Such services also allow Microsoft to
compete more heartily in the cloud arena against Google, which is also angling
to seize federal and large-enterprise contracts for cloud-based apps.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has
insisted for months that his company is "all in" with regard to the cloud. "We
have learned a lot through running Windows Live, Hotmail, Bing," he told an
audience during a July 12, 2010, keynote address at last summer's Worldwide
Partner Conference. "These are some of the highest volume services run on the
Internet today. When you run a tightly scaled, highly dynamic service, you need
a whole new approach to running a data center."
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.