Microsoft GM Gives Peek at Platform-as-a-Service Strategy

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-03-13 Print this article Print

Are you getting a lot of people like me asking about platform as a service?

(laughs) Oh yeah. Everyone realizes the capabilities there. We're not hyping it to the heavens; we're just sort of doing it-in 25 languages in 80 countries, with a global partner base in small and medium enterprises. We'll get the appropriate recognition for it at the right time.

When do you think that time is?

I can't say. We're seeing more and more of this stuff coming out. There will be further announcements coming out in the future. This is an area we are definitely investing in. We think a lot about our platform and applications as the application content resides on our platform. Our CRM, or scenarios, are supported by our platform. We think clearly about the two things being complementary, but different. So one is a general-purpose application platform, the other processes content like leads, opportunities and the like.

OK, same example-where would ERP [enterprise resource planning] fit in? Is it content?

Again, we're not trying to do a new supply chain or accounting, and all the great things we're doing in AX or NAV. We're not trying to go and plumb a new ERP system. We typically find people that say, "I need a new project management solution." So we're not trying to build a new ERP system on top of CRM, but there is this whole class of applications.

I was thinking more on-demand ERP. Is that a direction for you?

We do have partners that are building those kinds of applications on top of CRM, but we're not chasing after that. We like our ERP portfolio. We think we have a very strong strategy there. We're looking for CRM and adjacent scenarios.

What's going on with Microsoft's marketplace?

It's still ongoing. There's a marketplace team building out the marketplace. I don't have an update on a release date, but there's been a lot of investment in developing an online marketplace that CRM will be a part, so you can go and download applications for CRM based on the marketplace. It's in progress.

Can you talk about what it would look like? Would it be a marketplace just for CRM or for the rest of Microsoft as well?

Oh no, it's being built as a Microsoft asset, so different kinds of contributed content, templates, configurations, different kinds of products would live in the marketplace, right? We just happen to have a meta-data-driven model that lends itself to an e-service module-you could put an e-service module on the marketplace and download it.

So we are very much oriented toward a marketplace scenario, and the marketplace is not just for us. It's across Microsoft's board. But a lot of our [Dynamics] requirements are driving the marketplace because we have a lot of interesting content to add that we can configure dynamically.

Again I go back to Salesforce, this time with its AppExchange marketplace. Are you looking at the same sort of scenario with partners?

Well, a similar scenario. We'll have similar assets with an applications marketplace, billing provisioning-all those sorts of things. They are all part of our model.


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