Keeping Close to SAP
There is no question that even at the present stage of the product lines development, Microsoft has the marketing power to win over a lot of SMB customers. But it hasnt yet reached the stage where it can strongly challenge SAP or Oracle in this market. Click here to read about Microsoft "Centro," a Longhorn server bundle that sits at the core of the companys midmarket business software strategy.That is the goal of the Mendocino Project, which will enable Microsoft Office and MySAP to share data; and also of their joint effort to provide Web services integration between .Net and SAPs Netweaver application development technologies. Another significant development in Microsofts ERP strategy is CEO Steve Ballmers disclosure that Microsoft will offer on-demand subscription versions of some its products that are a good fit for that marketing model. CRM, the FrontBridge secure messaging services and its Live Meeting Web conference service are good candidates for subscription distribution, according to Ballmer. "I think that, increasingly, from a midmarket customers perspective the best piece of software is the piece of software that they can subscribe to as opposed to implement," Ballmer said Wednesday during the Microsoft Business Summit conference. "Midmarket customers are the most open to subscribing to and using hosted business services with FrontBridge, Live meeting and with a set of other things that you will see us bring to market over the course of the next year or two years," he said. Microsoft will make further announcements about its plans for on-demand CRM when it is ready, Ballmer added. To read more about Microsofts interest in offering software subscription services for some of its midmarket business applications, click here. Offering a hosted service for these applications certainly makes sense, especially for SMBs who frequently dont have sufficient in-house IT staff to install and manage these applications on-site. The trick for any software company providing on-demand subscription software is to ensure that customers are getting the same features, functions and reliability that they would get from an on-premises version. This is essential to ensure that the on-demand product is competitive with existing hosted CRM services from RightNow Technologies or Salesforce.com that were designed from the ground up as on-demand products. Or the company could find itself in the same position as Siebel Systems, which is still in the process of synchronizing the on-premises and on-demand versions of its CRM applications. John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
If fact, these days Microsoft is more content to cooperate with SAP to build links between their technologies.