Utzschneider is referring to Microsofts competitors in the midmarket, SAP and Oracle. Both have embarked on ambitious SOA strategies that componentize their ERP applications and underlie their respective suites with a development and integration platform, NetWeaver and Fusion Middleware, respectively. SAPs ESA (enterprise services architecture) started in 2003 will be complete later this year. Oracles road map, started around 2005, is scheduled for completion in 2008 with the Fusion Applications release, though the company keeps adding to that plan with acquisitions. Both companies have some SOA-based products available now. Microsofts additional announcements at Convergence play, in one form or another, to the platform theme. Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is both a methodology and set of implantation, configuration and process tools for easier application configuration and implementation. Another initiative, dubbed Dynamics Industry Solutions, will have Microsoft investing in five industries to "strike a balance" between a strong platform approach and an ecosystem of certified solutions across industries. What that means is Microsoft intends to invest in adding codelikely vertically oriented technology, analysts sayto its Dynamics products through OEM deals and acquisitions. It will also add work to strengthen its partner community around Dynamics, in part by offering a certification program. Another release, RoleTailored, provides a roles-based user interface that has the look and feel of Windows Vista and Office 2007.The NAV upgrade, scheduled for a June release, will have upgrades across finance, procurement and sales. GP, also expected in June, will include more than 100 new features, a new UI similar to Windows Vista and Office 2007, business intelligence enhancements, a new workflow engine and search capabilities based on the Dynamics Office Client. Dynamics SL, also a summer release, will have upgraded development and configuration tools to Visual Studio 2005, making it a native .Net application. It will also have a new UI (again based on Office 2007) and RoleTailored BI views. The strategy with the suites is really a convergence through shared technology. Microsoft initially said it would bring all of its business applications into a single code basea project that would be completed in two waves, spanning through 2009. Utzschneider said that with the round of releases at Convergence, Microsoft is effectively closing out the first wave with a single UI across the products. The company envisions a converged suite "at some point way off in the future." Finally, Microsoft is charting new waters with the release of a financial community Web site modeled after both social networking and developer communitiesan effort to align Dynamics with its users in a way thats never been done before, according to Greenbaum. "This is not happening anywhere else in the industry," he said. "This is a very social networking, MySpace kind of thing. If it works it could be unusual. The chances of success are up in the air." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
Finally, Microsoft is also announcing major upgrades to three of its Dynamics suitesNAV 5.0, GP 10.0 and SL 7in addition to the Titan release, Microsofts swat at Saleforce.com.