Microsoft is releasing an on-premises and partner-hosted version of its Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Meant to complement the on-demand, cloud-based version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the on-premises version reiterates how, despite having pushed its very public "all in" cloud strategy for months, Microsoft still needs to sell to a customer base that hasn't yet fully embraced the idea of online subscription services.
Existing customers with active Microsoft Software Assurance agreements can find this latest software, released Feb. 16, on the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft has spent the past several weeks touting the platform's real-time dashboards and in-line business-intelligence capabilities, both of which could appeal to businesses looking to make their customer relationship management more efficient.
In trying to set cloud products such as Dynamics CRM Online apart from rival CRM platforms such as Salesforce.com's, Microsoft is emphasizing how customers who choose the cloud option can leverage it in the context of other company software such as Office-in effect, creating a software-centric alternative to Oracle's integrated hardware-and-software stack or Salesforce's emphasis on Facebook-style social networking.
In addition, Microsoft Dynamics CRM interoperates with Windows Azure, boasts certain contextual capabilities with SharePoint and gives users access to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.
Microsoft's battles in the CRM space have become increasingly intense. In December 2010, the company took a hard swipe at Salesforce, posting "An Open Letter to Salesforce.com Customers" in which it dangled a $200-per-user rebate for any organization that switched from its upstart rival. That followed a series of tit-for-tat lawsuits over intellectual property between the two companies throughout 2010, a situation that resolved in August when Salesforce agreed to compensate Microsoft for its patents.
Microsoft's "all in" cloud strategy involves not only Azure and online CRM, but initiatives such as Office 365, which groups Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online as a subscription service. "We have learned a lot through running Windows Live, Hotmail, Bing," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer 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 highly scaled, highly dynamic service, you need a whole new approach to running a data center."
Despite that commitment, though, businesses haven't dropped everything in a headlong rush to the Microsoft-hosted cloud: hence, the need for an on-premises and partner-hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.