Microsoft Issues Partner-Hosted CRM

Tackles multitenancy with nod to on demand.

At its convergence 2006 conference here, Microsoft gave a distinct nod to on-demand software with the announcement March 27 of the next edition of Dynamics CRM 3.0.

Version 3.0 brings a new edition of CRM (customer relationship management) created for "hosters"—sort of—and a bevy of new adapters that bridge Dynamics CRM to BizTalk and then out to the rest of the ERP (enterprise resource planning) world.

The Dynamics CRM Professional Edition for Service Providers is the same as the Enterprise Edition but has some extensions built in for easier deployment, according to Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in Redmond, Wash.

The Service Providers edition is available to partners worldwide to implement and, in turn, offer as hosted CRM to customers. The caveat is that this latest edition is still a single-tenancy offering.

While opinions vary widely on the importance of single tenancy over multitenancy—there are those firmly in the camp that software cant be considered a service unless its delivered in a multitenancy environment, with lots of users on a shared infrastructure. Microsofts opinion is that tenancy is of little consequence—at least for now.

Still, Microsoft is planning a multitenancy version with the next major upgrade, code-named Titan. Due next year, Titan will feature multitenancy capabilities, multiple languages on a single server and "light up" capabilities with Office 2007 that take advantage of new business intelligence functionality.

With Titan multi-tenancy, will the rest of Microsofts Dynamics ERP applications follow suit? Wilson says yes.

"CRM is a poster child for how Satya [Nadella, vice president of development, Microsoft Business Solutions] wants to deliver Dynamics," said Wilson. "But partner hosting is the core paradigm for how we will deliver SAAS [software as a service]."

Just under a dozen partners worldwide have committed to this early edition of CRM for Service Providers. As a group, theyre taking a hub-and-spoke approach to distribution, providing hosted services to customers, as well as to other Microsoft CRM partners.

Separately, the connectors that are part of this CRM up--grade provide hooks across Microsofts Dynamics applications and into third-party applications from SAP, Siebel (now part of Oracle) and Oracle.

Available over the next year, the prebuilt connectors for integration into third-party ERP applications provide an adapter to BizTalk Server that defines the data mappings and process flows into and out of Dynamics CRM.

Such adapters are not new. The difference with this release, said Wilson, is the inclusion of BizTalk, a platform that facilitates not only integration but also process orchestration.

The Microsoft CRM adapter to Dy-namics GP is available now, while two of the remaining three suite adapters—NAV (Navision) and AX (Axapta)—are expected the first quarter of next year.

The BizTalk Server integration with Siebel CRM is scheduled for the third quarter of next year.

Fine print in the CRM lease

  • Single tenancy: Infrastructure designed to support a single instance of an application, Web service or customer; single, customizable application code
  • Multitenancy: Shared underlying application or Web service infrastructure, allowing massive economy of scale; allows tenant-specific configurations at the user interface, business rules, business processes and data model layer without changing the code

Source: Microsoft Architecture Strategy Team blog