Microsoft to Certify Vertical Software Stacks

The Unix and Linux vendors have done it. Now Microsoft is giving certified software stacks a whirl, starting with its Axapta ERP product.

SAN DIEGO—Microsoft Corp.s strategy for bringing more ISVs into the fold continued to evolve this week, as the Redmond, Wash., software vendor unveiled a new initiative called "Industry Builder."

Although Microsoft isnt characterizing the program as a way to provide customers with integrated, certified and supported software stacks, that is, in effect, what the program—announced here at the companys annual Convergence conference for Microsoft Business Solutions customers—will yield.

As is the case with Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc., Red Hat Inc., and other Unix and Linux vendors, Microsoft will act as the integrator and certifier of the stacks. Microsoft will select a handful of vertical ISV applications, integrate them with its Axapta ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, and offer them as an integrated stack.

Microsoft is expecting only a small number of ISVs to qualify for the program, since participants must demonstrate corporate stability, financial strength and global reach. Officials at the Convergence conference said they currently have about "one dozen strong candidates" who are interested in participating in the program.

The sweet spot for this kind of integrated stack is the enterprise, high-end customer, Microsoft officials said. Thats why Microsoft decided to go with its high-end ERP offering, Axapta, as the first test bed.

Microsoft is considering whether to extend the program to its other ERP offerings, including Navision, Solomon and Great Plains, but so far has made no definitive decision.

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