Microsoft to Talk Mashups, Titan CRM 4.0 at Convergence

Microsoft will use its annual business-solutions confab to push its software-as-a-service messages to Microsoft Business Solutions customers and partners. (Microsoft Watch)

DALLAS—The software-as-a-service paradigm is expected to take center stage at Microsofts Convergence conference, kicking off this weekend in Dallas.

At the companys annual conference for Microsoft Business Solutions customers and partners, executives with the Redmond software giant are on tap to highlight everything from Microsofts hosted CRM plans, to its evolving strategy to add Web services to its existing ERP and CRM wares.

Microsoft on March 27 will outline some of its goals for the next version of its Dynamics CRM product at the conference, a Microsoft representative said.

That product, code-named "Titan," and/or Microsoft CRM 4.0, is expected to provide true multi-tenancy capabilities, enabling Microsoft and other hosters to provision multiple customer accounts on a single server.

That capability, if and when introduced, would put Microsoft more squarely in Salesforce.coms camp.

Microsoft will not offer new Titan details beyond what the company shared late last year, officials said.

In December 2005, Microsoft officials told Microsoft Watch that the Titan CRM release will be focused on tightly integrating Microsoft CRM with Office 2007 and, especially, Outlook 2007.

Microsofts goal is to ship Titan close to the same time as Office 2007 itself—which, at last count, is slated for January 2007.

At least for the time being, Microsoft still has no designs on hosting CRM itself, company officials have said.

If there were cases where its partners couldnt meet customer demand for CRM hosting, Microsoft might reconsider. But for now, the Microsoft is leaving CRM hosting to its channel partners.

Before Microsofts CRM team delivers Titan, it will roll out one or more "connectors" designed to integrate CRM 3.0 with other Microsoft applications.

The first of these connectors, due out in the first quarter of next year, officials said in December, will link Great Plains Dynamics 9.0 with CRM 3.0.

Microsoft Business Solutions Corporate Vice President Satya Nadella reconfirmed that plan earlier this month on his blog, where he outlined Microsofts plans to integrate its CRM and ERP offerings.

In December, Microsoft officials also downplayed the notion that Microsoft CRM is only for small to midsize businesses, claiming the company is bidding on deals with multiple thousands of users.

Microsoft itself is moving off its internal Siebel CRM system in favor of Microsoft CRM.

As of late last year, there were 20 different Microsoft CRM pilots inside Microsoft, with more pending.

Also in the software-as-a-service vein, Microsoft is continuing to make a major push to add Web services extensions to its Dynamics products.

The company recently released an RSS connector for Microsoft CRM.

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