Navision: Microsoft Cashes In On More Than Just Apps

Redmond has discovered Navision's VIP Web services repository, among other .Net-based nuggets.

Since it completed its acquisition of Navision in July, Microsoft has been unearthing some of the other hidden nuggets that it bought along with Navisions suite of business apps.

Navision offers a family of CRM, human-resource management and manufacturing/distribution wares that Microsoft is rebranding as part of its Microsoft Business Solutions lineup.

But Navision also has some under-the-covers .Net-based technologies upon which the Danish software company had been laboring prior to the Microsoft acquisition.

Microsoft is moving some of Navisions metadata-store technology from its Axapta enterprise resource planning software into the evolving Microsoft Business Framework (MBF), according to Darren Laybourn, vice president of MBF.

MBF, formerly called the .Net Business Framework, is a set of tools, classes and libraries that Navision, Great Plains and Microsoft are building together to run on top of the .Net Framework. Microsofts goal is to encourage developers—both those working in Microsofts Business Solutions division and outside at third-party software vendor partners—to build their future Web services and applications on top of MBF.

The first MBF-based applications from Microsoft are likely to debut in the 2003 timeframe, at the earliest.

Microsoft also is keen on some of the integrated-development environment technology Navision has developed for its software developer customers over the years, says Laybourn. Navision also has some mobile-toolkit, commerce-portal and commerce-gateway offerings that share some synergies with products and projects under development back in Redmond.

But one of Navisions stealth projects that could prove most interesting to parent company Microsoft is Navision VIP. Navision VIP is a repository for Web-based components and services. With VIP, Navision is attempting to make it easier for midsize companies to deploy Web services within their organizations.

Navisions VIP Demo Site explains the VIP mission this way: "Online services are delivered via the Navision VIP Portal, which is a Web site or hub acting as a service broker and located between a service consumer and a service provider. The Navision VIP Portal provides a single Web site where Navision customers can find, evaluate, subscribe to, manage and monitor online services that have been selected specifically for Navision applications."

Navision is debating how best to deliver VIP: offer it as a hosted environment (like Microsofts own bCentral small-business services site) and/or allow companies to run the VIP environment inside their own firewalls.

Navision plans to roll out Navision VIP in Denmark before the end of this calendar year, according to Navision product director Christian Pedersen. If successful, the pilot will be expanded worldwide, he said.

"We are aligning [Navision VIP] now with some other Microsoft initiatives," Pedersen added.

Need help deciphering the Microsoft business-application maze? Sign up for your free, 14-day trial of Microsoft Watch today.