Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is heading to Azure, the company's cloud platform, later this year. And Microsoft hopes SMBs and ISVs will follow.
During this week's Convergence 2012 gathering in Houston, Microsoft announced that Dynamics NAV 2013 and Dynamics GP 2013 will land on Windows Azure in the fourth quarter of 2012. For those who can't wait, a beta version of Nav 2013 is in the works for a May release.
Developing a "map to the cloud" -- as Mike Ehrenberg, chief technology officer for the company's Business Solutions division and a Microsoft Technical Fellow, describes it -- is no time to overreach. So the company is taking a measured approach. The first intended audience: SMBs.
"The roadmap reflects Microsoft's customer focused approach, targeting two key market segments — the first wave will target small and mid-market companies, with the second wave expanding those offerings to enterprise customers," writes Ehrenberg in a blog post.
Ehrenberg explains that part of the process of transitioning Dynamics ERP into an enterprise-grade software-as-a-service offering means doubling down on interoperability and finding a balance between cloud and on-premise deployments.
He writes, "It is unreasonable to expect that a business runs all of its IT assets on-premises one day, then closes, and reopens with everything transitioned to the cloud the next day." Ehrenberg adds that a hybrid cloud approach, with some capabilities on-premise and others delivered via the cloud, "will be the rule for the long term, and not the exception."
What's In It for Partners?
Microsoft also wants to assure its channel partners that the Dynamics cloud push won't end up leaving them in the lurch.
According to Microsoft, it plans to roll out multiple vertical services hosted on Windows Azure in a new independent software vendor (ISV) ecosystem for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. It will debut with support for select verticals, like industrial equipment manufacturing, and expand over time.
Separately, Microsoft is working on a fourth quarter release of Dynamics AX 2012 R2. It will feature SQL Server-powered business intelligence in the form of role-tailored and e-commerce friendly, multichannel retail capabilities.
Microsoft's cloud-centric moves come as the software giant continues to experience growth on the Dynamics CRM side. To date, the company reports it has racked up 33,000 customers and 2.25 million users. That is good news for Microsoft, particularly since rivals like Oracle, SAP and Salesforce.com are turning up the heat in the cloud CRM market.
To keep that momentum going, Microsoft plans to follow up its Dynamics CRM second quarter service update, which brings native clients to popular mobile platforms like iOS and Android, with a service update in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Get up to date on Microsoft ERP here.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.