Microsoft released a beta of its Dynamics GP 2013 product on September 12, taking the company another step closer to delivering more of its ERP products in a cloud-hosted option.
Microsoft officials have said the company plans over time to make versions of all four of its ERP products available in Windows Azure-hosted options. Dynamics NAV 2013 is expected to be the first of the four to offer this option. Dynamics GP is slated to be the second.
Microsoft officials said this week that Dynamics GP 2013 is on track to be delivered in December 2012.
What else is in the Dynamics GP 2013 beta release besides the new cloud distribution option? According to Microsoft's blog post, the GP web client, "125+ functionality enhancements for our 43,000+ existing customers, and extensions to the integration GP has with the Microsoft stack. (That integration likely involves single sign-on with a common set of credentials across Dynamics and other Microsoft cloud-hosted properties.)
Microsoft officials have said that they believe it is more important for ERP than for CRM to provide users with choices -- on-premises, partner-hosted and Microsoft-hosted ERP options -- because ERP customers often have more qualms about moving to the cloud and/or are likely to stick with partner-hosted Dynamics offerings.
The Redmondians also have said that future releases of Microsoft's ERP products will be "cloud-first," meaning the cloud versions will be available ahead of the on-premises ones. As is the case with Dynamics CRM, Microsoft will be making two major updates a year to its ERP platforms once they're available both on-premises and in the cloud.
Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online offering runs in Microsoft's datacenters, but is not Windows Azure-hosted. Microsoft officials have said they expect to move CRM Online to run on Azure at some point.
Pre-approved testers can download the GP 2013 beta from this site.