Microsoft to move its CRM and ERP wares to the Windows Azure cloud

Summary:Microsoft provided near- and longer-term updates about its ERP and CRM wares at its Convergence conference for its ERP and CRM customers and partners on April 11.

Microsoft provided near- and longer-term updates about its ERP and CRM wares at its Convergence conference for its ERP and CRM customers and partners on April 11.

On the near-term front, the Softies said to expect the next version of its Dynamics AX ERP product (codenamed AX 6, and now known officially as Dynamics AX 2012) to be released to manufacturing in August 2011. A beta of AX 2012 is out as of today (April 4), officials said.

Company execs also said that the Dynamics SL 2011 ERP product is now generally available, as is the on-premises version of Dynamics CRM 2011. And Dynamics GP 2010 R2, another of its ERP products, will be generally available starting May 1, 2011.

Longer-term, Microsoft officials said that the next major releases of the cloud versions of its Dynamics ERP and CRM products will be hosted on Windows Azure. The current Microsoft CRM Online product is not hosted on Azure. And none of the  four Microsoft ERP products is available in cloud form at all.

Update: While, Microsoft execs are saying "the next" major ERP releases will be Azure-based, they are not saying "the next" CRM release will. Ultimately, Dynamics CRM also will be Azure-hosted, a spokesperson reconfirmed.

Microsoft execs declined to say when any of these Azure-hosted deliverables will be available. However, it sounds like the Softies said they are speeding up their development/delivery timeframe for its CRM product, releasing new versions every 12 to 18 months. That would mean the next Dynamics CRM Online release could hit any time between 2012 to 2013. But it does not mean that release will be Azure-hosted.

Brandon George, a Microsoft Most Valuable professional and blogger specializing in Dynamics AX topics, estimated that the "AX 7" release might be a 2014 deliverable and would follow the same path that Microsoft is taking with CRM, meaning the online version will be released before the on-premises one.

Update 2: "Microsoft Dynamics NAV, codenamed 'NAV 7,'  is the next major ERP product in the portfolio that is expected to be available in 2012. This will be the first cloud-enabled ERP solution," a spokesperson added.

The Microsoft spokesperson said that the move to Azure does not mean that Microsoft will be consolidating its ERP family and reducing the current four different ERP offerings into fewer different point products.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Windows


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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