The UK software company Sage is to take on its enterprise resource planning rivals in the cloud by developing some of its products to run on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform.
According to the company, the first such product in the UK will be Sage 200, a suite that encompasses business intelligence (BI), customer relationship management (CRM) and financial management software. Sage, which only entered the software-as-a-service market last year, said the cloud version of Sage 200 was already being developed and would be widely released next year.
All the Azure-hosted versions of its products will be interoperable with Microsoft Office 365, Sage said in a statement on Thursday, announcing the deal with Microsoft.
"This is great news for our SMB customers who want both the best of on-premise applications and the benefits of the web," Sage Europe SMB chief Antoine Henry said. "It is also very important for Sage because it shows momentum in the delivery of our web strategy and our commitment to a consistent technology and platform strategy."
Pilot deployments will begin this year for the cloud versions of both Sage 200 and Sage Murano, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) bundle for the Spanish market.
According to the company, the cloud-based iterations will "automate all relevant aspects of subscription lifecycle and system management" and be able to handle the interactions of tens of thousands of users. The products will also be adaptable for mobile, Sage added.
"A fully-featured platform-as-a-service (PaaS) approach allows us to speed up development of domain-specific customer applications, boost productivity, accelerate time-to-market and reduce duplication," Henry said.
Sage is the third-largest ERP software supplier, after Oracle and SAP. SAP said in March that it would offer its own SMB-focused ERP product, Business One, as an on-demand cloud service. Oracle has been allowing customers to run its rival E-Business Suite in Amazon's EC2 cloud for some time.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also lets customers of its Dynamics ERP product run that software in the cloud, again on the Azure platform.