Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

Summary: Microsoft execs have made little, if any, official mention of what the company is doing to bring its CRM and ERP products in line with its Microsoft-hosted service offerings. There is a grander plan, however. Here's what's coming.

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Earlier this summer, Microsoft officials shared roadmaps for what's coming next with the company's bundle of enterprise online services, currently known as Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). But there was little, if any, mention of what the company is doing to bring its CRM and ERP products in line with its Microsoft-hosted service offerings.

Surprise! There actually is a grander plan. I had a chance to hear a couple of new tidbits from Michael Park, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Business Solutions team, when he visited New York on press tour recently. I also gleaned a bit more from various bloggers who listened to a Microsoft Webcast for its "Cloud Champion" partners.

First, it seems there's a new brand-name coming. According to Directions on Microsoft researcher Paul DeGroot, Microsoft told partners last week that BPOS (which, more than a few Microsoft critics have referred to as "Big Piece of S*it") is about to be renamed "Union."

I asked Microsoft officials to confirm this and they wouldn't, claiming it was in the "rumors and speculation" category. I won't be surprised to see the Union name unveiled soon -- maybe as soon as the next month or two, when Microsoft fields its promised test version of BPOS v.Next.

Secondly, in order to get its reseller partners to step up their push to sell BPOS/Union, Microsoft is sweetening the deal, doubling the margins for those who sell the hosted bundle.

Now on to the bigger picture. We know that Microsoft is working on refreshing the entire BPOS/Union bundle with the many of the latest features it introduced in the on-premises versions of these products (Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint 2010, and, before the end of this year, Lync Server 2010). We also know that's when Microsoft is going to add some management and other refinements, including two-phase authentication support for the suite. (Two-phase authentication was announced with much fanfare by Google for its Google Apps suite on September 20.)

But there are other things happening under the BPOS/Union covers, too, Microsoft's Park told me, that should give Microsoft more of a unified story across its enterprise apps and services.

Microsoft's plan is to follow BPOS's lead with its ERP and CRM products, Park said. That means the Dynamics products and the BPOS services with use the same payments and commerce infrastructure. These payment and commerce components will be built on top of Windows Azure and Azure's service bus (the AppFabric), Park said. Microsoft plans to introduce support for this unified payments and commerce infrastructure to the next releases of its GP, NAV and AX ERP wares, he said.

Microsoft also is planning to unify the underlying infrastructure supporting BPOS and CRM, Park said. In the longer term, Microsoft is likely to add CRM to its BPOS bundle, though it's not clear whether the company will do so by making it an optional add-on or in some other way, he said. Though Park didn't provide a clear-cut timetable for this, it sounded like the goal is to have this happen in the next one to two years.

In the even longer term, Microsoft is working to add hosted ERP workloads to its mix of supported Online Services, Park said. That would entail somehow wrapping ERP elements as services and provisioning these instances using Windows Azure, he said.

Microsoft is taking increasing steps to bring the same kind of unity to its ERP suite that Oracle is touting this week at its Open World conference with Fusion. Although the Softies are attempting to cast doubt on how open Fusion will be and how it will protect customer investments, Microsoft is probably going to face those same kinds of questions as it rolls out its broader unification plan.

I'm curious what else current and potential Microsoft enterprise customers want to know about Microsoft's future plans for BPOS and Dynamics. Got anything you're wondering/worrying about (beyond online service uptimes, that is)?

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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7 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

    As a Office Live Small Business customer I have been wondering if Microsoft plans to move the site hosting/sharepoint capabilties of OLSB over to Microsoft Online as part of "Lite" package...perhaps still using Hotmail as backend mail system.
    USArcher
    • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

      This may be part of Microsoft's BPOS Lite product/offering. Park told me BPOS Lite is still an active project, but wasn't ready to talk more about it at this point.

      BPOS Lite: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-to-target
      -smb-users-with-new-bpos-lite-cloud-service/5090

      Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

    What I would really like to know is what are the plans for Dynamics ERP products line (AX, NAV, GP, SL)?

    Years ago there were plans to merge all four products into one (Project Green) but apparently it didn't happen. However, I feel that MS is actually really doing it, because those products are slowly loosing their identities.
    What MS did first is shortening the names to abbreviations (Axapta became AX, Navision became NAV, Great Plans became GP and Solomon became SL) and lately they named that gang of four "Microsoft Dynamics ERP".

    It seams to me that we are going to see some sort of unified single ERP product with multiple feature levels in the future and I think that would be great. I believe in that because maintaining four codebases with overlapping functionality is something everyone would try to avoid.

    Mary, you're the only one who can find more info about this and I hope you will :)

    Anil
    anilmujagic
    • Project Green

      Hi. Project Green ended up becoming something very different from MS' original plan. Originally the goal was to combine the four ERP products into one, but then MS switched its strategy to make the four lines look and feel more alike:

      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsofts-project-green-still-alive-and-kicking/319

      There is no longer a plan to make the four into a single bundle/entity. SO this is no Oracle Fusion... The different ERP products at MS are aimed at different audiences with different emphases. New versions of the three main ones that MS still maintains (GP, AX, NAV) are all coming, but MS has intentionally slowed the rollout pace to let users better assimilate each release. No more annual new versions.

      MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

    The MS Business model is failing, so they're moving everything online. If you think MS is exploiting users now with the current licensing model, just wait until they have all your data hostage and the products only work online...
    Socratesfoot
    • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

      @Socratesfoot
      You stated that the MS Business model is failing. That couldn't be further from the truth. Just look at their last financial report.
      shan_mcarthur
  • RE: Microsoft seeks to unify its coming Microsoft 'Union' Services, ERP and CRM wares

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