Microsoft used to talk about "Titan" as the codename for its Dynamics CRM 4.0 release. But it's now clear that Microsoft's Titan is more than just Microsoft's next-gen CRM offering in its various guises (on-premise, hosted and Live).
Microsoft is using the "Titan" name to refer to a forthcoming CRM application-development platform that it is building out. Developers can build customized apps on top of this platform -- even apps that will run on Microsoft's own servers.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shared these new tidbits regarding Microsoft's CRM strategy during his keynote address at the Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10, Ballmer said:
"(W)e will add CRM and we will add an application development platform for departments and small businesses called Titan. Titan is the technology that underpins and is used for building Dynamics Live CRM....
"In the case of Titan there's an opportunity for you to build applications that would literally run on our servers. You have to use the kind of declarative programming model, workflow model on which our own CRM product is built, but you can, of course, write your own Titan applications either on-premise hosted or hosted in our datacenter."
Sound familiar? Sure sounds a lot like what Salesforce has been doing with its Apex platform, to me. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.....
I asked Microsoft for further details on its CRM platform plans.
Update: On the afternoon of July11, Microsoft CRM General Manager Brad Wilson shared a bit more on what Microsoft is thinking, in terms of making Titan a developer platform.
Wilson said Titan always has been comprised of two components: The underlying platform for data-management and modeling, workflow, presentation management and online-offline synchronization; and the higher-level CRM elements for sales, service and marketing. Microsoft's idea is to allow non-CRM specific applications to be built on top of the core Titan development platform. Microsoft will build some of these applications; third-party developers will write others, Wilson said.
Wilson didn't have any kind of timing to share, in terms of when the first Titan-based applications should be ready to roll, other than to say "relatively soon." Wilson also characterized the concept of allowing third-party vendors to host their Titan apps on Microsoft's servers as "longer term."
I asked Wilson about apparent similarities between Titan the platform and Salesforce.com's Apex platform. His response: "Apex is a proprietary programming language for a highly proprietary system. We are using existing Microsoft technologies, like Visual Studio, to build our platform, instead of creating a whole new one."