Microsoft took another big step in the direction of cloud-based applications, announcing that its next major releases of the cloud versions of its Dynamics ERP products will be hosted on Windows Azure. As noted by ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley, none of the four current Microsoft ERP products is available in cloud form at this time.
Microsoft intends to pursue both on-premises and cloud strategies with its ERP line, with future releases available both ways. And apparently, as Jeffrey Schwartz observes, the software giant has greatly accelerated its plans to move its ERP line to the cloud. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promises that "future releases will be engineered to work in the cloud and will be hosted on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform."
Clearly, the ERP-on-cloud space is hot, with initial inroads made by Salesforce.com and SAP On Demand solutions such as BusinessByDesign, Oracle CRM on Demand, and Oracle e-Business Suite on Demand -- all SaaS solutions targeted directly to small and medium size businesses, which is Microsoft's ERP heartland.
As noted before, Microsoft requires a cultural change as it makes the shift from on-premises software offerings -- where it has made its fortune -- to the cloud realm. ZDNet colleague Phil Wainewright recently documented what may be going on under the covers at Redmond.