Hybrids are the buzz in the auto industry, and now hybrid applications may be the next buzz in technology, both in licensed, behind-the-firewall mode as well as developed and hosted in the cloud.
I spent time with Brad Wilson, GM of Microsoft’s Dynamic CRM team, and some executives from Avanade, Microsoft’s BPO/SI joint venture with Accenture. Microsoft and its larger SI partners plan to put some serious weight behind xRM in the coming months. But wait, what’s xRM?
xRM describes applications built on Dynamics CRM that don’t use the CRM application functionality. xRM (the “x” implies it can be used to underpin a variety of industry or use-specific applications) has tight integration with the Microsoft stack -- .NET, SQL, et al -- and will also, along with the Dynamics CRM app, likely be available as a cloud-based resource via Azure.
Dynamics CRM is targeted to business users that have customer interactions: the obvious sales, support, and marketing teams. xRM, on the other hand, will target the developer community: systems integrators and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, ISVs, and internal development teams. You could argue that the Dynamics CRM team is returning to Microsoft’s traditional roots of selling development environments to, well, developers.
Who will they compete with? Salesforce.com’s Force platform, which also aims to provide developer resources on the cloud for non-CRM, industry-specific applications. IBM’s cloud initiatives. Probably Google Apps, SAP (who purchased Coghead to get into the platform space), Oracle, and possibly Amazon. There are also a small handful of other vendors that see the future in cloud-based applications.