Redmond is revving up. This year, the folks from Microsoft intend to launcha new version of their customer relationship management software, Microsoft CRM, based on the principles of service-oriented architecture. The solution is designed for small- and mid-sized firms -- thoughunits and divisions from largercompanies also have adopted Microsoft's CRM app.
The key advantage of this approach is that it enables the company to provide software that flexibly emulates the way people actually do business as opposed to forcing them to follow the workflows embedded in a typical business application. "Without an SOA, customers are probably compromising their business processes," says Dave Batt, senior director of Microsoft CRM.
Customers will be able to easily define objects that are not usually part of the CRM system andmake them part of the application'sWeb-services layer, according to the company. That makes it easier to modify the application to match the desired business processes without having to engage in custom development work.
Microsoft is focused on competing with hosted solutions such as SalesForce.com and Siebel On-Demand, but recognizes the limitations of its offering relative to high-end users. "We don't have the end-all product for the up market," Batt says. "We're optimized for hundreds of users, not tens of thousands."