Microsoft Dynamics 365 to start rolling out November 1

Microsoft is offering a first look at its new Azure-hosted Dynamics 365 service and plans to start rolling out a number of its components as of November 1.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft will begin rolling out the first components of its Dynamics 365 service as of November 1.


Dynamics 365 is Microsoft's new Azure-hosted, combined CRM and ERP service. Microsoft is showing off a "first look" at Dynamics 365 during a live-streamed event later today, October 11, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT.

Microsoft originally announced plans for Dynamics 365 in early July, and subsequently briefed some of its reseller partners about the coming offering over the next couple of months. Officials said at that time that Dynamics 365 would be largely a repackaging and re-architecting of the capabilities of Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, and Project Madeira. Project Madeira, the codename for Microsoft's Dynamics 365 Financials component, is a new small-business software-as-a-service offering built on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform.

Today, officials said that beginning November 1, the first seven discrete Dynamics 365 applications would be on the company's price list. Those apps will be rolling out in 135 markets and 40 languages starting on that date. Microsoft will make a preview of a new Dynamics 365 Customer Insights app that is built on top of the Cortana Intelligence Suite, available at the beginning of November, as well, officials said.

As previously reported, there will be two different editions of Dynamics 365: Business and Enterprise. (Microsoft won't be using the E1, E3, E5 designations with Dynamics 365, unlike the case with Office 365 and now Windows 10 to distinguish between different offerings.)

Credit: Microsoft

The Business edition of Dynamics 365, aimed at companies with between 10 and 250 employees, will include Financials, Sales, and Marketing modules. The Enterprise edition, targeted at companies with 250-plus employees, will consist of Operations, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Field Service, and Project Service Automation modules. I've asked for clarification from the company regarding which specific modules will be available as of November 1 and to which set of customers and will update this post when I hear back.

Previously leaked pricing for Dynamics 365 reinforced the idea that Microsoft would offer the individual Dynamics 365 modules separately or across roles via "Plans" that bundle multiple functions into a single license. Microsoft also will sell "team-member" versions of both the Business Edition and Enterprise Edition (for $5 per user per month, and $10 per user per month) that will be aimed at light-usage customers.

It's not clear to me whether Microsoft intends to immediately cease selling its Dynamics CRM Online service starting November 1, as some partners have said they believe. (I've asked.) It does sound as if customers will be given the option of sticking with their currently licensed CRM/ERP offerings for as long as their licenses cover, or moving immediately to Dynamics 365.

Update: It does look like the Dynamics CRM Online name is going away (and maybe the Dynamics CRM on-premises one, too). It'll be replaced by the new Dynamics 365 apps and app names, like Sales and Customer Service, according to Digital Illustrated consultant Jukka Niiranen.

I'm also not sure whether the "Marketing" component of Dynamics 365 is going to be the Adobe Marketing Cloud for both the Business and Enterprise releases of Dynamics 365. Microsoft signed a pact with Adobe earlier this month via which Microsoft officials said they'd make Adobe Marketing Cloud their "preferred" marketing solution for Dynamics 365 Enterprise. But as RapidStart CRM's Steve Mordue blogged recently, it seems Microsoft still intends to field a different, new Marketing component for SMB users later this Spring. (I've asked about that, too.)

Microsoft's move to meld Office 365, Power BI, Azure and Dynamics into a more process/user-centric pricing and delivery mechanism could give the company some competitive fuel, said Joshua Greenbaum, principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting, especially when it comes to new/greenfield opportunities.

"For existing customers with long-term relations based on the silos that are now being consolidated in Dynamics 365 -- ERP, CRM, BI/analytics, and lines of business such as sales, manufacturing, logistics and IT -- this consumption model won't be obvious or necessarily desirable from the get-go. It's clear to me that when you add up the functionality, Microsoft is putting a lot of firepower in the hands of individual users that is based on a relatively well-known user experience: that has to be a net positive against any competitor, but particularly Salesforce, which struggles to fulfill the needs of the full enterprise, or Oracle, which is mired in older products or user experiences, or SAP, which is still transitioning from a very heavy-weight on-premise offering to a less heavyweight set of cloud offerings," Greenbaum said.

"But," he added, "at the end of the day Microsoft has to get into the field and sell this new enterprise vision against some of the toughest direct sales teams in the industry, and that's not going to be easy, despite the merits. This is about breaking out of the old three-letter-acronym way of marketing and selling, and that degree of culture change won't happen overnight."

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