Talk of the devil

In many respects, the announcement of Live CRM demonstrates just how little progress Microsoft has really made in truly embracing the on-demand model.

The last time I posted here, my topic was Can you go to SaaS and back? and my verdict was unequivocal: "Unreconstituted on-premises applications have no future in the on-demand world." Right on cue, along comes Microsoft with plans for CRM Live, "based on the same code base as the company's traditional on-premise software that customers install within their companies." What a load of old SoSaaS!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM logo

Fortunately, customers aren't going to have to endure this nonsense because Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM doesn't exist. It's vaporware. This is a fud announcement of a plan to introduce a product this time next year ("in the second quarter of 2007") in the hope that it'll persuade customers to postpone buying decisions. The ploy was often used by the likes of IBM, Oracle and others back in the 1990s to spread 'fear, uncertainty and doubt' (hence, FUD) among competitors. It worked when software applications used to take several years to develop and several more to deploy. What difference would a mere nine months make to anyone's implementation timescales? But in the on-demand world, the strategy is as redundant as Microsoft's far-from-Live CRM service. Anyone who's already thinking about deploying on-demand CRM can have it up and running by the fall, six months ahead of Microsoft's availability schedule -- and that's before you even start think about implementing the Microsoft application, which shows every sign of being every bit as laborious and time-consuming as it is with the current on-premises software.

So although CEO Marc Benioff is right to celebrate Microsoft's attempts to play catch-up in the on-demand world as an endorsement of the on-demand model, he's stretching the point when he writes that the announcement of Live CRM demonstrates that "Everyone and everything is becoming a service." Because in many respects, the announcement demonstrates just how little progress Microsoft has really made in truly embracing the model.