Microsoft Outlines New Plans for Dynamics CRM

Microsoft has announced plans to write Dynamics CRM Live — its own Software as a Service CRM offering — on the same code base used for earlier versions of its on-premise application and for the hosted offerings of its partners.

Right now, only the partner hosted offering and the on-premise application are on the same code base.

Because the user interface will be the same for all three modes, what this means in practical terms is that clients will be able to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM as an SaaS in some offices or as an on-premise or partner-hosted version in others. They can still use a partner to tailor both versions.

First Time

Indeed, the change, targeted to hit the market in a year, will provide more development opportunities to its partners, according to Kevin Faulkner, product marketing director for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

“They can build extensions, write custom code and otherwise add value to the application one time and have it apply to all three deployment models,” he told CRM Buyer.

Microsoft is the first to bring this flexibility to the marketplace, Sheryl Kingstone, Yankee Group analyst, told CRM Buyer. “It is a true, multi-tenant, Software as a Service offering.”

Oracle’s Siebel has been moving toward this ideal with its hybrid offering, Kingstone said. Microsoft beat the company to the finish line, though, because its product set was less complex. “Microsoft Dynamics was the first, because it was easier for them to rewrite the code for CRM Live,” she pointed out.

Open Source Mobile Client

At its Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 in Boston, where Microsoft announced its new plans for CRM Live, it also demonstrated a new open source client for mobile devices that will be available in August.

Microsoft has introduced earlier mobile versions, Faulkner noted.

The new application, though, is an open source, thin client offering that can support multiple languages and multiple devices, including a BlackBerry. “And because it is open source, it is also a great opportunity for partners,” he noted.

Microsoft also reconfirmed plans to release a new Microsoft BizTalk Server-based integration system this quarter that will connect Microsoft CRM to enterprise resource planning and CRM applications from other vendors such as SAP and Oracle.

These developments are expected to further drive adoption of the application, especially the CRM Live offering. Microsoft added more than 50,000 new users in the most recent quarter, bringing its total to 250,000 users and 75,000 customers, according to Faulkner.

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