It's beginning to look a lot like Microsoft channel partners can expect a shiny new Dynamics CRM package under the Christmas tree.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, the first major upgrade for the product in more than three years, remains on track to be released to manufacturing by the end of the year, Microsoft CRM general manager Brad Wilson said Thursday. That means the application, also known as "Titan," will be generally available to the channel early in 2008 and the Microsoft-hosted version of the application called Dynamics CRM Live that's based on the same code base should be up and running shortly.
Channel partners will be able to sell Dynamics CRM as an on-premise application or offer it as a hosted application. While Microsoft will host Dynamics CRM Live for customers within its own data centers, Wilson envisions Microsoft channel partners providing business consulting and configuration services around the hosted application. Microsoft has promised that solution providers that act as sales agents for Dynamics CRM Live will receive 10 percent of the annual subscription license fees.
Perhaps the most significant enhancement of the new release is its multitenancy architecture that allows a single hosted instance of the application to support multiple customers rather than requiring a separate instance for each customer. Salesforce.com, a head-to-head competitor to Microsoft's hosted CRM, has long touted the multitenancy of its on-demand CRM applications as a competitive advantage.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 will use the same Windows Workflow Foundation model, engine and tools found in SharePoint and other Microsoft software for building workflow-enabled applications. The CRM apps will also sport enhanced reporting and analysis capabilities and support multiple languages and currencies.
IT services provider CenterBeam will likely begin reselling the Microsoft CRM application early next year and will provide a hosted version as well, said Karen Hayward, executive vice president. The San Jose, Calif.-based company already hosts Microsoft Exchange for customers and Hayward said integrating CRM with Exchange is a natural extension of that business. She also praises the improved user interface of Dynamics CRM 4.0, especially for training and customization purposes.