MBS Converges, Eschbach Resurfaces

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As expected, Microsoft outlined its evolutionary roadmap to next-gen ERP on Monday morning.

Instead of what most thought would be a massive code-rewrite to converge four ERP product lines to one Project Green, there will be an incremental update cycle for all four lines—Great Plains, Axapta, Navision, and Solomon, Microsoft senior veep Doug Burgum told some 5,000 MBS customers and partners in San Diego.

Perhaps most importantly in the short term, Microsoft is extending product life cycle support on all those lines from three years to five years and his slides pointed to Great Plains V. 9+ as well as Navision 5+, Axapta 4+, and Solomon 7 plus in the 2008-and-beyond timeframe.

This is not exactly what people were expecting when Microsoft talked about converging the ERP code bases into one uniform foundation. "They're talking about migration and I've never heard that before," said Chris Alliegro, lead analyst with Directions On Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. Research firm.

But Chris and others think other shoes will drop here. "We know they want to go from four products to fewer products and we still don't know how that will happen. Moving to newer tech and migrating existing data and processes sounds ok, but it is not efficient to maintain four different R&D teams working on products with so much overlap," Alliegro said.

Of course, Doug being Doug, attendees got a history lesson as well. The man is a clearly polymath and the keynote ranged from the 1968 moon shot back to the days of Greek and Rome and forward again. When he started in on the Phoenicians, one reporter went for coffee, getting back in plenty of time for the Industrial Revolution.

These wide-ranging expositions have drawn devotees over the years, first from loyal Great Plains users and partners and since the Microsoft buyout, the bigger MBS audience.

Also, the new Industry Builder initiative, under which Microsoft will support and stand behind specified Axapta add-on software got its first reference ISVs in foliodev with its professional services automation wares; Fullscope with its process management software; and Manhattan Associates a maker of supply chain execution software.

Joe Eschbach Resurfaces

Joe Eschbach, who left Adobe Systems after a long career for a much shorter stint at Microsoft doing Office work, has cropped up again. He is marketing veep at Astoria Software, a San Mateo, Calif. specialist in "dynamic publishing."

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