Microsoft Sets Timetable For Cloud ERP Applications

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Microsoft's efforts to develop cloud versions of its ERP applications remain on track with cloud-based editions of the channel-popular Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV application suites set for release before the end of this year.

The specific timetable for Microsoft's entry into the cloud ERP software market, announced Monday at the company's Convergence 2012 conference in Houston, follows Microsoft's stated plans one year ago to develop cloud versions of the company's four ERP suites: Dynamics AX, GP NAV and SL.

"In reviewing our progress, getting ready for this event, I was really proud to see that everything that we promised a year ago at Convergence 2011, we have delivered," said Kirill Tatarinov, president of Microsoft Business Solutions, in a keynote speech Monday to about 10,000 attendees. "I'm truly excited about our roadmap, I'm truly excited about where we're heading."

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Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, joining Tatarinov during the keynote, said cloud computing was seen more as an early trend last year, but "now it's in full mainstream." He also repeated Microsoft's vision that most IT departments will take a hybrid approach and implement a combination of on-premise and cloud systems.

Both the on-premise and cloud versions of Dynamics GP 2013 and Dynamics NAV 2013 will be available in the fourth quarter of calendar 2012, Microsoft said. The cloud releases will be developed to run on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform. A beta release of NAV 2012 will be available in May with the final "release to manufacturing" version expected in September or October.

In addition to the Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV native clients, the 2013 releases for the first time will offer browser access and access from Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software, said Fred Studer, general manager of Dynamics product management, in an interview. The Dynamics GP and NAV developers also have been working closely with the Windows 8 development team so the ERP applications can take advantage of Windows 8's "touch" Metro user interface, he said.

Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV are targeted toward SMB customers -- NAV alone currently has 90,000 customers -- and are especially popular with Microsoft solution providers that target SMBs. Dynamics AX is geared toward larger customers.

Microsoft has not disclosed a timetable for providing cloud versions of Dynamics AX or SL. The company released Dynamics AX 2012 last fall as an on-premise product and will ship Dynamics AX 2012 R2 later this year, also in an on-premise-only form. A channel partner that resells Dynamics AX said he thinks the cloud version of that application probably won't be available until early 2014. An on-premise update of Dynamics SL is due by the end of this year.

Next: A Faster Pace For New Dynamics Releases

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