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Summary:

Last April, Microsoft promised an Azure-based ERP product. Fast forward a year, it’s still not here, but the company said Dynamics NAV 2013 for Azure will go to beta in May and be broadly available by year’s end — as will Dynamics GP 2013.

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As of today, none of Microsoft’s major applications are hosted on the company’s Windows Azure cloud. On Monday, the company said that the Azure version of its Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, announced last year, is still not ready, with a beta promised for May and general availability by the end of the year. (To be fair, last year, the company did not provide a due date.)

Another ERP product — Dynamics GP 2013 — will go to beta this summer and should also hit the year-end deadline.  Still a third ERP product, Dynamics AX,  will be Azure-enabled in its “next major release,” said Kirill Tatarinov, corporate VP of Microsoft Business Solutions, but he did not provide a timeline.

Microsoft, like other legacy software providers, is trying to navigate the tricky course between its profitable  on-premises software, and the cloud-hosted software delivered as a service. And, perhaps more than any vendor, Microsoft has to figure out a way to do this while keeping its reseller and implementation partners in the fold. Traditional resellers sell the software itself and provide the customization and other services so critical in ERP. When the software itself flows from a vendor cloud, these partners  feel — with reason — cut out of the transaction. That is especially true for partners that now host Microsoft ERP on their own infrastructure.

That’s why Tatarinov and Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, speaking at the Microsoft Convergence 2012 conference in Houston, continued to stress that even Azure-hosted ERP will be “delivered by partners.”  In theory that means Microsoft will not sell those services direct to end users — a claim that some partners don’t buy.

The Windows Azure  platform-as-a-service cloud went live in February 2010  and one reason for the lack of Microsoft Azure applications is the lengthy development cycle of those products. The company has said that its plan is to put all of its software on Azure.

But Microsoft needs to get on the stick. Devoted Microsoft Dynamics partners and customers — mostly small and medium sized businesses — may hold out for these Azure offerings, but the rest of of the world is moving on.  NetSuite has offered ERP as a service for years and now other competitors such as  Workday, the cloud-based ERP brainchild of PeopleSoft founder David Duffield, do as well. Even SAP, the great grand-daddy of old-school, on-premises ERP, offers a cloud-based option in Business ByDesign. Microsoft is definitely late to this party.

Feature photo courtesy of Carlos Gutiérrez G.

  1. Interesting- the channel complication aside, Microsoft has been moving many a web property to Azure. We have first hand experience with some of those. They need to get much better in talking about it. Some of their largest web , gaming & IT systems have started moving to Azure and its a shame that not many people know about it !!

    Paddy Srinivasan
    http://www.opstera.com

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  2. What difference does it make if the company’s apps are running in Azure or in traditional data centers? End-users don’t care. Microsoft is like anyone else, migrating apps in the normal course of business.

    And as PaddyS said in another comment, many of the company’s Web apps already are running in Azure. I was on a team that started running portions of MSDN/TechNet a long time ago.

    Third-party apps in Azure:
    https://datamarket.azure.com/browse/Applications

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  3. I agree with Jeff. Client don’t care. I think in most cases we are better running on data centers as we can exercise greater control over the physical reach and in some cases that is a requirement

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  4. Moving applications to Azure is not that hard for MS. In Mix last year, they showcased a complete working TFS on Azure that took 1 month + 2 developers to transition. The question is the reason this is not their priority or why they are reluctant to do so now.

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