Secondly, Microsoft wanted to make sure the Azure rollout would go right, he added. "We ended up adding a bunch of time to get partners ready," he said, mentioning that other vendors made "early promises" about cloud ERP that "didn't end up happening," in an apparent allusion to SAP's Business ByDesign.
SAP launched ByDesign several years ago with great fanfare but ended up having to scale back the rollout and do some retooling in order to ensure it could make money selling the on-demand software suite at scale.
Microsoft is wise to take its time before opening up access to Dynamics ERP on Azure, both for that reason as well as the mission-critical nature of ERP systems, a factor that has resulted in the software category lagging others when it comes to cloud deployments. Microsoft is confident that all will be ready for launch in June, according to Ehrenberg.
How will Microsoft handle AX on Azure?
The next major release of Dynamics AX will get an Azure option as well. That product is scheduled for early-adopter access in 2014. AX played a prominent role at Convergence as Microsoft, in a shot across the bow of Oracle and SAP, showcased how global cosmetics maker Revlon was standardizing its business on AX.
Microsoft recently rolled out an update to AX that made it possible to run a company on a single global instance of the software, and is hoping to win many more deals like the Revlon one.
"That is essentially going to be first time ever in the industry where someone delivers the ability to run their full business end-to-end in the cloud," Tatarinov claimed during a session at Convergence this week.
While AX partners will play mostly similar roles with respect to Azure on AX, one key difference is that Microsoft will handle the billing and subscription relationship with a customer, rather than having the money flow through partners. Microsoft may desire a greater level of control because AX customers could have more complex licensing agreements that will need to be mapped to the Azure pricing model.
Will Dynamics in the cloud shake up the product release cycle?
Cloud software vendors tend to roll out new features a number of times each year, taking advantage of the deployment model's flexibility, rather than deliver big-bang releases every two or three years.
For Dynamics, Microsoft has done a large release in that time frame while also issuing smaller service packs in between, Ehrenberg said. The cloud option will have an influence on that schedule, he said.
"We will definitely be on a faster cadence," he said. However, "for me, quarterly [updating] just doesn't make sense for these kinds of apps," Ehrenberg added.
Expect Microsoft to settle into an every-six-months release pattern over time, he said. "We won't be there day one."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com