Microsoft is planning to roll out its first "cloud-enabled" Dynamics ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications by the end of this year, the company announced Monday during the Convergence conference in Houston.
At last year's Convergence show, Microsoft first discussed intentions to port its four ERP lines to the Azure cloud platform upon the next major release of each product. This will start coming to pass in the fourth quarter of this year, with the release of NAV 2013 and GP 2013, Microsoft said. A beta version of NAV 2013 will arrive in May.
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Microsoft is also planning to discuss plans for ISV partners offering Azure-hosted services for various verticals, including retail, fashion and equipment manufacturing, according to a statement.
The vendor is hoping to differentiate itself from competitors through the notion that Dynamics customers have flexibility when going to the cloud, with support for hybrid deployments that keep some aspects on-premises in their IT environment, as well as private clouds. "We deliver cloud on your terms," said Kirill Tatarinov, president of Microsoft Business Solutions Division, during a keynote address on Monday, which was webcast.
It was a theme Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner also sounded during remarks prior to Tatarinov's. "We're not trying to move you to our cloud," Turner said. "We're saying if you want to build your own cloud, we'll help you do that."
Another announcement will concern the fourth-quarter release of AX 2012 R2, an update that will include new BI (business intelligence) capabilities geared for the needs of individual users, Microsoft said.
"If you're deploying AX 2012 today, stay the course," as R2 will give users new features and functions on top of the platform, with "no re-implementation required," Tatarinov said.
In addition, Microsoft will reaffirm its plans to move AX, which is aimed at larger companies than the other Dynamics applications, to Azure. However, no firm time lines will be provided, said Fred Studer, general manager, Dynamics. Nor will Microsoft discuss when Dynamics SL, a product used by services companies, will end up on Azure, according to Studer.
The lack of information doesn't mean Microsoft is going back on its plans, he added. "We're still committed to delivering all of our ERP on the cloud."
Dynamics applications, whether run on-premises or hosted, historically have been sold directly through partners. That won't change with Azure, Studer said. "The partner ecosystem is a critical component. They've already built relationships with our customers."
Partners will be able to sell Azure-hosted Dynamics via subscription, a pricing model intrinsic to the SaaS (software as a service) world. But those details are still being ironed out, with no specifics coming until sometime after Convergence, Studer said. "As we go through the beta [for NAV], surely we're going to learn how best to drive that. We want to make this as easy as possible."