A New Flavor of Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft's next release of Dynamics CRM is one step closer to completion. Today, the vendor announced it has made the latest version, called Titan, available to several hundred business partners for testing and development.
Microsoft is making Titan available to over 300 resellers and other business partners under its Technology Adoption Program to give them an early start on developing complementary solutions. The company is expecting to expand the product release to several thousand partners sometime in the second quarter of 2007, with general availability of the product slated for sometime this summer, according to Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Wilson says, "Everything is on track and on target."
Titan introduces a new multi-tenant architecture that allows the application to be hosted by either the partners, as is the current version of Dynamics CRM, or by Microsoft itself through its upcoming Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM service. Because all three versions are based on a single code base and metadata model, customers will be able to switch from one version to another as needed. In addition to being multi-tenant, Titan will also be multi-language (boasting 24 versus the current version's 22 languages) and multi-currency as well.
Microsoft expects its Dynamics Live CRM hosting service will be particularly attractive to smaller companies with few IT resources that need a basic CRM system. Meanwhile, partners will develop applications, services, and extensions that complement the CRM applications they host, primarily targeted for the mid-market. The software-as-a-service version of Dynamics CRM will let partners serve more customers with less drain on their resources, Wilson says. "We expect to see a great deal of creativity among our partners to create new business models and extensions for Dynamics Live CRM."
As long as Dynamics Live CRM is leveraged primarily by small businesses, and partners hosting Titan focus on the larger, mid-market companies, there shouldn't be any friction between Microsoft and its vast partner network, says Rob Bois, research director at AMR Research. "The key to Titan will be how partners receive the new multi-tenant architecture," he says, "but I don't see partners viewing Microsoft's entry into hosting as a threat. Microsoft is keeping their partners happy by giving them a sneak peek at Titan. It's the next logical step toward Titan's release."
Mike Snyder, a principal at Sonoma Partners, service provider and reseller of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, agrees. "It's all positive. There could be a few partners that are negatively affected as a result of Microsoft entering into hosting, but the multiple deployment options are great for the customers and partners alike." Snyder says he sees the majority of Sonoma's customers starting hosted and then switching to the on-premise solution as they realize the value of the software, or increase their user base. "The more deployment options you give the customers, the better it is for them."
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