Microsoft takes business software further into cloud PDF Print E-mail
The company offers a collection of services for its Dynamics software solution.

Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet in the competitive enterprise resource planning (ERP) space with a collection of services for its Dynamics software that allow users to combine online services with on-premise ERP or on-demand ERP to quickly increase business capabilities.

Microsoft SA`s Tracey Newman said the company`s Dynamics ERP hosting business had more than doubled in the past year, demonstrating strong uptake by partners to deliver Dynamics via on-demand and subscription-based hosting models as well as complementary services.

“Businesses increasingly look for the option of moving certain applications and services into the cloud while maintaining an on-premise option for their ERP solution,” said Newman. “Providing this choice and flexibility is a clear competitive advantage for us and our partners.”

The new portfolio includes Sites Service, which allows customers to create and manage Web sites – like landing pages for marketing campaigns, dedicated request for quote sites, sites for product registration information and customer feedback and human resources sites for job recruiting -- within the Dynamics ERP application itself.

Another new service, Commerce, extends multichannel commerce scenarios by providing a link between the ERP products and different e-commerce opportunities such as business-to-consumer e-commerce marketplaces, dedicated e-commerce storefronts or built-in shopping cart functionality. This enables customers to list products and accept orders from a multitude of places, all from one easy-to-use interface.

Richard Halton, the director of ICT advisory specialists Exordia, says local business` appetite for hosted services has increased “exponentially” over the past two years, with growing numbers of companies happy to outsource their critical business applications to trusted suppliers.

“We used to spend 90% of our time showing people the benefits of hosted services. Now, as companies become more comfortable with security and service availability issues, we`re seeing a definite, fundamental shift in the way technology is being sourced, used and paid for,” says Halton.

Halton`s views are borne out by market analyst Gartner, which predicts the market for software as a service (SaaS) is forecast to reach US$8 billion in 2009, a 21.9% increase from 2008 revenue of $6.6 billion.

“The adoption of SaaS continues to grow and evolve within the enterprise application markets as tighter capital budgets in the current economic environment demand leaner alternatives, popularity increases, and interest for platform as a service and cloud computing grows,” said Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner.

Gartner says several factors are driving adoption of SaaS, including the benefits of rapid deployment and rapid ROI, less upfront capital investment, and a decreased reliance on limited implementation resources. Another reason that on-demand solutions are gaining greater currency is the fact that risk and resource requirements shift from internal IT to vendors or service providers, says Halton.

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