Microsoft plans Q4 debut for Dynamics ERP on the Azure cloud

But the company is still ironing out pricing and subscription details, which won't be discussed at Convergence

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.

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.

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.

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."

All Dynamics ERP products will continue to be available in on-premises form and through traditional hosting partners after the Azure launch. Microsoft expects there will still be a strong market for both scenarios, as well as hybrid deployments, Dynamics CTO Mike Ehrenberg previously told IDG News Service.

In other news expected Monday:

-- The next update to Dynamics CRM, which uses the same code-base for both the on-demand and on-premises versions, will be released in the fourth quarter. New features will focus on "social customer care and cloud-based data enrichment services," Microsoft said in a statement.

-- A number of large systems integrators, including Accenture, McLane Logistics Technology and Bull, have joined the AX ecosystem and are customizing it for various verticals.

-- Microsoft is forming a partnership with InsideView that will integrate that vendor's "sales intelligence" software with Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft is expecting more than 10,000 people to attend Convergence, which runs through Wednesday.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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