This week at the Convergence conference in Houston, Microsoft Business Solutions will lay out our roadmap for delivering Microsoft Dynamics ERP offerings in the cloud, delivering on the promise made at last year’s event. The roadmap reflects Microsoft’s customer focused approach, targeting two key market segments — the first wave will target small and mid-market companies, with the second wave expanding those offerings to enterprise customers.

Our cloud work is informed by multiple influences:

· Experience. Microsoft builds and operates some of the largest cloud services at scale from Bing to Hotmail and Xbox Live and beyond. Within Microsoft Dynamics, we have transformed Microsoft Dynamics CRM from its on-premises origins to a scalable, multi-tenant mission critical line of business service. Our ERP work combines all of those learnings with new innovation around the Windows Azure platform.

· Listening to our Partners that Host. There is a strong community of partners hosting our ERP offerings to meet the customer demand for software as a service delivery. We’ve architecturally evolved our products based on their feedback; directly enabling deployment on the Azure platform and at the same time, simplifying the experience for current hosting partners.

· Listening to our Customers. Small and mid-market companies comprise the biggest section of early cloud adopters, and we expect this trend to continue. These companies have sought cloud services because they allow them to scale back on their in-house IT, which is often not a strategic strength of theirs. They tell us consistently how much they value their Microsoft Dynamics partners-- depending on them to develop, deploy and evolve their business systems. The cloud doesn’t change this, and while cloud delivery will simplify some of the routine tasks of system deployment, it is key to our strategy that our partners remain an essential part of the solution. Our partner ecosystem plays a critical role in delivering cloud services designed explicitly to meet each customer’s unique needs.

We are excited about two key areas of Microsoft’s cloud investments:

· Interoperability. All Microsoft Dynamics cloud offerings provide native interoperability with other Microsoft products and services. Interoperability brings the company’s data into tools that employees use every day, creating a natural experience that allows users to quickly get up to speed.

· Embracing the hybrid world of cloud and on-premises. It is unreasonable to expect that a business runs all of its IT assets on-premises one day, then closes, and reopens with everything transitioned to the cloud the next day. Operating with some capabilities on-premises and others delivered from the cloud will be the rule for the long term, and not the exception. The Windows Azure platform enables customers to thrive in this hybrid world.

Over time, we will also add to our current portfolio of cloud services targeted at upper-mid market and enterprise customers. These customers are looking to gain much needed flexibility for their immediate business needs. Many already have core ERP systems entrenched within their business. However, some have started moving specific areas to the cloud. Microsoft cloud services are meeting the needs of enterprise customers today, and we will deliver that same level of service for our cloud ERP customers.

In the coming months, we will release details on how the Windows Azure platform will enable us to bring best practices and capabilities found only in the strongest on-premises IT environments to all of our cloud customers. Together with our worldwide network of partners, we’re working to ensure each customer gets the right mix of cloud and on-premises technologies to power their business. The best businesses are able to succeed because they do an outstanding job of integrating business process to understand and leverage information in a way that gives them a competitive edge—we want to provide the tools for businesses to maximize success.

Posted by Mike Ehrenberg
Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Business Solutions & Microsoft Technical Fellow