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Microsoft Unveils Dynamics ERP Extensions

Microsoft is extending its Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) products capabilities with three add-on services.

The add-ons include Sites Service, a Windows Azure-based Web development application; Commerce Service, a multichannel e-commerce solution; and an enhanced version of its Payment Service. The subscription-based services will be hosted by Microsoft's partners and are expected to be available in the first half of 2010, according a statement from Microsoft.

"Today's announcement allows current ERP partners to expand their offerings to existing and new customers," noted a Microsoft spokesperson by e-mail. "Additionally, with the market for hosted and on-demand ERP solutions increasing significantly, the ability for partners to offer the flexibility of choice to customers provides a competitive differentiation in the marketplace in many countries."

According to Microsoft, the services will provide customers with new ways to increase their up-selling and cross-selling capabilities.

Some companies may see benefits, according to Rob Helm, managing vice president of Directions on Microsoft.

"These new services do look interesting, and appear to be a notable expansion of Microsoft's online services," Helm said in an e-mail. "Many of the small and midsize businesses that buy Dynamics ERP could use help doing business online. And payment services will be important for companies using Dynamics ERP products in retail."

Helm noted that the services will help steer Dynamics ERP customers toward other Microsoft technologies such as Windows Azure, which is an important part of the mission for those products.

Microsoft's partners are also playing a key role.

"What Microsoft is being careful not to do is host the Dynamics ERP products for customers," Helm said. "It's doing that with Dynamics CRM, but ERP still seems to require too much customization and integration for Microsoft to build a hosting business, and it continues to leave that to partners."

Microsoft said in its announcement that more than 150 partners around the world are now providing subscription-based Dynamics ERP solutions. That more than doubles the number of partner-hosted online offerings from last year, according to Microsoft.

The services will run through the cloud in what a Microsoft blog referred to as "a hybrid model" that combines on-premise and on-demand ERP solutions.

Sites Service will allow customers to create Web sites and landing pages for specific purposes, such as marketing campaigns, recruitment and customer feedback, according to the blog post.

Commerce Service will link Dynamics ERP solutions with multichannel scenarios, including e-commerce storefronts, marketplaces and shopping carts.

The Payment Service works with "leading payment processing services" for payment processing, according to Microsoft.

"Some or parts of these services are not so new," Helm said. "Microsoft already operated the Payments Service, which provided a hub for payment card processing, and it had some features of the Commerce Service for its now-discontinued Office Accounting product."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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