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Microsoft Fuses CRM, ERP Products in 'Dynamics 365' Cloud Suite

Microsoft is readying a new cloud solution that combines its Dynamics ERP and Dynamics CRM line-of-business products, the company announced Wednesday.

Expected to become generally available sometime this fall, the new Dynamics 365 suite will deliver many of the key functions of Microsoft's existing Dynamics products -- customer service, marketing, sales, operations, financials, project service automation and field service management -- as cloud-based apps.

The apps can run independent of each other, according to a blog post by Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group. "That means you can start small and pay only for what you need. Yet they work together seamlessly so, as your business demands, you can grow into additional capabilities with ease," Numoto said.

Microsoft has not yet published any detailed pricing information for Dynamics 365. However, Jujhar Singh, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said in a separate blog post that organizations can either license Dynamics 365 apps separately, or they can license users according to their individual roles. The latter option "will give customers the flexibility they need to support modern, more agile, more diverse employee roles -- enabling them to access functionality across all applications within Dynamics 365," he said.

Dynamics 365 features capabilities from Microsoft's Power BI and Cortana Intelligence products. Unsurprisingly, Dynamics 365 will also have tight integration with Office 365. A user composing an e-mail in Outlook, for instance, can access CRM or ERP data from Dynamics 365 without leaving the app. Dynamics 365 and Office 365 also share what Microsoft calls a "common data model," which would let customers and partners build their own custom apps that extend across both platform. In addition, a "growing family of connectors" will enable those custom apps to work with other Microsoft and third-party services.

Microsoft did not specify if or how the launch of Dynamics 365 this fall will impact its existing Dynamics CRM and Dynamics ERP products -- both the on-premises versions and their cloud-based counterparts. According to Singh, Microsoft "will continue to innovate in, and support, our great Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL solutions." This snippet from the Q&A section of Singh's blog seems to indicate that Dynamics 365 could stand as a replacement for Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics AX (which Microsoft relaunched earlier this year as a full-fledged cloud product):

Does this mean that I need to re-implement or migrate my current cloud solutions? 
No. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been very specifically and carefully designed to be a seamless transition for those customers using Dynamics CRM online or Dynamics AX online.   

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, "We will have a roadmap that brings the new capabilities of Dynamics 365 without disruption. We will share more details as we get closer to this fall." 

Currently, Microsoft enables its partners to sell hosted versions of its Dynamics products to customers. In its announcement Wednesday, Microsoft indicated that those partners will be able to continue to sell those solutions. The company also launched a new business app marketplace called Microsoft AppSource, where partners can list their custom apps for customers looking for line-of-business solutions. According to Singh's Q&A:

Will partners continue to sell business apps from Microsoft?
Absolutely. Partners are a key part of our strategy and have always been a key part of how our customers get the most from their technology investments. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 partners will have even more opportunity to focus on specific customer needs, build apps to differentiate themselves in the market and take advantage of new opportunities and revenue streams. Microsoft AppSource provides a modern discovery and provisioning system for these solutions.

AppSource currently has 200 listed apps. To be listed in AppSource, partners' apps must meet the requirements outlined here.

Microsoft plans to share more details about Dynamics 365 at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) being held in Toronto next week. It will also give public demos of the suite in October during the Dynamics User Group Summit in Tampa, Fla.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.