Microsoft is urging traditional systems integrators and VARs to pair up with hosting providers to take advantage of its forthcoming CRM release, Dynamics 4.0.
Microsoft senior direct of CRM channel strategy, Mark Corley, claimed Dynamic's new multi-tenant capabilities would give its channel the ability to expand their services and IP into the burgeoning on-demand software space. Multi-tenancy allows partners and customers to host multiple instances of CRM across a single server.
"This makes it more efficient for hosters and enterprise customers to undertake deployments which support multiple divisions or customers with a single federated instance," he said.
Corley said the on-demand software market was a significant growth opportunity for the channel. He quoted a recent Gartner report which found global on-demand software take-up was growing at 2-3 times the rate of on-premise growth, which sits at around 11 per cent.
"We wanted to open up the opportunity for partners and customers wanting to consume CRM in the new model," he said.
Microsoft has spent the past nine months beta testing Dynamics 4.0 with 600 partners globally, including 12 in Australia. In October, it offered a pre-release version to all certified Dynamics partners locally. The product is expected to be launched in Q4.
Microsoft Business Solutions Group lead product manager, Ross Dembecki, said Dynamics 4.0 would leverage the non-perpetual licensing model (per user, per month) currently offered across its Exchange and SharePoint products.
Other salient selling points included the ability to integrate with Microsoft's broader applications platform including Office Outlook, Windows Internet Explorer and mobile devices, Corley said. The product also offers multiple currency and language functionality.
Dembecki and Corley encouraged partners with niche or vertical industry expertise around CRM to broaden their horizons and work with a hosting provider.
"Resellers looking for more customers in their particular niche or vertical are often limited by physical presence. Hosting allows them to have national or even regional reach," Dembecki said. On the flip side, hosting providers didn't have the skills to deliver a comprehensive CRM strategy to customers but could run an efficient datacentre.
"We're seeing a marriage of partners selling CRM as on-premise now linking up with hosting partners - they can sell, consult and train staff, while hosters can deliver the software-as-a-service aspect," Corley said.
Microsoft's CRM partners had experienced success in the financials market, professional services and public sector to date, Dembecki said.