Monday, December 26, 2011

Dynamics Ax and the cloud - Part 2

In the last blog post we talked about Dynamics Ax and the cloud.  And the fact that Microsoft's latest release of Dynamics Ax, Ax 2012, is not the cloud version (some hoped for).  Is it a sign?  Should we be unhappy about that?

Microsoft already has some cloud solutions up and running, focussed on business users.  With Office 365, CRM 2011 for example.   With  varying degrees of success, on all levels.
Take availibility for example: Customers of Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), with hosted Exchange and Sharepoint solutions, had to work without mail for a few days after a MS upgrade mid 2011.  In August 2011, it was MS CRM 2011 and Office 365 which suffered from outages. And again.
Every IT department has to deal with downtime one time or another.  But when an IT department serves thousands of customers with an online solution, it's high profile, big news.  And Microsoft can hopefully learn from these experiences and improve them, for an Ax cloud release later.

Another level where Microsoft has not reached the desired success (yet) is the propagation of their cloud solution platform.
Microsoft Azure platform has been around for some time now.  And strangely enough, the critics are more or less aligned on this one: A good solid offering, but MS did a bad job on marketing it.  And that's strange for a company like MS, as that has always been one of their key strengths in the past.

But it should be clear that even with recent takeovers from competitors SAP and Oracle this does not mean that Microsoft is running behind, on the contrary.  Microsoft has put its pawns on the chessboard and is (almost) ready to play.

And what about any other players than the big three? 

Google, the household name when it comes to the cloud, isn't free from glitches either.  It would also be interesting to see if they can increase the acceptance of their business solutions with business users as well.  Google depends heavily on their advertising model.  For that, they go through everything you do on the internet: all your searches, all your mail, ...
How is Google going to convince companies that their business critical data is stored safe with them?

Maybe the real threat comes from another familiar name, albeit maybe a bit unexpected here: Amazon.
Amazon, still a relatively young company, made it from an online book store to a software company.
While Amazon did not escape the run of outages in 2011, at least they communicated clearly about them.  Always.
They seem to understand the need of information of the users in such cases, in order to uphold confidence of the community in their solution.

When Denmark based ProISV, a software developer focussed on ISV's (Independent Software Vendors), released their Ax Cloud solution, they made the link with Amazon.  (Betting on two horses actually, as they also work with MS Azure.)

Maybe IBM can become an important player here.  They have the servers and infrastructure experience, they have made the transition to a services company as well.

The software business is on the move, to the cloud.  We gonna see lots of announcements and news stories focussing on ERP in the cloud in 2012, without doubt. 
As details of the next major release of Dynamics Ax (version 7.0, post Ax 2012) will gradually become available in 2012, it will also be exciting times for Ax customers.