Ballmer: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Cloud Has Global Reach
The biggest pieces in Microsoft’s cloud puzzle are finally starting to come together. The latest example: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, a cloud version of Dynamics CRM 2011, is available now, according to CEO Steve Ballmer. As part of the launch, Microsoft is promoting a special pricing offer to Salesforce.com and Oracle customers. Missing from the announcement: Major cloud channel partner endorsements, though I need to cut Microsoft some slack since hosting partners won’t have access to the new code until February 2011.
Admittedly: I’ve been skeptical of Microsoft’s cloud CRM efforts, mostly because Salesforce.com has serious momentum in that market. But Dynamics CRM Online’s global debut represents an important milestone in Microsoft’s cloud strategy for customers and channel partners.
During a recent interview, Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill said the Dynamics business was going gangbusters with partners and customers. But generally speaking, TalkinCloud believes most Microsoft partners focus more aggressively on Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync (the successor to Office Communications Server). Also, Microsoft has its hands full developing Office 365, the forthcoming cloud successor to Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).
Microsoft Targets Oracle, Salesforce.com
As Microsoft juggled all of those priorities, I wondered if Dynamics CRM would ever debut as a global cloud solution. Today Microsoft answered my skepticism as CEO Steve Ballmer said Dymanics CRM Online is available worldwide. A free trial is available here, and Microsoft is offering a promotional price ($34 per user per month, for the first 12 months) for customers that sign up by June 30, 2011.
Microsoft made special mention of Oracle and Salesforce.com in the launch press release:
Salesforce.com and Oracle customers that switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online between now and June 30, 2011, can take advantage of the Cloud CRM for Less offer. Through this offer, eligible customers will receive up to $200 per user, which can be applied for services such as migrating data or customizing the solution to meet unique business needs. This offer is available in most markets for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and details on the offer can be found at http://www.cloudcrmforless.com.
Reality Check, Please
The Dynamics CRM Online launch is an important milestone for Microsoft. But the press release really didn’t mention a channel strategy for the offering. Specifically, Microsoft needs to promote Dynamics CRM 2011 hosting partners when that version debuts in February 2011. Plus, Microsoft continues to face big-time competition from pure SaaS solutions like Salesforce.com and NetSuite.
The Salesforce.com DreamForce conference attracted more than 20,000 partners and customers in December 2010, suggesting that Salesforce.com sits at the center of the cloud CRM market. Also, NetSuite VP of Channel Sales Craig West continues to express optimism about his company’s cloud momentum with VARs and channel partners.