If you're a Microsoft partner, you likely know about the software giant's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and hosted Dynamics CRM plans. But Microsoft's software as a service (SaaS) strategy doesn't end there. The company also is working on a platform as a service (PaaS) called xRM. Here are some preliminary details.
xRM will be an "anything relationship management platform," according to Mary Jo Foley's All About Microsoft blog on ZDnet. xRM, formerly code-named Titan, is expected to debut later this year and compete with Salesforce.com's PaaS effort, dubbed Force.com.
But What Is PaaS?Of course, definitions of PaaS vary from company to company. But Salesforce.com offers this explanation:
PaaS provides all the infrastructure needed to run applications over the Internet. It is delivered in the same way as a utility like electricity or water. Users simply “tap in” and take what they need without worrying about the complexity behind the scenes. And like a utility, PaaS is based on a metering or subscription model so users only pay for what they use...Translation: To me, PaaS almost sounds too good to be true. And for network-centric managed service providers (MSPs) that don't focus on application development, PaaS may not be much of an opportunity.
...To develop software, you once had to buy databases, servers, networks, and a host of development tools. And then you needed the staff to install, optimize, and maintain it all. With PaaS, you can avoid those investments and focus on developing applications instead.
Still, there are thousands of Microsoft ISVs (independent software vendors) and consulting firms that are looking for the next big thing in Microsoft application development. PaaS -- specifically Microsoft xRM -- could be the answer to that search when it debuts later this year.
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