Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said it is ready to release an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform under the first wave of a broader strategy to embrace Web services for software that runs an array of business tasks on the Internet.
Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0., formerly the Great Plains ERP platform, is scheduled for release on Dec. 19. A "substantial" portion of the base code was changed to deliver the more than 170 enhancements, said Lynne Stockstad, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics GP. "This is a stake in the ground that we are serious about delivering the next generation roadmap."
The most significant change to this platform is the move toward Web services. Software developers who customize the ERP application for customers will have access to code and data objects to integrate features through more than 160 Web services access points. The move to Web services will enable Microsoft to compete more competitively with Oracle Corp. and SAP AG in the enterprise software market segment.
Dynamics GP gives workers the option to modify their computer desktop to better suit tasks from payroll to accounting to procurement. The software will deliver 21 specific feature sets specific to employee roles and functions, Stockstad said. It will allow workers to access reports and queries used most frequently and monitor and receive alerts on key metrics.
The move toward Web services and roll-based processes is expected to drive Microsoft's growth in the mid-market, specifically for companies with up to 499 users. "Web services are all about processes, but you have to focus on the people who use the processes," said Ray Wang, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "The process piece is delivered by Web Services. The people piece is about the role-based scenarios with processes around people. The technology is the platform in which Microsoft is delivering it."
Formerly code-named Project Green, Dynamics will unfold in two phases. In this first wave, Dynamics GP receives an updated user interface to look similar to Microsoft Office. Microsoft is consciously changing the software's look and feel to make it similar to Office in an effort to promote standardization across applications.
The application also will offer Business Analysis Cubes for Microsoft Excel, expanded functions around the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services portal, and deeper integration with the pending release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Visual Studio 2005 extensions were also added to make for easier integration with Dynamics GP. A new Business Portal Executive Center includes access to transactional data and key performance indicators such as interactive graphs, tables, announcements, and reports.
Microsoft plans to make additional upgrades next year and in 2007. The second wave of Dynamics is set to launch in 2008. In that phase, Microsoft will converge several ERP business applications into one code base to merge the products.