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Dynamics Unbound - The 'Clouds' in 'Azure' Sky

Azure is the hue that is halfway between blue and cyan and is generally used for clear skies. With the cloud computing services being provided through the Microsoft Azure platform; am I missing a point. I guess Azure is the platform where the clouds can venture out and in this case in a positive way provide a lot of options to Developers, ISVs, SIs, IT teams and business community at large to end of day lead to “Incremental benefits” for all stakeholders viz. a familiar development experience, on-demand scalability and reduced time-to-market for applications. Microsoft Dynamics has also jumped on this bandwagon and this is what is the most interesting part – as they are one of the early vendors to talk about a hybrid environment of ‘on-premise’ and ‘cloud’ and certain scenarios in which this can work together.

Before going into the details, it’s good to see at a high level what this means. Microsoft site for Azure  has the diagram as shown below

Azure Architecture

These offerings are from 3 products –

  1. Windows Azure - providing a scalable environment with compute, storage, hosting, and management capabilities. It links to on-premises applications with secure connectivity, messaging, and identity management.
  2. SQL Azure - a Relational Database for the Cloud.
  3. AppFabric - makes it simpler to connect on-premises applications with the Cloud. AppFabric offers identity management and firewall friendly messaging to protect your assets by enabling secure connectivity and messaging between on-premises IT applications and cloud-based services.

Given these tools are available the possibilities are simply endless. Microsoft Dynamics team has published the case for payment services using Microsoft Dynamics. You can check the details here  . The idea here is that credit card processing need not be done manually (with a credit card terminal) and the invoices updated back in Microsoft Dynamics AX. One can simply call the payment service provided through the application (after a one time registration) and process the credit card. Even if the user has an existing account; they can simply select a gateway provider during registration and get the process going as it was earlier but in a much integrated and error-free environment. And of course this is completely compliant with PCI (Payment Card Industry) DSS (Data Security Standards). Due to tight integration with AX, all this information is still available in AX at the customer level helping in reviewing the customer order and payment history and the associated transactions.

Thinking beyond this – this architecture can be used for any business process that needs an actor/activity outside the core ERP application which is in-premise. This can be around event management, GIS data integration, Maps and related services, B2B business needs, collaboration with dissimilar systems (Vendor and Supplier Collaboration) using a common ‘intermediary’ cloud-based application, campaigns on online portals moving the leads to backend systems, placement agencies specializing in outsourced hiring, customer feedback collection, organizational level messaging (SMS, etc.) and so on.

It’s a matter of applying creative thinking to define the possibility from the SI’s perspective and it’s a matter of identifying the business need from the client’s perspective. The place where the two meet we will have a game-changing solution in place. This is an opportunity and its implementation a solution to many of the business needs.

From a pricing point of view, Microsoft has provided a number of options. These are detailed here . These include both “Pay-as-you-go” and “Fixed-Price-Fixed-Capacity” options. There are some special introductory free offers till 30-Jun-2010 as well.

May we say - Let the ‘dynamics’ ‘clouds’ float in the ‘Azure’ sky!



Nice read...i have been so much confused over the idea of Azure. One thought that i have - what if the SaaS providers in market combine forces and work with these in-premise solution providers. Doesn't that mean higher value to our customers?

Pertinent point nikhil. maybe this is time when the on-premise solution providers can actually look at partnerships as many of the SaaS providers have niche applications which need to be tied with the enterprise backbone in a seamless way. Who knows somebody reading this would have taken a hint already.

Sachin, this is what i think; while it is surely possible to do so; there would be 'external' factors around security, data theft and likes which may act as a dampner. Donno if a SI would like to invest in it; my take is that this would be more opportunistic paradigm.

Thanks Joe for your comments. I agree on the point of security; but i am sure as long as the need for this paradigm is felt, there would be evolution around the security measures and who knows we may have a revolutionary model soon which will make this concern a thing of the past. Till then, i am sure it would be more opportunity based.

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