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“To the cloud!” That’s the slogan Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) been using of late in ads promoting its cloud services. It’s also a key strategic direction for the company.
This week the software giant announced commercial availability of its next generation customer relationship management (CRM) cloud services offering, and plans to launch customer-premises and partner-hosted editions of the package on Thursday.
It’s the first time Microsoft has made one of its online services available to customers in the cloud — i.e., hosted in Microsoft’s data centers — prior to its availability as customer-premise or third-party hosted offerings.
While the online version is available now, both the partner-hosted and customer on-premises editions of Dynamics CRM 2011 will not be available worldwide until Feb. 28, the company said.
Microsoft said that some 11,500 customers and 2,000 partners beta tested Dynamics CRM 2011 beginning in September.
The latest version also features improved integration with Exchange, SharePoint, and Office, as well as the other components of Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). Integration with Microsoft’s Azure cloud application platform has also been added.
eCRM Guide details the new release that, among other features, includes a new user interface.