Microsoft Cloud Bundle Challenges - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Cloud Bundle Challenges

Microsoft bundle of Dynamics CRM, Office 365, and Power BI at $65 per user, per month hits hard.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and CEO Marc Benioff may have made nice earlier this year, but Microsoft's Business Solutions unit, which offers Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics CRM Online, didn't take that as a signal to back off.

On Wednesday, Microsoft offered a super-aggressively priced bundle of Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365, and Power BI at $65 per user, per month. That's the same price that customers pay for its Sales Cloud alone, and it anticipates an Analytics Cloud widely expected to launch at next week's Dreamforce event in San Francisco (given that Benioff himself started the rumor).

Tight integration between Salesforce CRM and cloud-based Office 365 productivity apps was one of the key components of the alliance worked out between Nadella and Benioff. The other component was the promise of a Salesforce1 App for Windows and Windows Phone to be previewed this fall, with general availability expected in 2015.

[Want the latest Salesforce news? Read Overhauls Sales, Service Mobile Apps.]

Microsoft's CRM app is already integrated with Office 365 and Power BI, and by packaging them at one, low price, it's anticipating integrations and options that has yet to offer.

"We love that recognizes that there's value for their customers in using Office 365, but they have nothing seamlessly integrated at this point," said Fred Studer, GM of Microsoft Dynamics Product Marketing. "For $65 per month, you get sales automation, Yammer enterprise collaboration, conferencing, instant messaging, all of the Office 365 productivity tools, and Power BI visualization, data-exploration, and natural-language search. If you're a Salesforce customer and you have all these things, you're probably paying at least $300 per user, per month."

Microsoft is putting price pressure on with a three-way cloud bundle.
Microsoft is putting price pressure on with a three-way cloud bundle.

If customers are already using Office 365, Microsoft Business Solutions is offering an even lower-priced deal, adding in Dynamics CRM and Power BI for $45 per user, per month. The crux of the Microsoft Business Solutions argument is that you can have it all in one cloud.

"Instead of having to go out and access a different tool, right from within Dynamics CRM Online -- because of these seamless integrations -- users have access to all these capabilities," said Studer. "From an IT-management perspective, there's one integrated security model, one integrated [systems] health portal, and the same data centers for Office 365, Power BI, and CRM Online, so governance and provisioning is simple."

Technically speaking, Dynamics CRM Online runs on its own, separate cloud platform rather than the Azure platform, as does Office 365, but they're all Microsoft data centers, and Studer insists the integrations are there to make it look, feel, and operate as one system.

Studer cited a competitive win against Salesforce at Pepsico as a sign of the value of having CRM, productivity apps, and business intelligence tools combined.

"Pepsi's goal was to help their sellers to be as productive and impactful as they could be," Studer said. "They're still early in their deployment, but they see a lot of benefits in having a complete sales productivity solution."

Aggressive pricing may turn heads, but one key to's appeal is that it's a platform as well as a provider of apps, and there are hundreds of AppExchange partners -- like Marketo, Eloqua, Kenandy, and others -- that offer apps on the same platform. Microsoft has partners, too, but between Azure and the Business Solutions unit, Microsoft has yet to match's appeal as a enterprise app cloud development platform.

Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS for the same reasons they don't buy many $299 PCs at Wal-Mart. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals. Get the Who Wins In Cloud Price Wars? issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 9:52:05 AM
Re: How Microsoft can win

I've recently gone through a trial implementation of Microsoft services and we backed away primarily because of the numerous limitations.  There are lots of "limits" with features that still just don't cut it for even a small corporation.  However, in usual Microsoft product development a few more iterations will have a competitive product offering.  It will boil down to how the rest of the market moves forward and whether Microsoft can keep up.

D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 7:02:44 AM
Re: Microsoft will siphon off lower end of market
I'd say the Salesforce Marketing Cloud is also more robust than that offered by Microsoft (based on its MarketingPilot acquisition). But here, too, Microsoft keeps working on improving and adding to its capabilities. Maybe the apps dev platform will get stronger if and when Dynamics CRM Online moves to Azure.
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2014 | 11:32:38 PM
Re: Microsoft will siphon off lower end of market
I agree. It won't take very many Salesforce customers away, but it will certainly stop many from becoming Salesforce customers in the first place. There's nothing like having everything come from the same vendor. But, no doubt Salersforce will make sure that is designed to do one other thing seamlessly - and that is to absorb Dynamics CRM Online customers and files into their system, if for any reason and at ant time the customer decides it's in his best interest to make the change. By having two good choices, the customer can only benefit.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2014 | 7:35:02 PM
Microsoft will siphon off lower end of market
Latecomers to salesforce automation, small and medium sized  companies trying to save on expenses are likely candidates to use this aggressively-priced Mcirosoft bundle. Many larger companies and those that have already familiarized themselves with and its platform are not going to be swayed by the pricing. And of course Salesforce has stronger human resurce and social networking elements.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2014 | 1:51:13 PM
How Microsoft can win
That's an attractive package from Microsoft and a deal. Strong reminder of the tools MS has in its toolbox, which sometimes gets lost in the noise. This is the reality behind the "cloud first, mobile first" slogan.
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