Within a year, the Redmond, Wash.-based company plans to offer hosted implementations of SharePoint as well as CRM and ERP applications, several sources said.
A handful of service partners now host Microsoft applications for customers; the difference is future customers could choose Microsoft or a partner to run the infrastructure.
Next week in San Francisco, Gates and Ray Ozzie, one of Microsoft’s CTOs, are slated to talk more about the company’ software-as-a-service push. Ozzie, the former chairman of Groove Networks, has been charged with leading Microsoft’s charge in this area. This week at another San Francisco event, Ozzie said the company will rely on experience gleaned from its MSN online service.
Microsoft’s hosting push is expected to target the gamut of users–including small companies with five to 10 PCs and no dedicated IT staff–who may want to do things like share calendar items but not worry about how that is accomplished. A hosted SharePoint could become the basis for a variety of such services.
Outsourced e-mail for companies of all sizes also would be big. “How much competitive advantage does e-mail give any company? Wouldn’t those internal IT resources be better deployed elsewhere?” said one Microsoft source, who asked not to be named. Microsoft has been investigating ways to ease e-mail deployments and migrations by internal IT departments and to make e-mail more easily supported outside the firewall.
More by following the link. The Gates/Ozzie press event is Nov. 1.