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Now this is a roadmap that makes sense, on a couple of levels.
Support-wise, there’s no way that Microsoft’s ERP/CRM/etc app customers would tolerate anything less than an eight-year mainstream support lifecycle. That’s what SAP offers its customers, and it sets the high bar that Microsoft is attempting to polevault. Extending mainstream support on Great Plains etc to 2013 was a critical component of securing existing customers’ ongoing loyalty. Packaged business apps have very long lifecycles in customer deployments. Microsoft can’t attempt to substantially migrate older customers overnight to the “Project Green” codebase, or even over the next 5 years. Customers will migrate only if and when it makes sense. They’ve built their internal business processes on existing ERP/CRM/etc apps, and those legacy codebases are part of customers’ business-process DNA.
Rollout-wise, Microsoft did the right thing by spreading out “Project Green” enhancements over two separate releases. The first and most critical step toward the “Project Green” architecture was to integrate the presentation tiers of all existing Microsoft ERP apps, providing a shared presentation tier that knits all legacy apps into a common collaboration environment. They’re relying on their SharePoint Portal Server in the same way that SAP has built its NetWeaver architecture around the SAP Enterprise Server, as a unified presentation tier front-ending both the new generation of apps (mySAP) and the legacy generation (R/3). In both cases, Microsoft and SAP, the portal is more than a presentation tier: it’s also the platform for a wide range of collaborative functionality. I also think Microsoft is doing the right thing by providing a core group of common user roles that will be common to all new and legacy ERP/etc apps. Collaborative commerce demands an identity management infrastructure that supports what you might call “federated role management” among diverse business domains.
I’d like to see Microsoft go a little further in “Project Green” phase two. It’s not enough to simply declare they’ll provide a common VS.NET model-driven development environment that spans all ERP/etc. apps. Microsoft should be exposing all fine-grained ERP/etc app functionality--“Project Green” and legacy--as Web services, include the WSDL definitions of all that functionality in its UDDI registry, and provide a visual VS.NET/Visio/UML/WS-BPEL orchestration tool that makes “connecting the dots” among all those features as easy as possible.
Microsoft should be providing much more detail on its “Project Green” roadmap soon if it hopes to get a jump on SAP and Oracle for the high-end of the ERP/etc market. Those other vendors have a more aggressive, farsighted SOA-based approach to their business app product families.