Those of us that attended Convergence a few weeks back will have heard Steve Ballmer state one more time that “when it comes to the cloud, we are all in. We are all in across every product line we have and across every dimension of the cloud.”

It is interesting that he chooses Poker Terminology to emphasize the cloud strategy. When you are playing a game of Texas Holdem you only go “All In” in 3 different scenarios:
1. You are very confident (odds stacked in your favour) you will win the hand
2. You are chipped up and Bluffing and trying to push your opponents out of the hand
3. You are out of chips, have been pushed into a corner and are desperate for a win at all costs.

I know Microsoft are not ‘out of cash’ and ‘bluffing’ achieves no purpose – so I can only conclude that Microsoft are 99% sure that the cloud is the ‘right bet’.

What is the cloud anyway? It is a big white fluffy overused term – that has lost much of its meaning. What I understand cloud software to mean is that the software can “diversify to any market and device … you could use it on whichever corporate server, from behind any desktop or mobile devices, the overall experience wont affect the use of a service provided with a cloud that is on the net. So your software and services get more agile to what or whichever location or device your using – its a small world after all”

Many people in the ERP world see the cloud as ‘hosting’, ‘a web interface’, ‘monthly pricing’. ‘no install software’ etc. These may all be components of a cloud offering – but I think the key word in the above is agility. To get the service you need, where you need it and when you need it. Microsoft have been talking, planning and working on this for 10 years – and might remember some of the old marketing videos where a guy gets hit by a car while talking on his mobile phone, and rushed off to emergency, and all his medical records pop up etc. That is the early cloud vision!

So what is Dynamics GP going to look like when it is in the cloud? What about CRM – or is it in the cloud already? The cloud is going to take many forms and be delivered in many ways. I think a big part of the software ‘cloud’ will be that all the hard things about software will be removed from the software experience. Installs, configuration, backups, connections, integrations etc will all get easier in the cloud!

Once upon a time you bought a smartphone, and had to configure it to connect to the service provider you wanted. On my SmartPhone today it pops up and says ‘found a wireless network, would you like to use it?’ and when I click yes it connects to this free wireless network. So this makes using my phone much easier to use and at the same time saves me a bunch of money from my wireless data plan. That’s what I expect from the ERP cloud. GP will become easier to use, easier to access and it will save me money.

So if Microsoft are ‘all in’ the cloud then it has to be a winner for everyone. Software will get easier to use, easier to access and much more flexible in the way it is delivered. That can only be a good thing. Could Dynamics GP benefit from not having a clunky install? YES. Could GP provide more flexible user interface Options? YES. IS a web interface handy? YES. Would it be useful to have easy access to SmartList on your mobile device? YES. What about having an easy way to push updates from your iPad, Android phone or Windows device into GP? YES. What about SmartView on your SmartPhone? YES.

I guess my point is that if Microsoft are ‘All In’ that this is not a Gamble – it is a Given. The cloud will be good for ERP and we had all best get on board in one way or another.