The Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference has always been an exciting event for me. This is our first major event of the Microsoft fiscal year and a time to connect with our partner community to celebrate the successes as well as lay out the roadmap for the year ahead. 

This year has been an amazing one for the Dynamics business as we continue on a strong innovation path, delivering a steady stream of updates to enable businesses around the world run intelligent operations and deliver world class customer experiences to achieve business transformation. The results speak for themselves, we have seen strong growth resulting in the Dynamics business now reaching the nearly $2 billion mark.

Partners have and will continue to play a key role in our success and how we deliver our solutions to customers.  At Microsoft, we are obsessed with our customers. Our partners share that customer focus with us and we are committed to enabling that passion.

In the business apps world, one of the challenges customers continue to face are long deployment cycles and projects without predictable timelines and costs.  Two years ago, we introduced Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) – a Microsoft Azure based service that helps businesses design, deploy, and operate ERP projects through best practices and methodologies. Customers and partners using this service have realized the power of the cloud.  The way in which LCS enables them to design, test and deploy business processes is something they previously could only dream of.  Some have even called it our “secret sauce” - something no other vendor in the business apps space has been able to deliver for them.  The bottom line:  LCS is helping businesses reduce deployment times significantly.

LCS has also opened up new opportunities for partners enabling them to create industry solutions that can be discovered and deployed in a repeatable way in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace for both Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and the upcoming Dynamics ‘AX 7’ release. This gives customers the ability to choose the right solution for their business, explore it, and deploy it in a matter days vs. weeks or months. It is also a new business model and revenue stream that partners are very excited about.

To ensure our customers can get the highest quality solution while also supporting our partners’ ability to market it, today we are announcing a redesign of our partner certification programs. Specifically, we are changing the requirements for Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) to validate the solution and methodology partners provide customers to deploy, test, and operate the solution through LCS. Solutions that pass this test, will be listed and placed on the on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, giving customers the confidence that the solution they are selecting is meeting a high quality bar and will seamlessly work with the Dynamics AX solution.

This higher quality bar will also be applied to the requirements for the ISV track of the MPN ERP Silver and Gold Competencies for Dynamics AX, which again ensures that our customers get the best of the best when they select a solution or partner, as a combination of a highly tested solution, certified people, customer references and proven sales are combined in the MPN ERP Competency.

I’m also excited about the road ahead as we look forward to delivering Microsoft Dynamics ‘AX 7’, an enterprise class business application built for the cloud. We will be previewing some key capabilities of the new product during this event that demonstrate how it will help organizations  increase the speed of doing business by helping people make smarter decisions faster, redesign business processes quicker and grow their business at their pace using the full capabilities of a trusted Microsoft cloud.

We plan to release the  Dynamics ‘AX 7’ public preview this quarter.  Dynamics ‘AX 7’ is one of the most exciting releases we’ve ever had and, as seen in this video, early reaction from our partners has been nothing but positive.

On the Dynamics CRM front, we are also announcing today that CRM online is now a service offered in the Microsoft cloud solutions provider program.  Learn more about it in a blog from Neil Holloway.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in the Dynamics world. We have a lot of cool products and capabilities that we along with our partners will bring to our customers to help them achieve more.