By Kenneth Kryger Gram, founder and CEO of Abakion

With the availability today of Microsoft Dynamics NAV & GP hosted on Windows Azure, small and midsize businesses around the world have the opportunity to access the power of the cloud through Microsoft partners. My company, Abakion, has been one of the first partners to host Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure, as we got an early peak into hosting over the past several months. Already, we’re seeing positive results, and we wanted to share here a bit more about our experience with Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Azure, what we are hearing from our customers, as well as the impact the new cloud deployment model is having for us.

Abakion has been around for 13 years, and we have worked with Microsoft Dynamics NAV since the very beginning. A few years ago, we added Microsoft Dynamics CRM to our practice. We have a variety of customers, such as production and supply chain companies and a wide-range of vertical companies such as law firms and hospitals – in fact we have a specific vertical solution for law firms. We jumped at the opportunity to host Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure, as we have been transforming our business from offering services to providing our customers with complete solutions. And given we were not an infrastructure company, having the opportunity to host Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure was a perfect fit for us.

Over the last few months, our experience in hosting has shown some very positive results. From a sales perspective, we have been able to reduce the sales cycle from months to days. Having a hosted solution has given us the ability to create repeatable processes that enable us to quickly create demo environments for our prospects, customize these environments on the fly, and actually provide quick access so they can try it out, without having any impact on their existing infrastructure or processes.

And if they want to start an instance for their business, a customer can be up and running on a full system within one hour, with no startup costs.  This used to take at least a month, as each case was a different scenario. This really has been an amazing deployment experience for us.

Feedback from some of our early customers using Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure has also been great. They estimate that their operational costs are down by 30-70 percent because of the fast deployment time, they don’t have to worry about their infrastructure costs, and they have the flexibility to scale up and down according to their business needs. Any upgrades are also easy as that is something that we are able to address for them in a seamless manner. 

Cloud deployment is starting to be readily accepted by our customers, so there isn’t the mental barrier that there used to be. However, if any customers express uncertainty, it is usually around legal aspects, and where their data will sit. This uncertainty is generally addressed as customers can get an updated backup copy of their data for storage at their own location, or with a domestic cloud backup partner typically every month, or at a frequency chosen by the customer. Microsoft has worked closely together with the Danish authorities about local, EU and international legal aspects related to cloud deployments. They have also provided relevant recommendations, documents and references for partners.

What this means for our customers is reduced time to deployment, faster ROI, and the ability to focus their resources on the areas where they get the most value.  For our business, this new capability and ability to use Windows Azure means growth – we’re expecting to boost our incoming revenue by 25 percent this year. This increase is huge, and shows just how much of an advantage is created by hosting Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure.

With this important new role of supporting our customers on Windows Azure full-time, we’re now looking to recruit people to be dedicated cloud infrastructure consultants. This is a good problem to have as it brings down the cost of sale for new customers, with a higher volume. Now with automated deployment, we are no longer so limited in how many projects we can do at one time. We are looking to expand with partners in Europe and the U.S., who will also deliver our custom solution to their customers.

We are also currently moving toward an all-in on the cloud plan, and would like to host all our customers’ infrastructures in the cloud, focusing on Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure, as well as putting infrastructure on Microsoft’s Office 365. We’re excited to have new offerings for our customers in the future and to see where this will take our business.