SAP, Microsoft, Duet, Dynamics etc.

I will avoid anymore naff musical puns.

A few weeks ago I caught up with Udo Waibel, the lead guy for Duet.  A bit of this post has been lurking in my inbox for a while, but the recent discussions of Duet v Microsoft Dynamics has made me revisit it and post it.

Dennis, sleepless in San Diego, has been blogging up a storm about the Microsoft convergence conference. From what he tells me MSFT are getting their act in order with Dynamics. The GUI screenprints I have seen look good. (see Mary Jo’s post here)

Mary Jo’s coverage of Microsoft is a must read. She has been at it for years.  And for now I’ll leave the “do Microsoft get SaaS or not?” story to Phil.  But I would like to pick up on the point that both Phil and Dennis make about Duet, it may not be as straight-forward as they suggest.

Phil notes:

Duet was just a learning experience and SAP is welcome to it. The strategic product for Microsoft is Dynamics Client for Office, which as Mary Jo Foley observed yesterday, “in addition to functioning as a new user interface layer — also is a new Client Access License (CAL) for Dynamics ERP users.” What’s interesting about this is that partners can use it as a platform for building new interfaces into the data and processes that execute on a Dynamics back-end. This is a perfect legacy migration strategy that allows Microsoft to keep its partners and customers hooked on Office and Windows without being shackled by the constraints of Microsoft’s ERP software. Crucially, by decoupling the user interface from the back-end, it also makes it easier to implement hosted ERP services without impacting the user experience

Dennis notes:

Dynamics through Outlook, the business standard for organising and representing communications for both desktop and mobile usage. All of which is a kick in the teeth for SAP. Phil Wainewright best sums up the feeling I got from many commentators attending Convergence:
Duet was just a learning experience and SAP is welcome to it.

I’d  have been flabbergasted if the Dynamics folks said anything else. I remember last year seeing bunches of sour grapes over on channel 9 from the Dynamics team. The reaction of the Dynamics team to Duet is exactly what my reaction was 5 years ago when I saw a demo from SAP portal guys of PeopleSoft HR in the SAP portal.   Obviously, in the greater good of things offering integration to PeopleSoft made sense, but as an SAP HR sales person, the last thing I wanted to hear was that we could seemlessly integrate with the darkside. This is a family blog, so I won’t publish what I said.

The business reality is that both are important to Microsoft. Slick integration with Office, Sharepoint and Dynamics will help blunt any potential shift to other office suites in the SME space. Sharepoint is probably the big winner, rather than Dynamics. Good move Microsoft.

Duet continues to help drive the upgrade to newer versions of office (it needs at least office 2003), especially in the the large enterprise space. Good move for Microsoft too.

Josh Greenbaum’s take is well worth a look. He has a frog fetish at the moment.

No good idea goes unchallenged, and today’s announcement at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence conference that Office has become the new client for its enterprise applications suite follows on the extraordinary success that the Office gang has already registered in the SAP market. That success , aka Duet, has been one of the bright spots in SAP’s otherwise lackluster financial performance of late.

The comments on Mary-Jo post make for an interesting read too. 

I expected much more since Microsoft is at least a year later than the SAP/Microsoft Duet release. Microsoft promised they learned from Duet, but this stuff has worse usability, doesn’t work on Office 2003, and has about 1/10 the business processes covered compared to SAP Duet. If this is the best Microsoft can do alone, they should stay in a Duet rather than going solo!

Indeed if Dynamics was really that strategic to Microsoft, lots of this cool stuff would be on Office 2003 and XP. In cycling terms, Dynamics is a domestique to Office and Vista, helping them up the hill, but  in the end, dispensible. Having the Dynamics folks pushing outlook etc as a front-end will add momentum to Duet, not take it away. 

So let’s put Duet in context now, based on my chat with Udo.

Duet is rocking. It has sold over 300,000 users. (a recent deal announced here) Rolling out internally this year at SAP.

The functionality is growing, and attacking some thorny business challenges..something that is planned is –

Legal Contract Authoring (LCA) has been added to the list of scenarios becoming available in Summer 2007 with Duet 1.5. LCA offers an effective link between contract creation, negotiation, execution as well as the sourcing process within context of the mySAP SRM application in an intuitive Microsoft Word and Outlook environment. It is a rich process offering flexible collaboration and workflow capabilities that allow for the re-use of templates, automated integration of legal contracts with operational contract and sourcing processes.

(note this is not a statement of what will be delivered just in case some US Gaapers are reading this)

Several of the early adopters are consulting firms.  The cynical types will say this is so that they can have a competitive advantage in delivering the services around Duet, but I think otherwise. Consulting firms are notoriously skint when it comes to IT spend, or put more politely, I have found consulting firms to be very business case driven when it comes to technology deployments. Time and activity recording are key to consulting firms, after all, that is their main revenue source.  Knowing when employees are planning holiday is pretty important if you are running big projects.

And, I keep finding Apples in the oddest places. If you watch the demo video on www.duet.com, you will see what I mean. I guess it is running parallels.

Oh, and finally, I bring you the blog of a Duet developer based in Israel, Eran’s Developer Zen..

Technorati tags: SAP, Duet, Dynamics, Microsoft, enterprise irregulars

5 thoughts on “SAP, Microsoft, Duet, Dynamics etc.

  1. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks for the link🙂 Maybe it will finally make me finish one of my Duet Architecture posts drafts. Please change it to http://www.developerzen.com
    I’m moving from dasBlog to CommunityServer within the next few days so the address you linked to will point to the old blog…

    Regarding your post, you wrote:
    “Duet continues to help drive the upgrade to newer versions of exchange, especially in the the large enterprise space. Good move for Microsoft too.”

    I didn’t quite follow why…
    Duet does not install anything in exchange (its actually a customer requirement not to touch the Exchange server :)) or use any special Exchange features. The only interaction between Duet and Exchange is through standard WebDAV protocol so upgrading to Exchange12 has no real advantage (Duet-wise) asfar as I can tell.

    It will however drive Office 2007 sales once support for this new version is out there…

    Regards,
    Eran

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