Enterprise System Spectator blog: ERP and enterprise system vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation.

The Enterprise System Spectator

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Another false start for Microsoft's business apps

Microsoft just can't seem to finish anything related to business applications these days.

The latest case in point is the Microsoft Business Framework (MBF). Microsoft appears to have all but given up on building the MBF, sending half of the 200-plus development team back to Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), the unit responsible for business applications, and half remaining with the Platform and Tools division, where they've been working for the past two years.

MBF was to be a set of lower level software application components to provide core business functionality upon which higher level applications and systems could be constructed. The original plan was for MBF to be the underlayer for Project Green, the successor to Microsoft's current disparate business applications, such as Great Plains, Axapta, Solomon, and Navision. MBF would be an open platform that would also allow third-party developers to build industry specific applications that would easily interoperate with Microsoft's own business apps.

Microsoft, of course, is claiming that the break up of the MBF development team really doesn't mean anything, and that MBF will still be delivered, but just in a different way, with bits and pieces showing up in other products, etc., etc. Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch has a good summary of the history of fits and starts with MBF.

One Spectator reader has given me some interesting insights into the history of MBF and the current situation with Microsoft Business Solutions. Note that my editorial comments are in [brackets].

The pre-history of MBF originates from then independent Great Plains where they worked on the next generation Business Apps Platform. One of the reasons that Microsoft bought Great Plains was some promising ideas from the Great Plains R&D team.

However, the release of even bits of the new generation technology was characterized by constant delays and problems. At Stampede 2002 the MBS people even joked that every year since 1999 a new and better thing was promised but either was not delivered or when it was launched the result was a failure. Mostly it was related to portal technology and it was more related to Solomon than Great Plains.

The first working commercial piece [for MBF] was Business Portal 1.0 - now in C# sitting on top of MS Portal technologies....

Surprisingly, the [MBF] development environment for the entity persistence model was Rational Rose. Microsoft distributed a MBS Great Plains branded Rational Rose trial as THE development environment for MBF, but alas, IBM bought Rational Rose. Then the big issue was to tweak MS Visual Studio to accommodate all that was lost when they had to abandon use of Rational Rose.

There was a big undertaking by the MBF team and the Navision team in Denmark to port Axapta to .NET-MBF, but that effort was soon abandoned.

Part of delay for MBF may be associated with the delays and stripped down functionality for Longhorn [the next generation of MS operating systems], but I do not believe that this is the core reason. The most important reason for the delay of MBF is the delay of WinFS [the next generation Windows file system]. In the entity persistence model, the integrated security model is actually the core function related to MBF.
My source goes on to provide some insights into MBS product development in general.
In the meanwhile in 2002-2003, project Magellan was started....The outcome was MS Office Small Business Accounting, which was a total re-write in C# and MSDE. The database layer for this product is very heavy, with hundreds of stored procedures, functions, and triggers. It is really more like Great Plains, not like Axapta and Navision. The database layer is so heavy and the database normalization structure is so far thinking that it makes me think that this is the way the next generation unified business applications will be developed.

The packaged software thinking of Microsoft was reflected in many product policies over time. Now they have finally switched back to developing all products independently and trying to rescue Project Green by releasing it in waves.

Surprisingly, Navision is not a friend of MS SQL Server at all. There is big degradation at 30 users and a plateau at approximately 100 users. Furthermore, Axapta scales better on Oracle than on MS SQL Server, and it does not support SQL Server 2005 up till 4.0 or even later.
He also speculates on potential acquisitions and the situation among the MBS VARs.
It is possible that Microsoft will start buying market share. Epicor may be the prime candidate, but there may be others.

Just as there are problems with MBS being profitable, the MBS VARs also have been in trouble, especially the large ones. Some have been running at huge losses for several years before being bought by someone. At least so far this has not resulted in Microsoft buying some of its big VARs--that would definitely upset the community. But watch out for hidden support measures, such as more discriminatory margin structures or industry builder initiative financing.
Although this entire post paints a pretty bleak picture concerning Microsoft's development efforts in business software, I am not by any means suggesting that software buyers stay away from Microsoft's offerings. I continue to short list Microsoft's business solutions where they appear to be a good functional fit. Microsoft may be having difficulties, but it has the resources to deliver--something that can't be said for many of its competitors in the small and mid-sized business market these days. But first, it needs to get its act together and start delivering stuff.

If you have different information, or an opinion on anything in this post, please feel free to email me or use the comments section of this post.

Related posts
Reorg highlights troubles at Microsoft Business Solutions
Microsoft to put enterprise applications on the auction block?
Is Microsoft dying?
Microsoft wants PeopleSoft customers but doesn't have much to offer
Microsoft eats more humble pie in enterprise software business
Microsoft: selling enterprise software is a "humbling experience"

by Frank Scavo, 10/23/2005 11:15:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!

 Reader Comments:

Problems with 30 - 100 users SQL I think you are confusing native Navison C-side issues with SQL - view mbs case studies Inchape = 200 navision users...
The speed degradation is similar on both native and SQL, however, on SQL it is less prone to locking problems at higher user counts.

The question about Inchape is
a) what are the roles of these presumably 200 concurrent users? It is very common with Navision to advertise high user counts, most of whom use some simplistic add-on functionality. If these 200 users take orders, ship and invoice goods and take reports at the same time, that would be nice news that it works OK
b) what is the hardware used?

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger

(c) 2002-2018, Frank Scavo.

Independent analysis of issues and trends in enterprise applications software and the strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages of the vendors that provide them.

About the Enterprise System Spectator.

Frank Scavo Send tips, rumors, gossip, and feedback to Frank Scavo, at .

I'm interested in hearing about best practices, lessons learned, horror stories, and case studies of success or failure.

Selecting a new enterprise system can be a difficult decision. My consulting firm, Strativa, offers assistance that is independent and unbiased. For information on how we can help your organization make and carry out these decisions, write to me.

My IT research firm, Computer Economics provides metrics for IT management, such as IT spending and staffing benchmarks, technology adoption and investment trends, IT management best practices, IT salaries, outsourcing statistics, and more.

Go to latest postings

Search the Spectator!
Join over 1,700 subscribers on the Spectator email list!
Max. 1-2 times/month.
Easy one-click to unsubscribe anytime.

Follow me on Twitter
My RSS feed RSS News Feed

Computer Economics
IT Spending Ratios by Industry and Company Size
IT Spending as a Percentage of Revenue by Industry, Company Size, and Region
Outsourcing Statistics
IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks
IT Staffing Ratios
IT Management Best Practices
Worldwide Technology Trends
IT Salary Report


2014 Best Independent ERP Blog - Winner 2013 Best ERP Writer - Winner Constant Contact 2010 All Star Technobabble Top 100 Analyst Blogs

Key References
Strativa: Business strategy consulting, strategic planning
Strativa: IT strategy consulting
Strativa: Business process improvement, process mapping, consultants
Strativa: IT due diligence
Strativa: ERP software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: CRM software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: Project management consulting, change management
StreetWolf: Digital creative studio specializing in web, mobile and social applications
Enterprise IT News: diginomica

Spectator Archives
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
February 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
January 2017
February 2017
May 2017
June 2017
October 2017
January 2018
April 2018
May 2018
January 2019
February 2019
Latest postings