After my conspiracy theory on SharePoint 14 overtaking SAP’s Netweaver in a recent blog post, another one popped up in my mind: “Microsoft Commerce Server in the cloud: a threat for Amazon?”.
Here’s the deal: Microsoft is going all SaaSy with their Microsoft Online, also known as BPOS or Business Productivity Online Suite. I had some discussions with Microsoft last week during an executive briefing in Redmond about the way I would like to see Microsoft moving: e.g. fully embracing online as their application delivery platform. Meaning that for instance I’d like to see a full version of Office coming out that runs in a browser and offers offline capabilities and full rich user experience. Consider Internet Explorer 9 or 10 as THE application development framework for Microsoft, a bit like WebKit or the Eclipse core framework.
Feeling Google breathing in their neck with the Google Apps suite, Microsoft started to offer some of their products as a hosted SaaSy product: SharePoint, Exchange, Communication Server, Dynamics, etc. It does make A LOT of sense to do this and let me tell you that this is THE confirmation to the enterprise that SaaS is THE way to go (I’m using too many capital letters, am I?). Why? Well if Microsoft is doing it, then it must be the way to go. With their sales and marketing army force, this is bound to be a sales success. So just let go of your objections against cloud and SaaS stuff (remember resistance is futile) and just accept it. Now that you’ve accepted it, what else can we SaaSify?
Exactly: Commerce Server! And hell it makes a lot of sense. Look, what is Amazon’s business? Right, e-commerce! Even more, they offer an e-commerce out of the box experience to everyone that wants to start their own online shop without the hassle. So if Microsoft would offer their Commerce Server suite as a SaaS solution with great adapters to backend systems like SAP ERP systems and figure out a way to get the way performing rock hard, then it could be an interesting option for enterprises to adopt this solution.
If only SAP would offer now their ERP system in the cloud, it would be a dream. Imagine a cloud data center where SAP has their ERP systems as a service and where Microsoft has e-commerce as a service, connect that together and offer it in some kind of pay-per-use model and you’re all set. You have the elasticity that you need to handle resource spikes during Christmas, you have a reliable hosting partner (MSFT/SAP) and a skilled systems integrator (needless to say: Capgemini).
I’d like to call this Double-E-as-a-Service: e-commerce/ERP-as-a-Service. Can I file a patent for this?
PS: Bill, Steve or Ray: if you are reading this, you can call my manager to hire me. I have some more conspiracy theories.

Lee Provoost is a Cloud Computing Strategist and ERP+ lead at Capgemini. You can follow his ongoing stream of thoughts on Twitter http://twitter.com/leeprovoost.