Last year, financial analysts took note of the steepening share decline by SAP in the CRM software market, with the other three major players - Salesforce.com, Siebel (Oracle), and Microsoft Dynamics - reaping the benefits. This week's buzz around the Dreamforce 2011 conference in San Francisco (which formally gets under way tomorrow) lends credence to the observation that SAP is no longer the acknowledged market leader, at least among hearts and minds.
One way Microsoft has always competed with hearts and minds when it really needs to is with dollars. This morning, in advance of its competitor's big show, Microsoft announced a rich set of $150 per-seat rebates on new client access licenses (CALs) purchased directly from Microsoft.
The offer will be extended from today through the end of next March. Customers must agree to two-year commitments, and must purchase a minimum of 50, though no more than 500, CALs.
Microsoft made adjustments in its Dynamics CRM licensing model last February (PDF available here), simplifying the structure somewhat. There's now a single class of server licenses, replacing "Professional" and "Enterprise," the distinctions between which became too esoteric.
With respect to clients, the standard on-premise CAL provides read/write access to Dynamics CRM functionality. What that means is, users have no restrictions on their use of live data served by Dynamics, nor on the choice of tools (Microsoft-brand or otherwise) they may use to access that data. This is the class to which these rebates will apply. The less expensive, limited access CAL can generally be described as giving users the right to create new records and append records to tables, but not to delete records, and no privileges for assigning access to other users. The least expensive option, called employee self-service, (ESS) gives users of other CRM portals a way to access Dynamics data without changing it in any way. ESS licenses can run as low as $62 per seat annually.
Full CAL prices from Microsoft range from $622 to $880 per seat per year, making the amount of the rebate about 8.5 - 12% of purchase. Dynamics Partners will not be offering these same rebate plans; and while you may shop around for better deals, full CALs sold through partners can cost close to $1,000 per seat per year.
Microsoft will continue to offer Dynamics CRM Hosted service to small business customers for $44 per user per month. After rebate, the least expensive on-premise full CAL would cost the equivalent of $45.58 monthly.