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Online exclusive from Microsoft Watch: The Redmond giant is taking aim at a widening swathe of corporate software, ranging from supply-chain management to manuf

: Supply Chain Software As a Service">

MBN: Supply Chain Software As a Service

The .Net Business Framework isn't the only new technology the Business Solutions division has up its sleeve.

The unit also is developing the Microsoft Business Network (MBN), a set of online subscription-based services that will deliver SCM and ERP functionality beyond what is part of the Great Plains packages Microsoft currently offers.

Microsoft quietly unveiled its vision for MBN at Convergence, the Great Plains user conference held earlier this year. MBN is slated to go beta this summer, with Version 1.0 of the MBN subscription service hitting the general-availability stage before the end of 2002.

Marcus Schmidt, lead product manager with Business Solutions, describes Microsoft Business Network as "a set of online business services designed to help connect small- and mid-size businesses to their trading partners." The services will be extensions of Great Plains' existing supply-chain applications, he says, built on top of the Microsoft .Net Framework and .Net Business Framework.

While Microsoft has yet to decide on packaging, it is designing MBN services in three areas:

  • Services to help customers build portals that will let small businesses share information on inventory levels, order status and other critical business data with their partners. Think of this as services to design a B2B extranet that Microsoft will host for subscribers.
  • Services to enable customers to share XML and EDI documents. Say a customer wants to send a catalog as a document to its trading partners. These services would facilitate and speed these kinds of B2B system-to-system transactions.
  • Services to facilitate collaboration by extending MBN into a "full, collaborative environment," Schmidt says. These are the most futuristic and least defined of the planned offerings.

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    This article was originally published on 2002-05-09
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