Microsoft continues global CRM expansion in battle against Salesforce.com

The company is targeting growth markets, according to one analyst

Microsoft has expanded the availability of its cloud CRM software into 17 additional countries in a move sure to step up its rivalry with Salesforce.com.

The move brings Dynamics CRM Online to new places in South America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

"Together with Microsoft Azure and Office 365, CRM Online is a critical part of the Microsoft Cloud for Business," said Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, in a blog post. on Monday. "We want to do everything we can to bring these cloud benefits to as many businesses and countries as possible."

The expansion brings Dynamics CRM Online to Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. Dynamics CRM Online is now available in more than 50 markets.

Microsoft has also added to its data center footprint to support the expansion. CRM Online is now running in a data center Microsoft has in Brazil, which will reduce latency for customers in Latin America. Dynamics CRM Online is now served from infrastructure spread across four global regions, according to Stutz.

Microsoft and Salesforce.com remain stiff competitors in the CRM market, despite a recently announced partnership that will see Salesforce.com's CRM tied to Microsoft Windows, Azure cloud platform and Office suite.

The additional countries announced Monday for CRM Online make sense for Microsoft to target, as they are nearly all high-growth markets, said analyst Ray Wang, chairman and founder of Constellation Research.

It wasn't immediately clear Monday how many individual markets Salesforce.com now serves in comparison to CRM Online.

But one differentiator Microsoft has over Salesforce.com in CRM is the fact that it offers both cloud-based and on-premises deployment options, using the same code base.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Tags business issuesInternet-based applications and servicesapplicationsCustomer Relationship ManagementSalesforce.comMicrosoftsoftwareinternetcloud computing

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