Microsoft (MSFT) is working with partners now to offer Dynamics NAV 2013 and Dynamics GP 2013 on Windows Azure. The announcement came via a blog post from Paul White, Microsoft's senior director of Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

"This means that starting today Microsoft Dynamics GP and NAV customers can take advantage of easy to use, quick to implement business solutions from Microsoft with the added benefit of knowing their solution is hosted on secure, enterprise-class cloud infrastructure from a trusted provider," White wrote in his post this week on the Microsoft Dynamics Community blog.

According to White, Microsoft has been working for months with several customers and partners to "develop guidance and tooling to ensure a great experience deploying on Azure." To kick things off, Microsoft is working with a handful of partners to deliver Dynamics to customers via Windows Azure cloud, but over time, I'd expect that number of partners to grow. Maybe not immediately, as the partner opportunities around Microsoft cloud services is often up in the air, but give Redmond time to formulate its own strategy and we'll likely see things grow.

Technically speaking, Microsoft has enabled the ability for Microsoft Dynamics Certified Partners to deploy Dynamics NAV and GP in the cloud on Windows Azure Infrastructure Services. Dynamics can now be hosted on an Azure virtual machine.

"It's important to note that there's no change in our partner model here, meaning that Microsoft Dynamics GP and NAV continue to be available only through our partners, and not direct from Microsoft," White wrote. "This is because we remain deeply committed to the industry and regional expertise our partners bring to every customer engagement, and to giving our customers the broadest possible range of choices in terms of partner selection, pricing and licensing, deployment options, hosting providers and more."

It's a good sign that Microsoft has plans to continue focusing on channel sales even as it moves Dynamics to the cloud via Azure. There could be significant sales and consulting opportunities for partners, and it's best if Microsoft continues to support its partners rather than find ways to compete against them.