For the moment, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online are separate cloud platforms. But over time, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online will converge in the cloud. And Dynamics ERP will surface in the cloud as well.

Already, Dynamics CRM and Office 365 work well together, according to Kelly Waldher, director of product management for Office 365. But in Q4 of this calendar year, CRM Online and Office 365 will offer a single interface for customer sign-ups, and they'll be available as a single bill to customers, Waldher said. Microsoft also is preparing to offer Dynamics ERP suites on the Windows Azure platform.

What's in it for channel partners? Microsoft's Dynamics business has generated a 20 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the past 10 years, according to CEO Steve Ballmer. A Dynamics Cloud Profitability Guide, from Microsoft, aims to help partners cash in on that growth.

Many of Microsoft's business applications -- particularly Dynamics, SharePoint and Lync -- took center stage at this week's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 (WPC11) in Los Angeles. Growing sales of those applications offers evidence that Microsoft still knows how to build new, multi-billion-d0llar businesses.