CRM 2011 – New Licensing model encourages CRM integrated Portals

One of my colleges at Crimson forwarded  a very interesting article about Licensing changes in CRM 2011, not only was it an interesting well written article but its also good news for companies who develop solutions using CRM 2011.

Someone described the new licence as a developer licence because the cost of offering solutions which are built around the CRM 2011 SDK are going to be a lot lower.  The advantages are you can write applications using parts of CRM and users won’t need full CAL licences, which to be honest is a fair deal because if a user isn’t logging into the full CRM system then you shouldn’t have to pay for a full CRM license.

The new license allows you to connect to CRM using portals and the beauty of it is the 10 % cost of a full CAL.  I think this is a great move by Microsoft.  This seems to fit perfectly with Microsoft’s plan to be the number 1 CRM provider.

Read the full article here, I have just quoted the license information.

Employee Self-Service CAL (ESS)

A new type of CAL has been introduced to the model to allow for licensing internal users that use other applications to connect to CRM without using the CRM web or outlook user interfaces.  This employee self-service CAL (ESS CAL) is particularly useful for line-of-business (LOB) xRM applications and for intranet portals that are connected to CRM. 

This license type is still a CAL, and that means that it is needed for every internal user.  The good news is that it is approximately 10% of the cost of the full-use CAL.

In the past, if you were to build a helpdesk portal for internal users, you would have to license every user in your organization for CRM, even if they were not actually using CRM.  For example, you may have a helpdesk staff of 10 users supporting a company of 500 users.  Without the ESS CAL, you would need 510 CRM full use CALs.  With the new ESS CAL, you would need 10 full use CALs and 500 ESS CALs, representing a savings of just under 90%.

There are some restrictions with the ESS CAL.  First off, the obvious – the user can only access CRM through an application that uses the CRM SDK.  They cannot access CRM using the CRM Outlook or Web UIs.  There are also limitations on which SDK calls can be made.  The ESS CAL can create, read, and update all entities in CRM but is restricted to not delete, assign, or share through the SDK.  The good news is that it can change state, so the delete capability can be achieved by changing the state to InActive, which is probably best practice anyways, especially if you have turned on auditing and want your audit data to stick around…

Limited CAL

In CRM 4, there were two types of basic user CALs (not to be confused with device CALs).  The full use CAL would allow the full use of all CRM capabilities, where the limited CAL allowed for read-only use. 

In CRM 2011, there are additional usage rights allowed for the limited CAL.  For starters, it is not read-only any longer.  Limited update capabilities are available on data that is owned (or assigned) to their user account.  The use rights for broader system information in CRM remains read-only.

For SPLA partners, the equivalent to the Limited CAL is the Limited SAL.  It has the same use rights as the Limited CAL.

External Connector License

There have been changes made to the external connector license as well.  Just for review, the external connector license is only applicable for users that are external to your organization – they cannot be employees or contractors acting on behalf of your organization.  The external connector license was previously introduced to allow an external system to be able to connect to CRM and manipulate or query data through the SDK calls.  The use of the external connector license has been quite popular since the Portal framework has been introduced and many organizations are building externally-facing websites that are integrated with their CRM system.  The external connector remains an on-premise option only as the SPLA and CRM Online license models do not require an external connector, presumably because these are subscription models that include the rights to connect to CRM. 

The changes that have been made to the external connector is that the usage patterns have been aligned along the same restrictions of the new ESS CAL.  That means that delete, assign, and share operations are no longer permissible with the external connector.

No Professional Server SKU

In CRM 4, there were two server SKUs for an on-prem install – Professional and Enterprise.  The primary difference between the two is that the professional edition was limited to a single CRM organization, where the enterprise was capable of hosting multiple CRM organization databases.  In CRM 2011, there is no more professional server SKU, and all CRM 2011 Server SKUs have the capability of multi-tenancy.  This bodes well for the growth of xRM.

Market Impact

I think the license changes will have a significant positive impact for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.  Many internal line-of-business applications that were disqualified as xRM candidates because of ballooning full-use CAL requirements will now be feasible.  The new ESS CALs and expanded rights for Limited Use CALs will fill the needs of properly licensing these types of applications using a license cost that is more reasonable. 

This is very applicable in the portal space, which is the core competency of Adxstudio.  The new ESS CAL will allow our customers to build more internal-facing portals that are integrated to CRM with much lower costs.

Outstanding Questions

As with any new licensing program, there are questions that remain to be answered, and this is no exception. 

Q 1: What license can we use to cover the use of internal application connectors that are not users.  For example, an ESB such as Biztalk, connecting to CRM and an ERP.  An external connector used to be used, but now that delete capabilities have been removed, what license options do customers have to be in compliance?  Or can we use a full-use Device CAL for the ESB for this purpose?  Also notice that the terminology has been switching to the concept of ‘external’, but an ESB is an internal application connector.

Q 2: I do not see an employee self-service SAL for SPLA environments, nor any mention of an inherent limited use SAL for CRM Online.  Consider the scenario where a company hosts their internal helpdesk in Online with an employee portal hosted in Azure.  Since the employees that register new tickets in the portal are internal to an organization, they are excluded from being covered by the external connector.  Are Limited CALs required despite the users not accessing the CRM UI?  I think that Microsoft should include an inherent ESS SAL for SPLA and CRM Online environments to be consistent with how they bundle the inherent external connector license in those environments.

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