Complex customizations can be difficult to implement in CRM On-line instances, so the announcement from Microsoft this week offering cloud certification offers a route complex CRM solutions can now be done in the cloud.
Microsoft Announce Cloud Certification
Bob Stutz wrote an interesting and potentially very significant blog this week
Cloud Certification now available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The blog post seemed to slip under the radar of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community, producing little discussion or retweets, which I found surprising.
A possible reason for the muted response could be the title of blog post, using the term Cloud Certification doesn’t make the subject of the article clear. The term cloud is completely overused, my default response is to ignore articles with the term cloud in them.
If I have understood the article correctly Microsoft are offering the customers the option of deploying an On premise CRM in Microsoft Azure environment and run Microsoft Dynamics CRM using Microsoft Azure infrastructure services.
This is like a having a private cloud or your own personal CRM Online and this seems very interesting because it allows customers not to have buy servers and licences, host CRM in the cloud/Online but have more control over Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Why is this CRM private cloud different from CRM Online
I often read Microsoft Dynamics CRM online is making great strides and Bob Stutz in the article mentions
Last quarter we reported that CRM Online revenue nearly doubled
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online improvement helped Microsoft wnin the CRM Magazine market leader award
Microsoft Dynamics CRM wins CRM magazine Market Leader awards
Microsoft CRM Online is great for smaller companies (save money on servers and licences) and CRM solutions without complex customizations.
My experience with CRM online is when the CRM customizations become complex and a CRM solution has a lot of customizations a CRM online implementation can become extremely difficult.
The limitations of CRM Online makes the On Premise a better choice for complex CRM solutions (which makes it puzzling why Microsoft delay features to CRM On Premise, why punish those users).
A question mark over large CRM implementation (large in terms of data and users) to CRM online because the cost of the database on a monthly basis could prove expensive and performance could be an issue (exactly how are resources shared between CRM organisations online).
There are a number of good blog posts describing the differences between CRM online and CRM On Premise
Comparing CRM On-Premises to CRM Online
Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Online vs. On Premises Decision Matrix
Complex CRM solutions not being the best choice for CRM online maybe just my experience. Most of CRM projects I work on are based On Premise but this could most of the projects I work on need lots of CRM customizations and these are better suited to CRM On Premise.
CRM Online needs a different attitude towards customizations
The blog post below is regularly in the daily most read blog posts on the Hosk CRM blog
What are the limitations of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and how do you work with them?
I don’t believe CRM developers have adapted their solution design to deliver complex CRM customizations using Microsoft Azure and other Online
The limitation of CRM online (summarized from the blog post above)
- No Indexing
- Increasing performance – How?
- Data privacy
- Restrictions of sandboxed plugins
- No Custom ASP.NET pages
- Reports are FetchXML
These limitations means CRM customizations written for On Premise solutions won’t work with CRM Online.
To deliver complex CRM solutions CRM developers will need to learn and user Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Azure Services but I am yet to read an article featuring CRM Online and Microsoft Azure (even from Microsoft) which leads me to believe not many CRM developers are doing this………yet.
Cloud Certification offers an alternative
Cloud certification seems like a confusing way of saying private cloud, which could be a great choice for many CRM projects and subsequently this is potentially importantly a significant offering from Microsoft.
Cloud Certification advantages
- Complete control over the IT environment
- No Limitations on customizations (no limit on workflows, no sandboxed plugins)
- No need to buy physical servers and licences (but you will need pay for Azure licences)
The Cloud certification offers potentially the best of both worlds, complex CRM solutions, full control over IT environment and data but without having to host CRM on your own servers.
I have used the word potentially because I’m not sure I have understood quite how it will all work and I have some questions
Customers are a single click away from being deployed in the cloud
I have never known anything happen easily and with one click, particularly CRM development. Who knows what is really involved in moving a CRM project online?
Why is no else talking about this?
I haven’t read many articles talking about Cloud Certification, which makes me wonder if I have understood it clearly. It seems to suggest a private cloud type offering but is that what really means.
Perhaps the Hosk is quick off the mark!
What’s the catch?
There is always a catch, it might be using Azure services involves customizations being rewritten, I honestly don’t know because my experience with Azure is a free trial.
What’s the real cost?
The article mentions a new special licence Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) but the licencing model for Microsoft Dynamics CRM seems to be getting more confusing with each new release. I live in fear someone asking me what licences they will need!!!
In the article Bob states
In my conversations with customers, I am hearing very positive feedback for this self-hosted option as they have shared that it’s a ‘great fit with our strategy’. Customers that need to remain on premises like the flexibility that they can start to take some advantage of the cloud by putting a test environment on Azure.
This isn’t appealing to customers but CRM suppliers and definitely CRM developers would think this is a great offering which will allow highly customised CRM solutions to be deployed in the cloud.
One interesting point to consider is Microsoft have a 99.9% uptime gaurantee. This sounds great consider the potential downtime each year
SLA level of 99.9 % uptime/availability gives following periods of potential downtime/unavailability during the specified period (cf. below):
- Weekly: 10m 4.8s
- Monthly: 43m 49.7s
- Yearly: 8h 45m 57.0s
I’m sure there was a time recently when CRM online was down for a couple of hours at a time. If you had a critical system then a downtime of 8 hours a year could be significant but most CRM solutions don’t need to be up all the time.
Here in South Africa the latency is to high to host CRM on Azure or even CRM Online.. IFD with a datacentre works great, they also have 99% uptime and best of all, you can access your servers any time. Only difference is that MS can scale and put you on better hardware, but $$ to ZAR conversion.. I can host a whole lot of CRM instances and full servers for what I pay for 10 users using CRM Online..
Interesting answer, I tend to view things with my developer hat on and wasn’t sure about the financial differences between different CRM offerings (on premise and on line).
You can of course get someone else to host an environment for you and pay them for the priviledge
Good comment, cheers
The fact that Dynamics CRM has started to adopt Lifecycle Services (LCS) may be the biggest story here. “Cloud certification” alone doesn’t generate all that much excitement, as you note.
LCS won’t generate much excitement either until Microsoft has made some more specific moves to either a) Offer some really powerful tools that partners and customers want to take advantage of to manage CRM on Azure; or b) Start findings ways to expand use of LCS to CRM Online as well, either mandated or optional.
LCS has evolved rather quickly as a platform for managing Dynamics AX systems, which is why it is now being expanded to CRM. If any lessons can be learned from the AX side about LCS, they are that Microsoft likes to “bake in” usage of LCS as part of the demo, dev, test, and production deployment processes, and it sees value in the strategy of offering critical tools only in LCS as a means of getting more users engaged on Azure as a platform.
Some areas where LCS seems to have the most traction on the AX side that could translate to CRM include its much improved support/issue tracking and knowledge base capabilities (including the ability to spin up new images of CRM in Azure to replicate and debug reported issues), Azure provisioning, TFS integration, and process design and documentation.
And for what it’s worth, MSDynamicsWorld.com did cover this announcement at the time around WPC 2015:
CRM online implementation can be difficult when CRM customizations become complex and a CRM solution has a lot of customizations. Cloud certification offers a route complex CRM solutions can now be done in the cloud, full control over IT environment and no limitations on customizations. These advantages can be handy in order to allow complex crm solutions to go online.