Should you deploy Microsoft CRM online or on-premise? Here are 5 strong arguments for choosing online over the hosted and on-premise options.
When I meet with clients and potential customers who are interested in deploying Microsoft CRM in their organization, one of the most common questions they ask is, “Should I deploy CRM online or on-premise?”
The buzz phrase “in the cloud” is everywhere today. Before I talk about the benefits of going online, I want to level set the options available with Microsoft CRM. Microsoft CRM provides 3 deployment choices for CRM.
- On-Premise (aka “on-prem”) – all technical aspects are the responsibility of the organization including servers, infrastructure, system design and so on.
- Hosted (aka “private cloud”) – the amount of technical architecture is determined by agreement with the service provider, for example, rack only, server and rack, server/rack/OS, server/rack/OS/patch management etc. An al-a-carte service can be tailored to specific needs and many hosting services offer Microsoft CRM specific services. One advantage of this model is that it offers control over the geographic location of business data, which is something that will be of interest to organizations with sensitivities to housing data off or near shore.
- Online (aka “the cloud”) – all technical infrastructure, patching, security, redundancy and updates are handled by Microsoft. This model offers very rapid deployment and serves to reduce or eliminate a great deal of deployment stress. Pay as you go fixed pricing also provides the ability to convert capital expenditures to easily manageable operating expenses. Other “offline” technical components that may reside on-prem such as Exchange, AD-ADFS can be easily integrated to CRM online. These services can also be purchased online through Microsoft or other hosting providers.
Although each of these 3 options has its advantages and disadvantages, an online CRM has a number of important benefits compared to an on-premise CRM deployment, which I’d like to highlight below.
Advantages of Microsoft CRM Online vs. On-Premise
1. World Class Information Architecture
Microsoft continues to develop some of the most secure, reliable and redundant storage systems ever assembled with their Azure service offering. Few IT departments and their budgets can match Microsoft in the data centre world in providing highly available and secure information architecture. It is on the Azure cloud that Microsoft CRM online resides. Watch this YouTube video for a quick overview of the Microsoft Azure Data Centre.
2. Deployment Strategy
When implementing a CRM strategy, an organization can take full advantage of all of the deployment choices offered by Microsoft. I call this a mixed deployment model. For example, Microsoft can host the POC and the DEV environment online, and licenses can be kept to a minimum and purchased as required. UAT and Production can reside online, on-prem or hosted. Any design elements established in the POC that are keepers, can easily be transported to the DEV environment for further design/build activities and when ready, easily transported to UAT and Production environments regardless if they reside online, hosted or on-prem. A mixed deployment model can have a significant impact on the cost of the technical infrastructure and overall CRM deployment costs. In addition, CRM online significantly reduces technical complexity (stress) and provides a perfect scenario for Rapid/Agile implementation. It also provides an opportunity for organizations to ease into the CRM technical architecture and make operational adjustments over a longer time frame.
3. Automatically Deployed Patches and Updates
The testing, application and management of patches and CRM Update Rollups should not be underestimated. Microsoft generally releases CRM updates 4 times per year, and in some cases coordinating both the technical and operational testing may be an overwhelming task. Online CRM can eliminate this burden by placing the ownership and responsibility of validating and approving updates in the hands of operations with little or no involvement from IT. In a mixed deployment model, the organization has an opportunity to gauge the impact any updates will have on their CRM operations prior to applying the update to the Production environment.
4. Ease of Access
Ease of access to CRM online can provide significant benefits quickly to end-users early in the deployment cycles of a CRM project and drive a rapid time to value. Availability is 24×7 from any internet access point with cross-browser support for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE. The complexity of providing and supporting an internet-facing deployment internally is often underestimated and CRM online eliminates this complexity.
5. Customization Controls
The Administrator Tool Kit in Microsoft CRM is a vast tool that provides control and customization of the various modules in CRM, and does a fantastic job of abstracting out all of the technical activities required to model business logic and requirements into Microsoft CRM such as creating new tables, fields, forms, table joins, security roles and so on. This places the ability to modify and customize Microsoft CRM into the hands of the operational experts and business teams using the Administrator Tool Kit and the CRM Software Development kit (SDK) provided by Microsoft. CRM online does not provide direct SQL table access; all customization is completed using the built in tools, the SDK or standardized custom and third party plug-ins. With this setup, the ability to upgrade without the fear of breaking custom code and fully supported customization methodologies are ensured. The really amazing thing about Microsoft CRM online is its ability to provide choice and agility yet ensure security, availability, and standardization to protect your CRM investment. CRM online is not suitable for all scenarios and situations all of the time. However, it does provide choice, flexibility and most importantly, a rapid time to value. The mix deployment model can provide significant enhancements and flexibility to a CRM deployment strategy and to on-going CRM operational management. To learn more about using Microsoft Dynamics CRM online in your enterprise to improve workflow management, ensure security, and maintain operational flexibility, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.