We are often asked to help clients to choose between the three versions available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. These differences can be difficult for clients to understand since the differences can appear minor and clients look at functionality differences first.
A brief note on ‘the Cloud’ or ‘SaaS’ (Software as a Service). As we all know, the IT industry is full of jargon, but ‘the Cloud’ and ‘SaaS’ are really interchangeable terms and just really mean that your data/information and software is hosted on the internet on someone else’s servers and you access over the ‘net.
However, all these versions can be accessed via an internet connection currently using only Internet Explorer (at May 2012) or by installing a plug-in solution for Microsoft Outlook directly from within MS Outlook as additional folders. Typically, Microsoft CRM 2011 works best with MS Outlook 2010 since it shares the same 'look and feel', but Outlook 2007 is fully compatible and supported.
Broadly, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in IT terms can be deployed or accessed three ways:-
1. ‘Microsoft CRM Online’ has been available in the UK since January 2011 and is the version hosted on Microsoft’s own data centres which comprise of three managed centres in Dublin, US and Asia. Further additional components like email routing and or SMTP services will need to be provided separately, incurring additional costs, along with a 12 month commitment under contract with early exit clauses. 'Online' tends in our view to suit businesses that are start ups and possibly from 1-10 or more users, although this is not a restriction. Other factors need to be accounted for.
2. Microsoft CRM ‘On Premise’ is the same software, but is purchased as a business asset and deployed on your own internal architecture which is either owned or rented by an individual organisation. MS SQL Licences for the back end database are purchased separately. On-going Maintenance or software assurance needs to be built into any comparison to ensure upgrades are available. In theory from as little as 1 user up to many thousands are catered for, although we tend to find that due to the investment involved, then really from 25 users up is where this works best. Since IT involvement and infrastructure investment overall tends to be heavier, a dedicated IT team or department is usually in place within the company to help to support this level of investment.
3. Microsoft CRM ‘Partner Hosted or Managed Service’. Where a specialist CRM partner acts as the host for your CRM and your data on a managed set of Infrastructure / Servers, This type of service offers a higher level of support for end users along with system and web integration, giving organisations much of the flexibility of 'On-Premise' with a similar price point of MS CRM 'Online'. Again, from single users up to large numbers, although again over 50 users is where we tend to find a 'On Premise' comparisons also needs to be considered.
MAS favour for the majority of our own clients the Partner Managed Service as we find this offering is then delivered as a one stop provision and for many of our clients this offers the best of both options since there is no internal hardware to support or install, plus there is the flexibility of the On-Premise solution to link to other systems, but no need to worry about upgrades or maintaining the server. In our view, for organisations with say between 5 and 100 users they will benefit greatly from a Partner Managed Service which delivers not only a single point solution to the organisation but enables an organisation with limited CRM support knowledge to get on doing what they do as a business and not have to worry about IT implementation and IT support as it is already handled.
For more information and to discuss which solution best fits your organisation since here we can only talk in broad terms, then contact ourselves or visit our website pages.
Next month, we will look at some of the factors in this decision.