Dynamics CRM 2011 – Cloud Hosted or On Premise?

12 Sep

A question that is frequently asked about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is whether to host On Premise or in the Cloud, known as Dynamics CRM 2011 Online.

There are technical and functional differences between the two options, there are business factors to consider and finally there is the cost difference to consider. These areas cover a multitude of challenges, ranging from IT philosophy and organisational culture, level of technical skills and existing infrastructure.

In Part 1 of this posting we focus on the functional differences:-

CRM 2011 Online only supports 200 custom entities. These are in addition to the standard CRM entities.

One of the most commonly discussed limits of CRM 2011 Online is that it does not support custom workflow DLLs. These are custom work flow assemblies and for many organisations this is not a practical limit. Another workflow limit is that you are only allowed 200 custom workflows in CRM 2011 Online.

The decision to use hosted CRM means that there will be no direct access to the underlying SQL Server database. this will affect those who need to use SQL services, such as SQL Server Reporting Services reports. It also affects the control over backup and restore, which is in the hands of the hosting provider. The lack of direct access to the database back end means that it is not possible restore the database to a specific date/time.

Authentication by users to CRM 2011 Online is via Windows Live ID. Each user will need a Live ID from Microsoft and there is currently no option to use Active Directory, which is more familiar to anyone running a Window based network. This means that there is no single sign-on mechanism, requiring users to log into Dynamics CRM 2011 separately.

Email integration differs between CRM 2011 On Premise and Online. Backend integration between CRM and Exchange uses a computer in the role of an email router. CRM 2011 doesn’t include the email router functionality, and if backend integration with Exchange (or any SMTP mail server) is required the email router must be locally hosted.

Storage limits are another thing to keep in mind. Microsoft Hosting is based on a fixed number of Gb per installation. The initial size given is quite generous but there is an extra charge for additional space.

In CRM 2011 Online there is a new feature called Internet Lead Capture which is not available in the On Premise edition.

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