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Subject: D365 Online or On-Prem

1.  D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-18-2017 03:49 PM

Hello all,

We are trying to decide whether to upgrade to CRM365 online or on-prem. Currently we are on CRM2011 (I know...) and our SA is up for renewal one year from now. So, I am looking for insights, advice, pros, cons, etc. from anyone who has made this decision or at least thought through it.



Sam Diab
Business Technology Manager
Wakefield Canada Inc
Toronto ON

2.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 04:27 AM
Hi All

Decision should be based on

Cost  : -  What is the cost of managing the current application. What will be the cost if you move online

 Feature :-  What are the feature you like about in online which is not in on premise

Backup  :-  How you keep backups of the application what is disaster mechanism.

If things are working well on prem and you have no issue in managing it. I will recommend staying  on onprem.


Roland Moore
Management Technology Consulting LLC
Los Angeles CA

3.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 04:45 AM
From my experience as we had crm on premise for 3 years and after many troubles we moved to online.

We did the upgrade on last January to D365.

Not only the cost that should determine your nextra move it's also the service availability, management and following up cost hosting issues.

On the other hand there is another mixed solution(not recommended yet as it's new and needs to be examined ) to have on premise but on Microsoft win azure.

Finally i encourage you to move to D365 online.

Good luck.
Ready for any help

Eng. Mohammad Batta
Technical team leader/D365 consultant


4.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 08:01 AM
Hi Sam,

We recommend that all clients should be online. It's not best for everyone, but if you are exploring it and don't have any hard security or specific requirements that say require your CRM to be internet facing, I'd say to go for it.

You get the updates overnight when approved, latest and greatest functionality, rolling 3 day backups, ability to take on-demand, Plug and Play with other MS applications like OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange Online.

We just migrated from CRM 2013 On-Premise to D365 Online and are very happy with it. Don't get me wrong, having to write the integrations to migrate all activities, attachments, etc was tedious but we worth it as for example, you can now enable relevance search and search those through the global search.

Do you have integrations to other systems?
Do you currently leverage the Office365 Admin Portal?
How big is your current CRM DB? How big is the annotations table? (Storage space online is more expensive but their are tools to help offload that to Azure or SharePoint)
How many orgs to you have?

Chad Weiner
CRM Consultant
Dublin OH

5.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 08:42 AM
Not sure how people can answer this question without a lot more detail.    You should really consult with your partner but a few questions you need to ask yourself (not knowing your business)

1.    Will all integration work both online and on-prem
2.    Is there any reason you need to get to the backend of the system (SQL, etc) that Online does not allow
3.    What is your companies growth looking like in the next few years
4.    Is speed important
5.   Do you have a lot of customizations that will have to be altered when there are upgrades.

Microsoft is pushing everyone to the cloud (ONLINE) so most people will tell you online. IT is  a great choice as you don't have to worry about your infrastructure but a few caveats.
1.  When MS says you have to upgrade, you can delay some but they force you to add SP, upgrades etc..
2.  Support is slow going and you have to go through the "process" before you get the right person on the phone
3.  Online tends to be a bit slower than on-prem but good if you have several locations. If you have SP integrations it  is painfully slow (IMHO)
4. You are at MS mercy when it come to getting to the SQL databases

I could go on but without knowing your business, it is a hard call.

Beth Burrell
CRM Customer Success Coach
Tampa FL

6.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-22-2017 12:31 PM
I'd like to echo what Beth and Tracy brought up about upgrades in an online environment.

If you want the latest and greatest all the time, then online is the way to go.

However,  you will have to complete your upgrade to the next version in the window that MSFT gives you.  If there are known issues or bugs or instabilities in the version, that is too bad.  If your company does not have the time or resources to allocate to validating an upgrade once a year, then online is not for you.

MSFT releases upgrades every 6 months and you can only be one version behind the latest and greatest at anytime.  I would say that every 4 upgrades or so (every two years) is a relatively major upgrade (i.e., 2011 >2013, 2016>D365)
Great if you want new features.  Not so great if you have a timeline other than Microsoft's.

Eva Sandvik
Senior Access Control Analyst
Community Connect
CRM OnLine 2016 Update 1

7.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 08:44 AM
Great responses from the others. The only consideration I would add is you CRM support resources.  I spent 10 years with an on-prem, (only 40 users) that was highly customized in a company that did not have budget to outsource support.  Current site I am a BA for has nearly 200 users globally.  With each update - resources MUST be allocated to review impacts and efforts to leverage new features.  Mastering change management with users is critical with online.

All that said - if you can afford online, and your company can take advantage of the features (compared to 2011 :) ) go for it!

Tracy Bourgoine
Business Analyst: Sales & CRM
Bemis Associates Inc
Shirley MA

8.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 08:47 AM
Edited by Scott Guthrie 05-19-2017 08:50 AM

This topic comes up several times a year, so you would find a search of previous posts beneficial.  I'll try to summarize the issues from these posts below:

  1. Pricing.  Many companies have stuck with On-Prem because they find the licensing and other charges less than Online.  However, because Microsoft takes care of the server environment, there is less need for local IT support for the Online model and no need to purchase and maintain local servers, and that can produce savings for Online customers.
  2. Integration. With online, you do not have direct database access; with on-prem you do.  On-prem customers often leverage the local SQL database in a number of ways including reports, integrations to other systems, and data warehousing.  With Online you must use fetch XML, which has some limitations:
    • 10 linked entities max
    • No right outer joins, union joins
    • No SQL functions, no sub queries, no Case functions
    • Limitations on how many records you can return per query
  3. Customization.  With Online there is a limit to the number of custom entities and custom attributes per entity.   See Create and edit metadata .
  4. Performance.  With Online, performance can vary depending on a number of factors, some of which are within your control (such as bandwidth to the Internet) and some which are not.  With On-prem you have more control/options to improve performance, but it really depends on the skill of your staff and the size of your checkbook.  
  5. Data privacy/security / Control versus simplicity.  With Online you hand over the keys to your system to Microsoft.  If there is a problem on their servers or the Internet, you will have little ability to respond.  You lose some control over upgrades, backups, and restores as well.  On the flip side, Microsoft is probably better able to detect and deal with issues than most in-house staff and they do the upgrade work for you.
  6. Data conversion.  Moving data, especially deeply connected entities can be a daunting task, especially if you have a lot of records.  
  7. Online feature advantages/limitations.  Online users are always the first to get new features and some features are only available Online.  That said, there are some limitations imposed on Online customers:
    • Business rules can't run when a record is saved.  On-change events don't trigger when business rules set a field value.  See Create and edit business rules for full details.
    • Max number of calculated fields is five (5) and have other limitations imposed.  See Define calculated fields for more details.
    • Rollup fields are limited to 100 per organization, 10 per entity.  See Define rollup fields for additional limitations.

I'm not trying to scare you off moving to Online, just make you aware of the differences, which might not affect you at all.  I think that Online makes better sense than On-premise for customers that want to use Dynamics CRM essentially out of the box or don't have significant IT resources.

Scott Guthrie
Integration Specialist
Winona State University
Winona MN

9.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 10:19 AM
Scott hit the nail on the head with a great summary.

We have been on-prem for 3 years and wouldn't have it any other way.  We enjoy the control we have over updates, data, and integrations.

Peter Koffler
CRM/IT/Sales Admin
Sodick Inc.
Schaumburg IL

10.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-22-2017 10:05 AM
Our organization has made the decision to move to Dynamics 365 (online) from CRM2011 R11.  We plan to go live in late August or early September.  Here's why (using Scott Guthrie's framework from this thread).

  • Pricing.  We were able to negotiate pricing under our EA that was acceptable given we would no longer need to support (and license) multiple servers (app and DB).  Pricing makes even more sense when you look at running your own geo-redundant infrastructure (D365 makes 5 copies of all data).
  • Integration. We are using the Data Export Service to create a near real-time replica of our CRM database into SQLAzure.  This is a new public, GA feature of D365 and is absolutely critical if you want to do extensive reporting.  It does not work perfectly, but is getting better each month.  Note, it does not support filtered views, so you have to implement your security model separately.  As a read-only DB, the SQLAzure replica performs very well and can be used for traditional queries (PowerBI, SSRS, SSAS, etc.).
  • Customization.  We have had small issues porting customizations, but many have had to be rewritten, at least slightly.  Much of this was due to being on a 2011, pre-IFD deployment.  But each one takes manpower to refactor.
  • Performance.  I would agree that D365 appears to be slower than a local (on LAN) install.  
  • Data Privacy / Security / Control versus simplicity.  Control is definitely given up.  Privacy / Security -- it's hard to argue that Microsoft's "certifications" are not compelling -- SOC2, IS27001, HiTech, etc.  They have a strong commitment to both and data stays within region (North America).  With Security, specifically, most mid-market companies have a poorer track record of Cybersecurity than the major cloud providers.
  • Data conversion.  We have built a controlled process to move records and reconcile.  Partners can help here.
  • Online feature advantages/limitations.  Think Evergreen!  What is the cost of being behind the curve in terms of nimbleness?  How many organizations are still running 2011 when it is almost 2018?  What features that could be valuable are not implemented because they came in 2013, 2015, etc.  I am looking forward to being able to deploy new features like Sales Navigator quickly.

Jon Meyer
Chief Technology Officer
CAPTRUST Financial Advisors
Raleigh NC

11.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 09:29 AM
We are at the same decision point as well - moving from 2011 on prem to the latest bersion but no decision yet  whether to stay on prem or go online.  I too would be interested in hearing about group members' experiences and recommendations.

Marianne Marianne
Hamamatsu Corporation
Brigewater NJ

12.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 11:58 AM
We started with 2013 on-premise, upgraded to 2015 on-premise, then went to 2016 online.

Our original reason for wanting to be on premise was to access the SQL backed with SSRS support. While this was a strong "need" during our initial consideration, it turned out that we didn't use the feature nearly as much as we expected we would. Especially with some of the newer technologies that are coming out today.

We switched to Online to get access to the "latest and greatest" features and are extremely happy with our decision. We've been handling much of the SSRS report needs through Power BI. The PBI connection is a bit irritating at times, but certainly no worse than the raw SQL tables.

Your mileage will vary, but if nothing else you probably won't have the "I'm on 6 year old version of the software and..." questions anymore. ;)

Guy Parisi
Business Analyst & Quality Manager
Sprague Pest Solutions
Tacoma WA

13.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-19-2017 12:22 PM
Hi Sam,

Here is a presentation and whitepaper we did that may help with your decision.

Whitepaper: CRM Online or On-Premises

Crmug remove preview
View this on Crmug >

Mike Hammons
AKA Enterprise Solutions
Atlanta GA

14.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-20-2017 07:59 AM
Moving from CRM 2011 OnPrem to OnLine isn't going to be easy.  There is no direct path for migration.  Microsoft is working on a tool to help, but last I heard it required the OnPrem version to be CRM 2015.  So here are some upgrade paths

Tool from Microsoft
Setup temp instances of CRM 2013 & CRM 2015 OnPrem and import you current org into 2013, then into 2015.  Move database to Azure.  Use the Lifecycle Services preview program to import database into CRM OnLine.

I'm never been involved in project that used this (and there isn't much publicly available info), but in theory the only downside is the time it take to import/upload.  This should be doable over a weekend, unless you have super big CRM org (> ~100 GB).

Manual Migration
Setup temp instance of CRM 2013.  import your current org into CRM 2013 so you export the solution file. (CRM 2011 solution files can't be imported into CRM OnLine).  Import the 203 solution into CRM OnLine.  Then migrate your data from OnPrem to OnLine.

I've done a few projects that did the manual migration. The data migration is very very hard &  time consuming (plus some data can't be migrated; audit history, quick campaigns,etc).    If you have a lot of data (> ~40GB) you might have to pre-stage the data, as it would take too long to migrate it all during a weekend.

If you stay with CRM OnPrem, tell you bosses that once a year you'll be upgrading CRM to the latest version and if they don't agree quit your job, because you be in this position again in 3-5 years.

Eric Labashosky
Senior Developer
Hitachi Solutions
Scotrun PA

15.  RE: D365 Online or On-Prem

Posted 05-30-2017 03:22 PM
Thank you all for the great insights provided.  I truly appreciate the input

Sam Diab
Business Technology Manager
Wakefield Canada Inc
Toronto ON