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Microsoft Rolls Out On-Premises Dynamics CRM 2011

Microsoft released Dynamics CRM 2011 for on-premises deployments today.

Designed for installation on servers typically housed in organizations or managed by Microsoft's partners, this customer relationship management (CRM) solution arrived almost one month after the hosted on-demand version was released. According to Microsoft's description, the company and its partners currently offer the CRM software as a service at a promotional cost of $34 per user per month (offer ends June 30).

It is not yet evident what the pricing for the premises-based product will be. Pricing for Microsoft's earlier Dynamics CRM 4.0 on-premises product is available here. The pricing varies based on the number of users, three server configurations and software licensing options.

Those with Software Assurance licensing covering the period of this new release can download Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 now at the Microsoft Download Center. The download is described as a 90-day trial version that presumably can be upgraded.

Also released this week is version 5.0.1 of the software development kit for Dynamics CRM 2011, which can be downloaded here. Highlights with this new release include updated binaries, sample improvements, "walkthroughs for using the SOAP endpoint" and Powershell info, among other matters, according to this Microsoft blog.

Dynamics CRM 2011 features role-tailored design, access through the Microsoft Outlook client and mobile access through a Web-based client. It also provides "real-time dashboards" to deliver up-to-date sales information within an organization. Users can find information about customized solutions developed by Microsoft's partner community from within Dynamics CRM 2011 by accessing the Marketplace. The Marketplace is currently available in 20 markets with offerings from 1,400 partners, according to Microsoft's announcement. A portal page for partners, called "Microsoft Platform Ready for CRM," allows partners to describe their solutions.

Microsoft differentiates itself in the CRM market by offering both online and premises-based CRM solutions, according to R. Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO at Constellation Research, a newly formed research and advisory firm focusing on emerging technologies.

"Today, it's very rare to have a CRM system to be used both online, on-premises and hosted by a partner," Wang said via a telephone interview. "So, when you think of the horse race that's going on, you've got Salesforce completely online, and on other systems you're completely on premises. It depends on where you want to go."

Choosing an on-premises solution may not be so much about locking down corporate data. It's more of a cultural choice, Wang said. Some people are more comfortable having a system on premises. They may want to leverage a lot of things in-house, such as databases or a data warehouse, he added. They may want greater customization that's not available with on-demand CRM offerings.

Microsoft's announcement emphasized the scalability aspect of the new Dynamics CRM 2011 product, claiming that it can expand to "150,000 concurrent users in a single instance." Wang said that scalability is a concern for enterprises.

"A lot of products are out there that are consumer-grade that are getting into the marketplace, and they can't scale; they haven't thought about security at the cloud level," he said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.