Archive for the ‘Cloud’ Category

ISV Guidelines for Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Part 1

February 16, 2009 Leave a comment

ISV Guidelines for Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Part 1

The intent of this series of blogs is to provide a basic guideline for Service Providers looking to offer CRM as a target platform for ISV’s looking to deploy their application on the Internet as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.  It’s also a guide for ISV’s to understand that the design decisions they make during development will have a profound impact on their available hosting with regards to deployment architectures and pricing.

  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: CRM as an Application or Platform
  • Part 3: Shared or Virtualization Deployment & Licensing
  • Part 4: Provisioning & Control Panels
  • Part 5: Making the Leap


With the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 (MSCRM4), Microsoft has provided not only a great CRM application, but also a business application platform.  There are many software vendors and consulting organizations that have already leveraged MSCRM4 in the traditional deployment where the application or solution is installed locally on a customers server.  This scenario is typically called “On-Premise”.  While this deployment model works great for some customers, many business departments are looking to gain access to applications that improve their business, but without the hassle and cost of deployment and operations within their IT department.  It’s not that an IT department can’t handle new applications, but it takes time, money, and knowledge to add a new application into the business.  Business applications that are hosted on the Internet and accessible via a traditional browser is known as “Software as a Service” (SaaS).  The business world is all abuzz about SaaS and it’s potential impact to deliver rich applications to departments, on-demand, with a monthly fee, and without the need for upfront deployment or hardware costs.  Sounds Great, right?  Well for some scenarios it is pretty great, but there are a number of other reasons why this might not be so hot (e.g. Security, Internet Outage, Performance, End User Training, etc.).

Here are some examples of where the SaaS deployment model is so interesting for many customers:

  1. Trial – Your software may be great and the value is high, but how will the customer know if they can’t try it in all it’s glory?  Sure they could download the software and use it, but not it requires hardware, time, and the knowledge to get it installed and configured.  With the SaaS based model, they can get access to your application instantly!  Even if they are interested in an on-premise deployment, they can at least get the feel for it right away which will help with their buying decision.
  2. Temporary Usage – Some customers may decide that they do want the on-premise version.  This could be for any number of reasons the customer may have or because your on-premise version has more capabilities (e.g. integration with a VOIP solution, devices, etc.) than the SaaS version.  In this scenario, the customer goes beyond the trial online and wants to continue to use it.  Let’s say it’s going to take six months for the customers IT team to purchase, deploy, and operationalize [killing the English language] an environment for the on-premise version.  So until then, the customer uses the SaaS version.  This gives the customer some flexibility in their deployment, instant access to the application which will improve their business, and increases your sales and revenue.
  3. Migrations – I’m sure you’d seen a number of customers that would LOVE to go to a new version of a software application they’ve been using, but the time and cost to upgrade hardware, update the data, and learn the new platform is just too much for them.  This is another great scenarios for SaaS to meet the business needs of the customer, removing the strain on their IT department, and increasing revenue for you (SaaS Vendor).
  4. SaaS Everything – There is a growing trend for many organizations to outsource more and more of their applications.  Well, that’s what the industry says at least.  For those businesses, you at least need to have SaaS as a delivery option for them or you may lose some business.

There are a number of Service Providers out there today that are offering hosted solutions for Microsoft Exchange Server (for consumer and business mail), Windows Server (for web hosting with Internet Information Server which is part of Windows Server), SQL Server (for databases), and SharePoint Services (for document and information collaboration).  MSCRM4 is a natural extension for Service Providers to also offer this service.  While there is much competition in the space of CRM systems on the Internet, including the current leader, MSCRM4 is easily configurable, extensible, and leverages the Microsoft .NET Framework which will enable the army of Microsoft developers hooked on their Microsoft Visual Studio development environment to build rich business applications.

When developing software, the sky is the limit!  Especially when developing on the Microsoft platform and technologies, but you must be careful that you follow some basic guidelines to ensure your application can be hosted as a SaaS application and meet your target business objectives.  There is much to consider and I hope you find the rest of this series helpful.

Note: If there are specific areas you’d like me to cover in future posts, please post a comment below.

Categories: Cloud, CRM