Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brad Wilson on Cloud-Driven CRM

Software Advice follows up with their series of video-interview clips of Brad Wison, GM of Dynamics CRM at Microsoft, with their latest offering:

Brad Wilson talks about CRM in the cloud and how Microsoft leverages customer choice, between this and On-Premise, with Microsoft CRM.


While the clip format, as a trend, seems to be short, it’s the questions and answers themselves that are short.  While it’s nice to hear Brad Wilson offering up a bit of an official PR-stylized look into the element of choice Microsoft CRM grants between Online and On-Premise, and the ability to move between them interchangeably, he suggest that the key factor for this decision is the customer’s IT competency—in so many words.  (While the word “Online” is never used, he directly states that “in the cloud” means Microsoft data-centers.)

I think Brad Wilson has done CRM, the product, a disservice.  With my employer, CRM was acquired in its earliest stages while the company staff count was below 20, and IT itself was a single man.  Now that we’ve grown to well over 120 employees, CRM is still run by a single--albeit different--man:  me.  The fact that I’m an MVP is proof in the pudding that one person can learn enough about CRM in a growing company that is still relatively small to keep it running well all by himself.

As a product, the ease of customization and deployment really speaks to the capability of CRM On-Premise.  In fact, one of the most critical business decisions are how and when to make backups… and what concerns me most is the inability to do so in CRM Online.  However, CRM On-Premise does not disappoint, being contained nearly entirely within SQL Server.  It’s so easy to backup, a single guy can setup a simple job to do it for him.

The logistical impracticality of providing this capability to CRM Online, however, also does CRM, the product, a disservice.  I maintain resolute in my declaration that CRM is the best product Microsoft ever made, because of its flexibility and time-to-market for even moderately complex, customized solutions.  If there’s one factor I think should serve as a guide to a customer’s choice in deployment types, between Online and On-Premise, I think it should be where the two really differ:  how much control one has over the data.

Sure, this does assume you have some functionally capable IT staff, but even the bevy of Microsoft CRM consultants and hosted-deployment shops are capable of providing this data control for very reduced cost, and without the need for dedicated IT.  I think a customer of Microsoft CRM would be disadvantaged to believe that they only have two choices, overlooking the powerful advantages gained by finding the middle-ground between them that goes unmentioned in this discussion.


  1. Nice post Dave. Sometimes I think MS takes drinkin their own coolaid too far. There is usually more than one solution to a problem and each one is a good fit for different situations.

    Having control over your data is an important point to make when think about hosting with CRM Online. Thanks for pointing that out.

  2. Thank you! It was brought to my attention recently that there is no way to restore data to CRM Online. This means that accidental or malicious data deletion is incredibly difficult to recover from in that environment, and not one in which I'd risk placing important data. It's my hope that somebody is able to offer a solution for recovery of these kinds of situations, but I'm sure there are some who have used CRM Online and run into this problem already. I just haven't found their complaints, yet.


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