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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Upgrade CRM 4 to 2011: For ITdiots

Q: Who’s an ITdiot?  A: Me.

I’ve been involved in the IT world since my early teen years.  It started as the family computer expert, and evolved into advanced circuit configuration for ISPs and eventually a fulltime network administrator gig.  All the while, I nurtured and evolved my passion for development.

Ordinarily, this blog is dedicated to the later talent and my trials and tribulations therewith.  However, I cannot deny that the foundations of my career and experience have solid roots in the IT realm.  Having never acquired any formal education for either talent is what makes me, your friendly (mostly) neighborhood CRM MVP, an ITdiot.

If it weren’t for Google, I wouldn’t have much of a career.  While some things in the IT world have become intrinsically intuitive, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that my first real job at an Internet Helpdesk left me puzzled for longer than I care to admit as to why “.net” or “.org” worked to execute things on the computer, and “.com” was so much more prevalent than “.exe”.

At any rate, I recently gave a presentation for CRMUG geared toward the IT Crowd—not the British comedy (although if you’re in IT and haven’t yet seen it, you should), but my people.  So, the following guide complements that presentation and the material I covered, and all that I had wished to cover but ran out of time for.  This is a basic list of the considerations I make when considering the move from CRM 4 to CRM 2011.

CRM 2011 On-Premise Upgrade Requirements

What about Online?

Pros:
  • Reduced IT overhead; from infrastructure to support
  • Reduced deployment timeframe
  • Automatic/Scheduled updating
    • “Scheduled” becomes “Automatic” within a year
  • Aligns with Office 365 and SharePoint Online
  • Provides an easy to use Internet Lead Capture feature
  • Can be redeployed as 2011 On-Premise
  • Federated authentication is just around the corner (R7; Q4 2011 Service Update)
Cons:
  • May not be ideal for integrated systems (ERP, Accounting, etc)
    • Limited functionality connecting from CRM to external resource
  • No support for custom Workflow actions
  • Limits on number of Workflows and custom entities (200?)
  • Externally hosted email router (on-premise, hosting provider)
  • FetchXML reports only

Helpful Overviews

Upgrade Methods

Social Experiences

Personal Upgrade Process

  • Avoiding more than one direct upgrade
    • Never upgrade from CRM 3 to CRM 4 and then to CRM 2011; always make a clean break somewhere in the chain to avoid esoteric issues caused by upgrades daisy-chained this way
  • Wait for first adopters to uncover problems (sorry first adopters!)
  • Virtual Machines!
    • VMs are your IT friend.  If you don’t think you can afford it, go grab VMWare ESXi—it’s free, man
  • [IRAD] unsupported customizations
    • Identify: know where you’re currently using them, and what they do
    • Remove: eliminate them to avoid upgrade issues
    • Analyze: determine whether or not new functionality allows you to replace them with supported customizations/features
    • Deploy: after the upgrade, update and redeploy any unsupported customizations deemed necessary for business