For organisations still operating Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 a move to the cloud could be appealing, but what is involved in upgrading to CRM Online from CRM 2011?
I have previously blogged on items to consider when contemplating moving from MS Dynamics CRM on premise to CRM Online via Office 365. Once you have had the green light to move however, what exactly is involved in getting there?
The move isn’t as simple as backing up a solution, or migrating a backup of your database, but it can be broken down into a few suggested steps;
- Assess – Your Current State
- Prepare – Customisations and Data
- Upgrade – Your On Premise version
- Review – The updates
- Migrate – The Solution and your Data
In the following sections I will attempt to provide a little more information on these steps based on current experience and the CRM upgrade path.
It is important you take time to assess the current implementation of CRM to identify any current issues which could affect your ability to upgrade successfully.
Third Party Tools & Integrations will need to be assessed in order to decide if they can be replaced with the latest CRM Online features or indeed if they are supported for CRM Online and if they themselves require an upgrade.
Integrations could benefit from the new CRM Web API, for information on the API and limitations please see this MSDN article; https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/mt628816.aspx
Reports may not be compatible with CRM Online, for example there may be reports built in SSRS, which is not available with CRM Online in Office 365. But you may be able to agree a strategy to replace some of these in Power BI.
Data volumes will be an important part of the assessment; what can be cleansed? What data is required? How much storage will you need to purchase? How will attachments and documents be managed?
Once you have assessed the size of the task at hand it is time to begin the preparation for the upgrade – the data will be crucial to your end result, so it may be a good idea to start a data cleanse as soon as possible to ensure it is completed on time.
If possible take a back-up of the current Production or an up to date Test instance and use this as an assessment/development instance. This means your current Production instance will continue unaffected until you are ready to move.
Before the upgrade begins, obtain any product keys required. In later versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM the server and client keys are combined so that only one key is required. It may be a good idea to review the need for a Bing Maps key for CRM too, keys can be generated here; https://www.bingmapsportal.com
There is no supported direct upgrade path to CRM 2016/Online from CRM 2011, therefor the upgrade will involve multiple steps in order to reach your target version. To upgrade you will need to take the pre-prepared version of CRM 2011 to CRM 2013, then 2015 and finally to CRM 2016.
This means you will create a CRM 2013 environment with an instance of SQL Server that is supported, such as SQL Server 2014. This step may take some time depending on the size of the CRM database involved, this is because of the number of significant changes to the database when moving between CRM 2011 and 2013. You may want to review the upgrade at this point to check for any issues and insure the latest CRM 2013 roll-up is installed, if you are happy then you can move on to the upgrade to CRM 2015 (use the latest update version) and then finally 2016.
For more on the MS Dynamics CRM Upgrade path please see the following article; https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699716.aspx
Form layouts, fields capabilities and navigation of the application in the web UI changed significantly between versions so user acceptance testing and end user involvement in the review and configuration is key to successfully upgrading your solution.
Once you and your user groups are happy with the changes it is time to migrate to CRM Online in the Office 365 cloud. This will likely involve the following;
– Creating a new CRM Online instance in your Office 365 tenant
– Exporting and Importing the CRM 2016 Solution from your On Premise version
– Migration of cleansed CRM data (a third party tool may be required*)
– Update and Test CRM plug-ins for CRM Online
– Test your upgraded CRM solution (yes again)
There may be some additional complication added to this step for any integrations that are affected by the move to CRM Online. Where possible this should be factored in using the CRM Web API.
In order to allow users to authenticate with CRM Online using their organisational Active Directory credentials your administrators can enable Active Directory Sync’, single sign on can also be implemented using ADFS.
*The size of the task involved in migrating the data to CRM Online will vary depending on the volume of records and if activities and other more troublesome items such as attachments are required – the recommendation is not to bloat the CRM Online database with attachments, it may be a good idea to consider SharePoint online for documents storage.
Hopefully this post allows you to get started on your own upgrade plan, check out MSDN for lots more useful information and speak to your Microsoft Partner who can help you through the process.