Transitioning to the Cloud

Transitioning to the Cloud


If you’re an existing user of one of the software packages that has been incorporated into Dynamics 365, you may be wondering how the release of Dynamics 365 will affect you and your organization. Clearly, it’s Microsoft’s goal to retain you as a customer, and also to encourage you to migrate to Dynamics 365 as soon as possible. Microsoft’s long-term ERP/CRM strategy is to focus its research-and-development efforts on its cloud offering, which is what it will use to compete against archrivals Oracle and SAP. The sooner its customers move to the cloud offering (Dynamics 365, in other words), the less effort and expense needs to be diverted to maintaining older, sunset products and the better the cloud offering will become. (The unspoken assumption here is that, yes, the better the offering, the more it can gain market share against Oracle, SAP, and newer rivals such as Workday and Salesforce.com.)

 

Many customers of earlier Dynamics versions — the ones that predate Dynamics 365  — are midmarket organizations: They have hundreds, if not thousands, of employees, and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue or budget, if not billions. These large organizations  — which may be privately held or publicly traded for-profit companies, not-for-profit charities, or city, state, or federal government public sector agencies — are sometimes referred to as enterprise clients. Smaller companies, charities, and government agencies are sometimes referred to as SMB clients —short for small and medium-sized businesses. These clients are said to fall within the SMB space, as opposed to the enterprise space.

 

Implementations of pre-365 Microsoft CRM or AX or NAV ERP at enterprise clients typically include extensive modifications to the out-of-the-box screens, lots of customized reports, and complex custom integrations that were added to electronically import or export transactions into or out of Dynamics from or to external applications. Big organizations have complex ERP and CRM configurations. Migrating these to the Dynamics 365 cloud isn’t a simple matter, and it won’t happen overnight.

Microsoft certainly cares about these big enterprise clients who, after all, have high user counts and therefore mean big money to Microsoft. Given that fact, it makes sense that Microsoft encourages migration to the cloud, but won’t force it on its customers. The transition in the enterprise space will be piecemeal and will happen over the course of several years.

 

Transitioning to the cloud in the SMB space will be easier because SMB implementations have fewer customizations — but then again, SMB organizations have fewer human resources and less financial wherewithal to deploy toward changing their IT systems than enterprise organizations do. Either way, transitioning your Dynamics system to the Dynamics 365 cloud will take careful planning and plenty of patience.

 

Microsoft CRM Online is now part of Dynamics 365, and because Microsoft CRM was always a web-based product from day one, and because it was the first major business application of Microsoft’s to be transitioned to a SaaS cloud solution, the transition from CRM Online to Dynamics 365 is easier than transitioning an on-premise installation of Dynamics AX ERP to the cloud. Transitioning CRM Online to Dynamics 365 is primarily a matter of switching your user licenses.