Microsoft is adhering to the cloud first strategy for Dynamics CRM. There has been an increased time gap to when the CRM On-Premises customers receive the new features (or even bug fixes) as compared to the CRM Online customers. There are also features like Office 365 integration, Social apps etc., which are better suited for CRM Online users. This has triggered an interest among the CRM On-Premises customers to migrate to CRM Online. There could also be a number of other reasons like reduced infrastructure cost, maintenance etc. Moving to CRM Online isn’t just a database restore as Microsoft will not support that. Instead, the Solution files must be imported and the data has to be migrated. Here are a few things to plan for
- License: Licensing is different for CRM Online and On-Premise. A Microsoft partner can help you get the required licenses. Ideally, licenses (cost) should also be a factor in making the migration decision.
- Customizations: Import any managed solutions that you may have into CRM Online. Then import the unmanaged solution from the On-Premise version.
- Data Migration: Depending on the amount of data and the complexity of the data structure, you can choose from Import wizard, SSIS based migration (Kingswaysoft), or use third party tools is Scribe/ Synchronicity Echo. This step is the complex one of all. In that, fields like system fields ( like ModifiedOn, ModifiedBy, ActualClose, ActualStart etc.), have to be taken care of, record status (especially activities) might have to be set, multiple currencies and exchange rates have to be managed, plugins/workflows might have to be disabled during the data migration.
It is also worth noting that, if you are upgrading in addition to migration ( moving from an older version of CRM On-Premises to CRM Online), then an analysis of whether the features in new version can alleviate the existing customizations will be beneficial. This is also a good time to check on what exactly is being used/unused in the CRM implementation.
If for some reason, you decide to go back to CRM On-Premises, all you need is to request the support team for a database backup and restore it on the On-Premises instance. Here is a document that details the steps needed for migration. Keep in mind that you might not be seeing some of the features that were available on CRM Online but not yet released in the On-Premises version.