The question of migration to Dynamics 365 can be answered from the perspective of migrating from a different application vendor like QuickBooks, Salesforce, etc or from the perspective of migrating from on-premises application like Dynamics CRM, GP, SL, AX etc. In this blog post, we will focus on benefits and the reasons for migrating to Dynamics 365 in the cloud from your on-premises application.
Choice of Applications
Dynamics 365 is a collection of applications (ERP, CRM, Field Service, Project Service, Marketing, Talent management, Retail, Build-your-own). Since one size doesn’t fit all, you can pick and choose the applications you want to provision within Dynamics 365.
Microsoft has made Dynamics 365 available in both online and on-premises versions and promised to offer both for the foreseeable future. For instance, Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations is offered as Dynamics AX for on-prem, Dynamics 365 Business Central is offered as Dynamics NAV for on-prem, Dynamics Customer Engagement (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service) is offered as Dynamics CRM on-prem. Some applications like Dynamics Marketing and Talent are such new applications that they were created in the cloud first and not offered for on-prem. Microsoft is making progress in a lot of areas like compliance and security such that in the future the choice to pick the cloud applications would be a no-brainer but there may be some reasons for certain organizations to stick to the on-prem applications.
Today I would like to discuss some of the comparisons, functionality, and data migration that are convincing reasons to migrate to Dynamics 365 applications online. An easy example is the time it takes to spin up a Dynamics 365 CE organization in the cloud vs an on-premise setup of an existing Dynamics CRM installation. In the Dynamics 365 online instance you select the application you want and setup a trial/production instance in a matter of a few minutes. With an on-premises setup, you have to make sure you have enough SQL Db space on the SQL server and then create the CRM Org within Dynamics 365 deployment manager.
In the case of Dynamics 365 CE, you will find a list of features which are only available in the online version. Depending on your need for some of these features you will have no choice but to migrate to the online version and remember new features and functionality is being added to Dynamics 365 products in the cloud version first, so this list may grow over time.
Control Over Application Management
Previously the argument against migrating to the cloud was the giving up of control over your application management like upgrades, backup, security and overall application management. These fears have been well addressed in most cloud applications like Dynamics 365 CE where you can schedule your applications upgrade, setup custom backups and request to restore from previous backups, add customer managed encryption keys for data and ability to create sandbox organizations from the copy of production data. Recently the Dynamics team also introduced the Dynamics 365 CE online management API. Using online management API, you or your trusted partners can perform management tasks and more directly use API calls. You can find more information about Online management API here.
Inexpensive Storage Solutions
Dynamics 365 CE uses Azure blog storage and SharePoint to provide you with cheap storage options. The cost of adding additional storage to Dynamics 365 CE is 1GB for $9.99 per GB/per month versus a few cents to acquire Azure blob storage. In Dynamics 365 CE you can easily accumulate vast amounts of data in notes, attachments, email attachments and so Microsoft and other partners have provided solutions within Dynamics 365 CE where such high storage needs are met using Azure blog storage/SharePoint to save these files and still remain accessible within Dynamics 365 CE. One such application available within AppSource is attachment management.
Seamless Application Integration
Most organizations have moved their traditional applications like email, file share, SharePoint already to the cloud and since Dynamics 365 CE works very well with most of these applications you would want them integrated. Most certainly Microsoft has made it possible that you can integrate Dynamics 365 CE with other MS applications when some of these exist in both the on-premise and online environments simultaneously. But the set up and integration is seamless when all these of the Office 365 service and Dynamics 365 CE exist in the cloud in the same tenant/Organization. In just a matter of a few clicks, Dynamics 365 CE starts working well with other Office 365 services like email, SharePoint, OneDrive, OneNote and office applications online.
Create Custom Reports
If you have Dynamics 365 CE on-premise then you have direct access to the SQL database for the application. Here you can create your own reports, queries and have full access to the database. In the case of Dynamics 365 CE online you don’t get access to the live database for the application and so you are restricted in terms of the reporting and querying of the data. Microsoft has addressed this shortcoming with the use of another online service like SQL on Azure and the data export service within Dynamics 365 CE. Using the data export service, you can schedule to export your Dynamics 365 CE data to your own SQL instance in Azure every few minutes and then query the data like it was on-premise. You can then create your own custom queries, use PowerBI to create your custom reports or any other reporting service to create custom reports.
Customize Your User Experience
There are a lot of options available when replicating the benefits of on-premise applications in the online version for Dynamics 365 CE, but there are also some unique features and functionality that are available with Dynamics 365 CE online. One of them is the use of PowerApps and Flow available with the Dynamics 365 online license. The Dynamics 365 CE user interface and user experience has been built over time. Because of this, it suits most needs. However, there are some scenarios and business cases where the user experience is not ideal, which is true for any application. But with the availability of PowerApps and flow you can create a different and unique user experience which interacts with your Dynamics 365 CE data. The idea of Dynamics 365 CE as an xRM platform is bolstered by the availability of PowerApps to create different forms and user interactions with the Dynamics 365 CE data.
The above information on migrating to Dynamics 365 CE online applies not only to existing Dynamics 365 customers who are currently using on-premise application but also to other application vendors and could help you decide to move to the Dynamics 365 cloud.
Data migration can be a tricky task. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, several tools were developed to assist with converting or migrating data. If you’re ready to migrate over to the Dynamics 365 cloud, contact KTL Solutions for help. Our experienced consultants help you develop, design, and integrate your systems to seamlessly operate within your business. We are an experienced ERP provider with competencies in all areas of our clients’ business and technology environments. This gives us the skills to consult, implement, and help support your solutions.