With the recently announced Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 beta (sign-up at www.crm2011beta.com) there naturally comes questions about the upgrade paths from one version to another. Microsoft invests a significant amount of time and effort to ensure that the upgrade path from one version to the next version is as smooth as possible, even across major changes to the product. As Microsoft Dynamics CRM supports the Power of Choice for customer, there are separate paths available for on-premises and CRM Online deployments.
A quick baseline on acronyms:
- Release To Web (RTW): This refers to the point in time when CRM Online is ready for production use by customers.
- Release To Manufacturing (RTM): This refers to the point in time when CRM on-premises is ready for production by customers.
Beta is NOT for production use
For those of you building out your plans for the CRM 2011 beta, the first consideration is that it should not be used in production. The beta release is not fully supported release and any issues experienced during beta will not be directly supported by the technical support team. All beta support issues will be supported through a Microsoft Forum.
The beta is a great environment for you to kick the tires of the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics CRM release, start learning more about how it can benefit your organization and begin the effort of building out proof of concepts and design work for when you go live on the production bits of CRM 2011, either online or on-premises. For those of you who decide to start your configurations and customizations with the beta release, there are upgrade paths for your solutions from one version to the next. Let me walk you through a few key scenarios for those of you interested in the CRM 2011 beta.
- Upgrades from CRM Online Beta to CRM Online RTW – Upgrade is available through an opt-in process for customers wanting to continue with CRM Online in a production environment. All supported customizations and configurations will be upgraded from Beta to RTW for customers who decided to sign-up and move forward with CRM Online.
- Upgrades from CRM 2011 Beta to CRM 2011 Release Candidate and then to CRM 2011 RTM – Upgrade capabilities are included in the product for on-premises customers, but limited support is provided through the beta support process (Microsoft Forums).
The upgrade process is fully supported moving from production environments to production environment, so moving from CRM 4.0 (both on-premises and Online) to the same CRM 2011 deployment is fully supported. For those of you interested in migrating your current CRM 4.0 environment to CRM 2011, here are the scenarios where it is possible, but please be aware that while the capabilities are there, support will be provided through the standard Beta support process on a best effort basis through Microsoft Forums. Technical resolution to challenges will likely be released in subsequent versions (e.g. issues with upgrading your CRM 4.0 on-premises to CRM 2011 beta will likely not be resolved until the Release Candidate or RTM release).
- CRM Online (4.0) to CRM Online Beta (2011) – This upgrade path is not available.
- CRM Online (4.0) to CRM Online RTW (2011) – This upgrade path is fully supported and will be available to customers shortly after CRM 2011 is released to RTW. Customers will be able to schedule their upgrade time through a schedule tool and will be given up to 1 year to upgrade. This will help fit the upgrade cycle to your business cycle and give you time to train and prepare for your upgrade on your schedule.
- CRM 4.0 on-premises to CRM 2011 Beta and Release Candidate – Upgrade capabilities are included in the product, but limited support is provided through the beta support process (Microsoft Forums). For on-premises deployments, CRM 2011 requires 64-bit hardware and 64-bit software (Windows Server 2008/2008R2, and SQL Server 2008/2008R2). Please see the requirements list for a full description of infrastructure requirements.
- CRM 4.0 on-premises to CRM 2011 RTM – Upgrade capabilities are fully supported for production use through standard support processes.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a significant upgrade from an already great solution with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, these upgrade scenarios will help you get the most out of your preparations to move to this new release, which is being called a “game-changer” by customers, partners and the press.