Repeat: External Connector License


The Microsoft CRM External Connector is nothing more than a license and is NOT a product or a tool that needs to be installed. I have blogged about the External in the past http://blogs.msdn.com/mscrmfreak/archive/2006/10/27/microsoft-dynamics-crm-3-0-external-connector.aspx and I just wanted to do a follow-up post, since there is still a lot of confusion going on. Please read my previous posting including the comments. When you are done continue reading here….


Below a short synopsis I received from a colleague and wanted to share with you guys. Please keep this in mind when engaging with your customers.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM User CALs are required for users who directly input into, query, or view data from a Microsoft Dynamics CRM database. Similarly, Microsoft Dynamics CRM User CALs are required for users who input data into, query, or view data from a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server database through a pooling device. This includes users who view data through Web-based applications or enter information into a database through an intermediary product.


This is true no matter how many tiers of hardware or software exist between the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server and the client devices that ultimately use its data, services or functionality. An exception to this includes the manual transfer of data from employee to employee. For example, if an employee sends an Excel version of a report to another employee, the receiving employee does not require a CAL (as long as the report does not access a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server in some way).

Comments (4)

  1. This is all true, officially. If you read the PUR literally as you seem to do, one would require an external connector license for everyone who sends an e-mail to a queue as this person inserts data into CRM.

    If accepting e-mail to a queue as valid without an external connector, I am allowed to write a webpage where people submit cases through a formmail to a queue and converting the queue to a case. But I would not be allowed to create the same webpage that inserts the record using the CRM webservices. Same holds true for response e-mails using workflow, etc, etc. This seriously undermines the principle that licensing is not dependent on the technical solution used to accomplish an action.

    And then we have Small Business Servers. The PUR for SBS includes ‘external connector’ for SQL without having to buy a processor license so MS somehow thinks that this is desirable for Small Businesses. But no ‘external connector’ is available for CRM for SBS and one would need to upgrade to Pro to have a service portal or some such solution. This seems to be against spirit of Microsoft policy for SBS but is at the moment the ‘letter of the law’.

    My conclusion is: licensing for CRM3.0 still ‘needs work’ (and lots of it :)). And in the meantime: let’s be reasonable and adhere to the spirit of the PUR and not the letter.

  2. Justin SB says:

    I’d love to know how much revenue the External Connector License has actually brought in to Microsoft vs. how many CRM deals have been lost because of confusion (and outrage?) over this.  Hopefully the CRM Titan release will give the licensing folk an opportunity to rethink!

  3. mennotk says:

    Guys I am just the messenger and wanted to create a clear anwser. Reading to two above comments makes absolutly sense to me. So my question to you is, how would you solve it from a license perspective?

  4. Hi Menno,

    Thanks for sharing. I also see a lot of confusion around this external license connector.

    Personally I do see licensing as one of the things that really do need attention. I’ve seen situations where CRM is being used as a master data management application. This does work quite fine since integrating with CRM is very easy. On the other hand, this also means that if somebody inserts data into another system which copies data into CRM, then the user does need a license for CRM as well. In large organizations this just doesn’t work.

    Another interesting thing is when you have an x amount of people working with crm, but want to share (read access) the information with your company just because that is the company policy. Most people wouldn’t ever access crm, but the licensing requires everybody to have licenses again.

    I don’t have a solution for licensing right at hand, but I’m sure that Microsoft does have a lot of people hired who have studied for this kind of questions 🙂 I hope that exactly those people will be included in the titan project.

    Ronald