Microsoft Dynamics CRM — Moving between on-premise and online, and vice versa

By - October 8, 2014

We have had a few customers that have decided, for whatever reason, to move from Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise to Dynamics CRM online and vice versa. This seems like a simple task, since Dynamics CRM is advertised as being technically the same online as on-premise. However, there are some differences in moving one way or the other that may have someone rethink the decision to move. Note that this blog will not cover any of the licensing changes that would be required to move your Dynamics CRM environment.

Moving from Dynamics CRM online to Dynamics CRM on-premise is fairly straight forward. You would need to install Dynamics CRM in an environment that meets Microsoft’s technical specifications. After the installation, you will request through Dynamics CRM online a backup of your environment. This will be provided as a bak SQL file. One you have your file, you would simply restore the database to your SQL Server and do a standard import of the organization through the Dynamics CRM deployment manager. This will bring in all data and customizations. One item to note is that Microsoft Dynamics  CRM online will require you to schedule your backup. Another note is that Microsoft Dynamics CRM online will disable your environment after the third backup, figuring you have gone live with that backup.

A final note as far as moving from Dynamics CRM online to Dynamics CRM on-premise is that Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS) has to be set up on your domain to continue to use a tablet or phone app or to view your data outside your firewall without utilizing the VPN.

On-premise to Dynamics CRM online is a more daunting task. You may expect that Microsoft CRM online would accept a bak file to restore in the online environment, but that is not the case. All customizations must be exported through a solution and imported to Dynamics CRM online. Remember, if you have any managed solutions, you will not be able to export the solutions through the Dynamics CRM on-premises system. You will have to go back to the provider of that solution to get it. You will then have to do a data migration of all your valuable data. This proves to be challenging, especially if you are looking to do this through the out of the box import wizard. As far as documents, you will find it will be virtually impossible to move those documents without writing a custom migration tool or by utilizing a third party tool such as Scribe. Microsoft has a tool for this data move, but we have not been successful in utilizing it. In addition to moving the data and customizations, any report using direct SQL will need to be rewritten to utilize FetchXML.

As you can see, if you are not sure if you want to go Dynamics CRM online or Dynamics CRM on-premise, it makes sense to start online and move to on premise if the need arises. The effort to go on premise to online is much greater.

If you are trying to decide between the deployment of these two environments, RSM offers a variety of services to assess your current situation and design a solution that’s aligned to your long-term goals. Our consultants possesses a diverse skill set in software implementation, customization, configuration, data management and data integration.  Contact our professionals to learn more. We can be reached at or by phone at 855.437.7202.

By: Bob Kanzler – Philadelphia Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner

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