Well it’s official, C5 Insight has officially migrated our data from CRM 4 On-Premise to CRM 2011 ONLINE!! I am sure a lot of you are asking well how did you do this? As you may or may not know Microsoft has not released any upgrade path for current or any new Dynamics CRM customers to move their data to cloud hosted.

When we first started thinking about doing this we wanted to be on the forefront of this new release and go “Online” as quick as possible. However we also wondered how we would get our data migrated since Microsoft did not have any published avenue for us to follow. As a Scribe MVP, Scribe Insight (www.ScribeSoft.com) was the product of choice to get this migration successfully completed. With that said we did have to overcome a few obstacles throughout the way which I will mention later on, but overall we had great success. 

Why move to Dynamics CRM 2011 now?

With Dynamics 2011 being cloud hosted this now allows for us to have the same code-base as being on-premise which is great news because with Dynamics CRM 4 this was not the case. We are very excited about this and can’t wait to get all our users live with it next week.

First Steps

The first thing we started thinking about was how to get our customizations upgraded so that we could move them to the cloud. Matt Wittemann, a colleague of mine who wrote the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Bible, took on this task. He previously wrote a blog on different Upgrade Paths for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 which you can review to determine what might be the best path for your organization. We chose to upgrade via the import process and then transfer the customizations to CRM Online using solutions.

Now that we had our customizations fully deployed to CRM 2011 Online, we then focused our efforts on the migration. The overall migration design / implementation process took about a week and half to design and test all the different components. It did take a good amount of knowledge on how the Dynamics CRM database was structured along with different gotchas that could cause a failure along the way.

Challenges

As far as challenges go, we did have a few thorny issues that we were able to overcome or work around.

  • The first challenge we ran into was around capturing the original created by user on the records. Unfortunately this was one that we couldn't overcome, however I did suggest this feature enhancement to Scribe for a future release of their adapter. For us this was not such a big issue because we were still able to maintain the record ownership and that is what we were most concerned with. If we really wanted to we could have run through the entire migration separately for each user in our organization, thus maintaining the created by user. But we decided that losing the original created by user was an acceptable exchange for the time savings for us.
  • The next hang up we ran into was with Quick Campaigns. After reviewing the API SDK, it appears that Quick Campaigns do not live in a “Quick Campaigns” entity, they live in the bulkoperations tables. It wasn't clear to me when talking with Scribe Support if it was a Dynamics CRM limitation or a Scribe limitation that was keeping us from creating Quick Campaigns. From what I could tell though it does look like Dynamics 2011 might have support for creating quick campaigns through the API, but still unknown if Scribe will expose it through there adapter.** Unfortunately, because the entity was unavailable to me, those records could not be migrated. I will say though that is not the case for regular Campaigns, those were able to be migrated.
  • Support Contracts were the next roadblock I hit. This issue was the result of a limitation of Dynamics CRM. What happened here is that contracts start and end on a specific date and once that contract is closed no additional data can be added to that contract. We developed a path to move over our history and then create new active projects for existing contracts that were still active. Yes the data was able to be migrated, but it was not 100% accurate. If you're using the contract entity in CRM, this is an area for careful evaluation before you perform your migration.
  • Finally the last issue that caused us pain was unresolved recipients in activities. As you know you could send an email to a contact that is tracked by CRM and not necessarily related to a record in CRM . This causes unresolved contacts to be displayed with the red exclamation mark next to the person's email address. Unresolved Activity Contacts - Dynamics CRM 4 - CRM 2011 We struggled with this for a while but finally figured out how to successfully convert these from our 4.0 environment to CRM 2011. HUGE SUCCESS!! This data is extremely important because you need to know every recipient on every activity.

Overall I think we had a great success with our migration and can’t wait for all our clients to move to CRM 2011. In my next blog I will talk about a new product being released from Scribe Software which is called “Scribe Online” - this is a service that allows you to replicate your Dynamics CRM 2011 database locally. Stayed tuned and I hope you enjoy CRM 2011!

**Scribe is currently developing the Dynamics CRM 2011 adapter but they have emphasized that the current CRM 4.0 adapter does successfully connect and use most of the same calls as CRM 2011.