Microsoft WPC13: CRM in the Cloud

For the second day of the Microsoft World Partner conference I snuck off into a break out session that was all about Microsoft CRM in the Cloud.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has become absolutely business critical now – the customer is king and every contact we have with them influences whether or not they’ll come back.

So when a customer phones into your office for example, you need to have an instant, totally updated picture of their relationship with you whilst you’re talking to them.

And because so many people now work ‘on the go’, they need access to reliable information on the fly, via mobile devices.

During the session it was clear to see that mobility, and instant access to information is a major priority for Microsoft – people keeping paper records when they’re out and about and trying to sync the data when they’re back in the office just won’t cut it anymore for today’s mobile workforce.

Here’s the highlights of  the session on the latest for Microsoft CRM in the Cloud:

  • Because CRM is so business critical, the last thing you would want to happen is for your data to be lost or get trapped somewhere when you need it most.

The uptime for CRM online is now at 99.99% per month (meaning chances you’ll see a message popping up saying ‘Sorry, the  server is updating, please try again later’ are pretty slim)

  • Data integrity and availability are key – because you need access to data anywhere, at any time, a ‘redundancy plan’ for disaster recovery is crucial.

Microsoft’s plan is to allow its customers to ‘double up’ – so having something which has the capacity to hold all of your data, serve it out to anyone who might need it, and if something happens to the first data center, a second is in place to kick in immediately…preventing any data loss and ensuring you continue to access all of your data, all of the time.

  • Data centers have evolved massively. Generation 3 data center pods were containers of data that were then dropped into a building with its own cooling system (one of the biggest problems with servers is overheating so these buildings were purpose built).

Generation 4 data center pods are now modular and much more efficient – they are self contained and can be placed absolutely anywhere.  It’s basically a case of ‘plug and play’ data centers, but on a massive scale.

Take a look at this video to get a better understanding – ostensibly all you need is a concrete base in a box, pop it on a truck, add a fuel cell and off you go.  Microsoft are building thousands upon thousands of these:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is built on this platform which means you can get to it from anywhere, and doubled memory on all SQL servers (the database CRM runs on which stores your data) means that the stuff you are trying to access can be processed a lot quicker.

You are feeding in queries all the time to CRM, searching potentially thousands of records.  That all takes up processing speed.  So with cloud computing, you have access to processor speeds you could only dream of on a hosted server.

I think the things for people to consider when hosting their CRM in the Cloud is to make sure that you can trust that your data won’t be corrupted, it’s secure, it will be available all the time, it’s financially stable and it will do what you want it to do.