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Dynamics CRM: an Enterprise Business Application Platform

Since the release of Dynamics CRM 4.0 last year, we are seeing/hearing very often that Dynamics CRM is more than just an Of The Shelf product focused on Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). Actually when we hear Dynamics CRM, we should think: XRM. With the X being whatever we want it to be. So that could be Employee Management, Disease Tracking, Recruitment System, Event Management and many, many more. X is the new C.

So, this means that Dynamics CRM is much more that a product about the typical CRM areas like Sales, Marketing and Servicing. Dynamics CRM is a real Enterprise Business Application Platform which we can customize and extend to our own needs. With Dynamics CRM we don't need to think about buying versus building our own solutions: it is the perfect combination.

This statement has two important parts: "Enterprise" and "Business Application Platform".

Enterprise?

The enterprise part really means that Dynamics CRM can be more than just a little product which is installed somewhere on a forgotten server and used by a few people we don't even remember working for our company. I know, I am exaggerating here, but you get the idea. Don't get me wrong either: if you want it to be that, then that is exactly what it will be. In that case you can also choose a Dynamics CRM online subscription. However, you can install it on your own servers too. Then it has the potential to scale to an enterprise wide/level application used by thousands of users and working on terabytes of data. That is partly what we refer to as the "Power of Choice"!

The nice guys over at Microsoft, together with their friends at Unisys have done some testing and the results are outstanding:

  • Scale Users: 24,000 concurrent users; 1,051,920 web requests/hr --> Sub-second response times
  • Scale Data: 173 million Contacts; 512 million Contracts; 346 million Addresses; 1.2 terabytes of data --> Sub-second response times
  • Bandwidth improvements up to 94% compared to Dynamics CRM 3.0

Check out the details in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Performance and Scalability White Papers.

Business Application Platform?

For the "Business Application Platform" part, I will limit myself to providing some useful links. Others have done a great job explaining the entire concept in detail. I will not walk that road again. Here are the links:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a Business Application Platform
    *This is my favorite.* Jason Hunt and Aaron Elder from Ascentium have done a great job writing this white paper. One thing that I will always remember and use in my Dynamics CRM presentations since then is: The key question is: "do I need to track the information and activities related to this entity?"  If the answer is "yes," Microsoft CRM deserves some serious consideration.  
    You can follow them on the Ascentium blog.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a Development Platform
    After introducing Line of Business Applications, this paper shows us how building a solution on top of the Dynamics CRM platform is better and faster then writing a custom solution. Written by Infostrat. 
  • Developing ISV Applications using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
    This is the most technical one and provides a good overview about development on Dynamics CRM. It explores how, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, an ISV can quickly build, deploy, and manage line-of-business applications.

Summary

Dynamics CRM is:

  • about XRM
  • a platform
  • enterprise ready

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