Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs CRM Online Decision Matrix: Updated for CRM 2016

About a year ago I wrote a CRM Online vs. CRM On Premise Decision Matrix. The past year has seen many changes in the product, so I have updated that post for the fall release:

Many companies considering Microsoft Dynamics CRM are weighing the options of installing Dynamics CRM On Premises or going with CRM Online. In this post I compare the two platforms, look at what is similar, and compare the differences.

Core Application Functionality

The core application functionality is very similar, with the same core application entities and extensibility features. New features are introduced to Online first with the annual spring update, then added to On Premises with the fall release.


Customizations developed in a supported way for CRM on premise can be moved to CRM Online, and plugins, workflows and any custom extension can be used in either online or on premises deployments. Any supported code will work in both CRM online and On Premises.


CRM clients for phone and tablet work with both Online and On Premises; however, CRM Online enabled offline functionality for mobile (with CRM 2016).

Integrations with other Microsoft platforms

Integration with other Microsoft platforms such as Sharepoint, Exchange, Skype for Business, and Yammer work with both CRM On Premises and CRM Online

Given that CRM Online is part of Office 365, CRM Online enables additional integrations with other Office 365 services, such as Office 365 Groups, Excel Online, Power BI, and OneNote.

Data Integration Options

Integration options are similar between CRM online and On Premises. Third party integration tools like Scribe Insight and SSIS with Kingswaysoft work with both CRM On Premises and CRM Online. Integration performance will vary based on the data loaded. Very large data integrations can sometimes be faster with CRM On Premises if the integration server is close to the CRM server as latency is very low. CRM Online integration performance can be improved by optimizing the integration, using the bulk load API, or by reducing latency to the cloud by running the integration from a Microsoft Azure server.

CRM Online now supports ExpressRoute, which gives CRM Online customers the option to add a direct network connection to the CRM Online data center, rather than going over the public internet. This results in faster integration speed and greater data security.


Capability CRM Online CRM On Premises
Exchange Synchronization CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronization (if using Exchange Online/O365) CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronization (both Online and on premise)
SharePoint Integration Server Side Server Side
Inside View (Insights) Included Additional cost
Social Listening Included Additional cost
Workflows/dialogs 200 Unlimited
Custom Entities 300 Unlimited
SSRS Reporting FetchXML, or T-SQL from a locally replicated reporting server FetchXML or T-SQL
Power BI Reporting Yes No
Office 365 Groups Yes No
Immersive Excel Online Yes No
Mobile Apps Yes Yes with IFD and Office 365
Offline Mobile Yes No
CRM for Outlook Yes Yes
CRM Outlook App[1] Yes No
OneNote Integration Yes No
Upgrade/Update process Office 365 admin approves the upgrade before it is installed, update rollups applied automatically Upgrades and update rollups installed my your administrator
Direct server access No Yes
Phone App Yes Yes if environment externally facing via ADFS
Tablet App Yes Yes if environment externally facing via ADFS
Storage Limited to the amount of CRM Online storage purchased Limited to the amount of storage available on your server
Release cycle Two releases per year. Spring release functionality exclusive to CRM Online, so new functionality available online first. Fall release released to both CRM Online and On Premises, includes the functionality released in the Spring release.
Migrating CRM Online customers can migrate On Premises at any time. SQL database provided to client at scheduled time that can be imported to an On Premises deployment. CRM On Premises customers can migrate to CRM Online and customization for entities can be imported; however, on premises database cannot be moved to Online data center, so a data migration is required.
Sandbox environments CRM Online provides non production environments as part of your subscription that can be used for dev/test/UAT. The number of organizations received depends on the number of users. Non production environments can be installed, depending on local server availability.


[1] Outlook App is an Office 365 store app that allows emails to be tracked from Outlook on PC, Mac, or Outlook Web Access (OWA). With CRM 2016, the Outlook app also works via Outlook on smartphones. This should not be confused with the CRM for Outlook application.

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