Since the release of Microsoft CRM 2011 and the related update to the 2011 codebase for CRM Online, there has been much written about the feature parity between the Online and On-Premise products. While there have been some technical differences, from an end-user perspective, the functionality has been quite similar. This is about to change with the 2012 Q4/Polaris update due in the next two months.
In the dark and distant past of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (aka CRM 4.0), the tables were tilted toward the On-Premise codebase. While some of the gaps were occasionally downplayed, there were differences between the two deployment options. More functionality and extensibility was available to on-premise customers.
Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 was released, Update Rollups have been released roughly every 8 weeks. While some have contained feature updates, most have focused on resolving technical issues. At this point, update rollups are expected to continue at the current pace.
In the May 2011 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Statement of Direction, Microsoft indicated they were moving from 2-3 year version upgrade cycles to semi-annual releases (See: Improved Agility section). This would allow the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform to keep pace with competitors and respond to evolving customer demands. At the time, online and on-premise code-bases (See Release Model Alignment section) were to remain consistent.
Some hints from the Dynamics CRM Roadmap Update at eXtreme CRM 2012 point to this changing slightly. The release of Polaris (2012 Q4 Update) will see the functionality of Dynamics CRM Online jump ahead of On-Premise until Orion is released in Q2 2013. It is expected that Q4 releases will target only CRM Online, while Q2 releases will update and true-up both platforms.
At this point, the only exception to this update frequency is that Update Rollup 12 (released in the Polaris timeframe) will contain an update for Dynamics CRM On-Premise to provide the much awaited cross-browser support. This will provide support for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari!
What does this mean for customers? CRM On-premise will lag behind CRM Online 6-7 month after every Q4 release. For most customers, this is not a major issue. Internal infrastructure and IT staff constraints may lead to similar delays. For those companies who look at technology as a competitive advantage, CRM Online may be a great option.
A revised Statement of Direction is scheduled to be released shortly, and we hope to provide more insight into what these future releases will bring, and what benefits this functionality will provide.