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Monday, March 30, 2009

What is xRM?

This part Friday I got some really great information, from the xRM user group. (www.xrmvirtual.com). They had a great live meeting session with Bryan Nielson from Microsoft.

This call really helped shape for me, what xRM really is, what it should be used for, and what it's not.

That's a very good thing, because my focus is Dynamics AX. For the forseeable future, my focus will continue to be on Dynamics AX. That also means, that as the future becomes the present, the need to understand the vertical and horizontal stacks that Dynamics AX is built with, around and connects to is being more and more a higher priority.

This is why understanding xRM, and Microsoft's stance on xRM and it's position on it, matters to Dynamics AX partners, customers and future customers.

So, what is xRM anyway? Well xRM, according to Microsoft, is actually positioning. It’s the new way the Dynamics CRM is being positioned as a platform for rapid development of x or any, Relational Management application.

This means, that xRM is ready for use today. By buying the correct rights and modules of Dynamics CRM, you can then have xRM to use as a development platform.

xRM appliations are very targeted, LOB or Line Of Business Applications. It’s not designed for website development, e-Commerce, etc. The goal is not to address every kind of possible application. That is what the Microsoft Application Platform is designed for. .Net, SQL Server, BizTalk, SharePoint, Office, etc.

These technologies can connect, are used and can be used with and in solutions that are developed with xRM. And that is a strong point of using xRM as a platform.

So if your looking to develop that fully custom e-Commerce site for your company, you would not consider xRM. However, if your looking to develop an intense government grant management LOB application, and do it quickly, then you could consider xRM.

Let’s make this even more clear, in that xRM is meant to be a ‘noun’ relational management platform, to develop LOB applications around. Noun, meaning: person’s, places or things. Assets, Business Relationship’s, warrenties, students, teaching programs, government contracts, etc. etc.

So now that we know what xRM is, and what it’s basic target is, the next questions for me is how and when this should be used in regard to a Dynamics AX implementation / instance.

Dynamics AX itself can be used as a platform, and is best suited for your ERP and Supply Chain Management. If xRM can offer you a platform for custom LOB applications, for anything Relational Management, then when does it best make sense to bring in xRM, vs. doing a custom module inside Dynamics AX to handle what your looking for?

There are a few ways to answer this. One, a decision to bring in xRM could be because your already going to be using the combo of Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM. Then you might take a move to develop your custom warranty management program via xRM. The benefits of doing such a thing, would be that your using a Microsoft platform, and technologies. Also if you bought 50 seats for the CRM package, and only 5 users will use your custom warranty xRM LOB application, then those 5 users are covered in the 50 seats, if you so choose to allow them.

That’s right, now extra license would have to be bought. They would have to be bought if you needed a lot more concurrent users.

Lets say though that out of the 50, the 5 warranty managers are part of the 50 users that make use of the CRM piece as well. Then they are covered and switch back and forth between CRM and Warranty Management, only taken up one seat license.

There are a hundred different ways of looking at this, functional, technical, all can be different reason’s for when and why xRM applications should and can be used with a Dynamics AX implementation.

Just keep in mind the intended use of the xRM platform. X or anything Relational Management platform for rapid development of custom Line of Business Applications.

Well that’s it for now, check back soon as I have more great post coming out! See you then!

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