Migrate CRM on-premise to online using Dynamics Lifecycle Services

By | November 15, 2017

Migrate your on-premise CRM to online using Dynamics Lifecycle Services

Dynamics Lifecycle Services contains a private preview feature that helps facilitate the laborious process of moving an on-premise Dynamics CRM organization to a later version or to the cloud. About a year ago Aditya Varma presented a session at Microsoft Ignite about this topic.

AS-IS, Pain points and goals

Currently there is:

  • A lack of a guided process and automation tools to migrate from Dynamics CRM on-premise to Dynamics CRM Online. Companies are extremely dependent on their IT-guys or ISV’s.
  • No easy mechanism to identify the unsupported customizations which might hinder the migration process. There is the Custom Code Validation Tool, but you can’t really call that user friendly…
  • A majority of the customers whom are still using Dynamics CRM 2011. And upgrading is definitely cost-heavy.

There are several pain points to be taken into account:

  • It is hard to identify unsupported customizations.
  • Additional infrastructure is needed to migrate your organizations.
  • A migration is always high-risk task often associated with time and cost overruns and introduces adoption challenges.
  • An upgrade is technically complex and requires a full blown implementation project
  • Data migration is a time intensive process further delaying migration to CRM online because you need to use SDK and API calls to perform the data load to be supported).

Major goals based an the pain points:

  • Facilitate a guided process to move to Dynamics CRM Online
  • Easily identify unsupported customizations by usage of a rule service. All unsupported customizations will be shown in a PowerBi dashboard for your convenience. And everything will be shown in one dashboard (JavaScript, Workflows, …)
  • Automate platform level transitions

And this means?

Microsoft does the grunt work for you so you can focus on the more important tasks like fixing unsupported or deprecated customizations. Because you bring your data into your Azure subscription you always remain the owner of your data and Microsoft changes the infrastructure around it.

The process

CRM 2011 onpremise to online example

1) Gather client information

In this phase you will analyze the CRM environment and make the data available for the upgrade. Lifecycle Services will connect with the Azure subscription and upload a back-up of the CRM database to the Azure environment in an Azure BLOB. This will also include a file containing the Active Directory users to configure them in the newly created environment.

2) Validation and spin up of staging environment

This is an iterative phase and needs in general about 4 iterations to complete. This will determine if your code is ready to be converted to the new version. Tools used in this phase are:

  • Upgrade Assessment Tool
  • Code conversion tool

These tools will detect unsupported code that cannot be converted automatically. The items will be kept in an SQL Azure database and shown in a PowerBI dashboard. The errors will be changed manually and after this fix, a new iteration can begin.
After this phase the actual upgrade process can take place starting from CRM2011 and going through CRM2013 till CRM2015.


3) Dynamics 365 online migration

Once we are running on CRM2015 we can upgrade the environment to Dynamics 365 Online. The users will be created in CRM and the Data Uploader Service will insert the data and customizations in the new online environment.

Points of interest

  • This is currently only available in preview and for FastTrack customers. FastTrack will also guide this process. This ought to remain this way till spring 2018 (not confirmed).
  • Watch out for the price list while going through the steps. It should take about 2-3 hours for each environment to spin up. Besides from managed solutions, all code changes must be made on these Virtual Machines. After the process the VM’s need to be shut off.
  • You can use your own data migration tools because the database is available or you can use the flat files
  • This process can be started from Dynamics CRM 2011, any version before that is not supported.
  • You can also use LCS to upgrade your organization to CRM 2013 and stop there or anywhere else in the process.


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