Here are some introductory answers to frequently asked questions we receive on the topic of CRM:
What kind of experience does xRM have in the Microsoft CRM field?
xRM is a Microsoft Partner and has been working with Microsoft CRM since version 1.0. We were selected by Microsoft as the exclusive Technology Adoption Program partner for the hosted Microsoft CRM offering. xRM was the first CRM provider in the USA to go live with the solution. Our engineers worked closely with Microsoft to build the hosted CRM model.
Is xRM authorized to provide Microsoft CRM?
Yes. xRM has a Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) with Microsoft. The SPLA enables service providers to license Microsoft products on a monthly basis to provide services and hosted applications to their end customers. Only recently was Microsoft CRM Professional made available via the SPLA model. The official name is "Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional for Service Providers".
What is the difference between the Services Provider License Program and Microsoft's existing volume licensing programs?
Microsoft's Volume Licensing Programs offers several different licensing options to customers and their affiliates to purchase and acquire Microsoft software licenses for internal use. Volume licensing requires the end user to pay for the entire cost of software upfront: SPLA licenses are paid on a subscription basis. Service providers who want to offer one-stop, full-service solutions that include software licenses should use the SPLA. SPLA is the only Microsoft volume licensing program that provides for 3rd party license use rights.
What benefits can I derive from signing up as a SPLA partner?
Cash Flow Management: With SPLA, service providers have near zero start-up costs, since they only pay for licenses based on usage. Instead of paying the full price of a CAL (Client Access License) up front, you can pay a much smaller monthly fee for a SPLA SAL (Subscriber Access License). Simply pay for the licenses you use: you add or subtract users on a monthly basis.
Added Value: SPLA pricing incorporates Software Assurance (Microsoft's maintenance program enabling software upgrades) in providing service providers with the most current versions of the products available in the program for one simple price.
Competitive Pricing: We can offer Microsoft Hosted CRM at a lower cost than rival CRM offerings.
Call us to find out how much you save.
Outlook Integration: The Hosted Microsoft CRM client is capable of full integration with Microsoft Outlook. Your users will may not even realize they are using CRM: it simply shows up as another folder in Outlook.
Pricing Stability: SPLA price changes (if any) will only occur on an annual basis in January and will be proportional to price changes in the Microsoft Open Licensing Program during the preceding year.
Use Rights Protection: The Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR) document details all product use rights for this program. Product use rights are specific to each version and will not change for the duration of the program.
Academic SKUs: Academic pricing on selected server products is available when service providers deploy services to Qualified Education Customers.
How does the service provider model differ from the ASP model?
Both models allow the customer to leverage the provider's hosted infrastructure. The primary difference is in the version of software that is being leveraged. The service provider uses the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional for Service Providers. The ASP model uses the standard Microsoft Dynamics CRM. While both models allow the customer to leverage the provider's hosted infrastructure and share many of the same benefits, the service provider version is the only build that was designed from the ground up specifically for a hosted environment.
Here are some other key differences between the two:
- With the ASP model, you will most likely be running a Citrix client. The SPLA model is cleaner and there is no need for additional applications.
- With the SPLA model, you achieve integration with your core
Microsoft back office stack: Active Directory,
- Unlike the ASP model, the SPLA model allows the customer to have a local Active Directory and Exchange environment, yet still integrate with a SPLA Hosted CRM model. This means that you can use the CRM client in Outlook as well as run reports on CRM natively on software installed on
your computer. This cannot be achieved with the ASP model.
I read an article on the internet that said the cost for Hosted Microsoft CRM would be $24.95. Why is your price different?
The $24.95 price that was released by Microsoft was the cost of one Microsoft CRM SAL to the services provider. There are many ancillary costs associated with hosting CRM via the SPLA license.
Also, a services provider must make large investments in hardware and software in order to be able to provide you with clustering/redundancy, hardened security, disaster recovery, services availability, and uptime reliability.
Furthermore, the $24.95 cost leaves out the fact that you need more than the single CRM license to run CRM.
In addition to the Microsoft CRM SAL, you are also required to subscribe to a Windows SAL and a SQL SAL per user.
Likewise, if you are interested in hosted Microsoft Exchange, we can offer you a low cost Exchange SAL as well.
Without having a thorough understanding of the value proposition you are getting from the SPLA model the cost may seem high at first, but after you have gained an understanding of the benefits and licenses you are getting via the SPLA model of hosted Microsoft CRM you will appreciate the value offering.
Do you have a services uptime guarantee?
Yes, we guarantee a services availability uptime of 99%.
What are the benefits of a hosted environment and/or your SPLA model of licensing?
There are many benefits of going with a hosted environment or SPLA licensing model.
Fast Implementation - With Hosted Microsoft CRM, you gain the ability to quickly implement a CRM solution for your company without the messy startup costs and effort normally associated with a CRM implementation. We are able to simply turn it on for your selected users and they can begin using it immediately.
Predictable Costs - With Hosted Microsoft CRM, you can accurately predict how much money an implementation will cost you upfront, aw well as how much it will cost on an ongoing basis. You do not have to fear that costs will spiral out of control, as is the case with traditional CRM implementations.
Less IT Costs - Let us manage your CRM solution for you. You do not need to have a dedicated staff on hand to maintain and troubleshoot your CRM solution. Let your people focus on core IT issues and enterprise strategy. Leave CRM to us.
Stay Current with Technology - Never fear that your software will become obsolete and require another round of implementations and their associated costs. With the Hosted Microsoft CRM model, you are able to leverage the SALs that you pay for on a monthly basis to keep current on the latest version of software without substantial capital outlays.
- With any hosted service, you are able to maintain access to all of your applications whether or not you are in your primary office. Work from the comfort of your own home, or while you're on vacation in Bermuda. The choice is yours.
Month to Month Licensing - As you grow or scale back employees you only pay for the licenses that you use. You are never wasting money on licenses that you don't need. Likewise, it is simple for you to append licenses to your existing agreement.
Enterprise-level Infrastructure - All services provided are protected with multiple levels of redundancy. Everything from the individual hard drives that your data resides on to the data centers where services are hosted from are either clustered or otherwise redundant. The result of the redundancy is that if any one component fails (be it a single hard drive or the entire data center), the cluster will fail-over to an unaffected secondary component.
How does the hosted model work?
In a hosted environment, all of the core infrastructure hardware is owned and maintained by the service provider. Customers access the hosted applications through the Internet. Instead of upfront costs in traditional software licensing, we charge based on usage in a subscriber model where the costs are calculated per user per month. Since the applications are hosted, your internal IT departments do not have to worry about maintaining or configuring the outsourced applications. The data hosted on our servers always belong to you; should you ever decide to terminate our agreement we will give the data back to you. As a customer of the hosted environment, you have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees and ensures performance by the service provider.
What is involved in the sign up process?
Please complete the following form so that an account executive can follow up with you. An account executive will work with you to answer questions as well as ask questions. We will go over pricing and find the best model for you. Finally, we will review and sign agreements.
What is xRM infrasctructure and why won't it fail?
Here are three reasons why we are very dependable.
System Infrustructure and Uptime
- Co-located at a Tier 1 data center.
- Maintain 99.99% uptime for core infrastructure (Firewall, Network, Active Directory, DNS).
- Maintain 99% uptime for CRM infrastructure.
- Customer not required to pay for services for the month if there is a failure to maintain an uptime of 95%.
- Penalty to be imposed by Microsoft if Service Provider unable to maintain uptime of 95% for more than 1 month out of the year.
Data Privacy and Protection
- Strict access rules must be applied to ensure customer data is not compromised (e.g. Customer A viewing Customer B data).
- All communication must occur over an encrypted channel.
- Provider must be able to supply customer with a copy of their data upon request or termination of services.
- All customer data to be stored using RAID technology (level 1 or higher).
- All customer data to be backed up at least once a day with offsite storage.
Support and Service Levels
- Service Provider to provide 24x7x365 support for hosted infrastructure.
- Ability to provide end user support either directly or via reseller channel.
- Two hour response time for support incidents.
- Provide monthly reporting to customer for all measurable SLA's (e.g. uptime, support response time, etc.).
Do you have an SLA?
click here for a copy.
What is your support policy?
We offer 24 x 7 support. Our partners/resellers are responsible for providing tier 1 and tier 2 support to their customers.
Data belongs to the customer and will be given to the customer at anytime, providing their account is up to date. Can be implemented with a backup service that backups the database and uploads to an ftp site for an extra fee.
What is single tenancy and why is it important?
Hosted Microsoft CRM is a single tenant environment. This simply means that there can only be one customer database on any given server.
Can I sign up for your services on a month-to-month basis?
Yes, customers can sign up on a month to month basis or they can select a longer term commitment that will provide for discount pricing.
Is there a partner or reseller program?
click here to find out more.
What is your experience in hosting Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
xRM is a Microsoft Partner and was the first company to offer the hosted Microsoft CRM solution. Our hosted Microsoft CRM solution works better than out of the box Microsoft CRM. Our unique and value added approach comes by way of our free add-on tools that make Microsoft CRM work better. CRM solutions should work out of the box - usually they don't. Our hosted Microsoft CRM solution does. You can
try it out before you sign up. No commitment is required. Understand how to leverage our hosted offering and Microsoft's "choice" model to mitigate your CRM risk and pain. Our model is great for development and proof of concept environments as well. It will also speed up initial customizations and deployment cycles. We can have your solution up and running in less than 24 hours. Our skilled and agile team is ready to assist you to customize, develop, train and most importantly, succeed with Microsoft CRM.
Is your solution backed by Microsoft?
Yes, Microsoft has approved and fully stands behind our solution. So much so that if our SLA drops below 95%, our services will be free to you for that period.
What additional services/products does xRM offer in the hosted model?
The most common SALs are: Windows,
Do you provide implementation and consulting services?
Yes we do. However, our main focus is our reseller channel. Customers with less than 50 seats will always be referred to our reseller channel as they are more able to provide you with the level of personal service that we mandate.
Can I migrate my existing data into CRM so that I don't have to start from scratch? Can you help us with our data conversion so that we can migrate all of our current/existing data into Microsoft CRM?
Yes. All migration work is performed under a Statement of Work (SOW) or xRM Prepaid Consulting Time
Is there any way for me to see the product without actually committing to a purchase?
Yes. Please click on the following link to
Try It Now.
Will xRM provide me with a copy of my CRM database?
Yes. xRM will upload a copy of your database to a secure FTP site which our customers provide us with. We can do this daily, weekly, or monthly. There is no additional cost for this service. We would be sending you a backup of the SQL database that not only contains your data, but would also contain all the customizations you have made to the application. Last but not least, we also would provide you with documentation on how to restore the database.
What type of CRM support is included in the hosting prices?
We offer 24x7x356 infrastructure support on our CRM solution.
What is the xRM backup policy?
We take incremental backups every two hours and full backups every night. The tapes are removed from the data center each night. We guarantee retention of up to 4 weeks of data.
What security measures does xRM employ in its hosted model?
xRM employs the latest in security technologies to ensure that the highest security standards are maintained. Intrusion detection devices are deployed at the edge of the network that scan all traffic before entering the network for malicious code (e.g. buffer overflows, denial of service, etc.) that is intended to compromise the targeted system. Only screened traffic is allowed to pass through to the next security layer. The second set of devices, again, scan traffic for malicious code (e.g. viruses, trojans, etc.) based on definitions updated hourly. If this test passes, traffic is then passed on to redundant firewalls where strict access rules will allow traffic to pass on to the host system. All of this happens at the nano-second level to ensure that even though the strictest of security policies are enforced, performance is never compromised.
What options do you have to achieve authentication with customers running their own Active Directory and, possibly, Exchange Online?
We have multiple options for achieving the authentication.
Option 1: Site to Site VPN —
With this option we establish a site to site VPN connection to the customer site and install a dedicated CRM environment attached to the customer Active Directory. In some instances we also host an Active Directory Domain Controller as well and replicate over the connection – customers like the additional Disaster Recovery option this gives them for Active Directory. In essence we become an additional site for the customer.
Option 2: Site to Site VPN with Domain Trusts —
With this option we establish a site to site VPN connection to the customer site and install a dedicated Active Directory and CRM environment. We then establish a trust between the customer AD and the dedicated AD to allow for the creation of the necessary CRM accounts.
Option 3: Active Directory Federated Services —
ADFS is a standards-based service that allows the secure sharing of identity information between trusted business partners (known as a federation) across an extranet. When a user needs to access a Web application from one of its federation partners, the user's own organization is responsible for authenticating the user and providing identity information in the form of "claims" to the partner that hosts the Web application. The hosting partner uses its trust policy to map the incoming claims to claims that are understood by its Web application, which uses the claims to make authorization decisions.
This solution is much more involved and will take 2 to 3 months to deploy.