Single sign-on for both platforms.
Microsoft has always had strong integration between its products, especially across technology platforms. That integration is not necessarily there from the initial release, it improves over time. This is partly because when Microsoft acquires software it can take some time to integrate into the Microsoft framework.
In early 2011 Microsoft released Dynamics CRM 2011 as a cloud version (aka CRM Online) before the on-premise version.
CRM Online, like its cloud-based counterpart Office 365, is based on an on-premise solution, however in the cloud it is continually being improved.
Office 365 and CRM Online have lived apart for the past year, with the only integration through the Outlook email client which connected to both programs to show a user’s “presence” or activity status. CRM Online is visible by users of Lync Online and connects to SharePoint Online document libraries.
Microsoft announced several improvements in the Q4 2011 CRM Online update to bring it closer to Office 365.
Currently subscription management for CRM Online and Office 365 is handled by each product in their own portal.
After the Q4 update Microsoft will begin transitioning CRM Online customers to the same administration, billing and provisioning platform that is currently used by Office 365 customers.
This will allow customers to manage their subscriptions and users for both systems within the one portal, making it easier to administer.
CRM Online currently uses Windows Live ID accounts for authentication which can be frustrating for organisations that already use identity management solutions such as Active Directory.
With the Q4 update organisations will be able to use the same identity from their Active Directory. This can also match up against customers Office 365 login credentials making it simpler for users.
What we’re seeing is a gradual merging of platforms in preparation of the big cloud consolidation of Office 15 and related systems which is ultimately better for the customer in terms of giving them access to more business solutions without increasing the burden of managing them.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.