Upgrade Paths to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Following up on my previous blog, which elaborated on why you must upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, let us look at different upgrade paths available. What you chose for an upgrade depends on your existing Microsoft CRM deployment and partly on the allocated budget.

Essential Software Requirements Before Upgrade:

Irrespective of the approach you take for an upgrade, you must have the CRM2011 compatible environment in place. Detailing the hardware and software specifications is out of the scope of this blog, for which you can refer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699831. Essentially, software requirements can be addressed with components listed in below table.


CRM Application Server

Database Server

Web Client

Windows Server 2008 x64

Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Standard Edition, x64 SP1

Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3

Windows 7 (Recommended)

IIS 7.0

IE 7 or later version

Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 or later version

Upgrade Paths:


In-Place Upgrade:

Simplest of all, but one that is least recommended. Simply run the CRM 2011 setup where CRM 4.0 is installed, and connect application to the existing CRM 2011 database server.




Must have CRM 2011 supported infrastructure, both hardware, and software. Please refer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699831 for hardware and software specifications.

Simple and straightforward

Not the safest approach. If something fails, then there is no rollback. You will have to manually restore backups and files.

Economical since no additional or separate hardware and software costs.

Upgrade database during install:

Ideal where database server used for CRM 4.0 has supported hardware and software components required for CRM 2011. All you need is a new application server for installing CRM 2011 and connect it to the same database that is used for CRM 4.0. During install, the database is automatically upgraded to CRM 2011.




Existing CRM 4.0 database server must meet the specifications required by CRM 2011

Leverage the existing SQL server investment

Any components in the ISV folder need to be copied across manually

The application server must meet the specifications required by CRM 2011

Relatively safer. In case of failure, all you need to do is restore back the database

Upgrade via import:

Setup separate database and application servers (64 bit) where CRM 2011 will be installed. Restore the backup of existing CRM 4 database to newly set-up SQL 2011 server and then import organization using MS CRM2011 Deployment wizard. You may do multiple iterations of testing on this new environment, even as users continue to use the CRM 4.0 installation without any disruption. After you are through with testing, take it to live to the users.




The separate environment for CRM 2011, so that existing CRM 4 is not disrupted in any way

No downtime, and safest approach as CRM 4.0 environment is not disrupted while CRM 2011 is being set-upCostly because of separate server requirement

Any components in the ISV folder need to be copied across manually

Migrating Customizations:

The upgrade process ports most of the customizations to CRM 2011 that was done in CRM 4.0. However, depending on the complexity of customizations there can still be few miscreants like:

  • Unsupported Javascript
  • Unsupported plug-ins
  • Most importantly, unexpected errors

Besides, it is important to evaluate the new capabilities introduced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. You may have made design choices because the capabilities you needed were not available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 that are now available. All these can become extremely time consuming and stressful without expertise. Take help from partners who can guide you through this and ensure a smooth transition.

CRM Dynamics is great platform to build CRM solutions for small business to enterprise organization. However to enhance the platform, add-ons from different partners provide a great way to improve the user experience and improve productivity.