Microsoft Doles Out Dynamics CRM Online 2013 Freebies

Customers of the software giant's cloud-based CRM suite are entitled to free non-production instances and storage.

Cloud CRM

Microsoft has sweetened the deal for subscribers of its cloud-based customer relationship management platform, Dynamics CRM Online 2013 (Fall '13 release). Uma Maheswari Anbazhagan of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team announced in a blog post that customers of the company's cloud CRM product can now take advantage of a couple of new perks, namely "a free non-production instance and free storage," which were first announced at Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference 2013.

Non-production instances, explained the Microsoft staffer, "are add-on instances that are separate from your production instance. They are not the trial instances, so they do not expire." Further, all users in production instances are also users in non-production instances, barring any security group restrictions.

Non-production Dynamics CRM Online 2013 instances typically cost $150 per month. The free offering adds up to substantial savings for some organizations. (Customers can buy additional instances at full cost.) In contrast, each production instance costs $549 per month.

Eligibility hinges on a couple of factors, according to Anbazhagan. "If your CRM subscription includes 25 or more professional USLs (User Subscription Licenses), you will be granted a free non-production instance." Plus, it will take a bite out each subscriber's available cloud storage. Anbazhagan clarified that "all instances under your subscription, including the free test instance will consume the existing storage that is available to the account."

A message appearing just below the Dynamics CRM top menu will alert administrators to their free non-production instance. A similar message will appear if customers have been granted additional free storage.

"For every increment of 20 professional USLs (User Subscription Licenses), you will be granted 2.5GB of free storage until your storage capacity reaches 50GB," wrote Anbazhagan. Dynamics CRM Online storage typically costs $9.99 per GB per month.

Microsoft began the Dynamics CRM Online 2013 rollout Oct. 7. The software features updated tools that are designed to help sales and customer service organizations better navigate a marketplace driven by informed, social-media-aware customers, in both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) realms.

In a statement, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Vice President Bob Stutz explained that "customers are almost 60 percent through the sales cycle before they actually make contact with the company that they are researching." To foster more engaging experiences, the company reworked its "CRM solution to address these shifting fundamentals, giving your people the tools they need to be successful. To us, this means making business personal," he added. Enhancements include a "completely reimagined" interface and streamlined workflows.

Microsoft announced that it had completed the global rollout on Oct. 21. Stutz took the opportunity to announce a strategic alliance with social intelligence provider InsideView.

The company's Social Insights product, free for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional customers, "puts real-time company and contact information from 30,000 sources into Microsoft Dynamics CRM," he said in a blog post. "It populates CRM lead, contact, opportunity and account records with real-time company and contact data, insights and connections—exactly the kind of information people need to be able to meaningfully interact with their customers and prospects," added Stutz.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...