US Judge orders MSFT to hand over data stored in the EU

As I have previously discussed (on Software Advice in this article) the US laws regarding the rights for the US legal authorities to order US owned companies to hand over data is very strong. Hence, if one has sensitive data that might be of interest to any government agencies in the US, one should think once or twice about storing it in a data center owned by a US company (like, Amazon, Microsoft, Google etc.).

A recent case in in New York has shown that this is not on theory but very much practice. In this case regarding an email account probably on however the difference to or CRM Online is purely academic.

On the positive side, Microsoft are fighting back trying to protect their customer, something I am very happy about. I do hope they do this for all customers.

The other direct positive side to this of course, is that Microsoft CRM can be aquired from other sources than from companies based in USA. For instance a standard CRM On-premise installation, or a partner hosted installation, which there are many service providers of, like Midpoint and our my own company CRM-Konsulterna in Sweden. on the other hand, do not have this option, so if you have sensitive data, be careful, it might be ordered into the wrong hands.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Swedish IRS hacked – shows glitch in responsibilies of online services for government agencies

There is currently rather a lot of media in Sweden about a computer system hosted by a larger Software Integrator outsourced by the Swedish IRS. This system was hacked and about 9000 client accounts were compromised. The discussion in the media is if this a government agency really can delegate this kind of responsibility to a third party or if there will always be some fundamental responsiblity for maintaining the security at the government agency? The security experts and even the Swedish Secretary of IT, Anna-Karin Hatt, indicated that this kind of responsibility could not be delegated.

This question is very relevant in the case of CRM systems in general and Microsoft Dynamics CRM in particular. It would then seem more or less impossible from an government agency CIO perspective to use any kind of cloud based service for line of business systems like CRM/xRM as this would imply that it is impossible to fully maintain the control required over the information in the system. This is no problem for us working with Dynamics CRM as it can be deployed on-premise, but bad news for anyone looking to work with or any other pure cloud based service as they cannot be used in such conditions.

Gustaf Westerlund
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB

My first apperance as guest blogger

I have been asked by the very well renowned blog at Software Advice, to write a guest post and you can now read it at their site: Software Advice. It is a post concerning the legal problems of cloud based systems and where its data is stored. It is most uncertain which laws apply to the data, and the most probable outcome is that it will be viewed as subject to the country where it is stored. Something that might not always be beneficial to companies and organizations with sensitive data.

Please read it and leave your comment on the subject, it would be very interesting to read your view on the subject. I personally think it is very interesting and that it is one of the aspects of cloud computing that I feel often is neglected by companies.

Gustaf Westerlund
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB

Interesting blog article on Microsofts Dynamics in the cloud

The Cloud is hot. Everybody seems to be talking cloud computing like it is the holy grail of computing. I try to have a bit more cold headed view of it since I am often faced with the complexities of integrating systems with each other, I often find that it can be very complex to integrate two systems residing in machines next to each other, adding a level of complexity by placing these machines on the internet does make integration more complex and costly.

The cloud does have its advantages though, for smaller companies, like my own, there is no need to own and run large servers. We, at CRM-Konsulterna, do not run any servers at all. The one server that we actually need, our lab environment, is actually hosted aswell, but on a infrastructure level.

I was tipped by Software Advice about an interesting article on Microsofts push on cloud computing for Microsoft Dynamics. You can read it here: It addresses some quite interesting points from a Dynamics perspective, not only CRM.

I think that you need to understand the background in order to understand why Microsoft are pushing this so hard. The traditional on-premise deployment type of systems has always been Microsofts strongest area and Microsoft has for several reasons, like risk reduction, scalability etc. to have a business that is partner based. It is also heavily focused on adressing the IT part of customers business, which is natural when coming from their background.

The recent years have shown that companies like Google and deliver very competent cloud based services and this seriously endagers Microsofts core business model since it shortcuts Microsoft offers by adressing the business decions makers directly and circomventing the IT-departments. This is a outspoken stragegy for companies like

So, what Microsoft tries to do is to compete on the cloud market and the on-premise market at the same time while still trying to hold on to their partner network and maintain their loyalty. This is of course quite complicated since many Microsoft partners have made a living by installing and selling Microsoft software. There are new models for cloud based service reselling but it does feel like there is going to be a bit of a downside for many partners.

From our perspective, as CRM-consultants, we are happy to offer CRM in any flavor since our main businesses is not selling the licenses but around helping our customers leverage the power of the system by adapting it to their needs. Hence it does not really matter if it on-premise or in the cloud.

However, from a technical perspective, we do recommend either partner hosted or on-premise since that substantially reduces the pains of integrations and adaptions compared to a Microsoft hosted solution. So, our recommendation to our customers is usually to choose partner hosted as that relieves  them of the burden of managing the server etc. and at the same time gives us all the advantages of adapting the system to their needs.

The fact that Hunter Richards mentions about the different architectures of the Dynamics ERP products is true but does not really affect Microsoft CRM since it has a good Cloud platform, even though there are some adaptations that only can be done on on-premise or partner hosted systems, it is a very competent and flexible Cloud system and the new version CRM 2011 is even better.

It will also be interesting to see how Microsoft will mange the partner channel in the future. It is something they, with their current business model cannot do without but at the same time something that slows them down a bit since partners naturally are slower to move than inhouse consultants.

Gustaf Westerlund
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB

Importing organizations with custom reports

The import organization tool is very useful for setting up test or development environements with full production level data. However, I ran into a problem importing today, when importing the organization, I got the following fatal error:

System.InvalidOperationException: ExecuteNonQuery requires an open and available Connection. The connection’s current state is closed.

After a bit of googling I found that this had been discussed in the CRM forums:

Since I imported the organization, mainly to work with duplicates processing, I just removed all custom reports from the CRM database manually and the import went just fine.

Gustaf Westerlund
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB