What is Office 365 and how does it relate to Dynamics 365 (online)?

Applies to Dynamics 365 (online), version 9.x
Applies to Dynamics 365 (online), version 8.x

Office 365 is a collection of online services designed to work together to provide enterprise-grade, anywhere access to email, file sharing, and online meetings. Office 365 includes features that allow administrators to add users, manage passwords and licenses, and much more. Dynamics 365 (online) takes advantage of the Office 365 administration features to simplify user management. Dynamics 365 (online) users are created and managed in the Office 365 admin center.

A Dynamics 365 (online) subscription doesn’t include Office 365 applications such as Exchange Online or SharePoint Online. You can significantly enhance your company’s online, collaborative experience by integrating Office 365 applications with your Dynamics 365 (online) subscription. However, that requires a separate purchase. More information: Add Office 365 Online services.


You should also take a look at the data compilation and visualization possibilities with Power BI for Office 365. In addition, see the blog post Dynamics CRM Online in Power Query for a presentation on Power BI and Dynamics 365 (online) integration.


Term Definition
Tenant For Dynamics 365 (online), a tenant is the account you create in the Microsoft Online Services environment when you sign up for a Dynamics 365 (online) subscription. A tenant contains uniquely identified domains, users, security groups, and subscriptions and can contain multiple Dynamics 365 (online) instances.

The tenant created for you has a domain name of <account>.onmicrosoft.com. For example, contoso.onmicrosoft.com.
Instance When you sign up for a trial or purchase a Dynamics 365 (online) subscription, a Dynamics 365 (online) production instance is created. Each additional production or non-production (Sandbox) Dynamics 365 (online) instance you add creates a separate and isolated Dynamics 365 organization on the same tenant.

An instance has the URL format: https://<URL name>.crm.dynamics.com. For example, https://contososales.crm.dynamics.com.
Subscription A subscription consists of the Dynamics 365 licenses and add-ons included with the trial or paid service you signed up for in your Dynamics 365 (online) account. Dynamics 365 subscriptions can vary in license type, price, and end date.

For example, a subscription might be 100 licenses of Dynamics 365 (online) Professional and 10 licenses of Dynamics 365 (online) Enterprise.
Identity The user account used to sign in to Dynamics 365 (online). You can also use this identity to access other Microsoft Online services, such as Office 365 or SharePoint Online. Administrators can decide if they want to federate user identity management between Dynamics 365 (online) and on-premises Active Directory.
User account A user account assigned by an organization (work, school, non-profit) to one of their constituents (an employee, student, customer) that provides sign-in access to one or more of the organization’s Microsoft cloud service subscriptions, such as Exchange Online or Dynamics 365 (online). Access to an online service is controlled by the license assigned to the user account.

User accounts are stored in an organization’s cloud directory within Azure Active Directory, and are typically deleted when the user leaves the organization. Organizational accounts differ from Microsoft accounts in that they are created and managed by admins in the organization, not by the user.
Security group If your company has multiple Dynamics 365 (online) instances, you can use instance security groups to control which licensed users can access a particular instance. More information: Control user access to instances: security groups and licenses

See also

Office 365 Service Descriptions
Compare all Office 365 for business plans
Add Office 365 Online services