Move over CRM and AX! Dynamics 365 is here!


Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been rebranded as Dynamics 365 as of November 1.

We have been battling for years the Microsoft CRM and ERP products did not talk to each other out of the box, requiring integrations like Scribe, EOne or KingswaySoft. Other competitors provided seamless tools that often noted this as a weakness.

Microsoft has responded with Dynamics 365 or a 360 degree of customer across CRM and ERP. And they didn’t stop with that. Now, the Common Data Model will be integrated across all products and be exposed to PowerApps, PowerBI and other products. An Appstore, along with the ability to provide Micro Apps will be a great way for developers to extend Dynamics 365 and get direct audience with the users needing these apps.

Why is this important to me as a developer? Lot’s of opportunity to not only extend Dynamics 365, but also to use XRM as your development platform and get access to all these great feature sets.

 


CRM Organization Import Issue and SSRS MaxRequestLength


When importing an organization to CRM 2011 we came across an error during the import wizard process which was causing the import to fail:

14:54:33| Info| PublishReportsFromDatabase: Creating report in Reporting Services. ReportId: 9f973403-bc84-e111-88bc-0050569e0001, Name: INVOICE PAYMENTS
14:54:34| Error| Error while updating organization information: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
at Microsoft.Crm.Reporting.RuntimeReportServer.UploadReport(String path, Byte[] reportDefinition, String name, String description, Boolean overwriteExistingReport)
at Microsoft.Crm.Reporting.RuntimeReportServer.UploadReport(SRSReport report, String reportNameOnSrs, String name, String description, Boolean isSharedReport, Boolean overwriteExistingReport)
at Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Server.Utility.ReportsUtility.OrganizationPublishReportsScaleGroup(IDbCommand command, Uri reportingUrl, String orgUniqueName, Boolean ignoreCustomReportsFailure, Boolean publishOnlyCustomReports)
at Microsoft.Crm.Tools.Admin.DBImportHelper.RePublishReports(IDbCommand command, Guid organizationId, String organizationUniqueName, Uri reportUrl)
at Microsoft.Crm.Tools.Admin.ImportOrganizationInstaller.UpdateOrganizationInfo(Guid organizationId, OrganizationGroupsInfo organizationInfo, String organizationFriendlyName, String organizationUniqueName, Uri reportServerUrl, Int32 PercentUpdateOrganization, ICollection`1 users)

This was not an upgrade of any sort – just simply a CRM migration to a new environment so there were no versioning differences from a CRM perspective. While the error above is lacking much detail, it did give us enough to begin troubleshooting. We could clearly see that this issue was occurring with a report titled “Invoice Payments” but knew nothing else. After obtaining a copy of the report’s RDL file, we didn’t notice anything wrong in particular with the way the report was written but did think it was rather large for an RDL file – nearly 5MB – there were quite a few embedded images.

We decided to attempt uploading the report directly into SSRS and were met with a much more helpful error message – “Maximum request length exceeded”. What this was telling us rang a bell with what we noticed earlier regarding the RDL file size. By default, SSRS has a limit on the report file size that it will allow to be imported. This limit is 4MB but can be increased by doing the following:

Open the web.config of the Report Manager (%\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.X\Reporting Services\ReportManager) and find the “executionTimeout” setting. It should look something like this:

On this line, add the maxRequestLength attribute with the value (in KB) needed to upload the report. This value is not in here by default. It should now look like this (this shows a 10MB limit):

Save the file and then repeat these steps in the web.config of the Report Server (%\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.X\Reporting Services\ReportServer). Once both files have been modified and saved, restart the SSRS service.

Following this change, we were able to upload the RDL to SSRS directly to verify that the change worked and then subsequently were able to complete the organization import for CRM without issue.


CRM 2016 available, but not ready for your Production Server just yet!


Over the last few weeks my colleagues and fellow MVP’s have been working on a few CRM 2016 systems. Our general thought is that a lot of this code is from the CRM Online 2015 code base, and should really be production ready. However, the Microsoft CRM team has been hard at work delivering new features, so looks like we introduced a few bugs.

I’m going to recommend that you wait for update rollup 1 before deploying to your production system. There’s still plenty of time to test and install in your dev and test systems as you wait for these fixes. Here’s the main areas:

  1. Overall Outlook 2016 Client Configuration and Usage Issues – Support Recommended to stay with 2015 client
  2. New Form Rending Engine slowing overall form performance – fix in the works for update roll up 1
  3. Tweaks to the 2016 Solution Engine, breaking some backwards capability while importing solutions – fix in the works for update roll up 1
  4. Mobile Client performance issues

So we will re-test about the update roll-up 1 and provide future recommendations when we feel this is ready for production. Remember that there are some best practices and one is two wait until the first update roll-up is available. Stay tuned.


CRM 2016: New Form Rending Engine


With the release of CRM 2016 (2015 Update 1 for CRM Online), comes a new form rendering engine (referred to as Turbo Forms in some circles) was built to provide better performance of form loads. The two main changes are focused around loading process of the form and the handling of the cache.

However, while the new rendering engine was built to help with performance you may actually notice the opposite taking place. In heavily customized environment, you might experience long stalls during form loads with messages reading “requesting data from CRM” and/or “loading business logic”.

render1 Render2

 

 

 

 

If you are currently being plagued by these messages, it may be a good idea to turn the new rendering engine off. To do this, simply go to: Administration -> System Setting, scroll all the way down and you will see the “Use legacy form rendering” option. Turning it to “yes” will disable the new engine.

legacy

 

 

While this will help in the short term, it is advised to figure out what on your form is causing conflict with the new engine so that it can be fixed and the new engine can be turned back on for even better performance. Microsoft is also aware of the issue and is looking at it within the Update Roll-up 1 Time frame.


CRM, Azure and Me… A new journey has begun.


As I look forward into the future and beyond 2016, I have taken notice of what Microsoft is doing with Azure, and how they are positioning their products CRM, AX and others to leverage Azure services. Many people think Azure is nothing more than a private cloud or Rackspace and Amazon competitor. They couldn’t be more wrong.

A few weeks ago we hosted a AzureCon.com web event at our Tribridge Office’s in Tampa. In little over 1 hour, many people, included myself were blown away. Of course, at first thinking, this is not real, or how can I build a data warehousing infrastructure, setup azure machine language and get English like responses in less than 15 minutes. This had to be vapor ware right? WRONG.

After the video, which can be found here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/azurecon/, I immediately spun up an Azure free trial. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/ I proceeded to walk thru the steps I had recalled and replayed the video. In approx. 25 minutes I had exactly the same setup configured and running. Amazing.

This is truly the next generation of not only cloud, but a complete cloud application development platform, that simply cannot be competed against or ignored. Another example in the video above is Azure Auto scaling capabilities. We have all had that performance challenge at the end of the month processing, needing more bandwidth, or end of the quarter, or even holiday sales event, where the hardware solution purchased couldn’t keep up with the demand.

This is now no longer an issue. With Azure Auto scaling, Azure systems can scale to meet these demands and give you the extra horsepower needed. Pay for only what you need, when you need, not all year long. Truly this is very innovative. We are not talking about adding extra VM’s, web servers etc, this is actually scaling the size of the physical machine, for memory, bus, data, a complete virtual computer. Very neat indeed.

Over the next coming year, I will be working across both CRM and Azure Product Lines, and hope to provide the same level of experience on both platforms with posts that can help everyone. Time to study….

 

 

 


Join me at CRMUG Summit 2014!


summit

 

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again, when all the CRM User base gets together for the biggest CRM user group event of the year. CRMUG Summit is a great place to learn, network and do all things CRM! Some details to the event can be found here.

If you’re attending, see my schedule below. Stop by to ask a question or just say hello!

Dynamics Partner Conference Oct 13-14

DynamicsPartnerConfernence

CRMUG Summit 2014 October 15-17
cmrug

Please note the 2:15 session has been moved to 8am that morning, giving you plenty of time to catch your flights.

I will be at both the MVP sessions.
mvp

mvp1


CRM 2015 has been announced. Fall Release 2014.


Before you say not again!, CRM 2015 has been announced and should be available by years end. From my initial testing, I can tell you we have reached a very stable, almost turning point with our common CRM platform. Now, like the ERP systems, we are going to see functionality enhancements not system re-designs, while keeping the same interface with some small enhancements around performance and usability. Multi-entity search now available out of the box! 🙂

The CRM team has really delivered, and is keeping the momentum by delivering today. A great way to sum up this new releases to others, its like CRM 2013 R2, but since we had the time, we changed the name too! 🙂

Press Release:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2014/sep14/09-16crmpr.aspx
Bob Stutz’s Blog:
https://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/crmconnection/archive/2014/09/16/marketing-sales-service-one-cloud-for-all.aspx
Customer Center Get Ready Page:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-customer-center/get-ready-for-the-next-release.aspx


CRM 2013 Upgrade Flurry has Started! Upgrade Checklist


Microsoft has begun switching over many of our Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers to CRM 2013.

Here’s some things you should know about the overall process:

1. Ensure you have another environment (test/dev) that matches your CRM production setup.
This is a best practice by far. Not having a test environment, makes troubleshooting and changes in your production environment almost impossible to manage. This is no different for which deployment model you have choose: Online, On-Premise or Partner Hosted.

Ensure this environment has a copy of the latest customizations, solutions, ISV’s etc. Data can also be replicated from production, using tools like the CRM 2011 Instance Adapter or tool like Scribe.

If you do not have a CRM 2011 instance for test/dev. already, its now too late to create a new one as only CRM 2013 instances are available as of Nov 4th. You will have no choice but to create a test CRM 2013 trial and import your 2011 solution which if fully supported. This will provide you with what your system will look like after the upgrade.

You should also push out your production CRM Online date as far as possible. Today, the last date available to upgrade is 2/14/2014. For other implementations, you still have some time :).

2. Understanding your Environment
Ensuring that your understand all the components that have been deployed with your CRM system is critical to the success of your upgrade. You will need to review all your Solutions, Web Resources and Custom Code to ensure that your and your ISV’s are prepared for the upgrade.

Microsoft has provided a tool to help pin point this issues.
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30151

The information provided by the tool will be a roadmap for your upgrade. Check with ISV’s website’s for their plans in regards to CRM 2013.

3. Fixes Issues
It’s very important to record and fix your issues and test them fully before User Acceptance Training (UAT). Errors with the application can quickly kill your user adoption. If you’re not ready, wait! Once the issues have been resolved your ready for testing!

4. Testing your Upgrade
Once you have all the customizations, solutions and errors fixed in your development/test server, you can now perform your User Acceptance Training (UAT) and overall product training. Please note that even with no errors, your users will need training for CRM 2013’s completely redesigned interface.

Make sure you have a strong test plan, allowing users to fully test all of their daily functions. This should also include processes they don’t often run. This should include the Outlook and Web Clients as well as desktop versions Win7/Win8 as well as Office versions (2007/2010/2013) or the combination that is being deployed by your organization.

Once you have signoff, you will want to take the solutions and ISV’s files and you will need to deployment them in the production environment the night of Production Go-Live.

5. Planning your Upgrade
Once you have completed your testing, you can now select to move in your production upgrade date from the CRM Online System. This will allow you to choose the next available date. Once the upgrade starts, you will not be able to access the system for a few hours, and as long as 24 hours.