xRMVirtual Presentation

xRMVirtual Presentation

By Charlotte S H Jensen – Flickr: Maskiner på Brede Værk, CC BY-SA 2.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20868496

Ever thought about the fact that there nowdays are so many ways that you can create logic in CRM?
Or did you start with callouts in CRM 3 and then learnt plugins in CRM 4 and have stuck with those, I mean, why change?

If you are interested in discussing this and listening on my views, join me on September the 27:th at 9:00 PST/18:00 CET when I will be presenting on xRMVirtual on this topic.

Hope to see you there!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Non breaking Space in SSRS

Non breaking Space in SSRS

Been working with creating classical reports in SSRS for a customer lately and there are some tricks that you sometimes need to employ. Today, I found one, so this article will be short. Non-breaking space in SSRS can be set as an expression with the value “=char(160)”,

White Sands – a sort of white space – broken by some tracks.

If using IIF or just adding it to the end of the line is up to you. It is at least good to know.

That was a short post and the tensions is building towards the 1:st. If you don’t know why, check back on the 1:st and you’ll know why.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

CRM UG Summit last week – Avoiding crashed presentations

CRM UG Summit last week – Avoiding crashed presentations

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@crmgustaf) you probably noticed that last week I was in St. Louis, US for the annual CRM User Group Summit. It was a very nice event with lots of interesting presentations from a lot of different presenters, Microsoft employees, MVP:s, users with great stories of their experiences and of course the CRM UG team lead by Tony Stein (@tonysteinND) who did a great job of arranging the entire summit!

I was invited to hold three presentations solo and one together with and George Doubinski and Blake Scarlavai.

I will blog about the three first at a later date, this blog will mainly be about the joint one I had, or was supposed to have with George and Blake. It was a Developer jam session and we were to discuss some of our favorite tools. As my absolute favorite tool is Visio, not really a developer tool, but as it is great for structuring the architectural work before you start hacking away, I wanted to show some of the different uses I have for Visio. I had neatly placed everything in a folder, so that I had all the files ready, in my OneDrive… and I had marked it to be offline… but OneDrive did not agree with me and the Internet Connection was sadly very bad, why the audience just got to see the loading dialog for OneDrive…

@georgedude 

My colleague Rickard and I, usually joke about the fact that you have to sacrifice a goat before a demo or a presentation to the God of Demo, otherwise something is bound to break. We have found that there now-days are a lot of clips on Youtube which will do just fine and are friendlier to goats. We have found that just talking about it, is actually better for sensitive stomachs than watching the clips as well.

In this case, I Think I should not have trusted OneDrive so totally. Or I should have had a backup on a USB or similar. Everything actually did turn out all right after all, as George is a pure full blood pro so I just queued him and he spun off like a Duracell Bunny.

My advice to you, is hence to Always have some backup plan as you might not always have your own George Doubinski or some Other Duracell Bunny to jump in.

If you want to get hold of George or Blake to be you Bunny, their Twitter account is below.

George: @georgedude   
Blake: @bscarlav 

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Recording of data modeling session

Recording of data modeling session

Today, well soon yesterday, I held the presentation for www.XrmVirtual.com on Data modeling in Dynamics

CRM. It is a bit hard to know if people liked it but some of the comments were very positive so I think it was appreciated.

If you were unable to attend, you can find the recording here: http://t.co/69AMqzQPUW and if you have/had any questions regarding this, please feel free to use the comments below to ask these. Do note that I moderate all comments to avoid getting spam, why it may take some time until your comment is published.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

XrmVirtual Presentation on Tuesday

On Tuesday I am doing my first presentation for www.xrmvirtual.com. The presentation will be on data modeling in Dynamics CRM and I will be discussing general aspects of this and also specific Dynamics CRM aspects that are important to consider when modeling data.

Areas that I will be discussing are Concept exploration and definition and how these relate to entity maps. Some of the peculiar aspects of Dynamics CRM that you need to take into consideration when modeling data. I have one hour and I am sure I will fill it to the brim. If not, make sure to prepare any questions. I will post a link to the recording of the presentation when it is done here and any questions on the subject can of course be discussed here as well.

It is scheduled to be held on Tuesday the 11:th of march at 12:00 EST / 17:00 CET. A recording will be made available later if you are unable to join live.

To join, please use this LiveMeeting link: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/join?id=PPQ8P9&role=attend

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Deployment types

The Power of Choice has for a long time been a slogan for the deployment options for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and I agree, I Think that all the different options for suppling a Customer with Microsoft Dynamics CRM are a great unique advantage that this CRM system compared to other CRM system which typically can only be gotten in one of the flavors. In this post I will try to discuss the different options, what I Think are the pros and cons of the each version. Do note that I will be discussion more than 3, as the SPLA option can be twisted into several subsets.

I will admit before even writing further, that the list below will be incomplete as there are so many different perspectives that can be taken when analysing this.

CRM Online
Microsoft CRM Online is now probably the most common platform for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is in essence Microsoft Dynamics CRM hosted by Microsoft provisioned using the Office 365 billing portal (yes, there are still some old Microsoft Id/LiveID/CTP orgs left, but not for long). Microsoft have promised a release cadance of new features of at least once every 6 months.

Pros:
– Very Quick startup
– 30 day trial that can be converted to full
– No need of any server hardware
– No up-front costs (CAPEX)
– High reliability
– Very common platform – ease of use for 3:rd party Products
– Free service support, within limits
– Multiinstance (1 free if more than 25 users)
– Can be connected to Federated AD
– Competitive pricing, especially for small to medium organizations

Cons:
– Limited space (approx 100 GB) if not special arrangements.
– Cannot decide where data will be located
– Limited configuration options – ex. collation settings
– No SQL access
– Delivery organization is distant from Customer
– Forced updates, can be postponed up to max 90 Days
– Difficult to integrate to due to difficulty of getting  reliable outgoing IP
– Not available in all geographies of the World
– Complicated/impossible to set up local development Environments with identical features

SPLA Shared Environment (Partner Hosted)
SPLA Shared Environment is very similar to CRM Online with the difference that the hosting is not done by Microsoft but by Another Microsoft partner. The Customer buys Dynamics CRM as a service directly from the partner. However, there is sometimes a third party involved as well, the CRM Reseller, which is the Microsoft partner that was responsible for making the sales. It is based on the on-premise why it will not have all the latest features as the on-premise release cadence is about once per year.

Pros:
– Quick startup. Provisioning depending on partner. Not as fast as CRM Online.
– Delivery closer to Customer
– No limitations on database size
– Updates often not “bleeding edge” to ensure stability
– Easier to integrate with than CRM Online due to known delivery parameters
– Full configurations options.
– Usually no up-front costs. (No CAPEX)
– Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
– A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances. How this is faced to Customer is up to SPLA partner.
– Backup/Restore features can be used in database with manual help of SPLA partner

Cons:
– Forced updates with less postponing functionality than CRM Online
– SQL Access often not possible
– New features will not be available as quickly as for CRM Online
– Complex relationship can cause problems
– CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft

SPLA Dedicated Environemnt with VPN
The most common way of SPLA Dynamics CRM delivery is for many organizations to share one large deployment. However, an alternative to a normal on-premise may also be a dedicated SPLA Dynamics CRM Server with a VPN link to the Customers site to connect to their AD. This way the Customer can have a “behind the firewall” CRM while still getting the advantage of an OPEX solution, i.e. not having to pay for servers, maintainence, full license fees etc. It is otherwise very similar to an on-premise solution as a dedicated server has to be installed for the Customer and only the infrastructure level of resource sharing, not CRM deployment level will be applicable.

Pros:
– More OPEX based set-up than standard on-premise but with almost similar flexibility of on-premise.
– Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
– Can utilize the full Resources of a large service providers back-end systems, with virtual server redundancy etc. which might not be available at the Customers site.
– SQL Access
– No limit on data
– A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances
– Backup/Restore features can be used in database

Cons:
– Cannot be used in all businesses due to policies of data storage etc.
– Might not be available at all CRM Hosting partners
– Due to SPLA licensing agreement, the Customer’s personell cannot have administrator access to the SPLA licensed servers.
– Complex relationsship can cause problems
– CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft
– Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.

SPLA In-sourcing
SPLA In-sourcing is when the SPLA outsourcer prepares an entire server or servers and puts these inside the Customer site and hosts the service from there. This might seem a bit odd but is fully doable, but must be seen as just this, a service provider from the inside, not a Customer server with an alternative license agreement. The Customer is not allowed to have any adminstrator access on this server.

Pros:
– OPEX based license delivery
– Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
– SQL Access
– No limit on data
– A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances
– Can have full access to customers back-end systems
– Backup/Restore features can be used in database

Cons:
– Can be hard to manage for CRM-reseller/SPLA-Admin due to accessability issues
– CRM reseller need tight relationsship with SPLA-partner to deliver
– Complex relationship can cause problems
– CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft
– Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.

On-premise
The On-premise CRM licensing/deployment type is the most common for larger organizations. It means that the Customer buys their own license from the CRM reseller or directly from Microsoft using their existing purchasing channels in which case the CRM reseller will get a kick-back.
The CRM-Server will be installed in the companie’s server environment.

Pros:
– Different licensing options available, from boxed licenses, volume licensing with both leasing and subscription licensing to let the Customer choose CAPEX or OPEX focus as they see fit.
– Each Client Access License (CAL) can be used for all instances and servers.
– Full SQL Access
– Backup/Restore features can be used in database
– Can have full access to companies back-end systems

Cons:
– Each server will need a separate server license, which can result in substantial costs when creating load balanced Environments, scaled out environements and then replicating this setup in Q/A and test deployments.
– Licensing not as dynamic as SPLA in changing number of users. Usually volume licensing checking user Count every year. Better fit for large organization.
– Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.
– Will not be automatically pushed to next version like Online, risk of being “left behind” – there are still CRM 4.0 On-premise systems around where companies have not gotten around to upgrading. No partner to push either.

A final note
Do note that these are some of my personal reflections on the pros and cons of each of these deployment options and I am sure that you can come up with a couple of more and if you do, please share those in the comments below. I do get quite a lot of spam so I have moderation switched on, but if your comment is legit, I will allow it. I might also have gotten something wrong, and if I did, please let me know as soon as possible, so that I can get that fixed!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se