CRM 2011 Release Candidate and installation

As most of you dedicated CRM nerds most certainly already know, the Release Candidate for CRM 2011 has been released.

As we at CRM-Konsulterna want to act as we preach, we have of course installed it and are now trying it out.

We are a small company and do not yet have an AD except one for our development environments on our virtual server host that we rent. So, our computers are not part of the domain that the CRM resides in.

An interesting thing about the Outlook client installation was that when we tested the connection, it worked just fine, but when trying to press the OK button in the configuration wizard, it just complained with the following error message “The server address (URL) is not valid.”.

After some digging, I found that the reason was that the stored URL that the discovery service returns is actually the computer name, and since our working computers arn’t part of the CRM:s AD, it couldn’t find it.

The simple fix is to add an entry in the local hosts file located in “C:WindowsSystem32driversetchosts” (if you installed windows to C:Windows of course).

There is probably some entry in the database, where this is located as well, I had a quick look but didn’t find it. If you know where, please let me know. The registry serverurl in the MSCRM key does not seem to be right. At least it does not change the webservice displayed in the customizations pages of CRM.

CRM 2011 looks and feels, really good, there are some minor buggs but it is a large step from CRM 4 which is a very good application as well.

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

CRM 2011 and Internet Facing Deployment

I have now had the time to look quite a bit at CRM 2011 beta and it looks really good. The Dynamics CRM team at Microsoft have been really busy.

One of the features I really liked about CRM 4 was Internet Facing Deployment. It opens a lot of doors and my current company offers it quite a lot.

I had a look at this feature in CRM 2011 beta and it is both a really interesting feature and a disappointment. It is based on a completely new architecure, called Claims based authentication which allows any type of authenticator to authenticate users for Dynamics CRM. For example, LinkedIn, Facebook or Windows Live ID could be used to authenticate user in Dynamics CRM.

This is really interesting since it allows for many types of authentication providers, even custom made. However, since the technique is a bit more complex than the old IFD technology in CRM 4.0 it will also require some more configuring. As far as I have understood it is for instance dependant on Active Directory Federation Service 2.0.

I tried setting it up correctly in CRM 2011 beta in a demo environment, with a set up similar to CRM 4.0 with authentication using the AD, which I believe probably still will be mostly used (maybe Live Id will be used quite a lot as well) but after a couple of hours felt that my skills in Active Directory in Windows Server 2008 R2, Federation Service 2.0 and the more technical details of claims based authentication have some rather large white areas, I left it alone.

It is a very interesting technique and I hope that there will be good how-tos around for how to set this up correctly, most preferably a wizard or two, for AD and Live Id authentication.

Another interesting aspect of this is the legacy support of IFD customizations from CRM 4.0. Since this technique is quite different from how this is handled in CRM 4.0, I wonder how Microsoft are going to create full legacy support for old applications, since they are within the “supported” framework which according to Microsofts promises, should mean they are auto-upgradable.

If you have anything to add on this subject, feel free to add a comment. Especially if you know of a good instruction of how to set this up correctly! 

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

Could not find GUID for server…

Interesting error today.

All of a sudden our development server stopped working. We got the following error in CRM:
Microsoft CRM Error Report:

Error Details:

Could not find GUID for server: CRMSERVER$

Full Stack:

[ActiveDirectoryObjectNotFoundException: The local computer is not joined to a domain or the domain cannot be contacted.]

at System.DirectoryServices.ActiveDirectory.Domain.GetComputerDomain()

at Microsoft.Crm.BusinessEntities.SecurityUtils.GetGuidFromServerName(String serverName)…
It seems that it was caused by the fact the the domain servers DNS was down. I have read of other causes for the same error, but make sure that the DNS service of the domain server is up and running.
Gustaf Westerlund
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Chief Architect