When setting up CRM Online, especially when doing it on an already existing Office 365 Environment, there are some things that you need to know that might not be that evident, so I thought I might elaborate a bit on it.
First of all, the email address that is entered when setting up the Office 365 organization or the Trial organisation for CRM Online is very important as emails regarding the CRM service (and other services provisioned through the Office 365 portal) will be notified via this email address.
|Swedish version of the Trial registration – Email field marked. It says “We will be sending important information to this email address”
Other users set up as administrators will also be receiving notifications on the email addresses set up as Alternate email address under Settings.
So is this a problem? If you are just using CRM Online, and the alternate email address you input is you main work email, no, this is probably not a problem. There are however other scenarios where this might be a problem;
– The Company is using Office 365 as their main work email address and the alternate email addresses are gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail addresses that are seldom checked. For some reason, the CRM service is not payed properly and warnings about the fact that it is to be shut down are sent out to these seldom check email address. Then the CRM system is deactivated for all users and nobody understand why until the users flagged as administrators in O365 (usually very few) finally check their alternate email inboxes and find the warning. Until this is fixed, several Days or weeks may pass with the system down severely damaging user acceptance and profits.
– The original admins setting up the system are no longer with the Company and their alternate email addresses were not directed to “impersonal” email addresses but to their own. When the billing is missed, the effects are similar to the case above.
So, my general recommendations in this case is to make sure that the alternate email addresses used are set with great care and to impersonal email aliases that will remain independent of people leaving the Company. They are to be aliases that are monitored at least once every second day. If using Office 365, the general recommendation is to not use Office 365 email boxes to monitor itself, but perhaps looping it to a Group alias outside which also include addresses within the O365 might be an idea as long as there are people outside the O365 in the alias as well.
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB
Custom workflow activities are one of my favorite extension points of CRM. The power workflows gives the customers are great as they can easily change the content of outgoing emails, todos etc. With the ability of custom workflows I can connect the workflow engine to anything in the world, from credit rating checks, integrations to other systems or just adding a bit more complex logic than what the standard activites include.
One of the major drawbacks of the current version of CRM-Online (as of march 2012) in comparisson to On-premise is from my perspective that custom workflow activies cannot be deployed in CRM-Online. I asked developer evangelist at Microsoft Sweden, André Henriksson about this and his comment was that it was probably due to the fact that the workflow foundation team didn’t support sandboxing of custom workflow activities. At SharePoint Exchange Forum I had the oppotunity to discuss this with SharePoint MVP Eric Shupps and he mentioned that in SharePoint there was full support for custom workflows. This made me a bit puzzled since this implied that the SharePoint team had managed to create a workaround for the lack of isolation for custom workflow activities that the CRM team hadn’t.
However, in the upcoming R8, release for Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft have annonced (http://crmpublish.blob.core.windows.net/docs/ReleasePreviewGuide.pdf) that there will be support for custom workflow activities in CRM Online. This is great news, but as the functionality will be based on sandboxing there might still be limitations to what can be done within the sandbox, for instance on which external connections are allowed. This remains to be seen, but the news of support custom workflow activities in CRM Online is still something I have waited for a long time!
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB
I attended a half day presentation by Microsoft yesterday on the subject of Dynamics CRM 2011 and integrations. It seems that many parterners are a bit hesistant to integrating Dynamics CRM 2011 Online and are promoting the on-premise versions when the issues of integration are important.
Microsoft did a good job in showing that they do have sufficient technology to handle integrations to Dynamics CRM 2011 Online including the Azure based technology ACS – Access Control System that together with Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 can be used to allow Dynamics CRM 2011 Online to use a local AD as authenticator. It is probably not as easy as setting up a normal on-premise solution but at least it can be done and there hopefully are some whitepapers or Youtube-clips on how it is done.
One of the issues that were discussed was the issue of integrations in reagards to Business Intelligence and data warehousing. This is usually done using SQL Integration Service (SSIS) with direct SQL communication. Their suggestion on how to address this issue was to use the new OData interface that exists in Dynamics CRM 2011. I am no SQL expert but I do believe that this being a standardized protocol, integrations will be possible. However, there will still be issues with performance as the amounts of data that need to be transfered are quite large and the OData protocol is still a strict pull-protocol which does not allow for trigger-based updates.
Another issue that I asked about was the licensing issue in regards to Dynamics CRM 2011 Online. Take the following example: A large company of about 40 000 employees has about 500 people activly working in with Dynamics CRM 2011 Online for SalesForceAutomation. A data warehouse is created and data is integrated from many different systems, ERP, production systems, quality control systems and CRM. CRM being the customer data master. SharePoint is used as the global Intranet platform and some of the data from the data warehouse is published on the SharePoint portal to all employees. For instance our currently 10 most important customers. So, the 39 500 employees are only viewing a minute part of the customer data, and it indirecty, via the data warehouse, originates from the CRM system. What licenses in CRM are required for these users?
In the case of an on-premise installation, the best licensing option for Dynamics CRM is the Application Platform Agreement (APA) that is sort of a “free-for-all pass” which is negotiated with Microsoft. However, in the Online environment there is no correlating licensing agreement to the APA. I explicitly asked Micrsoft how this was to be licensed and their answer is that 40 000 separate users licenses are required for Dynamics CRM 2011 Online, making it a rather impossible option, in other words forcing the company to either an on-premise solution, removing some of the data from the data warehouse/Intranet or moving to another CRM supplier. Neither of which is in line with showing off the power of Microsofts cloud services.
I hope this is just a temporary flaw since it does limit Microsofts business opportunities with larger companies and I would think it is probable that some similar agreement form that matches the on-premise APA will be introduced.
On the other hand, the External Connector license is not required at all for CRM Online (or SPLA) making it even more interesting for smaller CRM customers as customer/event/portal integrations are more and more common.
CEO, Chief Architect and co-Founder at CRM-konsulterna AB