Should you move to the Cloud?

We've been talking a lot about Cloud migration in recent months. The topic is especially relevant to PowerObjects right now, as we're smackdab in the middle of our very own migration from an On-premises version of Dynamics 365 to the Cloud-based version. If you're interested in following our story, check it out here: PowerObjects' Migration to the Cloud.

In today's blog, we thought it would be a good idea to resurface one of our recent whitepapers, Does Your Dynamics 365 Solution Belong in the Cloud? Although this paper focuses on a Finance and Operations deployment, the message is universal because regardless of your organization's focus or industry, there's a very good chance a move to the cloud is worth considering as a potential next step in your growth.

It describes in detail the different deployment options available. They include On-premises, Cloud, and Hybrid, and the potential benefits and downsides of each type of deployment are explained. None of the three is right or wrong in every situation – it all depends on organizational needs, objectives, and aspirations. A good Microsoft Dynamics 365 business partner will never push you towards a deployment that isn't best suited for your organization.

At the end of the day, the world is moving towards the cloud for a reason. It offers secure and redundant storage, and it's more readily available across devices and geographies. In an increasingly mobile world, businesses are learning the most effective ways to take advantage of this newfound mobility to remain competitive while reducing overall costs.

One of the best features of Microsoft Dynamics 365, at least from a flexibility perspective, is that you're not forever stuck with the deployment option your business initially selects. Many organizations start with an On-premises deployment and then, as their business grows and their needs change, they migrate to the cloud. As stated earlier, we at PowerObjects are a living, breathing example of just such an organization. To track our migration progress, click here.

To learn more about deployment options and what a Cloud deployment could mean for your business, click here to download the whitepaper.

Enjoy reading, good luck, and as always… happy D365'ing!

PowerObjects Investigates: Is Life Really Easier in the Cloud?

At PowerObjects, one of our guiding principles is to Live the Technology. That ideal has helped us become a leading Global Systems Integrator for Microsoft Business applications through the lens of Microsoft Dynamics 365. This has kept us busy at work helping customers achieve their Cloud vision. So, what’s next for us? Well, we set our sights on the skies, sort of, as we make our own move to the Cloud.

PowerObjects is migrating our existing on-premises Dynamics platform to Dynamics 365 Online. We’ve always said that we are our BEST case study for Dynamics success, and by taking advantage of the robust online features, marketing automation capabilities, and reporting functionality (just to name a few), our goal is to prove even further how passionate we are about Dynamics 365 as a business application.

You might be wondering why now? Haven’t they always been in the Cloud? What’s the business benefit for us making this migration? Well, this interactive microsite is designed to not only share our story with you every step of the way, but to show you how important our Proven Process is for delivering a successful Dynamics project. All while being completely transparent about the challenges that come with an upgrade for any organization, no matter what their background.

Follow us on our migration journey in our interactive microsite here. We’ll be providing updates, behind the scenes peeks into the progress, and insight into both the highs and sometimes lows of an implementation. We hope you enjoy our story and that it inspires your organization to consider a move to the Cloud!

Happy D365’ing!

Data Export Service: How to Handle Lookup Columns

In this blog, we will uncover how primary fields and look up fields are created and synchronized in the Microsoft Azure SQL Database, in a customer-owned Microsoft Azure subscription using Data Export Service.

Unlike Dynamics 365 On-Premise installations where developers and administrators have some level of control on backend databases and can facilitate an organization's reporting with ETL teams to query data directly from a SQL server for reporting, a Dynamics 365 Online implementation does not allow users to query a CRM database directly in online environments. To overcome this challenge, Microsoft has come up with a Data Export add-on service available on Microsoft AppSource that adds the ability replicate Dynamics 365 data to an Azure SQL Database. This helps facilitate reporting and allows ETL teams to consume data for reporting and analytic purposes.

The Data Export Service add-on transforms data columns while replicating data from Dynamics 365 to an Azure SQL database. Here are a few points that need to be considered:

Get Lookup Values from the Data Export Service Database

The Data Export Service synchronizes lookup fields slightly differently in the Azure SQL database tables than in the same columns created by the Dynamics 365 on-premises database.

Data Export Service creates two columns for each lookup in Dynamics 365 as opposed to three columns in the on-premises database.

  1. <Lookupfield>ID - This column is similar to the id column created by Dynamics 365 in on-premises databases. It holds the GUID of the primary id of the referenced table
  2. <Lookupfield>_entitytype - This column holds the entity schema name of the referenced entity. This is different from Dynamics 365 on-premises database, where the database is used to store the referenced entity's ObjectTypecode in <Lookupfield>Type column.
  3. <Lookupfield>name: Data Export Service never copies the 'name' column in the Azure SQL Database; so it is always empty for every lookup field.

Example: Refer to the screenshot below to compare the differences between the same CustomerId look up field created by Data Export Service in Azure SQL Database vs. the on-premises Database created by Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 On-Premises Database:

Data Export Service

Azure SQL Database Look up field created by Data Export Service:

Data Export Service

TargetMetadata Reference Tables for Lookup

The Data Export Service creates a TargetMetadata master table to hold all the referenced entities and attributes for lookup fields. Each row represents the lookup between the Primary (Referencing) entity and the referencing attribute to Referenced entity and attribute.

Example: The screenshot below shows all the referenced look ups for the contact entity. Here the CreatedBy on contact table is referencing the system user table's systemuserid attribute.

Data Export Service

The Data Export Service is only available for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online, version 8.0 and onwards.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the PowerObjects blog!

Happy Dynamics 365'ing!

Field Service Mobile App: Set up and Configuration for Dynamics 365 Online

The Dynamics 365 for Field Service mobile app is available as a free download in app stores. For this mobile app to work with Dynamics 365 Online, certain Resco/Woodford solution installations and configurations are needed.

In this blog, we will discuss the install and set-up of a Resco Mobile CRM Woodford solution and the set-up of the Field Service Mobile project. Once the setups are completed, users of the Field Service mobile app will be able to connect it with their Dynamics 365 Online accounts. The following three steps are needed for this connectivity to happen.

Step 1

Download and install the Resco Mobile Dynamics 365 Woodford mobile solution.

1. In an Internet Explorer browser, go to: http://www.resco.net/mobilecrm/woodford.html

Please note: Microsoft Silverlight is needed for viewing this page which will work in the IE browser but not in Chrome or Edge

When the page opens it will look like this:

field service mobile app

 

2. Click on Download for 2013, 2015 & 2016, this will download a Woodford managed .zip file to your download folder.

 

3. Navigate to Settings in your Dynamics 365, then click on Solutions under Customization (see arrow below in the picture).

field service mobile app

 

This will open 'All Solutions.' Click on the Import icon as shown below.

field service mobile app

 

4. After clicking import, a pop up window will open. Click on choose file to select the Woodford managed zip file that was downloaded earlier. Then click Next.

field service mobile app

 

This will take a short time to import and upon successful completion, you will get a message "The import of solution: Resco MobileCRM Woodford Completed Successfully" as shown below.

field service mobile app

 

5. After a successful install, you will need to validate the following:

In the solutions folder, you will see Resco MobileCRM Woodford version as shown in picture below (version 10.2.2.0 as of this writing).

field service mobile app

 

Additionally, you will see in Settings a new header called 'MobileCRM' with options, Woodford, Inspections, Mobile Auditing as shown below. This further indicates the install was successful.

field service mobile app

 

6. Now click on Woodford option and you will get a request (pop up window) to increase quota, increase the quota to 300 and click OK as shown below

field service mobile app

 

7. You will be asked to register the user, enter the needed details and click Register. You have now successfully installed the Woodford solution!

Step 2

Import the field service mobile project template into the Woodford solution.

Now we will need to download a template that will help us configure the mobile app. This template contains all customizations for the field service mobile app. We can use it to add, remove, change fields, entities, views, and forms.

1. For Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online, use this mobile project template. Upon clicking this hyperlink, you will be prompted to take action on CentaurusStoreVersion.woddford file. Click Save.

field service mobile app

 

2. Within Dynamics 365, go to Settings > Woodford, and then click Open MobileCRM Woodford. You will get a window like the one shown below, click Import here.

field service mobile app

 

 

3. Select and open the CentaurusStoreVersion.woodford file that was downloaded earlier. You will be prompted with an Add Mobile Project pop up window.

 

4. Provide Name, Priority and for roles, check the field service boxes as shown below, then click Ok.

field service mobile app

 

5. You will now need to click Edit.

field service mobile app

 

6. Select Publish All, and then click Publish as shown below.

field service mobile app

Step 3

Install the mobile app

1. Open the App store in your device and search for 'Field Service – Dynamics 365.' You will see the app with the truck logo as shown below. (do not select Resco or FieldOne Sky apps) Then click to install the app in your device.

field service mobile app

 

2. After installing on your device, open the app to establish a connection to the Dynamics 365 servers.

 

3. After the app opens, in the home page, click Setup. In the setup page, go to the Dynamics 365 field to enter your Dynamics 365 URL and user credentials (see picture below for home page, setup page, and sync page). Click sync. This will enable your mobile device to establish connectivity with Dynamics 365 servers.

field service mobile app

 

Now you're all set up! For more helpful Dynamics 365 tips and tricks check out more of our blog posts! Learn more about how PowerObjects can assist you with Dynamics 365 for Field Service.

Happy Dynamics 365'ing!

Restore from a Dynamics 365 Online Instance Backup

Today's blog will walk-through how you can restore from a Dynamics 365 Online Instance backup. Specifically, we will note that the target Org does not need to be the same case as the source of the backup. It can be another existing or one that you created.

We previously detailed the steps to back up a CRM online instance. Once the backup is complete you will want to ensure that you have a target online instance available. Either identify an existing one or create a new one.

The First Step is to login into the O365 administrative portal:

https://port.crm.dynamics.com/G/Instances/InstancePicker.aspx

You will want to ensure that you first have appropriate Dynamics 365 administrative rights.

The Second Step is to identify an available target instance. If one is not available you will want to create a new one. Note, there may be an additional cost to provisioning an additional instance.

The Third Step is to navigate to the "Backup & Restore" area and identify a backup to restore from. Select the source instance from the "Backups for:" dropdown menu or create a New Backup. Select the desired backup from the list and the click the "Restore" icon.

The Fourth Step is to select a target instance. Note that only Sandbox instances are eligible to restore backups to. If the goal is to restore to a production instance you will want to first restore to a sandbox and then upgrade it to production. Click "Next" to lock in the selection.

The Final Step is to confirm by clicking the "restore" button. The process will kick off and the entry in the "Instances" tab for that instance will list the instance as "ready" when complete.

Congratulations! You just restored an online backup. This is particularly helpful for multi-environments setups such as development, test, and production. It will save setup time as well as reduce the risk of losing work. Want to learn more about the latest version of Dynamics 365? Click here!

Happy Dynamics 365'ing!