How to Create a Free Sandbox

Back in April, we blogged about Microsoft’s licensing changes for storage and additional instances. The changes, which are now fully in effect, included a few huge advantages to licensees – one of which we’ll be blogging about today.

Is your organization under Microsoft’s new storage model? Many of our customers are under the new model but either didn’t realize the new model included unlimited free sandbox instances or were confused about how to spin one up. Below, we walk you through the necessary steps to create a free sandbox. And by the way, if you’re not sure if your organization is running under the new storage model, just try the steps below – if you’re able to create a free sandbox, you’ll know it is!

How to Create a Free Sandbox

1. Go to your Dynamics 365 Administration center and click Try the new Admin center.

2. Click +New under Environments.

3. Name your org, select Production in the Type field, and set Create a database for this environment to Yes. Finally, click <Next>.

4. Configure your database settings as desired and add a security role (this can be done later). Click <Save>.

5. You will see your new org show up in a few minutes.

6. Once it’s ready, select it and click <Edit>.

7. Add the URL and in the Type field, select Sandbox. Click <Save>.

8. After a few minutes, you’ll see it appear in both of your admin centers, as shown below:

That’s it! And as long as you have available capacity (at least 1 GB must be free to spin up a new instance), you can do this as many times as you like.

Sandbox Support for Preview Instances

Today's blog will take a look at yet another great feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's Spring Release - Sandbox Support for Preview Instances. The CRM 2015 Spring Release provides new capabilities and functionalities that allow administrators to test new updates as well as allowing for administrators to manage testing in a more secure, and reliable way, all without impacting production.

The new features we will discuss below include:

To determine your organization's capabilities, you will need to first login to the O365 portal using your administrator credentials. Under Admin (Administration) on the left-side navigation bar, click on the CRM Option.

After you click on CRM, the CRM Admin Center displays. From here you can view all of your current settings and capabilities.

Preview Sandbox Capabilities

The Preview Instance administration capabilities allows for three common scenarios. They are:

  1. Clean new implementation and testing on a clean new instance.
  2. Partial or minimal copy of your production instance.
  3. Update a Preview Sandbox Instance (fully copied) of your production organization.

Example of the Preview Sandbox Administration page.


Preview Storage

There is also great news for those of you who are worried about storage constraints, because Preview Instances do not consume paid storage! On the image below, you will see that the storage quota is expressly stated by the disclaimer, "Preview Instances do not consume any of the storage quota purchased for Production and Sandbox instances".

Update Now

With the new updates, you can now update your preview instance on demand.


Reset Instance Improvement

During a reset, you can now change the base language and default currency.



Why use a Sandbox environment?

Solutions that are vital to your organization's operation and function are run on your Production instance. The ideal place for the development and testing of your new applications, however, is in an isolated, non-production environment. Because changes in a Sandbox Instance will not affect your production, the flexibility is there to allow you to build and modify new and existing applications without affecting the productivity and effectiveness of your day-to-day solutions. The Preview Instance is the perfect solution to provide that much needed flexibility.

With all of these new Sandbox administration capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's Spring Release, you can now easily build, test, deploy, and maintain all of your CRM Online solutions, giving you more flexibility to restart and test upgrades for your non-production instances. You can find more information about CRM 2015 by checking out our website. We would love to hear from you, so please reach out to us with any questions!

Happy CRM'ing!

How to Create a Copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM Online

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online provides a sandbox (development and/or test environment) associated with your production CRM environment. You can create a "full" copy, which includes the data or you can also create a "minimal" copy, which only includes the customizations. In this post, we will cover how to make a copy of your production instance for this sandbox.

  1. Login to the Office 365 portal using the administrator credentials.Copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM


2. Select the production instance and select Copy.

Copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM


3. When you select Copy, the following form will pop up to fill in. Select a target instance (i.e. the sandbox instance), select copy type, edit friendly name and URL name (you are able to change the org name while you copy to the sandbox instance) if needed.

Copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM


4. For security settings, select a security group in the form. All users of the Production instance are added to the sandbox instance if you do not select a security group (Security groups can be created under Users & Group in the Office 365 Administration Portal).

5. Click Copy. The status of the sandbox will show as "preparing instance" for a while. Once it's ready to use, the status will change to "Ready."

6. Use the new Org URL that you specified in the Copy step above to access the new sandbox instance.

7. After the copy, the sandbox instance is by default set to be in Administrative mode. Only users that have System Administrator or System Customizer Role can access the instance. You can change the Administrative settings for the instance by selecting the Admin icon on the sandbox instance shown in the screenshot below.

Copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM

8. When you click on Admin a form will pop up (see the screenshot below). Uncheck Enable administration mode if you wish to allow all users to login to your sandbox instance. Click Save.

That is it—now you know how to create a copy of a Production Instance in Dynamics CRM Online! Find more great tips on how to manage Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 here! For other helpful CRM tips be sure to check out The CRM Book.

Happy CRM'ing!

Take a Peek Into Joe CRM’s Sandbox

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a number of roles. One of these roles is the sandbox service, which runs custom code. Many of our PowerPack Add-ons for Dynamics CRM contain plugins that run inside the sandbox. If the sandbox is misconfigured or even missing best practices there is a good chance the sandbox service will not work or not run efficiently. To help you get the most out of your sandbox service, we've compiled a list to help you verify that all items related to the sandbox are set up properly. Take a look!

WhereWhatWhat to check?
1Domain ControllersSPNVerify that the SPN for your sandbox service and your CRM app pool.
2Domain ControllersService AccountVerify that the service account is trusted for delegation. This is needed if IIS Kernel mode is disabled.
3Frontend ServersFirewallVerify that your local firewall is NOT blocking port 808 connectivity.
4Backend ServersFirewallVerify that your local Windows firewall is NOT blocking port 808 connectivity.
5ADFSADFS URLVerify that your ADFS URL is the correct URL.
6CRMUpdate RollupsVerify that your CRM is running the latest and greatest Update Rollup. Check all CRM servers: frontend, backend, SRS server, and email router server.
7CRMCRM Deployment PropertiesVerify that the CRM deployment properties have the correct URL and that it's a fully qualified URL.

This url should be in your SPN for the application pool.

8SQLAsyncSDKRootDomainVerify that the AsyncSDKRootDomain column has a value and is the correct value.
9Backend ServersOutbound Internet ConnectivityVerify that your backend servers have internet access. If internet access is restricted, request a list of URLs or IPs for the component you are utilizing. These will have to be white listed.

That's all for the blog today! Want to learn more about the sandbox service? Check out The CRM Book, a free online resource all about Dynamics CRM. It's the perfect go-to CRM resource for anyone at any level.

Happy CRM'ing!