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Great Time to Switch to Microsoft CRM

There has never been a better opportunity to switch from Salesforce.com to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft has announced a "switcher" offer for companies that are still on Salesforce.com switch easy to CRM Online. Not only do you get a world class enterprise-ready system but you can get it with some of your implementations fees paid for. All a company needs to do is go and sign-up for a free 30 day trial and then go to the site to apply for the incentive dollars. $150 off per user towards anything you want to use it for (data migration, training, etc). Minimum 50 seats and two year commitment. For 100 seats for example, you can get $15,000 towards your implementation.

Not to mention the fact that CRM Online is far less expensive than Salesforce.com. CRM Online is only $44/user per month versus Salesforce.com below

 

For 100 Users, just in the monthly fees, over the two year period, you can save almost $200,000.

 

 

Posted: Aug 29 2011, 10:22 by Robert.Fitzer | Comments (1) RSS comment feed

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Categories: Dynamics CRM

CRM Rollups for 2011

By now most should know that Microsoft releases "Rollups" (RU) for CRM server and client side applications. These rollups traditionally called "Service Packs" (SP) by other systems, in the past have been applied in a very manual way. Starting with the release of CRM 2011, updates can now be handled in two ways. One is your traditional manual way on both the client and server-side. A CRM/IT administrator can go the Microsoft download site and download the updates for each component installed. Thus far for CRM 2011 all roll-up components have been cumulative, so all that needs to be done is to install the most recent roll-up. Microsoft has currently released RU3 which can be found here.

Now to the automated way. With CRM 2011, CRM updates (both client and server-side) are done through Windows updates. This makes it very simple to get updates out to users. This automatic update is released approximately 30 days after the release of the roll-up on the Microsoft Download site. This morning for example I received RU3 in my Windows update on my laptop- nice surprise.

I would suggest testing updates once released against your customizations to know if the auto updates are going to cause any issues.  Microsoft is on a schedule to release roll-ups every 60 days or sooner. In the fall 2011 we will see a major release from Microsoft with feature enhancements to the system (bigger than a RU/SP for sure). If you are wondering on the client side what update you have installed, go to File, CRM and click on "About Microsoft Dynamics CRM". You will see the window below and you can compare it to the chart below.

 

  

  Release Date Version #
Rollup 1 4/4/2011 5.00.9688.1045
Rollup 2 6/6/2011 5.00.9688.1155
Rollup 3 7/26/2011 5.00.9688.1244

Posted: Aug 24 2011, 08:07 by Robert.Fitzer | Comments (0) RSS comment feed

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Categories: Dynamics CRM | Dynamics CRM

CRM 2011 Maintenance & Optimizing for On-Premise Deployments

Microsoft has released a new white paper for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 on-Premise deployments for maintenance and optimizing of infrastructure. It is a good overview of both hardware and software configurations needed to get the most out of the hardware you have in place. This is particularly important for organizations with a large number of users, a large data set and/or high transaction level in CRM. Take a look and take advantage of what is available with just some small changes.   Optimizing and Maintaining the Performance of a CRM 2011 Server Infrastructure.pdf (932.31 kb)

Posted: Aug 18 2011, 03:59 by Robert.Fitzer | Comments (0) RSS comment feed

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Categories: Dynamics CRM

New CRM 2011 Guides Available

 

Microsoft released new guides for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. These are great resources for both CRM users and administrators. They are printable and are in Word so you can change/customize them for your own needs. This is a great place to start to build your own training manual and/or best practice CRM manual. The User Guide can be found here (Microsoft_Dynamics_CRM_2011_User's_Guide.doc (3.76 mb)) and the Administrator Guide can be found here (microsoft_dynamics_crm_2011_administrator's_guide.doc (750.00 kb)). These are up-to-date with CRM 2011 on-premise for with Roll-up 3.

Few notes about the User Guide:

  1. It does not include screenshot, screenshots are very useful for users. Diagrams can't hurt as well
  2. It is a very large manual (645 pages). I would not give this to users. Break it up and use it by key areas. Eliminate chapters of entities you are not using. Not all of this info would be applicable for end users.
  3. Don't print the manual if at all possible. Not only to save trees but as soon as you print it, it becomes out of date. Use a centralized SharePoint site to store it and add a link in CRM like on a dashboard or something under help.
  4. It is not perfect but it is a good start. Make it your own. Include best practices and expectations to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  5. Add info to your manual to personalize it with your logo, your helpdesk info, etc.

Feel free to contact us with any questions on how to make the most out of it during a training session for users.

Posted: Aug 16 2011, 10:32 by Robert.Fitzer | Comments (1) RSS comment feed

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Categories: Dynamics CRM

Neuron ESB 2.5.13 – Custom Pipeline Steps

One of the very new cool features in Neuron ESB is the ability for users to create their own custom pipeline steps, and have those steps show up in the right hand Pipeline Step pane within the Neuron ESB Pipeline Designer. This provides a great way for developers to create reusable code assets for other developers to use with any project.

 

Previously, if a developer wanted to create new capabilities using Visual Studio and reuse those capabilities within Neuron, it required creating a library assembly and referencing that assembly within a Code Pipeline Step.  If there were N number of Code Pipeline Steps, the assembly would have to be re referenced in each one. Obviously, if the assembly changed, all Code Pipeline Steps would have to be changed as well.

Custom Pipeline Steps allow developers to create reusable capability that doesn’t require re referencing custom assemblies within Code Pipeline Steps. Furthermore, new capabilities can be parameterized and driven by publicly exposed properties using the Neuron property grid (lower right hand corner of the designer), controlling exactly how developers interact with the new capability both at design time and runtime.

Using Custom Pipeline Steps is a three step process, Create, Deploy and Register:

·         Create the Custom Pipeline Step

·         Deploy the Custom Pipeline Step into the Neuron Pipeline sub directory

·         Register the Custom Pipeline Step within the neuronpipelines.config configuration file


Creating a Custom Pipeline Step

Creating a Custom Pipeline Step requires creating a Visual Studio .NET C# Class project.  This will have at least 1 class that implements the Neuron.Esb.Pipelines.CustomPipelineStep base class. This base class has one method to override, OnExecute().

This class can optionally contain public properties that are exposed using the Microsoft Property Grid within the Neuron ESB Pipeline Designer. The class attributes, DisplayName and Description are used to control what name and description are displayed within the Neuron ESB Pipeline Designer.

Additionally, a graphic (PNG 16x16) can be included in the project. This graphic is used as the icon that represents the Custom Pipeline Step within the Neuron ESB Pipeline Designer window. The file name of the graphic must exactly follow that of the namespace and class name of the Custom Pipeline Step class. 

For example, if the namespace of the Custom Pipeline Step is “Neuron.Pipelines.CustomSamples” and the class name is “MyCustomPipelineStep”, then the image file included in the Visual Studio .NET C# Class library must be named, “Neuron.Pipelines.CustomSamples.MyCustomPipelineStep.png

Once the Custom Pipeline Step is compiled, it is ready to deploy.

A sample of a Custom Pipeline Step can be found in the Samples\Features\Pipelines\Neuron.Pipelines.CustomSamples directory located at the root of the Neuron ESB installation directory

NOTE: Custom Pipeline Steps can optionally be signed with a strong named key (snk) if they need to be copied to the Global Assembly Cache (GAC).

 

Deploying a Custom Pipeline Step

Deploying a Custom Pipeline Step involves copying the previously created assembly that contains it, to the Pipelines directory located at the root of the Neuron ESB installation directory.

If using the Neuron ESB Client API on a remote machine that is NOT running the Neuron ESB Service (hosted by a custom application), than that assembly should either be deployed to the local GAC, or in the Bin directory of the hosting application.

 

Registering a Custom Pipeline Step

Once a Custom Pipeline Step is deployed, it must be registered in the neuronpipelines.config file within the Pipelines directory located at the root of the Neuron ESB installation directory:

  <neuron.pipelines>

    <stepTypes>

    </stepTypes>

  </neuron.pipelines>

Registration requires inserting the assembly reference by using the “Add” element as follows:

  <neuron.pipelines>

    <stepTypes>

      <add name="MyCustomPipelineStep" value="Neuron.Pipelines.CustomSamples, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=ecaf0c45d7be0e34"/>

    </stepTypes>

  </neuron.pipelines>

Once the registration is complete, the Neuron ESB Service must be restarted if using Service Endpoints or Adapter Endpoints that will be using the Custom Pipeline Step.

If using the Neuron ESB Client API on a remote machine that is NOT running the Neuron ESB Service (hosted by a custom application), than the new Pipeline Step’s registration information needs to be added within the App.Config file of the hosting application as follows:

<configuration>

  <configSections>

    <section name="neuron.pipelines" type="Neuron.Configuration.PipelinesConfigurationSection, Neuron"/>

  </configSections>

 

  <neuron.pipelines>

    <stepTypes>

      <add name="MyCustomPipelineStep" value="Neuron.Pipelines.CustomSamples, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=ecaf0c45d7be0e34"/>

    </stepTypes>

  </neuron.pipelines>

</configuration>

Posted: Aug 03 2011, 15:00 by marty.wasznicky | Comments (0) RSS comment feed

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Categories: Connected Systems | Neuron | Neuron ESB | WCF | Workflow Foundation

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