Ignite 2018

This has been the year of a lot of First for me.  Last week  I attended my first Microsoft Ignite conference at Orlando, Microsoft Ignite is one of the biggest Microsoft Tech conference of the year. It was attended by 30000+ technology enthusiast from across the world.

Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision were both hosted at the same time at Orlando. while Ignite is more focused towards IT Professional s and Developers, Envision is for Business leaders. KPMG was a platinum sponsor of Envision.

Ignite is the best place to learn, Network and meet Microsoft Engineers, Partners, vendors, and technology enthusiast while having fun, As the conference focuses on all the Technological offering from Microsoft, it allows you to learn about the different areas from office apps to Business Apps, Azure,  AI, and IOT etc..

This year conference was kicked off with vision Keynote from Satya, where he enlighted and inspired all the attendees, He spoke on how computing has become ingrained in every industry and in the everyday lives of people around the world. He spoke about Tech Intensity as a way to measure how well your organization is both riding the innovation wave and building your competitive advantage.

 

In his keynote, he was joined by Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe), and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP to introduce and announce the Open Data Initiative. Open data initiative is an initiative to curb Data silos. I am quite excited to see how CDM will play a large role in initiatives like this.

His keynote ended with the announcement of “AI for Humanitarian Action”.

There was so much happening and so much announced that Microsoft News team has released a Book of News for Ignite, here is some Key Highlights from Microsoft Ignite:

  • Open Data Initiative with Adobe and SAP to help companies connect, understand, and use their data to create amazing AI-powered customer experiences. Every organization owns and maintains complete, direct control of all their data while enable AI-driven business processes to derive insights and intelligence from unified behavioral and operational data.
  • Passwordless sign In with Azure Authenticator: The Authenticator app replaces your password with a more secure multi-factor sign-in that combines your phone and your fingerprint, face, or PIN
  • Windows Virtual Desktop: Microsoft announced Virtual desktop, a Cloud-based service that provides multi-user windows 10 experience optimized for office 365.
  • Portal for CDS: Microsoft announced that they are working on new Dynamics 365 Portal for CDS Instance, this will allow customers and partners to have a portal component when building solutions on CDS instance.
  • Power BI Dataflow: Dataflow allows data from multiple sources to bring in into Azure Data lake bringing Data warehousing within POWER BI. The Data could be mapped to CDM(Common Data Model) and as the interface is similar to the power Query,  it could be easily leveraged by Business Users/Citizen developers as well. The data will be usable across multiple PowerBI report, datasets and even through different workspaces.  The team is also releasing sample templates which will allow users to have a jumpstart. some of the data flow features are in Public preview, while few of the new items are currently in private preview.
  • Azure IOT central came out of preview and is GA now.
  • Azure Digital Twins, Microsoft announced Azure Digital twins, it allows enterprises to model their real-world IoT deployments in the cloud.

Above is just a few of many announcements, For Business Apps, There were a lot of sessions and focus on upcoming October release of Dynamics 365, the roadmap for CDS and Powerapps, we also had the opportunity to see preview of many of the upcoming features for Dynamics 365, You can view the upcoming October release notes here.

Migrate Adxstudio portals to Dynamics 365 Portals

It’s been a more than a month since legacy Adxstudio portals support officially ended.  Many customers and partners are still using Adxstudio Portals and yet to migrate to Dynamics 365 Portals or its short-term alternatives( Microsoft Open Source Portals, xRM Portals Community Edition).

As there are multiple Portals available, there is always a question on which one to migrate to, we currently have 4 different versions of Portals:

    • Dynamics 365 Portal Capabilities is the only viable long-term option, it’s Dynamics 365 Online dependent and only available as Software as a Service solution. This is the version you want to be using.
    • Microsoft Open Source Portals is the 8.3 version of Dynamics 365 Portals, it’s completely open sourced and released under MIT license. This is a one-time release and no future bug fixes, updates or patch will be provided. It is suited as a stepping version before upgrading to CRM Portals. I wouldn’t recommend being on this version unless you and your team has an in-depth understanding of the Portals and can self-support.
    • xRM Portals Community Edition is the githubbed version of Microsoft Open Source Portals, it is hosted by KPMG Adoxio and supported by Adoxio and Portals community, This is the version for customers or Partners who need sometime before moving to Dynamics 365 online or are waiting for new releases/features on Dynamics 365 Portals. This is not an on-premises option for Dynamics Portals but a short-term interim self-hosted option.
    • Adxstudio Portals, Though the support for Adxstudio Portals has ended, if you happen to have a perpetual license you may continue to use the product knowing it’s not supported.

The only long-term option is to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Portals. Dynamics 365 Portals and AdxStudio Portals don’t have same Portal website offering, some of the key differences are:

Logic App Definition Parameter Vs ARM Parameters – ALM Part 3

In the previous blog – we looked into getting Logic Apps CI/CD using ARM Template Parameter, we briefly touched on logic app definition parameter. In this post, we will look further into using Logic app definition parameter as an intermediary and the benefits of doing so.

Comparison:

ARM Parameters Logic App definition Parameters
Used with ARM Template Used within a Logic App
Value evaluated during Deployment Value evaluated during Runtime
Syntax: “uri” : “[parameters(‘vsts_bug_url’)” Syntax:  “uri”: “@parameters(‘url’)”
Not referenced post-deployment Available in Code view and Designer view
Suited for Environment Specific values Suited for Reference objects

so the obvious question is how we can leverage Logic App parameters as an intermediary and why to do so?

Continue reading “Logic App Definition Parameter Vs ARM Parameters – ALM Part 3”

Logic App ALM Process for Dynamics 365 Integration – ALM Part 2

In the previous blog  – we looked into working with Logic Apps from Visual Studio, which allowed us to manage logic app code in TFS or Git or any other source control system. But to truly do DevOps for Logic Apps while integrating with Dynamics 365 you need to be able to do ALM process for Logic Apps better yet do continuous delivery/deployment.

when we are editing and deploying a Logic app in Visual Studio we are actually editing an ARM Template, So what is an ARM template?

ARM templates are JSON format template, it enables you to deploy Azure resources in a declarative manner and could be used to define all the resources in a resource group.

An Empty ARM Template Schema

{
"$schema": "https://schema.management.azure.com/schemas/2015-01-01/deploymentTemplate.json#",
"contentVersion": "1.0.0.0",
"parameters": { },
"variables" : { },
"resources": [],
"outputs": { }
}

To add a resource in ARM template, resource details are declared under resources properties, there could be multiple resources. Below is a sample of Empty Logic app added to empty ARM Template.

{
  "$schema": "https://schema.management.azure.com/schemas/2015-01-01/deploymentTemplate.json#",
  "contentVersion": "1.0.0.0",
  "parameters": {}, //ARM parameters
  "variables": {}, //ARM template variables
  "resources": [
    {
      "name": "Logic APP Name",
      "type": "Microsoft.Logic/workflows",
      "location": "West US",
      "tags": {"displayName": "LogicApp" },
      "apiVersion": "2016-06-01",
      "properties": {
        "definition": {
          "$schema": "https://schema.management.azure.com/providers/Microsoft.Logic/schemas/2016-06-01/workflowdefinition.json#",
          "contentVersion": "1.0.0.0",
          "actions": {},
          "outputs": {},
          "parameters": {},//Logic App defination parameters defination
          "triggers": {}
        },
        "parameters": {}   //parameter values
      }
    }
  ],
  "outputs": {}
}

Continue reading “Logic App ALM Process for Dynamics 365 Integration – ALM Part 2”

Migrate Dynamics 365 Notes Attachments to SharePoint

Quite often we run across a Dynamics 365 implementation where not much thought was giving to Document Management while implementation, resulting in user using Notes(Annotation) entity for document management.

Notes do offer a lightweight solution for managing and uploading documents to related record but it lacks the capabilities of a full-fledged document management capabilities. Notes are also stored in CRM database, storing documents as notes could easily become a costly endeavor considering Dynamics 365 storage cost. Jukka Niiranen has written a great blog on file storage and disadvantages of using Notes/Annotation.

The first step to transition from using CRM Notes to SharePoint for document management is migrating existing documents from Notes to SharePoint. This may seem like a daunting task but could easily be accomplished using SSIS package for migration.

I have an SSIS starter project on GitHub which illustrates the migration for notes related to Case entity, It could be easily configured to migrate notes related to any other entity.

SSIS by itself doesn’t provide capabilities to connect with Dynamics 365, for this, we use a third-party connector like KingswaySoft or CozyRoc, in below example we are using KingswaySoft connector, license and pricing details could be found here. Kingsway does provide the developer license free of cost.

Continue reading “Migrate Dynamics 365 Notes Attachments to SharePoint”

eXtreme365 Dubrovnik 2018

Extreme365, just completed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. What an amazing, beautiful and fun location for a great Dynamics conference. A week surrounded by amazing people sharing knowledge while having fun.

This was special for me as this was my first Extreme 365 conference speaking engagement. I presented my take on “Modern Approach to integration with Dynamics 365“, the session was well attended and very well received. Thank you all who attended my session.

The conference coincided with spring release announcement of Next version/ generation of Dynamics 365. This was one of the biggest Dynamics release announcement. for the first time, Microsoft had to release document rather than release notes primarily because of the number of changes being shipped on this release. With this release Dynamics, 365 becomes the Application platform for business application.

We also watched live streaming of  Business Forward’s in Amsterdam with Jean-Philippe Courtois, Alysa Taylor, and James Phillips at the conference.

Key Highlights from Dubrovnik:

  • CDS 2.0 & Powerapps: With the Spring release, Microsoft is shipping lot of changes to CDS and Powerapps. Powerapps is the platform for Dynamics 365 now and CDS 2.0 is the new XRM.
  •  Flow will become part of Dynamics 365 Offering and will be the primary way to do build automated process and workflow.
  •  MS Teams is coming to Dynamics 365 soon, this will change the way we collaborate from within Dynamics 365.
  • Custom Control Framework (CCF) will be coming soon, Custom control is currently available but with CCF developers will be able to build there own control within Dynamics 365, Paul Mare showed us CCF in action, CCF will allow us to interact with data in CRM in a whole different way. I am excited and waiting for this to be released.
  • CDS – A: Common data service for Analytics capability in Power BI is released. CDS A includes business application schema built on the CDM, as well as connectors for Microsoft and third-party data sources. Power BI apps that leverage the CDS – A will get out-of-the-box insights that can be easily customized and extended.
  • Dynamics 365 for Marketing 

Extreme 365 was great, Enjoyed many informative session by Industry experts, Microsoft Product team and Dynamics MVP’s, I especially enjoyed all the session by  Matthew Barbour.

I also got to see the Dubrovnik old town and do the Game of throne tour, I am a huge GOT fan and many of the key scenes of GOT is shot in Dubrovnik.

Thanks to the Extreme365 team for the event, can’t wait till the next one!

 

Migrating Microsoft Flow To Azure Logic App Service

With the increasing popularity of Microsoft Flow and ease of setup quite often we start with a self-service integration using Microsoft Flow and later need to switch them to Azure Logic apps.

As Flow is built on the top of Logic Apps it’s a simple export-import(Export and Deploy) process to switch them over. In this blog, we will go over converting an existing flow integration to Logic Apps Service.

I have built a Flow which is triggered when a case is created in Dynamics 365 and in turns creates a work item in Visual Studio Team services for the team to work on. As a lot of Cases are being submitted I will switch them over to Logic Apps for better monitoring.

In order to migrate my first step is to export this Flow as Logic Apps from My Flow Page.

Once exported, Create a new ARM project of template type Logic App in Visual Studio.

This will create a LogicApp.json in the project, update the content of this with the content from the exported flow as a LogicApp (Ctrl + C, Ctrl +V).

Add a Name for the logic App in the included Parameter file(LogicApp.parameters.json).

Next step is to deploy the logic App to Azure, to do this right click on Project and select Deploy. Select the Azure subscription and the Resource Group and hit Deploy.

Once Deployment is complete, Navigate to Azure and to the newly deployed Logic App, If you have used a connector which in turn is using a connection then you will need to complete the auth for the connection.

Now your Logic App is ready to be enabled but before you do so, ensure that you have disabled original Flow integration.


The blog only covers the simple migration process from Flow to Logic App, but you can make additional edits and customization to Logic App from Visual Studio prior to deploying or in Logic App designer before enabling the Logic App.

The exported Logic App may also contain and password or sensitive information, in Case you are adding the logic App to Source control, I will suggest moving the sensitive information to KeyVault instead of keeping them in Source control.

Dynamics 365 Portals: Create new entity record from within Lookups

If you have used Dynamics 365 you must be familiar with the + New button on the lookup. This enables the user to create new item instead of selecting exiting one.

This feature has been a frequent ask for Dynamics 365 Portals. Good news is that this functionality was added by the product team few releases back the bad is that it is only partially done.

In this post, I’ll walk through the steps for configuring it and its limitation.
Continue reading “Dynamics 365 Portals: Create new entity record from within Lookups”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connector for Logic App gets an update

Last week Microsoft released an update for Dynamics 365 Connector for Logic App, there are few long-awaited features in this update which I am excited about.

With this update Microsoft has added support for option sets being exposed as strings in the response, this used to be a challenge earlier as Optionset value and mapping had to be hardcoded in the Logic app or Azure Functions.

the difference in the options set value in the output:


Continue reading “Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connector for Logic App gets an update”

Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using Azure Logic App Service

In this post I’ll discuss Data Integration using Azure Logic App Service, we will create a Logic app that gets triggered when a case is created in Dynamics 365 and inturns creates a work item in Visual Studio Team services for the team to work on.

Logic App workflow is built using series of actions and Connectors, and has its own JSON based workflow definition schema, for details refer to my blog on The Basics of Azure Logic Apps Schema and Codeview editing

Pre-requisites
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online instance (On-premise instance could be used as well using Azure Data Gateway)
  • Microsoft Azure subscription for creating a Logic APP (If you don’t have an Azure subscription you can either use Try a Logic App feature which creates a logic app for an hour or you may sign up for a Trial account.)
  • Visual Studio Team services account (SignUp link).

Continue reading “Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using Azure Logic App Service”