Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Integrations

In today’s business, it’s key to have Unified systems and process. Often businesses struggle to integrate enterprise data across their ever-growing number of applications and systems, resulting in applications which are meant to help but actually harm productivity.

Disconnected systems often overload employees with much of the painstaking work of searching data, data entry, data processing, and business analysis, and in some cases, data synchronization is manual and the onus of data integrity across systems will fall to employees.

When businesses invest in digital transformation projects to improve efficiency and gain a competitive edge, they have to plan on how new systems and apps will interact with each other. Burdening their employees with the task of manually migrating data between various systems easily counteracts any ROI.

Almost every Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation requires some level of Integration in real or near real time with other systems. At first, Microsoft Dynamics integration may seem like a daunting task but there are a lot of tools by Microsoft and ISV’s which makes it easier, Let’s dive in and look into some of the key options which have almost become industry standards for Dynamics 365 Integrations.

  • Custom Integration using WebAPI, OData, SDK and other built-in Microsoft Dynamics 365(CRM) Tools:
    1. Change Tracking: Data synchronization in a performant way can be done by detecting what data has changed since the data was initially extracted or last synchronized. The RetrieveEntityChangesRequest message is used to retrieve the changes for an entity.
    2. Upsert: While adding or updating data in CRM, UpsertRequest can be used, it will check if data already exists in Dynamics 365 and should be updated, or whether you must create a new record.
    3. Alternate Keys: It’s common for data from external enterprise systems to be loaded into Microsoft Dynamics 365 so that it can be presented to users. These external systems often can’t be extended to store the Dynamics 365 record identifiers in such cases “Alternate Keys” could be created in CRM to reference the record without knowing the CRM GUID.
    4. Virtual Entity(Currently in Preview): Often there is a scenario that sole purpose for integration was to present users with information from other systems. virtual entities allow user to access data in Dynamics 365 without it being stored in a CRM database and allows the external data to be read at runtime for the page load. This feature is currently in preview and is not available for general release
  • Dynamics 365 Data Integration/PowerApps: Dynamics 365 Data Integration feature enables integration between different Dynamics 365 suite of applications, example: Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Operations, and other products through Common Data Service.
  • Microsoft Flow:  is a cloud-based(Azure) integration platform which provides capabilities to create and automate workflows across multiple applications and services. Automated workflows are called flows and the data integration is real time. Microsoft Flows comes with prebuilt connectors for most of the common services and its geared towards Business users.
  • Logic App Service: Microsoft Azure Logic App service is a fully managed iPaaS(Integration Platform as Service) solution and is the core engine behind Microsoft Flows. whole Microsoft Flows is geared towards business users Logic App is more Dev focussed, There are many connectors available to integrate services & application. Logic app is cloud based Integration solution but can be used for integration with On- premises application as well. it provides real/ near real time integration and it’s my preferred method for integration.
  • Kingsway Soft: is a SQL server based data integration tool. If you prefer SSIS you may use Kingsway soft connectors. it provides different connectors for integrating Dynamics suite of applications with each other as well as with any other database using SSIS packages. Connectors simplify the integration and provide many configuration options. It has support for upsert & Alternate keys. The Integration Job is scheduled based and best suited for Integration where a high volume of data needs to be synchronized periodically. it’s also my preferred option for Data Migration.
  • Scribe: is the last one on my list but not the least. Scribe is a product by Scribesoft , it has a powerful cloud based iPaaS solution as well as On premise integration platform. Scribe workbench provides a drag and drop UI to add the mapping and configure the integration. It comes with pre built connectors for a wide variety of applications.

Obviously, this blog is just to highlight all the different capabilities that are available to perform Integrations with Dynamics 365. I will be expanding on the Dynamics 365 integration options in upcoming blogs. Please drop me a note if you have been successful with any other approach for data integration and migration.

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