Interview – Julian Sharp

Julian Sharp was recently in Norway to teach the App in A Day. I was one of the lucky few that got a spot in his class. Sure I have been in Dynamics since 2007 and should know it all, but that is the only once certainty. I will never know it all, and there is always something to learn from a person that has a different perspective on things.

Thank you Julian for the great class, and the advice during the interview! See you again soon in Oslo for the PowerSaturday August 24th.

Follow Julian in the following channels
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On-Premise Data Gateway integration

My state of mind at this moment is hard to describe, but Malin Martnes sendt me this link from Urban dictionary 😂

This is Part 2 of the Gateway SETUP

The final settings

This is where we left off in the last post:

We need to do one config in CRM/CDS before we continue. For the integration to work we need to create a KEY for it to match on. The source doesn’t know of GUID, so I create a key for “Account Number”. In Norway we are lucky that this number is unique and applies to all organization’s.

Open the entity you are integration to (Account for me), and create a new field called KEY. I am choosing to use the “Account Number” field here as my Unique KEY. Remember to publish changes!!

First thing I do is limit the number of accounts while testing.

Then I remove all the blank fields in the KEY, to make it equal to the user input in Dynamics. You don’t have to do this, but chose to for simplicity.

In the next step you choose the entity to connect to in CDS/CRM, and map the field. I am choosing to only map “Name” and “Account Number” during the test.

And the magic continues. Here you can setup how often you wan this awesome sync to happen. Our data is fairly static, so once a week is fine:)

Wait until the query is done, and check out the newly created/updated Accounts in Dynamics. This is just a gamechanger for me.

Pricing (a little uncertain)

As far as I can see/understand, this is using Azure Message bus, and it prices everything to messages pr hour. Below is a snipp from https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/service-bus/ In my case this would practically be “free”.

Basic
Operations$0.05 per million operations
Standard
Base charge 1$0.0135/hour
First 13M ops/month Included
Next 87M ops (13M–100M ops)/month $0.80 per million operations
Next 2,400M ops (100M–2,500M ops)/month $0.50 per million operations
Over 2,500M ops/month $0.20 per million operations

On-Premise Data Gateway setup

So the On-Premise data Gateway itself might not be the most awesome thing in history, but in combination with the data integration of PowerApps it is just incredible! Carina wrote about this earlier, but I had to see it for myself 🙂

My example is based on the need to integrate my On-Prem ERP (SQL) server with Dynamics 365 online (aka PowerApps).

This method does require that you have username/password credentials to a view in SQL that will allow you to read data. After the setup, Part 2 – Final Finnish.

I need data from On-premise to Online

I needed to integrate my ERP system (On-Premise) to D365 in the cloud. There are several ways to complete this normally with code, SSIS, Scribe etc. I wanted to learn what the PowerPlatform was capable of.

I am not a developer, so I am always seeking for solutions considered No-Code, Low-Code. Integrations was something I always had to involve developers to complete.

Until now!!

Installing software

Install latest Onprem Gateway software – Be sure to update this from time to time due to function/feature/security updates from Microsoft.

The software should be installed on a server, because of the need for 24/7 uptime. While testing, you can easily install the software on your personal computer as long as it is in the same network as the SQL database you are trying to connect to.

Open the software, and set it up. I chose to use my login credentials for this action. These credentials where also the ones that were “creators” in Dynamics.

Remember the Gateway Name and Password

When this is done you should find the Gateway in your PowerApps.
NB!!! It will only install under the Default instance for now!!

Check connection with PowerApps

Last step is to open up your browser to PowerApps and see if we can retrieve the data. Open PowerApps

Make sure you navigate to the Dynamics Production environment

Then you open a new integration project

From here you connect to the On-Prem SQL DataGateway.
Don’t worry, the credentials and IP are not real here:)

So the important thing on the next step is to use the credentials for your SQL server. These credentials only need to be read from a database. This means that you might have to ask someone to create read credentials for your database.

Choose the tables you want to sync. Debitor is Accounts in our ERP system.

If you are lucky, you will see the following result!! You are now one step closer to actually complete a NO-Code integration with an onprem SQL server.

HOW COOL IS THAT!!!!!

Part 2 Final Integration

CDS vs Dynamics Connector Power Platform

There are several discussions regarding the use of CDS connector VS the Dynamics connector in the Power Platform. Recently I have been updating my knowledge a lot on PowerApps, PowerBI and Flow. The odd thing is that these environments behave quite different even thought they are so closely connected in regards to connectors.

how much longer will they co exist, and why are they even different?

So here are my thoughts about the current state April 2019 (this might be outdated in one month 😂)

Flow CDS vs Dynamics 1 – 0

https://crmtipoftheday.com/1177/use-the-cds-connector-when-you-go-with-the-flow/
When using Flow, the CDS connector seems to be the correct choice. I personally feel that the action advanced settings is the most important reason why the CDS would be the correct choice.

CDS connector will only run the flow if country is changed saving you the flow, and the Dynamics connector will run no mater what costing you 1 flow.

PowerBI CDS vs Dynamics 2 – 0


https://www.inogic.com/blog/2018/10/connect-to-the-power-bi-using-common-data-service-cds/
There are maybe many reasons why you would choose the CDS connector over the Dynamics connector for API reasons, but the most important one I like to focus on is the Option Set (Pick List) from Dynamics.

Look at the Yellow columns. They show the display name of the Options Set, so no more need for hacks to convert the fetch from numbers to names. Obviously a huge benefit that this solution will update when the Option Set values update also!

PowerApps CDS vs Dynamics 2 – 1

But wait… It might not be over yet. While tampering with lookup controls for PowerApps I found out that CDS simply doesn’t have the lookup fields in the data!

CDS connector (Simply doesn’t have any lookups):

Dynamics Connector (With lookups):

Data presented is still in a GUID state, but there is a workaround for that:)

https://www.inogic.com/blog/2018/07/working-on-lookup-field-of-dynamics-365-in-powerapps/ <– How to fix GUID in PowerApps

Day 3 Amsterdam 2019

Ryan Maclean – Workflow Booster Packs

Ryan is from Scotland, and I couldn’t stop thinking about Breavheart while he was presenting early Friday morning..

Jokes aside, Ryan delivered a great session in the world of a functional consultant. One problem we always have is that we want to solve plugin related issues, but we can’t code. That is why we have these WF tools that give us plugin like features. He is one of the first consultants I have meet that also loves the North52 tool.. hehe.

Ryan showcased workflows from 6 different solutions. I think we all agreed after the session that we would gladly pay a lump sum to gather all of these awesome people in one room, and make one single tool 😉 Thnx to Ryan, and all of the people behind the free tools!!! Remember to donate if you use the tools.

Marco Amoedo, Wael Hamze – Dynamics 365 Quiz!

Dynamics 365 quiz, and time to shine. Time to show the world that I am the most awesome person within CRM!!

Well, it didn’t quite end like I expected. I was not even in the top 10 list.. haha. The level of knowledge out there is really high, and it makes me want to learn even more for the next time around. I am what you call a sore looser.

Resco – Doctors Without Borders case

Microsoft Norway challenged us to deliver a Pro Bono case to Doctors Without Borders (MSF). They do so much more than just send doctors to countries in crisis. One very important thing they do is survey companies around the world to find out what the standard incomes are pr country pr role. It is very important for companies like MSF not to overpay when they enter countries. By creating inflation, or overpaying doctors, you can end up stealing doctors from the local hospitals.

The combination of Resco + CDS + Power BI was a great fit here for storing and presenting data live. The event in Amsterdam gave us a great chance to work on the app with Resco to improve the look and feel.

When we are done with the case I will write about it in a blog article explaining why I chose the tech that I did etc.

Scott Durow – Power Platform Demystified

I think we all have more questions as things will change over the next months 🙂

Another Scott session packed with people. This session was about the Dynamics platform moving to the Power Plattform in a sense, and what it means in regards to function and licensing at the moment. I am not saying Dynamics is going away, but it is not NOT going away.. hehe.. It will be interesting to follow that the next year.

In the future we will be thinking more about apps than ever before, and that is actually a good thing. Apps will rule the plattform, and it might even make the integrations even better. The more we isolate the functions, the more “product” some of them can be. The more product they are the easier it is to standardize how to work with them.

Just look at our competitors. They are all products, and customers seem to understand that better than plattform stories. Let’s start with the product and then surprise them with the platform #easteregg 😉

Sarah Critchley – Panel discussion

Panel discussion led by Sarah was about AI, Dynamics and PowerPlatform. In the panel we had a good mixture of knowledge. Representation of knowledge here was quite interesting. The talks were about data consumption and data gathering. All sides open about what challenges they were experiencing with data quality in large organizations, and how mindsets of the employers were important to lead in the right direction.

The short story is that our implementations should be focused around actionable insights. As long as the end users se/understand the result of good data, they would feel more ownership to the data entry.

Day 2 Amsterdam 2019

Malin Martnes – How Talent digitizes HR

So I shouldn’t really write anything here because I am far to bias… hehe. Malin did a great job presenting a new product from Microsoft called Talent. Talent itself originates from Dynamics AX, but has been refurbished and made a lot better.

The main pieces here are Attract, Onboard and Core HR. each plays vital roles in onboarding new talents, and equally important, maintaining the ones you have. We all know how costly it is to lose a good employee, so why not put a little more effort into keeping the ones we have, and help them develop careers with set goals etc.

Malin has her own blog where you can read more about the product. Her idea is to create all content needed for you to pass the exam for Talent. Much like Neil Parkhurst.

I am just way proud of her as you probably understand 😉

Gus Gonzalez – Top 10 Free Tools for Functional Consultants

For those of you who don’t know Gus, get to know Gus. He works with podcasting, blogging and YouTube channel. He speaks to the technical level of Dynamics that I understand well, and therefore he is awesome;)

This session was about XrmToolBox

“If you are not using XrmToolBox, you are working to hard”.

Gus Gonzalez

I have seen Gus before during Microsoft Inspire and he had the same topic, but that was over 1 year ago. Many of the tools being shown were new to me, and if I only had seen the Attribute Manager earlier !! 😉

NEW tool about to go live is BPF editor. You can now bulk update a view of records to a given step in a PBF.

Megan Walker – Create a visual overview of your customers

Megan Walker session was about empowering Dynamics data within Power BI. The whole session was a live demo, really speaking well to the functional consultants. All of the examples were at a level where you feel that you can do it yourself. It is a must watch for consultants that need to “sexy” up their Power BI demo when presenting from a Dynamics perspective. Best of all is that every example was published on her blog!:)

http://powerbi.emojimegs.com – Tnx for posting these out..

BONUS: I got to interview Megan for my first ever Video/Podcast, and it will be out as soon as I learn how to edit sound and video..

Microsoft Roundtable

A big part of these Events is meet and greet with people, companies and of course Microsoft. We attended a round table discussion where Microsoft is opening how they want to increase our sales even more. Anyone working with Dynamics for a while has been a trained in Solution Selling, where you focus on pains that you can quantify. You then try to justify the project by fixing the pain, and therefore reducing the cost.

So Microsoft is working on a new industry specific framework for customers, so they can relate to the problems we can help them with. Once I get more information about this I will write more about the customer stories (given that the customer want’s to participate)..

Fredrik Sætre – Extending Power Apps to Power up Operations

Fredrik is a former MVP (now working for Microsoft). He represents the FinOps part of Dynamics, and therefore quite on the opposite side of what I normally listen to. Over the last few years I have heard him speak a few times, and he really is what I would call a Customer Engagement consultant on an FinOps world 😉

He is really enthusiastic about technology (not something I normally feel about the FinOps community), and great at delivering talks. It is interesting to see how FinOps is approaching the CDS story, and PowerApps. Every time I see him talk, there is something new in FinOps and PowerPlattform.

Even though I don’t understand it all, FinOps and logistics is really impressive. When you combine it with PowerPlattform that can surface data, it all makes sense to a CRM person like me:)

Below was an example from the presentation where he embedded a Canvas app in FinOps.

Day 1 Amsterdam 2019

Keynote

Keynotes are always a tough thing to evaluate. Often you see the CEO of a company or other higher management entering the stage to talk about all of the amazing things going on. Often the topics can be high level CEO to CEO content, leaving the room of “tekkies” left with nothing to be excited about. During the User Group I felt the combination of tech and CEO material was well balanced.

One thing that caught my eye during the keynote was the virtual assistant. I wrote a short article about it on my blog here: Café X being replaced by Virtual Assistant. A cool BOT framework integrated to the powerplatform via connectors. Certain elements requiring code before now can be solved with configuration (if you use CDS).

But the big talk from Microsoft was of course AI and the power it gives us with the vast amounts of data that we can collect and now understand better. The sales pitch for AI is not really a problem, because everybody wants AI to work, but I am not sure everyone understands what it takes for AI to make sense. What I am talking about is the never ending “Chicken and the Egg”. You cant do AI without data, and you might not motivate data without the AI.

It feals that the whole story with PowerApps and citizen developers is intended to lower the hurdle of collecting data, and therefore we can do more Actionable Insights once the data is in.

One version

So the story about ONE VERSION is actually really exciting. The world will during April all be on the same version of Dynamics online. It is just like SalesForce, and it enables us to commit on delivering updates at a regular pace. Commitment and promise from Microsoft is 2 major updates every year April and Oktober ish. This time around I actually believe that they are capable of delivering on this promise.

Customers will need to understand that software is an ongoing investment. What was a limitation 4 months ago, might be an opportunity now. Staying ahead of the competition will require you being current. The downside of a statement like that is that you will need more consultancy for upkeep of solutions, and you will have to look into the more experimental software approach. I guess this might scare some larger companies that still prefer to be slow movers.

Learning

The story around learning and MS is fairly odd at the moment. While they are heavily investing in this great platform, the Dynamics content has also been released on the edx platform. Jukka has written a post about this. I see that this is copying the SalesForce model of brining all information out public to everyone, and I really think this is a solid move from Microsoft. About time some would say.

Neil Parkhurst – USA accelerator and Omni-Channel

Neil Parkhurst has released an accelerator you can download for USD. This will help you get started quick, and is a great tool to use when you wan to demonstrate the USD. USD is no simple product to demonstrate, because you have to understand the complexity of customer service organization for it to make sense. Link to Accelerator

He also informed more about the Omni-channel capabilities. I first thought this was a simple rebranding of USD, but from my understanding this will provide us with a framework capable of receiving information from several channels (chat, CTI, SMS etc) in a more controlled way than having to do heavy coding. More about the Omni-Channel.

Scott Durow – From javascript to Typescript

I attended this session hoping to understand more about Typescripting. I am a copy/paste scripter, meaning that I can’t really write my own code. Therefore I was a little uncertain that this would be right for me. It ended up being a little over my head:)

So I didn’t understand what was going on after some time, because the syntax for me was so odd coming from a JavaScipt CRM world. I guess it all just takes a little getting used to. I will start off by converting my scripts over to TypeScript in time when the projects are big enough. For the simple day to day scripting, I will stick to the small functions.

Lets-start-TypeScript 2 part series by Scott. I will read this at some point..

Daniel Cai – Integrations Done Right

If you for some reason haven’t heard about https://kingswaysoft.com you might be doing migrations/integrations to complex. This session was first a theoretical part about the tool before we dove into some good examples of setting it up correctly. They have lots of good articles on the blog in regards to migration and capacity online, so head over there for the latest in updates.

One thing that was important to mention for Daniel was that the WebAPI was not considered as mature as the old SOAP. Therefore he still used SOAP for some integrations, BUT since this is being deprecated, you need to plan migrating the integrations over to the new API

Mark Smith – User Group from 0-3000 members

Mark Smith has an impressive track record behind him from New Zeeland, and has been an active part of building User Groups (amongst many other things). He was talking about his experiences going from nothing to something, and giving out tips on how to succeed.

One of the major “hmmm..” moments that caught me was how he got everyone together in the beginning to create a leadership that would drive this. In Norway I still feel that some partners feer each other a little to much to work on this goal. Eventually it would be awesome to see the customers own this User Group and continue pushing the market. It all sounds more legit when the customers are telling their stories:)

Neil Parkhurts & Lucy Muscat Microsoft Marketing vs ClickDimensions

I am not sure words can describe the tension in this room. Microsoft on the right side of the room, and ClickDimensions in the back. Neil and Lucy did an extraordinary job trying to express their experiences on the 2 products, while not offending any of the 2. If this were an octagon, I am not sure who won the fight. Both parties got a few solid blows in, but left the session as winners.

There is definitely a room in the market for both of them, but not in the same segments. I just wonder which one of them is going to figure it out first 😉

Dynamics 365 force classic mode from admin panel

I know we are supposed to use the UI, but it’s not ready for all purposes yet. Therefore it is nice to know that you can force the classic view for a little while longer. If for some reason you can’t use this approach, you can also change the URL like Jamie Bowman mentions here

https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com

Open Environment and then behavior and change the variable

The result is that you now can open the Customize to classic. This doesn’t force the other UI apps to classic, so you are still all good:)