Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Upgrade CRM 4 to 2011: For ITdiots

Q: Who’s an ITdiot?  A: Me.

I’ve been involved in the IT world since my early teen years.  It started as the family computer expert, and evolved into advanced circuit configuration for ISPs and eventually a fulltime network administrator gig.  All the while, I nurtured and evolved my passion for development.

Ordinarily, this blog is dedicated to the later talent and my trials and tribulations therewith.  However, I cannot deny that the foundations of my career and experience have solid roots in the IT realm.  Having never acquired any formal education for either talent is what makes me, your friendly (mostly) neighborhood CRM MVP, an ITdiot.

If it weren’t for Google, I wouldn’t have much of a career.  While some things in the IT world have become intrinsically intuitive, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that my first real job at an Internet Helpdesk left me puzzled for longer than I care to admit as to why “.net” or “.org” worked to execute things on the computer, and “.com” was so much more prevalent than “.exe”.

At any rate, I recently gave a presentation for CRMUG geared toward the IT Crowd—not the British comedy (although if you’re in IT and haven’t yet seen it, you should), but my people.  So, the following guide complements that presentation and the material I covered, and all that I had wished to cover but ran out of time for.  This is a basic list of the considerations I make when considering the move from CRM 4 to CRM 2011.

CRM 2011 On-Premise Upgrade Requirements

What about Online?

  • Reduced IT overhead; from infrastructure to support
  • Reduced deployment timeframe
  • Automatic/Scheduled updating
    • “Scheduled” becomes “Automatic” within a year
  • Aligns with Office 365 and SharePoint Online
  • Provides an easy to use Internet Lead Capture feature
  • Can be redeployed as 2011 On-Premise
  • Federated authentication is just around the corner (R7; Q4 2011 Service Update)
  • May not be ideal for integrated systems (ERP, Accounting, etc)
    • Limited functionality connecting from CRM to external resource
  • No support for custom Workflow actions
  • Limits on number of Workflows and custom entities (200?)
  • Externally hosted email router (on-premise, hosting provider)
  • FetchXML reports only

Helpful Overviews

Upgrade Methods

Social Experiences

Personal Upgrade Process

  • Avoiding more than one direct upgrade
    • Never upgrade from CRM 3 to CRM 4 and then to CRM 2011; always make a clean break somewhere in the chain to avoid esoteric issues caused by upgrades daisy-chained this way
  • Wait for first adopters to uncover problems (sorry first adopters!)
  • Virtual Machines!
    • VMs are your IT friend.  If you don’t think you can afford it, go grab VMWare ESXi—it’s free, man
  • [IRAD] unsupported customizations
    • Identify: know where you’re currently using them, and what they do
    • Remove: eliminate them to avoid upgrade issues
    • Analyze: determine whether or not new functionality allows you to replace them with supported customizations/features
    • Deploy: after the upgrade, update and redeploy any unsupported customizations deemed necessary for business

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Farewell, Jim Glass

With Jim’s recent announcement of his retirement from Microsoft, I thought I’d make a little space here to immortalize my thoughts of a man I never got to meet in person, but dearly wished to.

There’s something to be said about the Dynamics CRM community: chiefly that it is the most vibrant and active product community around any single Microsoft product.  Why? Two reasons:

  1. As I have long believed and been rewarded for such faith, it is simply the best product Microsoft has ever brought to market (that isn’t an Operating System); and
  2. Fantastic community leadership, fostering an open, engaging dialog between the users of the product and the experts that know it.

Jim Glass is directly responsible for both.  There’s no objective way for me to quantify that, however, so take that declaration as the biased opinion of one happy CRM MVP.

I’ve never known a CRM world without Jim, and long before I entered the MVP space, I met Jim on the battlegrounds we call the public CRM forums.  Jim was always watching, carefully moderating and steering the forum to productive ends.  He encouraged the MVPs, on a regular basis, to contribute and participate with the community at large—and the forums were just that.

There is no mistaking the emptiness that I feel now that I know he’s gone, and I wait patiently for his successor to fill his space as best as possible (daunting though that may be).  Since I never had the opportunity to pay my respects and give my appreciation to Jim in person, I find myself obligated by duty to honor his legacy by applying myself to the forums in a way I know he would wish.

Those who knew Jim understand the impact and the gravity his absence will generate.  Those who didn’t, may never understand what he did to improve their experience with CRM, the product or the community.  In some small way, I wish I could impart that feeling; but I doubt I have the raw ability to put in words what Jim has done, for me—for us.  I will miss him, and follow his social publications with great interest.

Farewell, Jim. To have known you from afar, is better than to never have known you at all.

“To leave, or not to leave--that is the question.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The pings and queries of MVP misfortune
Or to take charms against a sea of blogs
And by composing, mend them. To pry, to seek—
No more—and by seek to say we end
The madness, and the thousand natural questions
An MVP is heir to.”