Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Live from WPC – XRM everywhere!

Today is the last day of the WPC conference, and if I could summarize the entire event in one phrase it would be: “XRM”! The amount of energy and excitement around using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a development platform is quite amazing. From multiple keynotes to dozens of breakout sessions, XRM is HOT. There was even a fun XRM video released.

Yesterday, I was a guest speaker in the Dynamics Financial services track at a session titled “Customer Knowledge Solutions for Financial Services: Strengthening Relationships and Improving Efficiency”. The financial industry team is working hard to recruit new ISV’s to build out their financial services solutions on the CRM platform (XRM!), and I spent a little time talking about the benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM and some of the work we have completed for ISV’s such as ExactTarget and BigMachines.

A little later today, I will be a guest speaker at another session titled “Microsoft XRM Industry Solutions”. As you would expect, the session will talk about using Microsoft CRM to develop industry specific solutions. I will be giving a demo of an XRM project management solution that we built for our internal use at Sonoma Partners. Over the past few years, we have developed an entire professional services system for consulting firms (such as ourselves) using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage everything from project budgets, timelines, time, expenses, billing, status reports, resource planning, etc. I am really proud of it, and I am excited to share it with the audience. Sneak peek screenshot below!

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Microsoft also announced that next year’s partner conference will be in Washington, DC. That should be a blast, looking forward to it!

Synchronizing an NTEXT field of more than 4,000 characters offline

This article can also be found on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team blog.

When Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 provided an offline API, we now implement the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client for Outlook with Offline Access much more frequently. Recently, we came across an issue where our users were not able to go offline. The error should resemble something similar to the following image:

When looking at the trace, the following additional details are provided:
An error occurred during Offline Synchronization.  Try going offline again, or restart Microsoft Outlook. Insert failed for entity 'sonoma_qbeconfiguration', batchRows=0 with exception System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: The bulk load failed. The column is too long in the data file for row 1, column 2. Verify that the field terminator and row terminator are specified correctly.
The OLE DB provider "BULK" for linked server "(null)" reported an error. The provider did not give any information about the error.
Cannot fetch a row from OLE DB provider "BULK" for linked server "(null)".

Apparently, SQL Server Express couldn’t handle an attribute with a field of more than 4,000 characters. Fortunately, this was a known issue and described in the following KB938065 knowledge base article.

As the KB article describes, we simply needed to apply an SQL Server Express hotfix to each client and then all would be fine. Well, that depends on whether you install the right hotfix! For some reason SQL Server Express SP2 didn’t rollup this particular hotfix. As such, a different hotfix is needed depending on which you need to determine which version of SQL Server Express (and service pack) you have installed, in order to properly install the correct hotfix. Please note, that currently a new install of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client for Outlook with Offline Access will install SQL Server Express with Service Pack 2.

However, good news! The answer is now simpler than the existing KB article describes. Just use Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) to download the latest service pack for SQL Server Express (currently SP3). Thankfully, SP3 does contain the hotfix for this problem and you should be set!

If for some reason, you can’t update directly to SP3, then you can use the following command from a command prompt on the client machine to determine your current SQL Server Express version and just install the appropriate hotfix manually:

osql –E –S.\CRM –q"select @@version"

This command assumes a single instance of SQL Server Express called CRM. The current version numbers for SQL Server Express are:











Release


Sqlservr.exe



RTM



2005.90.1399



SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1



2005.90.2047



SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2



2005.90.3042



SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3



2005.90.4035


Now, you can take those gigantic CRM NTEXT fields safely offline!

Live from WPC – Day One

I am at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans this week, and today was an interesting first day. The personal highlight for me was the announcement that Microsoft Dynamics CRM went over the 1,000,000 user mark!

I sat in on a session by Kirill Tatarinov, and I picked up a few new tidbits:

  • Microsoft CRM had double digit growth in FY09
  • Microsoft’s ERP products has single digit decline in FY09, but they actually took market share because the competitors did even worse
  • Kirill said that ALL of Microsoft will be running Microsoft Dynamics CRM exclusively within the next 12 months!
  • He presented a new nomenclature set for our competitors, which I had not seen before:
    • "The Bandits"
      • Primarily two competitors
      • MSFT will beat with:
        • Role tailored UI
        • Lower TCO
        • Flexibility and ease of customization
    • "The Zombies"
      • Approximately a dozen companies that use old technologies (one competitor has 192 products doing same things!)
      • MSFT will beat with:
        • Focused innovation
        • The "MSFT factor"
        • Strong partner ecosystem
    • "The Force"
      • Locks customer into SaaS
      • MSFT will beat with:
        • Power of choice
        • Better customer economics
        • From "instant on" to "instant value"

Optimizing and Maintaining Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 - V2!

Microsoft released an update to their popular Optimizing and Maintaining Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 white paper.

This release includes the the following updates:

  • Updated hardware requirements for:
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 for Outlook
  • Categorized references/links to external content to by product version where appropriate (e.g. Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008), and provided additional references where available
  • In the section Optimizing and Maintaining Internet Information Services, added the topic Optimizing the Performance of Integrated Windows Authentication and Kerberos Authentication
  • In the section Optimizing the Performance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM:
  • In the section Optimizing Workflow, added multiple best practices.
  • In the section Optimizing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Database:
  • Added Appendix B: CRM Performance Counters; created Appendix C: CRM E-mail Router Performance Counters for previously published Appendix B content
  • Added Appendix D: Summary of Changes in v2.0 Update

Download your updated copy here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=ba826cee-eddf-4d6e-842d-27fd654ed893&displayLang=en