While checking out various blogs this morning, I noticed that a Microsoft Australia blog posted an updated Statement of Direction document for Microsoft CRM. I couldn’t find this new version on the Microsoft PartnerSource website but it does appear to be legit (UPDATE: I did receive a copy of this document from official non-blog MSFT sources). The Statement of Direction document outlines the future direction of Microsoft Dynamics CRM through to the next major release. Microsoft released new versions of this document for CRM at the following times:
While of course the April 2010 document contents are very interesting (at least for a CRM geek like me!), it is just as interesting to see what Microsoft changed from version to version. I took a look at the April 2010 document and compared it to the August 2009 document to see what changed, and there are some big changes! Just look at the differences between the table of contents when comparing the new version to the pervious version:
|August 2009 Statement of Direction||April 2010 Statement of Direction|
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Roadmap
On-Demand Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Roadmap
A few things jumped out at me while reviewing the differences:
- The April 2010 document states Microsoft Dynamics CRM “5” is targeted for “release in the second half of 2010”, which lines up with the “targeted for release in 2010” guidance MSFT gave back in August. It appears to be on schedule for release, and that is great news.
- Where did XRM go?!?! If you were at Convergence 2010, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hearing the phrase XRM. It was EVERYWHERE. Now Microsoft removed the XRM section from the April 2010 Statement of Direction (although it does get one or two mentions throughout). While of course XRM is more of a concept than specific features or functionality, the removal of XRM as its own section from the April 2010 is interesting to note.
- Microsoft now refers to “VNext” as “5”. Of course this isn’t a huge surprise and it’s no guarantee that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5.0 will be the official product name but I have been calling it “5” for a while.
- No mention of the TenDigits mobile alliance anymore, it appears they are no longer part of the official mobility story. Actually Microsoft removed all of the mobility information from the April 2010 Statement of Direction. Weird.
- See ya BizTalk integration! Microsoft is shifting their integration focus to the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Adapter, and they even announced release timings for AX6 and NAV2009. Very cool. However, in BizTalk’s defense Microsoft did state that there will be “An updated Microsoft BizTalk Server adaptor for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5”.
- The table of contents in April 2010 for V5 functionality now has three bullets, much less than compared to the 25 bullets from August 2009. However this is strictly a formatting change because the sub-bullets in the April 2010 match almost identically with the August 2009 version. I did notice that “Knowledge Management” was removed from the April 2010 document but they added “Performance Management” in its place.
- There is a new version of the Microsoft CRM SDK coming in May 2010 (this month!). It will include lots of great new functionality such as:
- An enhanced code generation tool called CrmSvcUtil.exe which generates .NET classes based on the unique schema and relational structure of each CRM database. Developers can then code against Microsoft Dynamics CRM APIs using these strongly-typed classes.
- These generated classes simplify the creation of queries and optimizes returned data from both CRM Online and CRM on-premises. Queries that require data from related entities can now be simplified to a single line of code, where previously it required multiple lines of code.
- Classes generated by CrmSvcUtil.exe enable developers to streamline integration and connectivity with 3rd party applications (mash-ups, portals, etc.) that need access to Dynamics CRM data through the CRM APIs
- LINQ for Dynamics CRM translates a LINQ query expression into a CRM SDK Query. This introduces standardized and consistent patterns to easily query and update CRM data. LINQ is a Microsoft .NET Framework component that provides a standardized way to query across many different data sources. LINQ is a standard .NET universal query mechanism that can be extended to support any type of data store.
- A Portal Integration toolkit which provides a scenario-based set of resources for developers to improve portal integration efforts. This toolkit enables developers to create integration services between external portals and Dynamics CRM more efficiently.
- Connectivity & Caching management which provides improved scalability and application efficiency for portal applications connecting to CRM Online. Developers can now specify a single-line connection string to connect to the CRM API whether that is CRM Online, On-Premises or Partner Hosted.
- The Portal Integration toolkit also provides sample code and guidance on how to best connect portals with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
- Portal accelerators provide complete reference sample applications to get you up and running quickly.