Today's blog post was written by Jen Ford, Principal QA at Sonoma Partners.
For those of you using Microsoft Dynamics On-Premise (2011/2013/2015), there is now a way to get assistance from Microsoft when converting from CRM On-Premise to Online using Dynamics Lifecycle Services.
Dynamics Lifecycle Services is an Azure-based collaboration portal to help you manage your Dynamics 365 for Operations implementations.
At a high level, Lifecycle Services (LCS) allows you to manage projects and its related tasks. If you have a CRM Online usage license, you can log into Lifecycle Services with that same account with no additional cost. And now, we can also use it to facilitate the conversion process.
Dynamics implementations have many things that make an upgrade or migration not-so-simple: custom code/entities/fields/reports, new options added by Microsoft, or depreciations removed by Microsoft. Tackling this by yourself requires someone dedicated to review the code, fix the code, and migrate your customizations, code, and data. This could end up being a time-intensive, costly effort that can require many resources, require you to engage your partner for a large scale project, and/or can produce significant amounts of manual testing to verify that the migration and upgrade were successful. Many clients end up purchasing third party tools to help facilitate this effort – another added expense.
Dynamics Lifecycle Services aims to automate some of these steps so that time spent reviewing and fixing code, upgrading, and migrating are all minimized so that you can focus your efforts on more important aspects of your implementation, such as taking advantage of the new features in Dynamics 365.
Right now, using this feature to convert from CRM On-Premise to Online is available through nomination into the Preview program only. Feature improvements to the conversion process will be made available in monthly releases. You can contact your Dynamics Partner to get nominated. Once your nomination is accepted, you will receive an access key that you can use to add a new Private Preview Feature in Lifecycle Services and create a Project specifically for the CRM On-Premise to Online Migration.
This sets up the three-phase Project in Lifecycle Services to guide you through all of the necessary steps to move to CRM Online.
Phase 1 – Customer Information Gathering Phase
This step is all about prep work. In this phase, you are identifying your organization and making your data available for eventual migration/upgrade. You will connect Lifecycle Services with your Azure subscription, and upload a backup of your SQL database to your Azure environment, as well as an Active Directory User file to set the users in your new Online instance.
Phase 2 – Staging Environment Setup and Validation Phase
This is an iterative phase, and you may need to cycle through this a few times to make sure your customizations and code are ready for conversion.
First, the project will guide you through creating a CRM staging environment. Then, Validation services are initiated from Lifecycle Services. Two tools are run: the Upgrade Assessment Tool and the Code Conversion Tool. This is trying to uncover unsupported customizations and code that will not upgrade. When these tools are done running over your CRM database, errors will be saved in a SQL Azure database and will be shown to you on the Power BI dashboard. You will need to fix the errors and rerun the validation services again. Then, lather, rinse, repeat until the errors are all cleaned.
The next step is to go through the upgrade process to get the database to the minimum possible version that it needs to be before it is converted to CRM online. If you are on CRM 2011, it will first upgrade your database to CRM 2013, and then to CRM 2015, before it is ready for CRM Online. If you are on CRM 2013, it will first upgrade your database to CRM 2015 before it is ready for CRM Online. At the time this blog was posted, converting from CRM 2016 to CRM Online was not yet supported, but will be in the future.
Phase 3 – CRM Online Migration Phase
In this last phase, the database is upgraded to CRM Online. Your users are created in CRM, and the data uploader service provides a way to get your data and customizations set in your new Dynamics 365 Online organization.
Once all steps of the guided project are completed, your CRM Online organization will be ready to use.