Get cubed with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AX, NAV and Zap CubeXpress 2011

Zap, a creator of business intelligence software that compliments Microsoft Dynamics products, has released Zap CubeXpress 2011.

CubeXpress 2011 simplifies the process of creating and maintaining a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse to produce an optimized SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) OLAP (online analytical processing) cube. This process tends to be the most complicated part of any business intelligence (BI) project. However, CubeXpress 2011 reduces the technical resources required of such a project by providing customers with a simple, wizard-driven interface. This can reduce the cube creation time from months to as little as a single day. The semi-automated approach also reduces risk.

CubeXpress 2011 supports the use of data from multiple databases in one cube. It can take data from applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AX, NAV, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Since Zap designs BI applications that compliment Microsoft Dynamics products so well, we at xRM.com are proud to claim partnership with them. As a member of the Zap Partner Program for Microsoft Dynamics, xRM.com can help your organization utilize CubeXpress 2011, as well as other Zap Business Intelligence 2011 applications. If you are interested in enhancing your Microsoft CRM Online experience, or want to learn more about Zap CubeXpress 2011, we invite you to follow our xRM.com Call to Action.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Update Rollup 19

Microsoft released Update Rollup 19 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 on August 21, 2011, including packages of hot fixes and updates for the following:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Server
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 E-mail Router
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Client for Microsoft Office Outlook
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data Migration Manager
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Language Packs (contains all languages supported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0)

Update Rollup 19 will install the Microsoft Report Viewer 2008 Redistributable Package.
Update Rollup 19 will install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Prerequisites: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

Note: Update Rollup 19 packages are available from the Microsoft Download Center (see below) in four downloadable files for 64-bit systems or six downloadable files for 32-bit systems. Some packages require further specific installation procedures. Some components must be configured manually. For complete details, please read the Microsoft knowledge base article.

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: Update Rollup 19 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 is available
Microsoft Download Center: Update Rollup 19 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0

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How to Set Your Own Default Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

This is simple but huge. New to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, every user can set his or her own default view for every entity. That means whenever you navigate to an entity you commonly access, you don’t have to wait for the system default view to load and then choose another view. It’s a move in the right direction toward an interface that conforms to the user rather than the other way around. This is just one of the new personalization features in Dynamics CRM 2011. Used in conjunction with setting your own home page and creating your own personal views, setting your default views can save lots of navigating time and make your work more comfortable.

We will demonstrate this by setting My Open Leads as the default view for the Lead entity.

Note: This task requires no extra permissions beyond those found in all default security roles. It is available in all deployments of Dynamics CRM 2011, including CRM Online.

1.  Navigate to the Leads entity located in the Marketing module in the left navigation pane. In this example, All Leads is currently set as the default view. Next, we choose the view we wish to set as our default view by opening the dropdown menu listing all available views. To open the dropdown menu, click the arrow next to All Leads. Then we will select the My Open Leads view.

2. A highly touted improvement to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface, especially the context-sensitive ribbon. The ribbon intuitively organizes and presents the commands most relevant to your current task. Now that we have opened our desired default view, we simply click on the Set As Default View button, logically located in the View tab of the ribbon. It’s pretty straight forward.

From now on, whenever we select the Leads entity, we will immediately be presented with the My Open Leads view. We can change our default view whenever we want and how often we want as well, and other users can set their own defaults. It’s personal!

If you wish to improve your fluency in Dynamics CRM 2011, you might be interested in xRM.com’s formal CRM Online training. You may also find our CRM Success Portal, which hosts numerous xRM.com produced Microsoft CRM Online tutorial videos, to be quite helpful. To learn more about CRM Online, we invite you to discover the xRM process.

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Did You Know that the Cloud is Green?

A study produced by the independent analyst firm Verdantix, which was recently released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), indicates that by switching from an on-premise solution to cloud computing, a company can significantly improve business process efficiency while reducing the carbon footprint of its IT operations.

Here is a brief summary of the findings of the Carbon Disclosure Project Study 2011—Cloud Computing—The IT Solution for the 21st Century:

  •  “US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion can cut CO2 emissions by 85.7 million metric tons annually by 2020 as a result of spending 69% of infrastructure, platform, and software budgets on cloud services.”
  • “US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion can achieve economy-wide savings in energy alone of $12.3 billion a year by 2020.”

The CDP study analyzed 11 different multinational corporations from a variety of different industries; each had been leveraging a cloud computing solution for at least two years. Some of the corporations surveyed in the study were Boeing, Dell, Citigroup, and Barclays Capital. The report also includes recommendations on how to maximize cloud computing investments.

You may be thinking, “Since my company does not bring in revenues of more than $1 billion, does cloud computing really reduce my carbon footprint?” The answer to that question is a profound, “Yes!” This CDP study is not the first of its kind. In 2010, Microsoft produced a study (with Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy) called “Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud.” The study found that businesses with cloud deployments featuring about 100 users reduced their carbon emissions by more than 90 percent.  For medium-size deployments of about 1,000 users, carbon emissions were reduced by 60 to 90 percent. For large deployments of about 10,000 users, carbon emissions were reduced by 30 to 60 percent.

“Cloud Computing and Sustainability” cited four key drivers behind cloud computing’s reduced environmental footprint:

  • Dynamic Provisioning—reducing the over-allocating of infrastructure
  • Multi-Tenancy—the flattening of overall demand peaks, making fluctuations more predictable
  • Server Utilization—virtualized server infrastructure balances compute and storage loads across physical servers, thus boosting utilization rates
  • Data Center Efficiency—cloud providers can significantly improve the power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratios of their data centers, allowing them to run servers at optimal utilization and temperature

It may come as a surprise to many, but the information and communications technology (ICT) industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to Gartner, Inc. To illustrate how cloud computing can lead to a more sustainable ICT industry, Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, uses a helpful metaphor:

“A data center essentially gets computing applications to carpool or take the bus instead of sitting in their own individual servers…but unlike mass transit vs. private vehicles, there is no tradeoff for convenience and on-demand availability.”

Among the fiscal benefits of implementing an xRM cloud strategy, your business can significantly reduce its carbon footprint. xRM.com offers a number of application hosting services, all of which can be tailored to meet the needs of your business. If you are interested in our services at xRM, we invite you to follow our xRM call to action.

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Microsoft Office 365 in the Real World

The Microsoft Office 365 release on June 28, 2011 has stimulated much  curiosity and speculation on the web about this cloud-based service bundle. As Microsoft takes to the cloud, people want to know if signing up for Office 365 will truly benefit them and their businesses.

Here is a refresher for you on Office 365. It is an updated Microsoft Online Services bundle, which includes Office Web Apps, web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Office 365 also includes Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, making it a powerful combination designed to meet the productivity, communication, and collaboration needs of any business. Microsoft has also recently announced plans to include CRM Online in Office 365, which would make it truly a “wow” suite.

What does all this mean in the real world though? In order to give potential customers valuable insight into the practical uses of Office 365, Microsoft is producing a blog series featuring guest writers who have implemented Office 365 into their businesses and have seen positive results. Here is a selection of these posts written by Office 365 customers from various fields of business:

Best-Kept Secret for Small Business—by Karen Kotzen, Owner, Love My Lessons, Hollywood, FL.

No-Brainer for Small Business—by David M. Kronke, Independent Textbook Author, Seattle, WA

Easy, Professional and Reliable—by Francesca Greens, Director, Digital Dragonfly, London, UK

Better Collaboration, Better Healthcare—by Shane Ochocny, Technology Architect, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, FL

Office 365 is the future of Microsoft Online Services. xRM.com ‘s extensive work with the online services portfolio, specifically with the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services Standard Suite and Microsoft CRM Online, makes us an ideal candidate to design your cloud-based business solution. We invite you to follow our xRM Call to Action in order to learn more about how our xRM consulting services can benefit your company.

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xRM.com Stands Out at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recognized xRM.com as a key contributor and innovator in taking Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the cloud. He did this during his keynote address this year at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

You may be wondering, “What is the Worldwide Partner Conference?” The WPC is the annual gathering of the Microsoft partner community. Tens of thousands of Microsoft partners spanning 130 countries attend the WPC every year to learn what the future has in store for the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft uses the WPC to present its partners with a roadmap of its goals and plans, as well as to report on progress made in the previous year and recognize partners for their achievements. For Microsoft partners, the WPC provides an opportunity to network, collaborate, and get the inside scoop on Microsoft’s latest product innovations.

At the WPC 2011, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to the cloud. Mr. Ballmer also recognized the profound impact Microsoft partners have on Microsoft’s success in realizing cloud technology. With this in mind, he cited xRM.com.

“I believe you can understand we’re all-in [on cloud technology] and we want partners who really push with us—partners like xRM.com. xRM.com is a partner that’s worked with us on a win for CRM with the LA public schools—70,000 employees all moved to Microsoft CRM through the work of xRM.com.”

Mr. Ballmer is referencing our work with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). By leveraging the xRM concept, we were able to design a business solution that met LAUSD’s practical needs while improving user adoption and reducing expenses. For more details, please read our xRM.com-LAUSD Case Study.

We are thrilled about receiving recognition for our work, and we continue to push forward by finding innovative and effective methods of meeting the needs of our customers. xRM.com prides itself in creating tailor-made business solutions. We offer a variety of services at xRM.com, and they all revolve around the Microsoft ecosystem. If you are interested in leveraging an xRM platform, we invite you to discover the xRM process.

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