Microsoft CRM Training Videos on YouTube

If you have heard about the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but haven’t been sure if you should sign up or not, head over to our Success Portal YouTube channel.

We’ve uploaded more than 140 sample Microsoft Dynamics CRM training videos to give you an idea of the breadth and depth of the training we provide through the Success Portal.

Each of the videos on our Success Portal YouTube channel is an abridged version of a full-length video from the Success Portal.

If after viewing some of the sample videos on YouTube, you decide that you or someone in your organization could benefit from Microsoft Dynamics CRM training, you can sign up for a Success Portal account. It’s free.

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Dedicated Hosted Environments, the OTHER Cloud

Dedicated hosted environments allow organizations to enjoy many of the benefits of the cloud, while providing improved security and greater flexibility.

Most people are now familiar with the concept of the public cloud. Indeed, when “the cloud” is mentioned in the media, it is invariably the public cloud that is referenced. In the public cloud, companies provide software and storage from remote servers that are shared across many users. The cloud delivers its services via a web browser or another client application; the user owns neither the server hardware nor the software itself but instead subscribes to the service as one would a magazine, accessing it for a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

Despite the media’s focus on the cloud as the future, security and compliance issues continue to raise concerns for IT decision makers. No other issue comes close. Although security in the cloud can be, and usually is, very good, questions linger about the ultimate safety of data on public servers. Sixty-two percent of executives surveyed ranked public cloud security as a “serious” or “extremely serious” issue1. The 2011 version of ISACA’s IT Risk/Reward Barometer—US Edition found that 41% of its respondents felt that the risks of cloud computing outweigh the benefits2.

Compliance is another major consideration for IT decision makers. In the United States, a combination of governmental and non-governmental organizations requires companies in industries such as health care and financial services to maintain strict segregation of personally identifiable information (PII). The regulations regarding PII complicate the decision to utilize the cloud. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Sarbanes-Oxley all serve to make cloud adoption more complicated for IT decision makers.

Recently, another type of cloud has made a splash in the media: the private cloud. Private clouds have never received the publicity of their celebrity public sibling, but have become an appealing option for many companies. Unlike in the public cloud, the servers and software in a private cloud are dedicated to one company. Private clouds address many of the concerns that IT decision makers have with the cloud, and IT decision makers prefer private clouds to public clouds for handling sensitive information about 8 to 1. Indeed, 57% of executives indicated that they believe a private cloud will be the best way to manage IT deployments even in three years’ time. Only 7% said the same about the public cloud3.

Private clouds take two basic forms—internally-managed private clouds and dedicated hosted environments.

An internally-managed private cloud is built by a company for its own use, and the company owns the hardware and software and manages the deployment. In the internally-managed private cloud, software and infrastructure is delivered as a service through the company’s network. Internally-managed private clouds differ from traditional on-premise deployments because they make use of several cloud characteristics, including machine virtualization, redundancy, automated provisioning, and an application programming interface (API).

Dedicated hosted environments, or partner-hosted private clouds, are the other form of private cloud. Although they function similarly to internally-managed private clouds, dedicated hosted environments differ from the internally-managed private clouds in a few key ways. First, an outside partner builds, hosts, and manages the dedicated hosted environment for the company that will use it (the subscriber). Second, in a dedicated hosted environment, the subscriber does not have to buy the hardware to build the private cloud or the software running in the environment. Instead, the company subscribes to the software and infrastructure as a service, just as it would in the public cloud. An additional benefit, explained further below, is that the subscriber has the option of deploying additional software in the dedicated hosting environment, not just the software to which the company is subscribing.

There are several reasons that IT decision makers are embracing dedicated hosted environments.

First, dedicated hosted environments provide a greater level of control over security and compliance than the public cloud. The system is not shared as it would be in a multi-tenant, public cloud deployment. Private clouds enable companies to maintain the necessary data segregation and control over privacy and security. In a private cloud, a firewall exists between the network and the Internet, and the user’s software and data is physically separated from other users’ software and data. Users of private clouds can maintain data encryption and restrict access to the system by IP address.

Second, dedicated hosted environments are much more flexible than their public cloud counterparts. Public cloud providers typically restrict the hosting of applications to the providers’ software or to a limited number of trusted partners, but in a dedicated hosted environment, subscribers are free to load any software that they wish onto the dedicated servers. Dedicated hosted environments offer the ability to host unmanaged code such as custom web applications, customer SQL reports, and other applications within the environment. Dedicated hosted environments are also particularly useful for integrating legacy line-of-business applications with CRM platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Although the subscriber is responsible for the unmanaged code, the flexibility of being able to host it within the environment is a huge advantage over public cloud deployments.

Third, dedicated hosted environments are scalable. Companies can add server space to meet demand much more easily than is possible with traditional on-premises deployments. Also, machine virtualization allows the managers of private clouds to reallocate the resources in a private cloud as necessary. In a standard on-premises deployment, each individual server needs to have excess capacity in order to handle peak loads. In a private cloud, the virtualized machines within the private cloud share the capacity of the entire cloud. By sharing resources, private clouds are more efficient than traditional on-premises deployments, and less excess capacity is required to handle peak loads.

Fourth, dedicated hosted environments allow smaller companies to leverage the expertise of professional hosting companies, accessing experience and knowledge that they may not otherwise be able to afford in-house, while also enjoying the benefits of a cloud.

Fifth, dedicated hosted environments give the subscribing company access to the latest software while removing the burden of managing the hardware and software to which the company has subscribed. Dedicated hosted environments also give the company the freedom to add other unmanaged software if desired. Additionally, the pace of innovation in the software industry is increasingly making it unlikely that companies can continue to use software licenses long enough to make it more economical to buy software licenses and deploy them in an on-premises environment than to subscribe to software in a dedicated hosted environment.

Private clouds provide a slew of other benefits as well, including single sign on. Read more about the benefits of a dedicated environment hosted by xRM.com.

1 Lange, Larry. “The big dilemma: Security versus scalability”. 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.pwc.com/cy/en/Issues/Assets/cloud-computing.pdf>
2 “2011 ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer—US Edition”. 9 May 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.isaca.org/sitecollectiondocuments/2011-risk-reward-barometer-us.pdf>
3 Lange, “The big dilemma: Security versus scalability”.

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Customer Testimonials about the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

It has been a year since we first launched the Success Portal, a free resource that provides Microsoft CRM training. The Success Portal currently features more than 150 videos that cover a huge variety of topics in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, including setup, configuration, use, customization, CWR Mobile CRM, and more.

Our Success Portal subscribers have frequently shared three common use cases with us:

1)      New users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM train themselves to learn key functions.

2)      Veteran CRM users watch a single video or series of videos to gain new skills or brush up on a few topics.

3)      Dedicated CRM trainers educate new users, bringing them up to speed quickly thanks to the videos of the Success Portal.

Since the launch of the Success Portal, we have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from our CRM Online customers who have deployed Microsoft CRM more quickly, trained new employees faster, and increased the efficacy of their CRM deployments.

Selected Testimonials from our Success Portal subscribers:

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that I am extremely impressed with the Success Portal that you and your team have put together. … Please give my thanks to your team for all of your hard work – it shows in the XRM Success Portal!” – David Stockton, Fit4sale

“The CRM Success Portal offered me a quick way to learn customizations for our company’s CRM system. The step-by-step video guides and phone customer support were essential in getting our needs met quickly and easily. Thanks!” – Becky M., Elite Healthcare Partners

“In the non-profit world we live on small budgets. Innovative stuff like this is such a great tool and valuable tool. Keep them coming!” – Sean St. Heart

“I have learned more from your site in 5 minutes than I have from hours on any Microsoft website. You guys make this process a breeze between your knowledge of Dynamics [CRM] and your [Success] Portal. Thank you.” – Cody Martin

“Thank you for pointing out things to me that I didn’t even know existed but that make my life SO much easier and simpler. You make me look like a rock star to my boss!!!!” – Diane S.

The best part is that the Success Portal is free, even if you didn’t initially purchase Microsoft Dynamics CRM through xRM.com. Simply go to our Join the Success Portal page, and click “Join” to get started.

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Can the cloud improve your security?

Every business has a different approach to securing data. Large businesses tend to have more advanced security systems, sometimes even rivaling something out of a “Mission Impossible” movie. Secure locations with armed guards and even biometric (thumbprint) lock and key systems are no longer technologies of the distant future, they are being utilized today! These systems are very effective, but they are simply out of budget for many smaller businesses.

In the past, smaller businesses had to settle with the security systems that their budget could afford. Due to advances in cloud technology, service providers like Microsoft are able to take the responsibility of security out of the realm of the customer and into their own realm. If Microsoft hosts your services on the cloud, you can go back to running your business and let Microsoft worry about mundane tasks like securing data and keeping software updated.

Cloud security has been a major emphasis for Microsoft in 2012. They launched the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Trust Center, a website full of information related to their cloud security practices, and they joined the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (S.T.A.R.).

Microsoft has continued in that direction with the release of the Cloud Security Readiness Tool (pictured below). The tool determines how much of a security upgrade you’ll realize by moving to the Microsoft cloud.

 Can the cloud improve your security?

The tool presents you with several questions about the manner and size of your business. After evaluating the basics, the tool asks 27 security-related questions. Once you’ve answered all 27 questions, the tool generates a custom report based on the answers you provided.

The report breaks down your practices into several definable security sectors, and then evaluates your efficiency in these sectors, providing guidance on how you can improve your security practices. The results of the tool can be a real surprise if your company is one of those that aren’t zealously guarding their data. In many cases, you can improve the security of your data by upgrading to one of Microsoft’s cloud services, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online or Microsoft Office 365.

If you decide that your business is ready to adopt cloud services, don’t hesitate to try a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 free 30-day trial. Once you’ve registered for the trial, stop by the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Success Portal is full of guided tutorial videos aimed at bringing you up to speed on all processes in CRM Online.

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Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

Today we’re going to continue our discussion of the Entity-based model that makes Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online so flexible. Entities can be customized to meet the varying needs of the different types of businesses that subscribe to CRM Online. In this post, we’ll perform some basic customizations and repurpose an existing Entity into something specifically suited to a car dealership.

Please note: You’ll need a Security Role of System Administrator or System Customizer to customize Entities. It is highly recommended that you read Unraveling the Entity: Part 1 before attempting the steps described in this post.

In CRM Online (see below), navigate to Settings > Customization > Customizations and click Customize the System.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

The Solution window opens for the Default Solution (see below). Click Entities.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

The window refreshes with a view of Entities that are customizable (see below). Navigate to the second page of records by clicking the right-facing arrow in the bottom-right corner, and then double-click Product.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

The window for the Product Entity opens (see below). If we want to repurpose this Entity into something a car dealership might find useful, we should begin by renaming it and giving it a new description.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

Change the value of the Display Name field to “Car”, the Plural Name field to “Cars”, and the Description field to “Information about cars and their pricing at this dealership.” Click the Save (floppy disc) icon to update the Entity, and then click Fields.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

The window refreshes to a view of all of the Fields of the Car entity. Let’s repurpose an existing Field to something more specifically suited for a car dealership. Scroll down and double-click the “vendorname” Field.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

The Field window opens for Vendor (see below). This Field could use a few quick changes!

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

Change the value of the Display Name field to “Manufacturer” and the value of the Description field to “Manufacturer of the car” (see below). This Field is already using a Single Line of Text, the option we prefer as value Type for our Manufacturers field. There are other values available for the Type field, which we’ll discuss in more detail in our next post on Entity customization. Click the Save and Close button.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

Now that we’ve given the Car Entity a specific Manufacturer Field, any values stored in that Field can be interacted with in CRM Online. Here’s an example: If a customer walks onto a car dealership’s lot and is only interested in buying Volkswagens, the salespeople will quickly be able to do an Advanced Find in CRM Online for cars on their lot that are manufactured by VW. Isn’t that handy?

There’s still one step left that must be completed in order to update the Entity, and that’s publishing our customizations. Click Publish.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 2

If we navigate to an Area of CRM Online that would have displayed the Product Entity, such as Sales, we’ll see that the Entity has been replaced by our recently modified Entity: Car.

Now that we know how to customize an Entity’s Fields, we can customize other parts of the Entity that interact with those Fields, such as Forms and Views. In our next post in this series we’ll unravel the Entity even further by showing you how to create a brand new Field for the Car Entity.

If you’re looking for more CRM training, look no further than the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Success Portal is full of guided tutorial videos aimed at bringing you up to speed on all processes in CRM Online.

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