Alert: 12/29/2011 .NET security update should be installed by all users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

A vulnerability in the Microsoft .NET Framework was discovered during a routine security conference on December 28, 2011. The vulnerability allows an attacker to gain unauthorized access to any application using the .NET Framework, including partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, on-premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft released a security update the next day, fixing this vulnerability and three privately-reported vulnerabilities.

The security update is available for automatic download and installation through Windows Update. We recommend our readers use Windows Update and either search for updates manually or enable automatic updates.

The security update is also available for download on Microsoft security bulletin MS11-100.

Affected Software:
Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1
Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 2
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1
Microsoft .NET Framework 4

Affected Operating System:
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2008

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Quick tip: Connect to multiple Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 organizations

One particularly nifty feature included with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online 2011 is the ability to connect to multiple organizations using a single Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook client. Only one organization can be configured as the “synchronizing organization”, the organization you’ll actively track Microsoft Exchange Server items in as CRM Online 2011 records. What you will be able to do is navigate and work in multiple organizations using the client.

We just discovered this and wanted to pass along the tip, as versions of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook client previous to 2011 required manual reconfiguration every time you wanted to use a different organization. We’ll walk you through the configuration of an additional organization below.

Some of the steps in this guide require elevated computer privileges. If you find yourself stuck during any steps of this guide, we recommend contacting your IT department.

We assume you have already installed the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook client and configured it to connect to your synchronizing organization.

Open the Start menu, click All Programs, click Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, and click Configuration Wizard.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Outlook Configuration Wizard window opens (see below). Your synchronizing organization should already be listed and marked with the green checkmark icon. Click Add.

 Connect to multiple Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 organizations

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook window opens and prompts you to Configure Organization (see below). If you are adding a CRM Online organization, select “CRM Online 2011” from the drop-down menu and click OK.

  Connect multiple Microsoft CRM 2011 organizations

Alternatively, our readers who subscribe to partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM should type the Server URL: provided to them by their system administrator. For example, hosted customers of xRM.com should type “https://example.xrmlive.com” (see below) but with “example” replaced by the special name for their organization. Then click OK.

 Connect multiple Microsoft CRM 2011 organizations

The Connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online window opens (see below) and requests your authentication credentials. If you subscribe to CRM Online 2011, enter your Windows Live ID and Password and then click OK. If you subscribe to partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enter the username and password provided by your system administrator for authentication.

 Connect to multiple organizations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

The Connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online window closes. If you subscribe to multiple Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organizations, you will be prompted to make a selection from the Organization drop-down menu (see below). We’ll select “xRMDemo2” in our example. Leave the Synchronize with this Organization checkbox un-checked, unless you prefer to change your synchronizing organization. Then click OK.

 Connect to multiple organizations in Microsoft CRM Online 2011

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook window closes and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Outlook Configuration Wizard refreshes (see below). You should see the newly added organization (“xRMDemo2” in our example) included in the list. Click Close.

 Connect to multiple organizations in Microsoft CRM 2011

Launch Microsoft Office Outlook, and click the Solutions button circled below to navigate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM or CRM Online 2011. The Solutions button should have replaced any prior organization button, as it contains both your synchronizing organization and any other configured organizations.

 Connect to multiple organizations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011

We’ve just configured the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook client to connect to multiple organizations. If you’re looking for more creative ways to use CRM Online 2011, then you should visit the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online success portal. It contains plenty of helpful videos and walkthroughs aimed at users of all skill levels.

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What is xRM?

So the SEO and Marketing folks finally got me to give in and begin blogging. So first off thank you for reading my first blog post ever. I thought it appropriate to begin with what xRM means to us and how we approach it.

xRM is an acronym coined a few years ago and derived from CRM (Customer Relationship Management). We techie folks borrowed a page from the calculus guys and replaced the C (Customer) with the x meant to represent anything. So now x can represent anything from traditional sales, service, and marketing to other business processes in non-traditional industries like finance, health care, and entertainment. This is the industry understanding of xRM, where now any business process can be modeled and implemented in a sophisticated CRM system.

I look at it being a little deeper than just that. Again, I borrow some ideology from my calculus days where the purpose of the x in the equation was not to simply figure out the arithmetic value of x, but to “solve” the equation. And here is where I see the real value of xRM. It does not merely fix the current business issue. It delivers a solution and strategy empowering the business to solve future unknown problems they may face.

I think the best way to justify this position on xRM is to consider a business requiring a new line-of-business application and weighing the benefits of going with Microsoft Dynamics CRM/xRM or developing the solution internally. When such an evaluation is performed, we always tend to get caught up in the desires of the moment instead of a more strategic approach. In fact, most businesses tend to look for new solutions because they have outgrown their previous one for one reason or another—scalability, functionality, flexibility, access, etc. So here are a few questions I believe are also warranted that more clearly illustrate the difference between providing an answer and providing a solution.

How is security implemented?
Microsoft Dynamics CRM leverages Active Directory. Most businesses already have Active Directory implemented. It is responsible for allowing users to log in to their desktops every morning, access file share, check their work e-mail on their smart phones, etc. This is a tried-and-true technology with additional benefits like single sign on, a familiar administrative interface and providing a single place for a business to control access to all its solutions.

How is the data stored?
The Microsoft solution is to leverage SQL Server Data Services (SSDS). Again, most businesses and their IT folk are already familiar with SQL Server technologies. SQL Server is one of the most reliable, scalable and high-performance database solutions available. It is also fully Active Directory aware, ensuring that the data is always accessed in the context of the user, ensuring sensitive data is protected at the source and not at higher levels as with most other solutions.

How is the data accessed?
The Microsoft solution is Internet Information Services (IIS), part of Windows Server. This technology is responsible for providing a web-based access point to the solution. This is in essence the gateway between the users and the solution. Again, this technology is part of the familiar Microsoft stack and is also fully Active Directory aware.

How do I get analytical information?
Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is the reporting framework for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It allows the business to produce summary dashboard-type reporting but also contextual reporting at the individual record level. However, it does not stop here. The solution also allows you to export the data to Microsoft Excel to allow you to manipulate as you see fit—from producing simple pivot tables and charts to full-blown, multi-dimensional trend analysis with SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).

What is the end user interface?
The end user interfaces for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/xRM is varied yet familiar. A user can access the solution via the Internet Explorer browser, or via Microsoft Office Outlook or via their smart phone. All of these interfaces are used daily by the user in various different scenarios, both in a business or consumer setting. Thus, users are placed in an environment that they are extremely comfortable with, where utilizing and navigating the solution comes instinctively.

Can the solution grow with my business?
I think this is one of the most pivotal questions. The selection of any line-of-business application is critical to the success of the business itself. Not only should it have an immediate positive impact but will also need to deliver on the promise of meeting future business needs. And it is here that I think Microsoft truly delivers. From the flexible and intuitive workflow engine (based on Microsoft .NET Framework technologies) to the customization interface, the Microsoft solution begs to be tailored to the business need—today, next month, next quarter or next year. The solution now allows the business analyst through simple point and click steps to configure the solution, reducing the burden on the development organization. This has a huge impact. Analysts can now interface directly with the business and also be responsible for the delivery. This reduces the communication delays and distortion allowing the solution to be delivered faster without sacrificing accuracy.

What about reliability and scalability?
All of the technologies mentioned above are tried and true and fully scalable. The solution can be scaled out to multiple tiers with each tier having independent clustering and load balancing capabilities. That being said, it can be also scaled down to a single virtualized resource, thus providing a solution for the small, five-user business, or scaled up to the enterprise 70,000-user organization.

What about interoperability?
Another key question: Will this solution integrate with the existing and future systems of my business? Again, Microsoft Dynamics CRM delivers. Interfacing with other Microsoft applications like SharePoint, Exchange, Communications Server, etc. are simple point-and-click configuration options providing a seamless and transparent user experience. Integration to other systems is also much easier by way of the rich web-service layer. This provides an agnostic layer for multiple systems to interface with each other in real time or as a batch process, either pushing or pulling data between systems.

What will it take to support the solution?
The Microsoft solution leverages the core Microsoft stack components that most business already have implemented and are very familiar with. This becomes an incremental change for the IT organization as the components that are being leveraged are almost always already managed by this team. The Microsoft solution already presents a compelling option from a financial perspective. When you consider the total cost of ownership and factor in administrative, maintenance, and support activities, this becomes even more compelling.

At xRM.com, we have embraced this approach for not only our customer deployments but also all our internal systems. From Project and Asset Management to an Intellectual Property Library, these internal systems have been delivered with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and surfaced on a browser, Outlook, and even my Windows Mobile phone.

Thanks for listening.

xRM.com is Microsoft Partner with core competencies in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Hosting. Desigan Reddi is Chief Technology Officer at xRM.com.

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Boost Collaboration by Sharing Saved Views in CRM Online

Did you know that in Microsoft CRM Online 2011 you can share a saved view with your coworkers? In CRM Online, not only can users create custom views for quick and easy access to important records, but they can also give their fellow users access to these custom views. This comes in handy if a custom view would benefit a team in your organization. Instead of each member having to create the view individually on their own time, one user can create it, and then share it with the members of the group.

This task requires permissions found in all default security roles in CRM Online and can be performed in all deployment models of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 including on-premises and CRM Online.

Here is a step-by-step walkthrough on how to share a saved view:

1.  In the ribbon, click Advanced Find (see below). Please note that for the purposes of this walkthrough, all images are stills of a reduced window. In a maximized window, the Advanced Find button will appear without the need of a dropdown menu.

Boost collaboration crm online

2. Once the Advanced Find window appears, click the Saved Views button in the ribbon (see below).

Boost collaboration crm online

3. Select the saved view you wish to share by clicking on the corresponding checkbox (see below). Click the Share button in the ribbon.

Boost collaboration crm online

4. The “Who would you like to share the selected saved view with?” window will appear. On the left side of the window, click Add User/Team (see below). 

Boost collaboration crm online

5. The “Look Up Records” window will appear (see below). This is where you identify the users you wish to share your view with. Check the box next to the corresponding user(s) or team(s), and then click Add. Once you have specified everyone you wish to share the saved view with, click OK.

Boost collaboration crm online 

The saved view is now accessible to the designated user(s).

Sharing saved views is one of the many ways CRM Online fosters collaboration. xRM.com can offer you more tips and strategies on how to better leverage your CRM Online solution through our CRM Online training. We also invite you to sign up for our CRM Success Portal to view our CRM Online tutorial videos. For information, please follow our xRM.com Call to Action.

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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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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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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Update Rollup 18

Microsoft has released Update Rollup 18 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. This update is available for all languages supported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. It includes hotfixes and updates for the following components:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Server
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 E-mail Router
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data Migration Manager
Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Language Packs

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

Prerequisites

Important Note: The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Language Pack must be downloaded before you can apply Update Rollup 18 to the language pack.

The links below will take you to the necessary information regarding Update Rollup 18:

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Reminder – CRM Online offers expire June 30, 2011

Microsoft has two great incentive programs that will run out at the end of June 2011—next week.

First, all new CRM Online organizations enjoy a discounted subscription rate of $34 per user per month (23% discount from $44) for the first 12 months.

Second, new CRM Online organizations licensing at least 15 seats receive a $200 rebate for each license! You can use the funds to offset licensing costs, purchase consulting services from xRM.com, or fund other projects. There’s a maximum of 250 rebates and a two-year commitment. Read the Cloud CRM for Less terms and conditions for the official details.

Combining both offers brings the effective cost down to $30.67 per user per month for two years. To put it another way, if you activate by June 30, 2011, you save $4,800 on every 15 seats.

Contact sales@xRM.com to activate your Dynamics CRM Online subscription right away.

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Microsoft CRM Update Rollup 17

Microsoft released Update Rollup 17. This is a tested, cumulative set of updates for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. It includes performance enhancements that are packaged together for easy deployment.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista; Windows XP.

Prerequisites

  • This update must be installed on a computer that is running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.
  • This update requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.

The links below will take you to the necessary information about Update Rollup 17:

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