Last week I came accross Ben’s article about the creation of realistic Test Data for CRM Project. He explained exactly the importance of the test data, and showed you how to create realistic data. He showed you WHAT and I will show you HOW.
This is the introduction part in an article series where I’ll be presenting a few facts about Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration/migration solutions. Since there will be a lot of details to go through, the content will be split into separate articles to improve the accessibility to this information.
The overarching theme of this series is to give you a better opportunity to compare different solutions and obtain the overview needed to choose the rightest one.

The ability to migrate data and keep it integrated between application is the one key element of any successful Dynamics CRM project. In order to have a brick-wall Dynamics CRM environment you need to ensure that all of your data integrated / migrated in a supported method. Do not modify directly data in the Microsoft SQL relational database because it is not supported for a number of architectural reasons. What does it mean? You should not perform direct inserts, updates or deletes. Instead od using SQL statements, you should communicate with Dynamics CRM by leveraging the CRM web services and supported methods.
migration

There are number of supported methods to read / write data from / to Dynamics CRM:

  • Leverage existing technologies and tools
    • ETL tools
      • SSIS
      • Scribe
      • Connectors for Microsoft Dynamics
      • etc.
    • BizTalk / Service Bus
  • Write your own solution

Choose the right tool

How to determine which tool is right for you? Understand the available technical resources. If you have inhouse developers who are familiar with .NET and CRM SDK!

write-your-own

Write custom code against CRM web service interfaces using SDK or service references.

Pro’s:

  • Leverage .NET programming skills
  • More granular control
  • Flexible integration points:
    • Workflows
    • Plugins
    • Standalone applications

Con’s:

  • Much higher maintenance cost

etl

ETL Tools

Pro’s:

  • Productivity
  • Visual Development environment for data flows
  • Scheduling engine
  • Performance
  • Extensibility
  • Scalability

Con’s:

  • Extra license costs
  • Not ideal for real-time environment

integration-solutions

Solutions

I have found these solutions for integrating/migrating data your Dynamics CRM system with other system. The list below shows some of the data integration solutions available for Dynamics CRM (please leave other good solutions in the comments):

Microsoft

Third-party Dynamics CRM adapters for BizTalk

Third-party Dynamics CRM adapters for SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

Third-party ETL Tools with Dynamics CRM adapter

Conlusions

All data integration solutions might include the following basic features:

  • Source to target mapping
  • Data manipulation and transformation
  • Scheduling
  • Error handling

Don’t forget about the performance! Data integration solutions are designed to be able to scale the server computing resources!