Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New features (CDS Integrations) and some clarity on Common Data Services (CDS) and how it will work in the Dynamics 365 Sphere of products

For the last year how the Common Data Services (CDS) will actually work and play in the Dynamics 365 sphere of products has been a fairly gray area. It has been often promised that "it just works", without providing any details to what is going on behind the scenes. Hopefully I'll be able to provide some grain of clarity on that.

The following is still under development by Microsoft and hasn't been officially announced, but it's what I've gathered from speaking with the various product members.

How does the Common Data Model get filled by the CDS? - Microsoft is building 1st class integrations

Is it flow? - No

New configuration section - "Integrations":

So this doesn't yet exist yet, but there is supposed to come a new section in the PowerApps Admin Center where you can configure your environment integrations with the Common Data Service. It's also important to note that it lives in the PowerApps Admin Center for now only because they haven't come up with a better place, even though it doesn't seem to make total sense to me.

So things like:

  1. Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM) to
  2. Common Data Services to
  3. Dynamics 365 for Operations (AX)

This order is important because "you have to crawl before you can walk" and Microsoft's first goal is to go from Sales => CDS => Operations. Eventually, they'll go both ways.

Flow Templates:

If you're like me and tried to figure it out on your own, you may have stumbled upon some pre-configured Flow Templates that might fit the need:

How are flow templates different than integrations?

Integrations to the Common Data Service will be more robust and "first class" integrations by Microsoft for bulk data moving and syncing, while Flow Templates are for purpose built, row-by-row needs.

What technologies do integrations use under the hood?
The integrations use a combination of Data Import Export Framework (DIXF), OData, and M-Engine which sits under Power Query.  These allow the integration to push bulk amounts of data between the systems on an unspecified syncing schedule.

This is an exciting time as these technologies are bleeding edge and new things are expected to release very soon! As always, happy DAX'ing! Or D365'ing?