Infrastructure Planning

Server Infrastructure

Planning and diagramming the servers involved in your CRM implementation is integral to deployment. This may include new physical servers, virtualized servers, and existing servers, or most likely a hybrid. Your infrastructure may consist of servers performing multiple functions requiring an expansion of servers and farms based on projected load and performance expectations. This may be accomplished first by scaling components and roles. CRM application role groups are defined as Front End and Back End Servers. We will examine and discuss the CRM server groups and roles in this section.

Reporting demands

Carefully monitor the load and demand of SQL Server Reporting Services; performance improvements could be gained by deploying dedicated Report Server(s).

  • Scheduling snapshots – particularly reports that are not required to be real-time
    • For example: ERP-integrated reports for which data is updated every 24 hours
    • Limit the number of historical snapshots
  • Examine long-running or inefficient report queries with SQL Query analyzer
  • Typically dashboards are expected to render quickly, utilize snapshots and configure dashboards to default to them
  • Ensure pre-filtering is used on the reports with default filters such as date range

Active Directory

Part of the deployment requirements documentation should be a checklist of authorization accounts and permissions for installation. A best practice is to configure a new OU for CRM AD groups for each new CRM deployment.

Security requirements

Planning and documenting security must include individuals from stakeholders, IT management, database administration, network staff, and development groups. Ensure complete review for all of these components:

  • Domain and Active Directory
  • SQL Server and SQL Server Reporting Services
  • SharePoint
  • Remote access
  • Portals and custom pages
  • Integrations and Migrations
  • Network Zones and Firewalls

Development cycle environment

Most organizations will want to continue configuring and customizing CRM as new requirements arise or as resources become available. These changes should be developed, tested and approved in a non-production environment. Three CRM deployments will provide an ideal development cycle of development, user acceptance testing (UAT), and finally to production.

This infrastructure also allows for testing of Update Rollups and patches not only for CRM but also related applications.

Infrastructure scenarios include:

  • Single Development Server Environment: This could meet the needs of many organizations especially if resources are minimal. All CRM server components are installed on a single development server.

CRM infrastructure planning

  • Multiple Server Test Environments: To support a full development cycle, the configuration will require multiple servers. This layout will closely match production so that testing may be more complete such as confirming server to server security.

CRM infrastructure planning

Multi-tenancy

Multi tenants may be used not only for development and testing environments but also for additional requirements.

  • Distinctions of business departments and entities
  • An alternative to Business Unit hierarchy
  • Better fit for challenging security requirements
  • Isolation of customizations and volume of activity

Remote access

In order to support remote and mobile users, consider these two concepts:

  1. What technology will be implemented to support remote access. Generally this will be configuring IFD (Internet Facing Deployment) or by leveraging an existing VPN already in place with the organization.
  2. Devices accessing data. This may be company-provided laptops and smartphones as well as user-owned mobiles,, tablets, and personal computers. For these instances, configurations and access points must be secured.

Remote Access Security Considerations

Claims-based authentication is built with industry standard protocols and Windows Identity Foundation (WIF). It is possible to be used for internal and external users as well as users from other organizations.

Some organizations may utilize existing VPN connectivity methods; requirements may be for business entities such as those in the banking industry fall under the regulatory oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and may not be permitted to use IFD. Or organizations in the Health industry.

SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint 2010/2013 offers a robust document management solution and many organizations may have an existing SharePoint Farm that could be leveraged using the CRM/SharePoint integration. Or this may be the opportunity for a new implementation specifically for CRM. For more information on SharePoint integration capabilities see our chapter SharePoint Document Management

Multiple languages and currencies

For any size domestic deployment, a single language and currency may meet the needs of the organization. However, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers more than 40 language packs which are downloaded and installed separately. These will be in addition to the base language required for the initial installation. Users may select their own default which will utilize existing translation labels. Resources will be needed for translating custom fields, option set values, messages, and other customizations.

Language and currency considerations:

  • The base language of all server components must be the same language or default to English.
  • Outlook Clients need the desired language pack installed.
  • Additional currencies are simply added through the CRM administration UI; Microsoft Dynamics CRM will require a base currency.
  • Currency exchange rate information should be maintained manually or by using a custom plugin to communicate with a currency exchange web service.

Supporting 24/7 users

As an organization deployment grows to encompass multiple time zones and continents, additional support requirements will need to be considered.

  • Maintenance windows
  • Handling development cycle
  • Application updates and deployments

Latency and Bandwidth

There are implications of high latency, low bandwidth and in some case poor network quality or loss of connection such as warehouses and remote areas. Dynamics CRM provides a simple tool that can provide data regarding latency potentially affecting performance:

Simply go to this url: https://FULL CRM URL /tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx