Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Accelerators for Dynamics CRM 4.0 Part I - Enterprise Search

The Accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 are finally available on Codeplex . The purpose of these accelerators is to showcase how the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform can be  extended to broaden marketing, sales and service capabilities – with a big focus on integration scenario’s.

One of the most interesting ones for a SharePoint developer is the Enterprise Search Accelerator which contains a Business Data Catalog (BDC) definition file for the different entities in CRM 4.0. This way you can access information about Accounts, Activities, Campaigns, Cases,Contacts,Contracts,Customer Address, Invoices, Leads,Opportunities,Quotes and Sales Orders which are entered in CRM from within your SharePoint environment.

Although the accelerator seems to focus on Enterprise Search you will be able to use BDC data in a number of places:

  • Using Business Data web parts such as the Business Data List, Business Data Item, Business Data Item Builder, etc …
  • As metadata/column in a SharePoint list or library
  • As content source for Search
  • As secondary import source to add information to the SharePoint User Profile store

Some things to think about though:

  • Business Data Catalog (BDC) is a feature which is only available in SharePoint Server Enterprise Edition – check out Microsoft SharePoint Server edition comparison . So this requires Enterprise CALs.
  • The CRM BDC 4.0 definition file is huge – it basically displays all the possible information which is available. So you will need to put in some effort to define which information you actually want to be available.
  • Next to the Enterprise CAL you will also need a CRM read access license (aka CRM limited CAL) as a minimum for any users who are going to access this information.

If you want to learn more about BDC – check out SharePoint article series – Business Data Catalog