Thursday, May 11, 2017

Save storage cost in Dynamics 365 (online) with Attachment Management solution

When files are attached/linked to Dynamics 365 records, they are stored in the CRM database which will have an impact on licensing cost depending of how much this functionality is being used. In Dynamics 365, 10 GB of storage is by default allocated to all CRM databases - for all organizations in the tenant) and 5GB is accrued per 20 full-users which are being licensed. (For more details see the Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Licensing guide). It is however possible to purchase additional database storage at roughly  4 EUR/GB/month. So if you accumulate 100 GB of files/documents per year – the cost might quickly rise – listed below is a rough estimate for 3 years.
Required storage Yearly cost
Year 1 100 GB € 4.800
Year 2 200 GB € 9.600
Year 3 300 GB € 14.400
There are a however a  number of options to externalize these documents/file blobs outside of the CRM databases and save money:
  • Use SharePoint Online as document storage – see Using SharePoint Online to store Dynamics CRM Online Documents for more details. This is the preferred solution if you also need to leverage SharePoint features such as document metadata, authoring/editing of Office documents, version management, etc… From a user perspective, this might however be a way of working which is not as smooth as expected.
  • Use Azure Blob storage to store your documents/files  - Azure Blob storage will roughly cost between 0.02 and 0.05 EUR/GB/month depending on reequired redundancy and type of storage (for an exact pricing  ). You will off course still need a solution to externalize these blobs. You can develop your own solution (you can use as a starting point) or purchase a third party add-on such as ProStorageSaver from ProMX which will store attachments within Azure Blob Storage. Recently there is however a new solution available from Microsoft Labs on Appsource – Attachment Management
The Attachment Management solution is an add-on feature to dynamics 365 CRM Online to manage notes and email attachments using Azure blob storage. Attachment Management  not only  enables business users to optimize use of CRM Online storage but it also offers additional optional features using web resources such as multiple files upload with drag and drop support as well as  a web resources which allows to list all notes and email attachments in grid format, with download and preview of these attachment.

Figure 1. Screenshot of upload files control with drag and drop support

Figure 2. Grid view with e-mail and note attachments (including preview error)

This is a preview solution and there are still some issues:
  • Menu item for "Azure Blob Storage Settings" did not appear underneath Settings>Extensions – you can however manually add it through customization
  • Preview of documents within the grid listing does not seem to work correctly as visible in figure 2 above.
You also have to keep in mind that if you already have some existing attachments in Dynamics 365 (online), you will have to write some code to move them to Azure blob storage in the same way as the current solution does since this is not supported in the current version.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Dynamics 365 monthly reading list 01/05/2017

Lots of interesting news on Dynamics 365 the last couple of weeks – keep up to date by subscribing to this blog.
Technical topics (Configuration, customization and extensibility)
Topics for business analysts and power users