Blog Archives

Journey to Implementing Continuous Delivery for Dynamics CRM

In this post I will show you how you can implement Continuous Delivery for your Dynamics CRM solutions. Using the latest version of Team Foundation Server (TFS), Visual Studio Release Management and xRM CI Framework you will be able to implement one-click automated deployments across all your environments including production. This will enable you provide continuous business value to your stakeholders by releasing small changes more frequently, consistently and reliably. This is very much inline with Agile methodologies of software delivery.

Stage 1: Automate your Builds

Before you can automate your deployment and release processes you need to have an automated consistent way of building your Dynamics CRM components. In terms of deployment your components will be artifacts like CRM Solutions, Configuration Data, CRM Deployment Packages and others. Team Foundation Server provides an excellent Build Automation and Continuous Integration Engine that you can use for this.

Using xRM CI Framework you can easily create automated builds for your Dynamics CRM solutions with a few clicks. Follow the documentation on codeplex to create your build. The build will generate your CRM components and place them in the designated drop location. This can now be picked up by your Release Automation tool which in this case will be Visual Studio Release Management.

Stage 2: Automate your Deployments

Having a consistent build process in place, you can now move into automating the deployment of the components produced above. You will use PowerShell scripts to automate the deployment process. The latest Sdk for Dynamics CRM 2013 comes with PowerShell extensions that allow you deploy CRM Deployment Packages.

The xRM CI Framework comes with two generic PowerShell Scripts. The first one allows you to import CRM Solutions and the second one allows you to deploy a CRM Deployment Package. Depending your scenario you can get started by using either of these scripts and tweak them to your needs. Note the xRM CI Framework also contains many custom PowerShell Cmdlets (Commands) that you can use in your scripts. Check out the documentation on codeplex for more information.

Now you should have some scripts that you can run on to deploy your automated Build outputs.

Stage 3: Automate your Testing

You should be really thinking about this from the start and writing automated tests as requirements come in. The reason I put this at this stage is because as far as Continuous Delivery is concerned you can’t execute your automated tests without having first build and deployed your application to your stage or testing environment. Ideally you want to run Unit Tests during each Check-In and Integration and functional tests in your Continuous Integration and Nightly builds. Finally sanity tests can be run after deployment to your UAT & Production environments.

The xRM Test Framework contains lots of utility classes and productivity tools to allow to easily create Unit and Integration Test for your Dynamics CRM deployments. Check out the detailed documentation and webinars on codeplex. These tests can then be executed during your builds and post your release using Visual Studio Release Management.

Stage 4: Automate your Releases

Once you have your automated builds and deployment scripts ready, you can start thinking about release automation. Release automation allows you to do one click deployments across all your environments. Visual Studio also includes cool features such as security, audit, configuration and environment management and most importantly an easy visual tool to allow you to model your release process using workflows.

In the following post I will show you on how to use Release Management with Dynamics CRM.

Hope you found this post useful.

 

I am presenting @CRMUG UK Regional Chapter (July 2014)

CRMUG Logo

Join me for the next meeting of the CRMUG UK Regional Chapter Meeting on Thursday, July 17th at Microsoft Cardinal Place Victoria, London. The July meeting will focus on using Microsoft Dynamics CRM for managing Customer, Citizen, and other kinds of “Service”. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what CRMUG has to offer you and fellow Dynamics CRM users in your area!

I will be presenting a session about “One-Click Dynamics CRM Deployments ” at 11:15 AM.

“Find out how you can automate the build and deployment processes for your CRM solutions. The session will demonstrate how the latest tools from the CRM SDK, TFS 2013, Visual Studio Release Management & xRM CI Framework can work together to implement end to end one-click deployments of your enterprise Dynamics CRM Solutions across all your environments. This will allow you to deliver CRM more frequently in a consistent and reliable way.

Don’t forget to take a look at the full Agenda in here. There will be multiple tracks with a range of topics to suite all roles.

Looking forward to seeing you all in there.

I am presenting at extremeCRM 2014 Barcelona

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eXtremeCRM is the hub where Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners come together to forge business relationships, gain knowledge from real-world experiences and dive deep into current and future technologies.  For Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner organizations, it is the annual conference to attend to nurture best practices, facilitate business growth, and educate each organization member.  The highly anticipated conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain, 9 – 12 February, 2014.

Join me on Tuesday 11 Feb at 16:45 in room H3 for my session on “Continuous Delivery – Deliver CRM More Frequently in a Consistent and Reliable Way“. Summary of the session below. You can find all the details in here.

“In this session I will show you what it takes to achieve Continuous Delivery in an enterprise environment through automating the build, deployment and testing of your CRM solutions. I will include a demo of an end to end journey of taking a requirement from definition all the way into production using the latest Automation Tools and best practices (Team Foundation Server 2013, Release Management for Visual Studio, PowerShell & xRM CI Framework for Dynamics CRM 2013). I will discuss suitable implementation options for your target infrastructure to cover on-premise and cloud implementation.

This session will be particularly useful for delivering Dynamics CRM into organizations where there is demand for quick results, quality, efficiency, controlled processes and audit.”

Looking forward to seeing you all in there. Don’t forget to take a look at the full Agenda in here.

xRM CI Framework is now available

The xRM CI Framework is a set of tools that allows you to quickly and easily implement Continuous Integration for your Dynamics CRM solutions.

The framework provides an implementation of some of the concepts detailed in the recently published Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) white paper. The framework is also compatible with the Dynamics CRM Developer toolkit from the SDK.

The framework allows you to improve efficiency and consistency by automating your build and deployments using Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2012 and PowerShell.

Below is the list of features provided in the first release.

  1. Dynamics CRM TFS Build Template that allows you to easily create your Check-In, Continuous Integration, Nightly and Release Builds
  2. Dynamics CRM PowerShell Cmdlets to extend your build process and automate your deployments
  3. Ability to support online & offline Dynamics CRM Builds (Build from CRM instance v.s. from source control)
  4. Ability to trigger automated deployments from your TFS Builds
  5. Ability to run Integration Tests from your TFS Builds after deployment
  6. Automatic versioning of your CRM Solutions inline with your TFS Build number
  7. Ability to automate the updating of your customisations stored in source control from CRM using the solution packager
  8. Support for Dynamics CRM on-premise & online
  9. Support for TFS 2012 on-premise & online
  10. Easy to use and extensible to meet your specific scenarios

Apart from the benefits above you will also get all the benefits of using Team Foundation Server Build to improve your ALM.

There will be a series of blog articles to show you how you can use the framework to implement your specific scenarios in your projects.

In the meantime you can download a copy of the framework from the visual studio gallery.

Don’t forget to check out the setup post on how to get started.