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Amir Naghmi

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Yesterday, I blogged about the pre-conference Innovation Challenge where I got to share ideas and collaborate with other CRM experts. In addition to sharing with and learning from other Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners, I’ve also been looking forward to picking the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team’s brains about what’s coming in CRM 2016 and beyond. There were a lot of takeaways from day 1, including the surprise announcement of Bob Stutz’s departure from Microsoft, but in this post I really want to focus on something I’ve been hearing about and itching to know more about since CRMUG Summit – the new Lifecycle Services Data Loader for CRM Online.

Session: Data Migration to CRM Online Using Data Loader Services

This is a session I was really excited to intend for a couple of reasons. As a CRM implementer, my interest was piqued by the description of the tool as a way to migrate data to CRM Online using a cloud service that guarantees migration of large volumes of data at high speeds… all without a single line of code! I was also interested to learn how we could possibly leverage this to enhance Cobalt’s popular CRM Lab add-on, CRM Snapshot. So, let’s dig into what the team had to say.

Data Loader Portal

The Data Loader is comprised of a few different components. The user interface can be accessed from a link in the CRM Online Admin Center that will take you to a portal hosted in Lifecycle Services where you go to actually interact with the service. The first step to using the service is connecting to your CRM Online deployment. There will be a one-time configuration step for every CRM Online deployment that you want to use the service for. Next, you upload your flat data source file, much like the existing CRM Import tool, you can bundle and zip multiple source files. Your data is loaded into a staging area where you can map, edit, clean, and transform your data before pushing it into CRM.

Push to CRM

So, it’s pretty cool that we can load up our flat files and manipulate the data immediately in response to detailed error message the services validation will throw, but what makes this a really awesome tool is the way in which it’s loaded into CRM Online. While the service is using the SDK for the push, this service is reported to load over 500,000 records an hour. The details of how this is accomplished are still vague, but conceptually the Data Loader service creates a “Data Project” for your import, and once the data is validated and ready to push, the Data Project splits the actual data into distinct import jobs that are run in parallel, drastically improving the performance of your migration.

Looking Ahead

The Data Loader team’s immediate directive is to be able to push large volumes of data from flat files at high speeds to CRM Online, but the potential uses of this have left the roadmap open to other data sources (unspecified as of yet) and functions beyond migration. What’s really cool is that the team is looking for our input and feedback to guide the evolution of the tool based on how it’s being used in our implementations. The eventual intent is to offer an alternative (or replacement) for the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

Other Similar Projects

In the same vein as the Data Loader, there are some parallel projects taking place at Microsoft. The team is pretty tight-lipped about it, but we did learn that there is a Metadata migration tool and also a CRM on premise to CRM Online migration tool in the works. I can’t wait to see how these tools come together to make the move to CRM Online a much easier lift and smoother transition.

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