TechEd 2010: Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM & SharePoint 2010

Girish Raja presents at TechEd 2010This morning at TechEd, Microsoft Technical Evangelist Girish Raja presented his session on Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM & Microsoft SharePoint 2010.  Girish began by discussing the notion of xRM, or "any" Relationship Management, since "The evolution is from CRM to xRM…it's not just CRM anymore," but the focus of this particular presentation was on CRM.  Specifically, it was the fact that SharePoint and CRM are complementary that was the focus, and Girish noted that the primary reason that this is so is that Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) is the engine that powers both SharePoint and CRM.

With that, Girish jumped into his first demo, "Hello World" displayed in SharePoint via a Web Part that pulled its data from CRM.  As Girish explained, it takes "about six lines of code to create a contacts list in CRM," and that if you "download Visual Studio 2010, it has all the tools you need built-in to get started."  Firing up Visual Studio, Girish showed how to create the SharePoint project in the Solution Explorer pane, add the Web Part, and right-click to deploy.  Briefly stepping through the code, Girish explained the settings involved in switching from CRM on premises to CRM online.  Perhaps most importantly, Girish explained that when you click Deploy, "Visual Studio does all the heavy lifting" for you, and the results will appear in SharePoint within moments.

Before moving on to his next demo, Girish took a moment to point out that CRM SDK 4.0.12 is now available, and that it includes significant advanced developer extensions.

Silverlight was next in the demo spotlight, with Girish explaining that "Silverlight brings the really nice user experience when you build these types of applications."  For his demo, Girish showed a Silverlight Web Part for SharePoint that pulls data from Dynamics CRM, and which includes read/write functionality and built-in workflow within SharePoint.  Girish pointed out, "for the IT pros, it's not that complicated, just so you know" before showing how he created it in Visual Studio.  The steps involved were essentially creating the new SharePoint project, then the new Silverlight project within the same Solution, and clicking Deploy.

Moving on to the topic of document management in CRM, Girish switched gears to address the flip-side of the equation, "how can CRM use SharePoint?"  In the case of document management, Girish showed how you can "embed your document libraries in CRM," which can be accomplished through the use of an iframe or through Web Services.  Girish demonstrated the iframe option, showing how to add a custom tab in the Opportunities area of Dynamics CRM which will surface a SharePoint document library via an iframe.  Girish noted that "the next version of CRM will do this natively," but that only 20-30 lines of code are required to do this now, and that he will have the source code (as well as the slides from his presentation) up on his blog shortly.

Moving on to the topic of contextual collaboration in CRM, Girish discussed that CRM dashboards using SharePoint are possible to create, and again it's the iframe which makes it possible to embed these dashboards. 

For his final demo, Girish addressed the topic of enterprise search with a global search of CRM using SharePoint. Girish said that you can either use community tools to automatically do this for you or you can do it yourself, the latter of which he went on to demo.  As with his previous demos, Girish first showed the end result before showing how he accomplished it. The end result in this case was a My Contacts link in SharePoint that, when clicked, pulls CRM data into SharePoint via BCS and displays it as a SharePoint list.  Girish said this was possible to do without writing a single line of code, using SharePoint Designer.  In Designer, open your SharePoint site, create an External Content Type which connects to the CRM list and, using the built-in wizard, choose the columns you'd like to render in SharePoint. 

In addition to his own blog, Girish also mentioned as the go-to resource for further learning, and regarding (free) resources to get started with CRM 4.0, he listed the following:

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