The CRM team talks about CRM “5”

Category : CRM, Dynamics CRM
Date : October 28, 2008

This week at PDC the Dynamics CRM team is taking the wraps off a few select platform features coming in the next major release of CRM.  A few weeks before PDC I sat down with some of the program managers and devs on the team to discuss a few of these features.

In addition to many new end-user and developer features introduced with CRM 4 there were numerous infrastructure enhancements made that enable some great new scenarios.  CRM 4 added lots of good stuff including big pieces like multi-tenancy and 64-bit support.  A lot of that work was around taking CRM 4 to the cloud and much of it was infrastructure or plumbing.  Another important thing that happened with CRM 4 is that the idea of using Dynamics CRM as a platform started to take hold as it provided developers the ability to build line of business applications cheaper and faster

In this first video I chat with Andy Bybee, Humberto Lezama Guadarrama and Allen Hafezipour all program managers on the CRM platform team thinking about programmability and the developer experience.  We talked about some of the thinking that went into CRM “5” (that’s a codename, by the way).  Don’t look for any schedule information in here.  CRM “5” is still a long way away.  We’re talking about this developer-focused stuff early to help developers with design and architecture as they think about future designs.

CRM “5”: Chatting with the platform team

The team is still committed to power of choice and so will continue to use the exact same code base across on-premises, partner-hosted and Dynamics CRM Online.  The features that you see in revisions of CRM Online will fold into CRM “5”.

Since the folks I was talking to think mostly about the platform they had a lot to say about that.  CRM “5” is not about building generic applications.  The team has a laser focus on enabling the patterns they see over and over again when devs are building line-of-business applications. 

One area they are thinking hard about is how to solve some of the problems that ISVs run into when building on the platform.  A primary concern is simplifying the deployment and upgrading of applications and protecting intellectual property (IP) rights of those applications.

Another area you’ll see a lot of work in is the user interface.  The team talked about the work done on end-user experience with the page model.  They are working to improve usability and help with the density of information.

Andy talked a lot about cloud services.  BTW, when we recorded this a few weeks ago the Azure brand had not been announced so we just referred to this generally as “cloud services”.

CRM itself does not run in Windows Azure (formerly known as Red Dog).  Applications running outside the firewall would run great and be easiest to develop on Windows Azure.  In the CRM world we refer to these as self-service applications.  On the other hand, if you’re building line-of-business applications that would run behind the firewall those would run great and be easiest to develop on Dynamics CRM.  Microsoft .NET Services (formerly known as “Zurich”) provide the glue that can pull those two types of applications together so that they can share information.  The Azure Services Platform makes service-to-service integration much easier and safer by providing capabilities like identity, access control, relay service and workflow.  Andy does a great job of describing on the whiteboard how CRM and .NET Services work together to build systems that avoid what Humberto calls the “funky stuff”.

Code on the server is a pain point today for devs trying to build applications on the CRM Online platform.  Allen talks about some of the thinking that went into designing this core new feature.  As you can imagine this sort of thing has important implications in so many other areas (coding, debugging, operations, monitoring etc).  Also, although the thinking first started with the idea of getting code on the server for CRM Online, what the team has done actually provides important capabilities to all types of deployments.

We’ll go into a lot more detail on this cool stuff in a couple of other videos later this week. Stay tuned to this site for that.