MB2-710 – Administer Instances

As I revise for the MB2-710 exam I am creating posts covering all aspects of my revision. Hopefully collectively they may help others prepare for the MB2-710 certification. (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online Deployment.)

In this post I will look at administering CRM instances.

Before diving in let’s remind ourselves of what the skills measured statement says. (It is always a good tip to do this whilst revising to ensure you have fully covered each topic.)

  • Administer Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online instances
    • Define instances; describe the relationship between instances subscriptions, tenants and security groups; describe instance types; set instance properties; switch an instance; reset an instance; place an instance in administrative mode; delete an instance; describe methods to copy an instance; create a copy of an instance

When we say instance, what do we mean? Think of an instance as a CRM database. Meaning you can have multiple databases (instances) within each CRM subscription. One common reason for wanting multiple instances is to have a production and test environment. (referred to as sandboxes.) Or maybe in some larger organizations multiple production instances are required, possibly to isolate data and functionality by company divisions.

If you are familiar with CRM on-premise, in CRM on-premise the equivalent to an online CRM instances would be an organization.

Information for each instance is stored in a separate SQL server database.

You’ll need to understand how instances fit into the hierarchy of an Office 365 / CRM environment. When you sign up for office 365 you’ll create what is referred to as your “Tenant”. Then each tenant can have a number of subscriptions to services, for example with CRM online you might have a subscription which grants you a number of CRM professional licenses and maybe some add-ons like additional storage. We then have instances which is a CRM database / organization within a subscription. And finally Security Groups within an instance are used to govern who has what access.

A typical hierarchy could look like this, where I have one tenant and three subscriptions. Each subscription would be for a service that has been activated in my environment. Then under my CRM online subscription a number of instances could exist. In my example I have shown one production and two sandbox environments.

As already suggested an instance can be one of two types;

  • Production, for production purposes
  • Sandbox, used for non-production purposes. Typically, these would include training, testing and development.

When you purchase the minimum number of 5 professional license you will be “given” one production instances. When you purchase 25+ professional or enterprise licenses you will get one sandbox instance. Plus, other instances can be purchased for a monthly subscription as required. (With sandbox instances being cheaper than production instances.)

Licensed users can access the default CRM online production instance plus every additional instance associated with a tenant. The additional sandbox and production instances do not automatically add any additional storage, meaning all the instances share the storage purchased with the CRM subscriptions.

Instances are purchased as an add-on to subscriptions. (Note: If you are using a CRM trial for your exam prep it will be worth noting that you can’t “purchase” add-ons for a trial system.)

To administer an instance, you open Office 365 and navigate to the CRM admin center.

You then select the instance you wish to manage and click edit.

As you can see below you can that edit the name, url etc.

Name, being the name of the instance as shown in the CRM application

url, the unique url used when signing into CRM

Purpose, a text field used as a reference to the purpose of the instance.

Type, production or sandbox

Security Group, security groups can be used to determine which users have access to a particular instance. For example, maybe only a limited number of users can access your development sandbox. If you do not define a security group then all users will a CRM license would have access to that instance.

Tenant Constraints

  • A tenant can include a maximum of 50 production instances.
  • A tenant can include a maximum of 75 sandbox (non-production) instances.
  • Each production and non-production instance will have its own SQL database.
  • Any licensed CRM online user can have access to any instance in the same tenant.
  • A tenant is bound to a geographical area or online region. (Such as Europe, Japan, India.)
    • By default, all instances will be for the same region.
    • It is possible to request to create an instances in other geographical areas. And once granted you will need to define the online region per instance.

Rather than having multiple instances within one tenant it is possible to have multiple tenants but this has some downsides including;

  • Each tenant would need to be managed separately
  • Licenses only apply to one tenant, so each licensed user can only access instances in their tenant
  • Licenses / subscriptions cannot be shared across tenants
  • If using single sign on, each tenant can only be federated with one on-premise active directory.

As you prepare for the MB2-710 exam you will need to understand tenants, subscriptions and instances. I hope this post has given you a useful overview.

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