As I revised for the MB2-715 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online Deployment) I am creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this posts I will look at management of updates.
As I often like to do let’s consider the skills measured statement. From this we can see that there is a need to under how to review and apply updates. The skills measured statement is shown below;
In this post I will try to elaborate on this statement and give you the basic details you might need to know for the exam.
New features are typically delivered to Dynamics 365 Online twice a year. In a Spring and Autumn update. Although the exact timing of these updates can vary. On premise updates, generally, happen less often with typically just one release per year.
Customers are not required to immediately take all the online updates! The updates are not applied until the update for each instance is approved separately. Whilst customers can opt to not take an update they cannot skip updates permanently. At some stage it will become mandatory to update an instance. Customers that are 2 versions behind must typically take a mandatory update.
Microsoft call this process “Customer Driven Updates” or CDU. The process of “forcing” customers to keep their instances up-to-date is actually a major advantage of Dynamics 365 online. As this process ensures customers can quickly take advantage of new features and don’t get left behind. I have often worked with on premise customers who have slipped significantly behind with their upgrades, updating these outdated systems can turn into a much more significant undertaking. Staying current with your releases is therefore a really good practice.
CDU does allow customers to skip one update. You could for example, have upgraded directly from CRM 2016 to Dynamics 365. Skipping the CRM 2016 Update 1 release. Whilst this skipping is possible it may not be considered best practice. As the size of the upgrade would increase and therefore the complexity.
You can view if any updates are planned by going into the Dynamics 365 admin center and selecting the updates option. The screen below shows an example environment with a number of instances. Notice that one of the instances has a mandatory update request!
Selecting the instance requiring update gives us an option to see what the update is and approve, scheduled or reschedule the update as required. Once you have scheduled an update you will receive reminder emails 90, 30, 15 and 7 days prior to the update.
In addition to the notification emails, admins may also see an update availability notification in the web client. (as shown below.)
The graphic below gives an explanation of the information shown regarding updates;
Tip: Should the current version be old; you can use the change target version option to select the desired version. Useful if you need to or have been skipping versions.
Tip: After an update has been approved you can still return to the admin center and use the reschedule update link to change its timing.
It is worth knowing that whilst CRM typically has two major releases per year, on-premise does not follow the same update pattern. Meaning it is common for on-premise to be one (or two) versions behind Dynamics 365 online.
Each update has a corresponding version number. At the time of creating this post the latest Dynamics online update was “the December update for Microsoft Dynamics 365”, which was known as version 8.2.0. The previous release was “CRM Online 2016 Update 1” and was known as 8.1.0.
Whilst there are two planned releases per year it should be understood that patches maybe released between versions. The timing of recent updates is shown below;
Note: At the time of creating this blog post we were very close to the next update of Dynamics 365. (Known as v9.0), the previous major release (v8.2) was in November 2016.
You can check which version of Dynamics 365 online is in operation by selecting the about option in the web application. (As shown below.)
In my example version 8.2.1 is the current version. The minor version number of “.359” reflects the build number and increases as patches are applied.
As mentioned in a previously, update notification emails will be sent to administrators and any other additional recipients configured for instance specific emails. The notifications are sent prior, during and after an update. Some emails may also be sent to users! The table below shows the typical timing and recipients of update notification emails.
Before approving / applying an update you may need to consider several things;
- Obviously take care to know when the update is scheduled and reschedule if required.
- If you work with a Microsoft Partner involving them is a recommended step. As they should give advice on compatibility of any add-ons / customizations / integration.
- Monitor communications, as mentioned above there will be various scheduled communications to watch out for.
- Check your customizations are compatible, you may need to review the details of the new version to check your customizations are going to work without enhancement.
- Consider sandboxes, typically it is going to be a good idea to upgrade a sandbox first. And complete regression testing as much as possible.
- Review the impact on users, send them notifications and if required ensure they are familiar with any changes prior to deploying to the production environments.
- Consider any training requirements. With major version changes you may need to ensure your users are given adequate refresher training.
- Review deprecated features. From time to time it might be necessary to deprecate older features. You will typically be given a couple of releases before deprecated features are actually removed.
You will find more detail regarding upgrades in this technet article; https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn308237.aspx
Hopefully this post has given you the basic information you’ll need to be aware of regarding updating online instances whilst revising for your MB2-715 exam.