MB2-715 Certification: (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online Deployment) – Exchange Integration

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 review management of sandboxes. In this post I will cover integration with Microsoft Exchange.

The skills measured statement that mentions Exchange is shown below;

Email Processing Options

Firstly you need to be aware that Microsoft Dynamics does not include an email system! Emails resides in either Exchange or a pop3/smtp server. Meaning mulitple email platforms are supported but as the skills measured statement only specifically mentions Exchange I will focus on that.

Dynamics 365 integrates with Exchange using one of the two following options;

  • Server-side synchronization – Recommended approach
  • CRM client for outlook

Note:
Previous versions of Microsoft CRM included the email router option which is now deprecated.

Server-side sync is (as the name suggests) is a server based email processing method. Whilst the Outlook client works exclusively from the local client. When implementing Dynamics 365 you will need to consider the best option, things to consider include;

  • On line / on premise
  • Existing email infrastructure, are you using Exchange online, local exchange or another email system.

You can use a mixture of server-side sync and outlook client if required. (FYI: You could never mix email router and server-side sync! Only one server sync process can be active at any moment in time.)

Before reviewing server-side synchronization and the Outlook client it may be worth considering the benefits of each. The Outlook client is simple to setup but relies on the users accessing email via Microsoft Outlook on their desktop / laptop. And therein lies its major disadvantage! It is becoming more and more common to exclusively access emails (and Dynamics 365) from mobile clients or web based email. Imagine you have a sales person out in the field who only accesses emails from their phone, Outlook integration simply isn’t going to work for them!

Server-side Synchronization

Server-side synchronization provides a centrally managed solution, but is still part of the Dynamics 365 application and is therefore managed in the web browser. (With no need to install any additional software.)


Server-side sync is centrally managed via the web application.

Server-side sync is easy to configure, it can synchronize with Exchange online with minimal configuration. And can also synchronize with Exchange on-premise.

There are also ongoing maintenance advantages as it provides error reporting directly in the Dynamics 365 application through alerts.

Server-side sync is not limited to emails. It can also synchronize appointments, contacts and tasks.

Server-side synchronization (with Microsoft Dynamics 365) supports the following additional features;

  1. Email folder tracking
  2. Removes the need for Outlook add-in to synchronize records. Although you can still use the outlook client to track records manually.
  3. App for Outlook, server-side sync allows the use of the app for outlook. In which you can track emails via Outlook web client (mobile) or Microsoft Outlook (desktop).

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook

An alternative synchronization option is the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Outlook client.

In this option there is nothing to install or configure centrally, you simply install the client locally.

Dynamics 365 for Outlook can synchronize emails, contacts, appointment and tasks. But cannot be used for email queues and does not support folder tracking.

As the client runs locally, it is important to appreciate that synchronization only happens when Outlook is running. Incoming emails are not automatically tracked unless Outlook is running.


Only one organization can be designated as the synchronizing organization.

Only one Exchange or POP3 mailbox per Dynamics 365 user can be synchronized.

It is possible to use the Outlook client to go off line. The go offline features uses Microsoft SQL Server Express as a local data store.

One of the following operating systems is required:

  • Windows 10 (64-bit and 32-bit versions)
  • Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 (64-bit and 32-bit versions)
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (64-bit and 32-bit versions)
  • Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 when running as a Remote Desktop Services application

Microsoft Office. One of the following:

  • Microsoft Office 2016 (With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 or later.)
  • Microsoft Office 2013
  • Microsoft Office 2010

Web Browser. One of the following:

  • Internet Explorer 11
  • Internet Explorer 10

You can find full details of system requirements for the CRM for Outlook client, here.

Configuring Server-side Synchronization

Three steps are involved in configuring server-side synchronization;

  1. Configure system settings.
  2. Configure the server profile.
  3. Define and configure mailboxes for users / queues.

Options for all of these steps can be found in the email configuration options in the settings area of Dynamics 365.


The email configuration settings option lets you define the configuration of email you wish to deploy. Including server-side sync and email router. As part of your preparation it is worth going over this screen to be aware of the key options available.

Note: Notice the warning that if you change from email router to server-side sync the router will be blocked for email processing. (Email router is deprecated but does still exist!)


Tip: Notice the “Configure default synchronization method” section in system settings. It maybe common that most users have the same settings, so defining the defaults here will help make the process of creating new users easier. It is also possible to open an existing mailbox and use the apply default settings option.

Also notice that you can configure server-side sync and email router to only process emails for approved users and queues. This is the default and the reason why all mailboxes (by default) must be approved before being tested/enabled.

The next step is to create an email server profile. A step which is done automatically if you are using Dynamics 365 online and Exchange online. It is possible to have multiple email server profiles, in that scenario mailboxes will be linked to an appropriate server profile. This might be useful when migrating from one configuration to another. Or possibly simply done to create logical groupings, maybe all the user in the south are on one profile and the north on another. This logical grouping might be useful as error messages from all the mailboxes associated with each profile are rolled up.


Mailbox records get created when users or queues are created. These can be amended to govern what type of email synchronization is required for each individual mailbox.

Mailboxes must be approved and tested / enabled for them to operate. FYI, occasionally an email may force a permanent error and then the mail box would need to be re-approved / re-tested.

Also notice that a mailbox can be a forwarding mailbox.


Notice that the synchronization method on the mailbox can be set for “incoming email”, “outgoing email” and “appointments, contacts and tasks”. For example, incoming email might be handled by the server-side synchronization, whilst appointments remain on Microsoft Dynamics for Outlook.

The options available for each of the synchronization methods include;

  • Incoming Email
    • None
    • Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Office Outlook
    • Server-side Synchronization or Email Router
    • Forward Mailbox
  • Outgoing
    • None
    • Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Office Outlook
    • Server-side Synchronization or Email Router
  • Appointments, Contacts and tasks
    • None
    • Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Office Outlook
    • Server-side Synchronization or Email Router

Also, importantly the method can be set to none. Say you wanted to block all outgoing mail from a particular mailbox that could be done.

Forward Mailboxes

Often each user will have dedicated mailboxes, so that each user has an individual email address. (and mailbox configuration.)

With a forwarding mailbox large numbers of users can be configured to link to one forwarding mailbox. One mailbox is configured as a forward mailbox; then multiple users forward their mail to that forwarding box for tracking in Dynamics 365.

A forward mailbox is used as a collection box for email messages that are transferred from each user’s mailbox on the email system by a server-side rule. The forward mailbox must be dedicated to server-side synchronization, and must not be used as a working mailbox by an individual user. This can be used to process email messages for users and queues whose mailboxes have Incoming Email Synchronization Method set to Forward Mailbox.

The advantage being there is only a need to configure one mailbox but the disadvantage being you sacrifice the ability for users to individually send personalized emails.

In a call center you could configure everyone to use a forwarding mailbox. This would work because in this scenario synchronization of individual appointments, contacts and tasks is not essential. But in a sales environment, each field sales person would need a personalized view of their contacts and appointments. Meaning a forwarding mailbox would not be appropriate for them.

Note:
Don’t forget that a mixed deployment is possible. With some users working with a forwarding mailbox and others having individual mail accounts.

Server-side sync monitoring / performance

Monitoring email usage will be an important administration task to ensure smooth running. Whenever an error occurs an alert event is triggered and can be seen at an email box or server profile level. These can be for information, warning or errors. There is also a server-side sync dashboard available, this gives details of how many boxes are healthy and how many have continuous or warning errors. Plus, it contains charts to help see the current and historic performance for email synchronization.


Sometimes it may also be useful to go to the mailbox and select “Download Mail Details”, this will give full details of the configuration of that mailbox. An example is shown below;

Folder Tracking

Folder tracking is specifically mentioned in the skills measured, so let’s review that next! Folder tracking allows the user to simply drag the email into a folder and it will be tracking and collated.

  • Became available as new feature in CRM 2015 Update 1.
  • Requires Server-side Sync. (Cannot be used with email router or Outlook!)
  • Does not require the installation of a specific email app or client. (So no need for Dynamics 365 for Outlook client.)
  • Each folder is mapped to define how to set the regarding field on the emails.

The steps involved in configuring folder tracking are;

  1. Setup server-side sync. (As required for folder tracking)
  2. Enable folder tracking in the system settings.
  3. The users will then create folders.
  4. Then in the user settings folder tracking rules can be configured to map folders to Dynamics 365 entities.

Folder tracking is enabled from system settings in the email tab.


Then in the user options in the email tab users can configure folder tracking rules.

Tip:
They may need to create folders under their inbox first, as we need some folders to track emails into!

A common approach will be to create a folder for each one of the key clients someone owns. As emails are received from these accounts simply dragging them into the folder for that account would make the email available in Dynamics 365.


Tip:
One possible option for tracking from folders is to set no regarding record. This will simply get the emails into Dynamics 365! This might be useful if then a workflow is used to process the email.

Also, within the email client you could define rules to move emails automatically into folders based on various criteria. Assuming that folder is tracked into Dynamics 365 this gives an easy method to automatically track selected emails.

View this link for more details on folder tracking;

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-customer-center/track-outlook-email-by-moving-it-to-a-tracked-exchange-folder.aspx

Note: Emails dragged into exchange folders may not instantly show against the related records in Dynamics 365, as server-side synchronization has to happen before the mail activity is created in Dynamics 365.

A few more things to note about folder tracking;

  • You can track emails only in folders under your Inbox folder in Exchange. Other email folders cannot be tracked.
  • You can track up to a maximum of 25 folders per user account.
  • Any manual changes done to the regarding object in the tracked activity records in Dynamics 365 will be overridden the next time server-side synchronization kicks in. For example, if you have set up a mapping between the Adventure Works folder and the Adventure Works account, all the emails in the Adventure Works Exchange folder will be tracked as activities in Dynamics 365 with the regarding set to the Adventure Works account record. If you change the regarding to some other record, it will automatically be overridden the next time server-side synchronization occurs. To change the regarding for any email, move the email to a different folder such as the Inbox.

I have quickly covered quite a lot of content in this post. Hopefully I have covered most of the main topics you should revise as prep for the MB2-715 exam. However you will benefit from some hands-on experience. Try creating mailboxes, changing their config to work with server-side sync or Outlook. And also configure and test folder tracking.

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