Update Rollup 3 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Released

It seems like only yesterday we finished updating servers and clients to Update Rollup 2. I guess that’s because it pretty much was yesterday.  So, here we go again. Looking at the content of this rollup, a couple of things jump out at me:

  1. Very few hotfixes that were released as individual hotfixes
  2. The issues are getting more minor and unlikely to affect you
Type of Fix Count
Hotfixes and updates that were released as individual fixes 6
Issues that were not previously documented in a Knowledge Base article 65
Hotfixes and updates that you have to enable or configure manually 17 *

* Some of the updates that need to be configured manually are repeats from UR2.

Now that Microsoft has gone with a short, 2 month cycle for rollups, we are seeing far fewer individual hotfixes being released.  I think that is the new strategy.  With a 2 month cycle, there’s no reason to publish minor hotfixes that will be included in the rollup in a few weeks.  The issues & fixes are pretty minor.  CRM 4.0 has become a solid and stable product. And well it should after 14 months in market.

Get it here:

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Supporting the Outlook Client for Hosted Microsoft CRM 4.0?

This is just a quick post that is more of a question than a post.  I’ve talked to other CRM ISVs and CRM Hosters and there are differing opinions on how or whether to support the Outlook client.  The Outlook interface is a big selling point and makes the CRM experience much better in my opinion.  However, if you have ever been involved in technical support for Microsoft CRM, you know that the Outlook client is far and away the source of the most support issues.

Today, we applied Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Update Rollup 2 on our own CRM server.  I use the “Laptop Client” which has synchronization.  Just for grins, I tried to use the Outlook client after we updated the server but before I applied the update to the client.  As suspected, I got errors trying to go back online.

It is standard practice to have all clients go online prior to applying an Update Rollup.  That’s probably pretty workable at a small or medium business.  A few salespeople will forget but that’s ok since you can go around the office and fix up a few problems.  Deploying the update to all of your users is another task you’ll have to tackle.  In an on-premise implementation you can use group policy or some other method to push out the update.  But what about ISVs and Hosters?

If you are a hoster and you support the use of the Outlook client you have to deal with pushing out an update to all of your customers every two months when a new Update Rollup is released.  So, if you host CRM 4.0, here are my questions:

Do you support the Desktop Client, the Laptop Client, or both?

What do you use to push updates to your clients?

How do you handle the timing up of pushing out updates (update all servers then immediately push to clients)?

How do you handle notifying customers of an update?

How difficult has it been to support the Outlook client?

-Dan

Microsoft Released an “Update to the Update” of Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0

Hosting Environment for CRM 4.0

CRM 4.0 Rack in Colocation Data Center

Microsoft released a new version of Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 on February 8th. The new version fixes some problems with UR2.   The issues that were fixed were fairly minor.  Unless you were having troubles with a localized version, there weren’t any other major problems that a quick edit of web.config wouldn’t solve.

If the CRM team sticks to the 2 month update cycle, we should see Update Rollup 3 in about month. I’m not really used to this short cycle of updates yet. However, I do like the idea of doing a rollup rather than individual hotfixes. My basic rule of thumb on installing CRM updates is that, if we don’t need it to fix a problem, wait for 3-4 weeks and let everyone else regression-test it (thanks everyone and please keep up the good work). If we are experiencing problems then we’ll test it first in our sandbox and make sure nothing breaks.

We’ll be installing the update to the update in the CourseMax data center this weekend. It’s a pretty involved process.  Here is the process we’ll go through:

  • Apply the update in the sandbox
    • Since our CRM server roles are split up, we’ll have to install it four times)
  • Run through the test plan on all four servers
  • Apply the update on the production servers
    • Six different servers this time
  • Run through the test plan again on Production

The test plan involves testing all of the various screens, triggering actions for plug-ins, testing workflows, testing e-mails and queues, and testing all of the external modules that hit the CRM web service, the Deployment Service, and the Discovery Service. Now you can understand why we wait until everyone else finds the problems first. We could test it in a single-role environment but that wouldn’t really do much good because we’d still need to run through the test plan twice in the hosting environment.  This is also why I’m not really comfortable yet with the 2 month update cycle.  I like to keep current with updates but it is a lot of work.  Keep in mind that this is in addition to the testing and updating we do for our own software. Our software consists of all of the plugins, workflows, scripts, sitemap customizations, etc. that make CourseMax CRM handle all the functions you need if you are a Training Organization.  If we would have installed the first version of Update Rollup 2 we would have had to go through this whole process twice within a month.

I was thinking about synchronizing the updates to the CourseMax software with Microsoft’s cycle.  The problem with doing that is that, if something does go wrong, it will be a nightmare because we won’t know whether it is our software causing the problem, the Microsoft update, or a combination of the two. By the way…In case you were wondering, our sandbox is a QA environment that mirrors our production environment. While it isn’t identical (4 servers instead of 6) to the production environment, it has all of the same server roles and exhibits the same network traffic. Our whole environment is virtualized using VMWare so it was pretty easy to copy it over. We just copied all of the virtual drives brought them up without network, then configured them on a separate VLAN. Since VMWare allows VLAN tagging, it is a completely soft configuration. The sandbox environment actually shares hardware with the production environment. Man I love virtualization…virtual servers, virtual LANs, virtualized storage (SAN). Everything is so much easier and efficient these days.

Here are the links to the new release of Update Rollup 2:
Informational post on the CRM Team Blog
Download Link

The new update fixes 2 problems found with the original update that was released on January 15th. The most common problem I was hearing about is that you could no longer publish workflows after the update if you had a custom web.config file. The fix was to add the following line to web.config in the authorized types section:

<authorizedType Assembly=”mscorlib, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089″ Namespace=”System.Globalization” TypeName=”CultureInfo” Authorized=”True”/>

From the CRM Team Blog:

Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
On 2/8/2008, the CRM Sustained Engineering team released a new version of the Update Rollup 2 packages. The new version of Update Rollup 2 addresses some of the issues that have been noted in the comments for this blog entry.

Including:

Strings in the localized product showing up as garbage or in English.

Customized web.config causing issues after Update Rollup 2 is installed

Customers do not need to uninstall the original Update Rollup 2 packages. The new packages will install over the top. If a customer has not been affected by the issues in the original Update Rollup 2 package they do not need to update to the new version. Customers can install Client, Server, Router Update Rollup 2 in any order…

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