Throughout the years, the ability to store and access data has evolved radically. When peering into the history of data storage, one can see how the technology has changed in order to meet the mounting demands of the people. Back in the 1940’s, a piece of paper with holes punched into it was used as a form of data storage. This was known as a punch card. Over the years, data storage took on many different forms in order to meet ever-growing demands. Storing data electronically started with the Colossus (the first computer), and then gradually moved to magnetic tape, the hard drive, floppy disks, and finally to CDs. Now we have moved beyond the physical limitations of a computer. We have moved to the Cloud.
In this data intensive era, people demand more and more opportunity for high powered and convenient data storage; because of this, the Cloud was born. With many markets tapping into this technology, companies like SharePoint, Amazon, and Azure offer online storage options. These services combined with Dynamics 365 offer a convenient way to create online applications with upload functionality.
Here at Trinity Technology Group, our developers have strong experience using Azure Blob storage with CRM 2016 and Dynamics 365. Because Azure Blob is easy to configure with CRM/Dynamics, and because of its high reliability, we have leaned heavily on this storage option to help fulfill our client’s business needs. Azure Portal’s interface is user friendly and is easy to become familiar with. In order to configure with CRM/Dynamics, a user only needs to do 4 things:
- Create a blob storage account and Container within Azure Portal (https://portal.azure.com)
- Install the Azure Storage solution in CRM using the Adxstudio installer
- Create 2 site settings on CRM/Dynamics in order to plug into the correct blob account
- Add the adx_annotations.html web resource to the desired form(s) in CRM/Dynamics
Detailed instructions on how to configure can be found here:
Once configured, document uploads can be managed by an administrator in CRM/Dynamics. The administrator can determine what file types are accepted and where they get stored in Azure. The combined security of both CRM/Dynamics 365 and Azure enables the ability to store documents, pictures, and audio files securely and privately. With the functionality of CRM/Dynamics 365, an administrator can determine what users have access to read and write into the blob account.
With all of this said, it is still safe to say that no technology is perfect. There are some pitfalls to Azure Blob and CRM/Dynamics that I would like to list:
- The web resource used by ADX seems to be fragile. After installing the web resource within CRM, I noticed that it intermittently breaks. To resolve this issue, the web resource must be reinstalled. This is time consuming and the reason for the issue is still unknown.
- The ADX web resource does not work appropriately in Google Chrome. The web resource is responsible for linking the CRM Notes entity with the blob storage account. Once configured, a CRM user can enter a note and upload a file directly to azure blob storage container. In Google Chrome however, the text for the notes are invisible. We believe this is an issue with the web resources CSS file.
- Without setting up proper folder structures for the container, it can be difficult to locate a particular file inside the blob storage account.
With these pitfalls in mind, our company is hard at work looking for resolutions. A recent solution that I discovered which is in Microsoft’s future pipeline is called Attachment Management. Stay tuned to our blog page to hear more information about what we discover with this new Attachment Management solution.