Our Experience with Microsoft Dynamics Connector
Over the last 3 months as part of our R&D projects, Appolis developed an iOS based Sales Order Entry System we call “WoW Order”. The need for order entry in the field is alive and well and we continue to get requests for this capability all the time. This article explains our experience with the V2 release of Microsoft Dynamics Connector which was made available to the masses in December 2011. For information about the SDK which is used to create your own custom adapters, check out the Microsoft Dynamics Adapter SDK. (you’ll need login credentials as a partner or customer).
As a WMS provider, we typically don’t see order entry as our sweet spot, but Microsoft Dynamics Connector was a technology that we wanted to get real world exposure to.
The Microsoft Dynamics Connector is a free Microsoft integration tool that began as a replacement for Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration to Dynamics GP. Once the Connector architecture was proven out, the Microsoft team continued to build Adapters to integration between CRM, GP, AX, NAV, and SL. Appolis has always been an early adopter of web services for Dynamics GP and the Connector was a technology that we could create an efficient integration strategy with ALL Dynamics products by leveraging existing Adapters that were initially built out for CRM integration. If successful, it opens up a whole new market space for our products and services.
For out WoW Order application, we created a custom adapter that would be used by both Microsoft Dynamics® NAV and CRM to create sales orders, return order statuses, order history, pull master lists of items, and customers.
For our application we used 3 new technologies:
1) Microsoft Dynamics Connector for CRM/GP/NAV/AX
2) Apple iOS based Sales Entry App with Barcode Scanning and WCF integration
3) Appolis WoW Framework
The documentation provided for custom adapters is limited. Our main source of information was the Connector Blog, the SDK, and some internet content.
Once we figure it out how the Connector architecture works, custom Adapters are very easy to create and to work with. The difficulty resides in the business rule around the data that is transferred from a system to another. In the SDK there is a Visual Studio template to create new adapter project or mapping function. Our initial load testing showed very positive results when importing our data from Dynamics NAV for our Customers and Items. We were seeing .01 seconds per item and although many factors impact performance results, our integration is running seamlessly without any manual intervention. It just runs!
Obviously there are many technical tips and tricks to success that we have discovered which are not covered here, but we believe that it opens up new doors to integrated systems for Microsoft Dynamics customers, partners, and companies like us… ISV’s.
We plan on continuing our R&D investment in this area and believe that it will play a significant role in our future product strategy!