Winning the Storage Wars with Attachment Management for Dynamics 365

In 1981 Bill Gates famously stated “640K should be enough for anybody”.  While not publicly documented, I am pretty sure in 2008 he also said that 5GB should be enough for any Dynamics CRM Online instance.

I have found that most of my Dynamics 365 Online clients have either come close or exceeded the max limit and have had to increase their database size.  I have on-premise clients whom have 100+ GB sized databases.  This is even with the recent increase to 10GB size provided as part of a Plan 1 subscription.

Extra storage space for Dynamics 365 comes at premium for each extra GB per month, compared to Azure Blob or SharePoint storage.

Attachment

One of the easy techniques to reduce the Dynamics 365 storage footprint is to offload note and email attachments to another storage mechanism, as these typically contribute to bloated Dynamics 365 databases.

There are some great 3rd party applications that can manage this such as MS-CRM AddOns Attachment Extractor.

Microsoft labs provides a free* app to Dynamics 365 users that will take note and email attachments and move them to Azure Blog Storage.

The documentation is a bit sparse, so I have outlined the steps here to help anyone who needs to set this up.

*note that free software is like a puppy… you will need to feed and care for it yourself.  There is limited support for this app.  You have been warned.

Azure Setup

The first thing you need is an Azure subscription.  With all the new features and functionality that integrate Dynamics 365 to Azure, it is pretty much becoming a standard practice to setup an Azure subscription with and new Dynamics 365 subscriptions.

Log in to your Azure Portal.

The first thing you will need to do is add a new storage account and set the appropriate settings.

1.1AzureStorageSetup

After you hit “Create” it will take a few minutes to create your storage account add it to your resource group.

Once your storage group is created, we need to add a couple of containers to hold the note and email attachments.

Click the “+ container” icon

1.2AzureStorageSetupContainer

You will need to create 2 containers, one for note attachments and the other for email attachments.

1.3AzureStorageSetupContainer

1.4AzureStorageSetupContainer

We need to be able to tell Dynamics 365 where to save the attachments.  Click on “Access Keys” and copy one of the key values.

1.5AzureAccessKeys

Azure is now setup and ready to accept attachments from Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Setup

Open up Dynamics 365 and go to Settings -> Dynamics Marketplace

1.6DynamicsMarketPlace

Locate the “Attachment Management” app from Microsoft Labs.  Click on “Get it Now”

1.azurestorageappstore

You will need to agree the terms of use, etc.

2.azurestorageappstore

Confirm which organization to install the app to, if you have multiple organizations setup in your tenant.

3.azurestorageappstore

This will begin the solution import process.  As with most solutions, this will take a few minutes to install.

4.azurestorageappstore

Once the installation is complete you can move on to the next step.

5.azurestorageappstore

Click on settings -> customization -> customize the solution to get the Azure Blob Storage Settings to appear on the sitemap.

6.azurestorageappstore

You may need to refresh your screen, but the Azure Blog Storage Settings icon should appear under settings.

7.azurestorageappstore

Enter in the details from where you setup the storage settings in Azure earlier.

13.azurestorageappstore

Test out the process by attaching a file to an existing record in Dynamics 365.

14.azurestorageappstore

If everything works correctly, if you navigate back to Azure, you should see the attachment as an Azure Blob in the container.

15.azurestorageappstore

The Microsoft Labs solution does not offer the same bells and whistles as some commercial 3rd party apps nor does it provide the same level of support.  So choose wisely, but I found the app from Microsoft Labs fairly quick and simple to setup and may address many space saving needs.

storage-lockers

Hope this helps!

Nick Doelman is a Microsoft Business Solutions MVP and over the last few weeks has been heads down in a lot of different projects, and has been lazy on his blogging.  Here’s hoping the pace will pick up a bit! 🙂

 

 

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