• Girish Raja's Blog

    Performance for CRM - Why not Cache?


    I just attended an interactive discussion at Convergence on Archiving and best practices. Though the topic was mainly on archiving, several people talked about performance especially related to the SQL database. Also many of them compared CRM with SharePoint (MOSS 2007) and sought out differences.

    Though SharePoint usually has a monstrous database storing all of the documents, the performance of the product is usually great because of one great feature in SharePoint(since MOSS 2007) . Whenever a request comes in from the user, the SharePoint front-end server requests the document from database and then caches it. For repeated requests, the front-end server serves the data from the cache instead of going to the database again. This largely reduces the round trip back to SQL and decreases the page load time for the user at the same time reducing the load on the back-end SQL server.

    Now thinking about CRM, many users often want to read account and contact information and I thought it'd be cool if CRM could cache the data and serve it from the front-end server. Of course as data gets updated, the cache must be refreshed and the process will get busier on a transactional system. But still, with the right pattern, the performance improvements will be much larger.

    Incidentally I ran into Shan McArthur of ADXStudio yesterday and he was telling me about the CRM Developer toolkit that they're building. He says this toolkit addresses this very problem in that it'll cache the data using .NET caching and does Cache Invalidation when the data gets updated. There is a lot more in the toolkit and I can't wait to check it out.

    At the end, I must say I'd love to attend every one of those interactive discussions if only we had enough room for all the people. But as I mentioned earlier, maybe it is good that they limit the number of attendees.

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    Convergence 2008 - The Place to be for Microsoft Dynamics


    This is my first time attending the Convergence conference for Microsoft Dynamics and I must say I'm more than thrilled to be here. Plus the Orlando weather is a lot more welcoming than the rainy & cold Seattle area.

    Getting back to the conference, if you are working with Microsoft Dynamics whether you're a Partner, Customer or a Microsoft employee, Convergence is THE place to be. There are over 10,000 people attending this conference (some say it is over 20,000 people!) and lots of ideas and thoughts flow around here that shouldn't be missed.

    As Klaus Anderson pointed out in the executive discussion yesterday, convergence is about Learning and Networking.


    There are plenty of concurrent sessions that teach you different aspects of the various dynamics products. If you want to learn more about a Dynamics product, do attend those. Also the hands-on-labs are great if you'd like to check out a product and play with it real time.

    One of my favorite part is the "Interactive Discussions". I attended one that was hosted by Anne Stanton, the CRM Lady and the discussion was very thoughtful. It was on Archiving and Best Practices for MSCRM, a topic not many MSCRM practitioners address. People also talked about Performance and compared it to MOSS 2007 a lot during that session. Being a devotee of MOSS, it prompted me to think about some knowledge that MSCRM can take from SharePoint. I immediately drafted one of my ideas and wrote this blog post.

    BTW. if you're attending Convergence, the discussion rooms are limited to 50 people but the upside is that discussions are very deep and engaging . Well, with thousands of people attending, you must arrive early! I twittered about it earlier and realized one another fact which I also twittered regarding a room full of attendees.


    Being a corporate person, I don't get a lot of opportunity to get face-to-face with the ISV partners that I help out. The EXPO booths, where partners exhibit their solutions was my favorite hang-out to meet with a lot of Partners and learn about their solutions. You'd be amazed at the amount of expertise the partners have. Some of the solutions they had were pretty cool and I will blog about each of those as I check them out.

    Finally what better tool to network than partying! There is plenty of parties to attend at Convergence and right now I am heading out to the Universal Citywalk for the Mega party and it should be a lot of fun. And oh BTW, I don't drink any kind of alcohol or atleast that's what my wife thinks ;-)


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  • Girish Raja's Blog

    It is about realizing dreams - World Wide Telescope


    Like everyone else, I'm always amazed at the wide open sky ever since I was a little kid. Growing up in India, where sky is clear on almost every day, it was my favorite past time to gaze at the open sky and try to find neat little patterns of stars. Well, today that I live in the Seattle area, it could only be a dream. For those who don't know about Seattle, see Jim Glass's post on Seattle's weather to get a taste of life in this area and what I terribly miss out.


    Well getting to the point, watching the video of the World Wide Telescope, I felt like a little kid all over again. It is truly a magic carpet to travel through the Universe and I can't wait to check it out.

    Though people point to several other projects that are similar such as the Celestia, KStars or even Google Sky, the World Wide Telescope seems to be something that has grabbed everyone's attention and the clarity and usability of it seems to definitely win over others.

    Oh BTW, WWT was the reason behind me looking into Google Sky and as I was playing with it, I discovered something really funny. I marked a few places in Chennai that I visited during my India trip last month within the Earth view. I then switched to the Sky view and saw this!


    I am sure these places aren't separated by several light years or have several stars in between them!


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  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM 4.0 (Titan) videos on Channel9!


    I finally switched to RSSBandit as my new feedreader and the post Channel9-Philthat immediately caught my attention in the shiny new reader was Ben blogging about his latest video on Channel9. Do check out all Channel9 videos on CRM. I highly recommend this series of videos for any CRM or Platform enthusiast.

    These were recorded a few weeks ago and the funny part was that I was physically in the same room where these videos were recorded but today is the day I listened (literally!) to what they were talking. On the day of recording Steffen and I were shadowing the recording from the adjacent section of the room and everything looked (& sounded) great until the glass door in between us was closed and we couldn't hear a thing! 

    But anyways, don't think of it as a studio-type video. These are just like any other Channel9 video. There weren't any scripts or heavy post-production sort of stuff. People just showed up on the day of shoot and started talking and what you get to see is the raw footage.

    It is very interesting to see Philip Richardson talk. Though it seems like he talks very fast, he is very engaging and definitely compelling. BTW, after watching the first video of the series, don't you feel being subliminally persuaded to grab a Diet Pepsi right now? :-)

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  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Development for Power Users and Developers


    What is CRM?

    CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In simple terms, it is the thing that companies use to help their customers and more importantly themselves.

    What is Microsoft Dynamics CRM then?

    It is Microsoft's offering of CRM. It is a complete (Sales, Marketing and Support) CRM suite.

    Is it just CRM? What else does it provide.

    Under the covers, it is an Application Development Platform. CRM is just a reference application on top of it. Take out the CRM piece, you get a platform to build your own application. It provides users with a rich set of features such as built-in web application, strong outlook integration, mobile device support, reporting and a lot more.


    Why build on the CRM platform?

    It saves you time and effort. The platform takes care of the basic groundwork so that you can focus on the business problem that you are trying to solve and not re-invent the wheel.

    What is the bare minimum I need to know to develop on this platform.

    An understanding of Entity Relationship (E-R) model. In simple terms think of entity as a noun and relationship as a verb. If you can write a sentence using a verb that links two or more nouns, you are using the E-R model! For example,

    • An employee supervises a department. Employee and Department are entities and supervises is the relationship.

    Entities also exhibit certain properties which as termed as attributes.

    • An employee has a name, address, phone number, SSN, ... Each of this property is called an attribute in the ER model.

    It is important to learn and use the basic terminology as that avoids ambiguity is most cases. Also the CRM platform uses the very same terminology for its components so that it is very intuitive for you to build your application.

    Geek Notes: Do checkout Dr. Peter Chen's original paper on E-R model and the first 17 minutes of his latest interview on Channel9.

    What else is good to know to develop on CRM.

    HTML & JavaScript - the basic building blocks of a web application.

    .NET in general, particularly ASP.NET

    Transact-SQL if you'll be developing reports.

    Enough of theory, can we do something else?

    Okay... You can get test drive CRM as an application using the Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM Trial. I recommend trying out the online 60-day free trial. It is a very simple process and you'll be using CRM in a few minutes.

    Note: For better user experience, add as an allowed site in your pop-up blocker. CRM 3.0, by default is presented in a full-screen application mode which is a pop-up window.

    Now that my feet is wet, how can I dig-in and get my hands dirty?

    In that case, please download the August 2007 release of virtual PC that has Dynamics CRM 3.0 and all of the related software installed.

    What's on horizon for CRM?

    The latest version out in the market currently is Dynamics CRM 3.0. The next version is Dynamics CRM 4.0 code-named "Titan". Titan will include a Microsoft hosted version of CRM called LiveCRM which is creating a lot of buzz in the market. Look for more information on Titan in a few weeks.

    What about the cool stuff we've been hearing about?

    Watch the video of Ben Riga and Jason Hunt at MIX '07 where they demo some cool applications built on top of CRM. Also check out Ben Riga, Brad Wilson & Bill Patterson talk about the CRM Platform in this Channel9 video.

    I'll soon follow up with a detailed post that has various links and resources that'll get you rolling on CRM development.

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    Another day, another blog!


    Wow, another new blog on this day. Very exciting isn't it? At least for me it is. BTW, does anyone have a rough count on how many blogs are totally out there? 

    So who am I and what is this blog all about?

    This is Girish Raja, a Dynamics Technical Evangelist. I am part of an exciting group called Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) at Microsoft. My role is to evangelize the Dynamics suite of products especially within the ISV community. Naturally, I will write a lot about Dynamics, mostly on CRM and AX to begin with. I am also a general technology and gadget enthusiast and will post some of my related ramblings here.

    Why am I writing this blog?

    After my blog roll ran a little over 200, I felt it is very imperative that I should start writing. I've been procrastinating for well over 2 years but finally the day has arrived! Needless to say, I've been reading and listening to David Allen's "stuff" lately and I am trying to get a hold of my uncontrollable life.

    How could you find more about me?

    In the upcoming About Me page.

    P.S: I'll try to avoid Jeff Atwood's Thirteen Blog Clichés in the process of writing this blog. But at the end of the day, hey its my blog and I get to write what I want :-)

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