Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Integration Approaches - part 3

In my previous post I discussed the second integration approach - that being virtual integration. This post will cover the third integration approach available.

In truth, this third integration approach is in essence a variation of the second integration approach which is why I mentioned at the outset that there are in fact only 2 high level approaches to integration.

This third approach leverages reporting capabilities in order to combine CRM with data from other systems. In many cases - especially when dealing with back office ERP or accounting systems - the application front end is a windows form application. That is, there are no URL-addressable pages that can be linked to in order to leverage the second virtual integration approach.

In such a case - if physical data integration is not on the cards for the same reasons as have been mentioned in my former post - then this reporting integration approach is likely the way to go.

The idea behind this approach is that if a standard report can be written to retrieve the data from the remote application database and be formatted and laid out as necessary, it can then be linked to CRM using the virtual reporting integration approach. This of course only holds true provided that the reporting tool you are using renders the report in html format. The best option for this approach is to use Sql Server Reporting Services (SSRS) while adhering to the CRM SDK standard for writing reports to target the Microsoft CRM platform (and using remote joins to connect to the remote database). By doing so, your report can be embedded into a CRM form and with a little bit of formatting the data can even be made to appear as if it resides natively in CRM.

You can refer to the following article for a step by step guide on how to leverage this report level integration option.

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