Attachment Management solution for Dynamics 365

Reduce Dynamics 365 Database Storage Costs with SharePoint, Azure Blob or Azure File Storage

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All organisations reach the free storage limit in Dynamics 365 sooner or later. In this article, we will examine possible scenarios of dealing with the issue of exhausting the available storage limit in the cloud CRM – at minimal cost and maximum benefit.

Typical issue with D365 storage space

In order to add a practical standpoint to this research, here is one of the requests to IT experts dealing with Dynamics 365 issues.

One of our clients is having a problem with increasing database size very quickly. The huge database size is also becoming a performance issue. Besides, the client is looking for decreasing the storage costs. Current database size is 530GB. We have checked the free add-on from Microsoft but we are reluctant about bringing it in our org full scale. Besides, looking for more functionality like extracting old and new documents.

Here’s a kicker: we have sensitive documents so we would prefer them not to run through any external service.

We also cannot employ anything outside the constraints of what we currently have in our Azure tenancy, that being: Dynamics 365 with the option of uploading custom plugins and/or custom workflow tasks or currently paid-for PaaS facilities, notably Flow. This eliminates the option of having a console-based application, or even a web app.

This request from a D365 admin reflects a typical constraint of the cloud CRM: free storage 10GB provided as part of a Plan 1 subscription run out sooner or later. And if you are a mid-size organisation, your 100+ GB database eats up the storage in the blink of an eye pushing you to pay for extra storage or look for alternative solutions.

Try reducing the storage space in D365

Monitoring D365 health is important. By doing that, you ensure system’s optimal performance and enough space for growth.

When you have reached 80% of your total storage capacity, the system should send you an alert so that you could take actions.

Here is what one can do to reduce storage space:

  • Delete outdated records, such as cases and opportunity
  • Remove unnecessary email and note attachments through advanced find and bulk deletion
  • Evaluate and delete suspended workflows
  • Remove bulk duplicate detection jobs and associated copies of duplicate records
  • Delete bulk import instances
  • Delete bulk deletion job instances using a bulk deletion job
  • Delete audit logs

Although these recommendations are sensible, we can’t guarantee their effectiveness for all organisations. The problem is, according to various estimates, 70% of storage space in Dynamics 365 is occupied with documents and attachments. If your organisation tracks emails in the CRM system like most companies do, free storage shrinks quickly – beyond reversible with traditional measures.

Leveraging document management systems

Because Dynamics 365 just like every other cloud CRM system has been primarily designed to manage customer relations and not store documents, the best proven practice of avoiding extra costs for document storage is forwarding them to systems with cheaper storage.

Among most popular are such document management systems (DMS) as SharePoint, Azure Blob, Azure File Storage etc. They have much more storage available for only a fraction of a cost compared to Dynamics 365.

Azure Blob is a cloud-based storage solution provided by Microsoft Azure that can be used to store and retrieve Binary Large Objects (BLOBs). It allows users/organizations to expose their unstructured data to customers anywhere through REST-based object storage.

As for SharePoint, with cheaper storage, organisations receive immense collaborating opportunities. A few of which we explore in this SharePoint Structure Creator post.

How to synchronise Dynamics 365 with SharePoint or Azure Blob

Before a D365 user can send documents and attachments to a DMS storage, the two systems need to be synchronized. Of course, extracting documents manually is possible too, but it will crumble all the productivity.

Currently the software market offers several solutions for extracting attachments from Dynamics 365 with various features and functionality.

One of them is a free solution from Microsoft Labs. Attachment Management is an add-on feature to Dynamics 365 CRM. It creates an attachment in Azure when a note or email attachment is added to Dynamics 365 and deletion of the file in Dynamics after the file has been created in Azure Blob storage.

However, D365 experts recommend this free add-on with caution. Firstly, because it is not officially supported by Microsoft. “The purpose is to show the possibility of an alternate storage platform for Dynamics 365 (…) This solution should not be used in a Production instance as this is not officially supported. It should only be used in a Non-Production instance such Dev or a Test”, writes CRMTipoftheday.

Secondly, tech support for free apps is usually limited so in case of friction you may have to rely on yourself. And finally, the solution works only for Azure Blob, so should you choose SharePoint with its document collaboration advantages, you need to look for other synchronization options.

CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor

At Connecting Software, we have been working on synchronization solutions since 2009, and have noticed that the limited storage space is a chronic pain in many cloud CRM systems. We started with the Document Extractor which solves the super expensive storage space issue for Salesforce and Dynamics CRM, and continued with SugarCRM to SharePoint Stubbing.

Now, having collected our best expertise, we’re launching within weeks the CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor.

The solution resolves the problem with expensive storage space in Dynamics365. It transfers seamlessly any attachment files from CRM to other configured storage but mimics the presence of the attachment files in CRM.

It means that the actions of the solution are transparent to end-user. Attachments still appear as stored in CRM and the user can still work with them the same way as if they are stored in CRM, but they are off-loaded to another file storage such as SharePoint, Azure File Storage, Azure Blob Storage etc.

As our experts point out, with this solution you can be sure that each document will not occupy storage space in D365 and at the same time will be reachable to users who have access to the respective record in Dynamics365 without any modification of their workflows with D365 files. Any additional modification of the Dynamics365 files will be projected to the configured external file storage automatically.

What is special about the CB Dynamics 365 Attachment Extractor

Its most outstanding feature is security. Unlike with some solutions on the market, with CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor add-on, your documents are not leaving the CRM and attachment storage systems. There is no external service in between. This is important for companies which take care of sensitive data or want to protect themselves against GDPR violations.

Another handy feature unique for the market is that is can compress/decompress files on-the-fly and as encrypt/decrypt them with AES256 encryption, which was adopted by the U.S. government and is now used worldwide.

On the top of that, if you have actually reached the 80% of the storage space limit, this add-on will automatically go through the attachments which existed prior to installing the app and move them to SharePoint, Azure Blob or other location to your choice.

More on technical characteristics of the CB D365 Attachment Extractor

The software is extracting any activitymimeattachment and annotation entities from D365. It means, you can set it up to extract attachments from any kind of entity:

  • Alert Subscription
  • Invite Redemption
  • Portal Comment
  • Appointment
  • Quick Campaign
  • Campaign Activity
  • Campaign Response
  • Chat Activity
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Case Resolution
  • Letter
  • inMail
  • Message
  • PointDrive Presentation Created
  • PointDrive Presentation Viewed
  • Approval
  • Booking Alert
  • Survey Activity
  • Opportunity Close
  • Order Close
  • Phone Call
  • Quote Close
  • Recurring Appointment
  • Service Activity
  • Social Activity
  • Task
  • UntrackedEmail

The solution runs between Dynamics 365 online and:

  • SharePoint 2013
  • SharePoint 2016
  • SharePoint 2019
  • SharePoint Online
  • Office 365
  • Azure File Storage
  • Azure blob storage

We encourage you to request more information about this soon to be released product. Allow this software to take care of the health of your Dynamics 365 while you are concentrating on more important tasks.

More on cloud CRM storage:

Salesforce and Data Protection: How to Stay In-cloud and Keep Compliance with Regulation

Sugar to SharePoint File Stubbing: Killing CRM storage costs

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