Welcome to the first of many posts about the new CRM VPC that was released in April of 2009. I am currently the Dynamics Demo Team Lead for the US and I did the project management on the VPC as well as did a majority of the configuration. We were under a tight timeline as the old one expires on June 11th. I had great support from corporate teams as well as the MS field organization. In the month or so since it has been in your hands I have received a ton of feedback as well as caught a few “issues” with the VPC. I will be providing guidance in these posts for the general configuration of the VPC and some the things that we have put in there to support current requirements as well as future items that are in the works as well as fixes and performance tuning. This first one will stick to the general configuration and design.
Why Two Hard Drives?
You probably noticed that there is two .VHD files. During the development of the VPC we use a second hard drive to install files and do optimization. I wanted to use this technique to further enhance the VPC by putting supplemental material on the “extra” drive (presents as E: Drive). This would give me a vehicle to continually release a new version of the E: drive with installable features for the VPC. During this process we came across an additional performance benefit of putting the swap file on the second drive which gave us up to 30% better performance. We felt that this was well worth the additional complexity of having two VHD files. Look for additional updates to the Extras.VHD. The other good news is that you can create a DIFF disk of the first disk and it will not affect the second disk This will allow you to move data between images between VPC’s without having to update the DIFF disk.
Why Two Network Cards?
Welcome to the future. We plan on releasing additional VPC’s that will work with the current VPC like a Vista Client and integration between GP and CRM. To do this we want to have a network address we can count on so the first network is a fixed address of 192.168.0.50. While this works well for connecting fixed things together it is not great for internet and local WAN access. The second network adapter is set to DHCP for just this reason. It is disabled on boot so that the image will start faster from boot up. We recommend that you leave the first adapter set to the fixed address and set to local only if you have no other connectivity needs. If you do need to access the internet there are a few ways to do it and here is one of them:
1. Keep the first network connected to “local only”
2. Enable the second network card within the VPC
3. Connect the second network card to your external network adapter
4. Add the following line to your c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOST file in the VPC
5. 127.0.0.1 CRM
The Basics of Making it Faster
I am planning on creating a Blog dedicated to performance but I wanted to point out a few things up front that might help. First thing is to make sure you are using the correct version of VPC. The VPC additions installed in the image are for 188.8.131.52 it is an easy update and available from http://download.microsoft.com
The second technique is to have the VHD files on a USB drive and the undo file on the hard drive of your portable. This is easier than you think because the undo file is always in the directory where the .VMC configuration file is. So you can deploy the VPC to a USB drive and just copy the .VMC file to your hard drive and enable undo drives in the settings. There are more sophisticated methods but this should work pretty well. For those with a USB drive and two hard drives you could also locate the Extra drive on another hard drive and gain some additional performance as it would separate the swap file from the main hard drive and the undo drive – separation=good.
What’s in a name?
Here is a list of the important stuff for navigating around the image:
• Domain = Contoso.com
• CRM Organization/Tenant = Contoso
• Server Name = CRM-SRV-01
• CRM = HTTP://CRM
• Report Server = HTTP://CRM-SRV-01/reports
• SharePoint = HTTP://SharePoint
• PPS = HTTP://crm-srv-01:8081/dashboards
• eService Portal = HTTP://eservice
• Event Management Portal = HTTP://eventmanagement
• All passwords = pass@word1
• All user IDs are first name + first letter of last name
List of Software installed:
• CRM 4.0 with Update Rollup 3
• Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 (can’t time-bomb WS2008)
• SQL Server 2008 – SSRS, SSAS
• SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
• Office SharePoint Server 2007
• Office Communications Server 2007
• Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
• POP3 Server
• Visual Studio 2008
• Office 2007 SP1
• Windows Mobile 6 SDK and Activesync
Here is a list of users installed into the system with Roles and what entities they have data in:
Where is all the Data?
In this version of the VPC we have a gig of data that is well distributed. To help navigate it I built reports that show the distribution of the data. These reports all start with ‘Demo’ and are pretty self explanatory. They drill into the underlying record so you can do some tweaks to the data. If you are looking to alter large amounts of data take a look at the workflows. I added some that I used during the creation where I massaged the data. These are unpublished and also start with ‘Demo’ and they can serve as an example and starting point for data manipulation which will help move data forward into current time periods.
I hope that this has been a helpful release of the VPC and this Blog will help shed some light on the mystery that lies within it. I will be following this up with some fixes and features as well as performance. We are looking to do more with the VPC’s for CRM in the near future. This will include XRM as well as mobility install and more industry configuration. Of course coming down the road we know that we will need to be 64 bit and on Windows Server 2008. We are hoping that there will be one or two features around time-bombing so we can continue to release this type of VPC and we will be looking at supporting other technologies like Hyper-V and Virtual Server. The world of demos is changing fast and we are dedicated to stay ahead of the wave (or at least on the crest) so that we can support your sales needs with the customer.