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Dynamics CRM 2011: Managed Solutions or deploying changes from DEV to PRD

For Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft suggests moving entity customizations from DEV to PRD by packaging the changes as managed (or unmanaged) solutions. Unmanaged is bad because you cannot remove the entities when you need to (deleting the solution only deletes the container, entities contained in the solution remain). In most lab examples during training, you’d customize the system, then export the customized entity as a managed solution, then import it into production. This solution-based approach is clean, makes it easier to control what’s in PRD, bundle related entities together, track dependencies, etc, so I get that.

There are times, however, when you need to dump the org on the DEV server and restore from PRD (to address a data-specific issue or for other reasons). We do that by disabling, then deleting the DEV org, then asking the DBA team to restore the CRM database from production, then we import the org back to the DEV server. But if we implement this “managed solutions”-based change migration process, won’t we lose the ability to change our entities after we dump DEV and recreate it from PRD, where these solutions are sitting in read-only mode? If we enable customizations in these managed solutions, will we be able to add new entities to the solutions or remove entities from inside the solutions without deleting the entire solution? Because I thought managed solutions are treated as a single unit of code, so it’s either delete all or delete none. Interested in learning how others have resolved this issue.

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pnduke Avatar asked Oct 07 '22 11:10


2 Answers

One way we have handled this is using a seperate clean dev machine which we use to manage the configurations as the "configuration master". That machine is not used for any other dev or test work. The dev machines for plugsin, etc. can be rebuilt from prod, but this machine continues to be the master for all solutions. Not an ideal solution, but it does avoid the "feature gap" of being able to convert managed solutions to unmanaged (maybe through some password facility)

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Gaurav Dalal Avatar answered Oct 13 '22 09:10

Gaurav Dalal

I would advise against using solutions in these type of dev-to-testing-to-prod situation.

If you are unsure about this try to remove an entity in your dev environment and publish the change to your production environment.

Solutions are inclusive meaning that CRM doesnt remove fields and entities that where deleted in your solution.

The only way to remove an entity is to uninstall your solution therefore deleting the production data in all entities covered by your solution!

While in theory solutions seem perfect they are only usefull for third party vendors.

The goal of beeing able to rollback by uninstalling your solution is a pipe dream. Consider a data model update that involves data conversion. No magic function will reverse that.

It is a far simpler and reliable to restore your backup.

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Sylvain Hamel Avatar answered Oct 13 '22 11:10

Sylvain Hamel