Microsoft Mobilizes Azure for Custom Dynamics CRM Apps

A new software development kit allows businesses to tailor their Microsoft Dynamics-driven mobile CRM experience to suit their needs.

Microsoft Dynamices CRM and Azure

Microsoft is harnessing its Azure cloud infrastructure to enable new, more mobile and customizable CRM experiences for Dynamics customers.

Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said the company already offers Dynamics CRM mobile apps, which he claims "provide a great out-of-the-box and configurable experience for our users." But in business, rarely does a one-size-fits-all solution meet all the requirements of an organization.

"I'm very excited to announce the availability of Azure Mobile Apps connector for Dynamics CRM Online and an updated Mobile SDK [software development kit] for Dynamics CRM, enabling our customers and partners to easily create unique mobile CRM experiences—tailored to how businesses and people use it across various industries and roles," announced Stutz in a statement. "The CRM mobile SDK along with the Azure Mobile Apps connector, helps organizations tailor their mobile CRM solution to fit their unique needs."

With the SDK, organizations can craft their own native Android, iOS and Windows apps that not only provide a tailored experience, but also use Microsoft's productivity-enhancing Azure cloud services. "Developers building mobile CRM apps can now get the scalability of Azure along with a host of functionality such as offline sync, cross-platform notifications, unified identity and a lot more without expensive development costs," explained Stutz.

Donna Malayeri, program manager of Microsoft Azure Mobile Services, detailed some of the capabilities the new Azure Mobile Connector SDK for Dynamics CRM Online provides for developers tasked with extending their CRM setup to iPhones, iPads and Galaxy smartphones and a bevy of devices. Key among them is the ability to use an app even when its respective cloud service is unreachable due to connectivity issues.

"We've seen that many business apps lack this critical offline sync functionality, mainly because it's a fundamentally harder problem than the kinds of sync we see in consumer apps," said Malayeri in a statement. "It's one thing to be able to synchronize data that's owned by one person (such as your mail history), but it's quite another to handle data that's shared by multiple people—who may be editing from a mobile device, a browser, or even a traditional desktop application."

To prevent lost sales and unsatisfactory customer support experiences because of an unresponsive app, the SDK enables developers to publish apps that get teams on the same page once a network connection is re-established. "Fortunately, Azure Mobile provides a lightweight—yet fully customizable—offline sync feature for iOS, Windows and Android, as well as cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin," Malayeri added.

Azure Mobile Connector SDK for Dynamics CRM Online is technically two SDKs, a connector for Azure Mobile Services and another for Azure App Service's Mobile Apps feature, she explained. The Azure Mobile Services flavor is geared toward apps that are expected to go into production within three to six months, said Malayeri. Azure Mobile Apps is currently in preview, unlike Azure Mobile Services, which is generally available, she cautioned.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...