Get Started with Virtual Entity for Dynamics 365 Using OData 4

Get Started with Virtual Entity for Dynamics 365 Using OData 4

Posted on May 25, 2018 0 Comments
Get Started with Virtual Entity for Dynamics 365 Using OData 4_870x450

Go beyond Dynamics 365 with Virtual Entities - get started quickly with the industry's first low-code tutorial to help you on your Virtual Entity journey.

Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s offering to break the silos between CRM and ERP. Back in 2016, Microsoft strategically brought Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV all under a single brand–this means that a sales rep can now easily respond to a customer’s request for a quote in Dynamics CRM by seamlessly accessing the relevant Financial and Operations Data from Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV.

With Virtual Entity You Can Go Beyond Dynamics 365

Starting with Dynamics 365 9.0, Microsoft introduced Virtual Entity, which allows you to integrate data residing in external systems by seamlessly representing that data as entities in Dynamics 365. While in the initial version there may be a few limitations compared to custom entities, virtual entities are bound to become much more powerful.

There are several advantages to this approach:

  1. You don’t have to create physical tables for the external instances inside Dynamics 365 database. Instead, the state of an external entity is dynamically retrieved as and when required.
  2. This translates into real-time access to the data source, instead of moving the data every x days/hours/minutes that often involves tons of coding.
  3. If you have legacy on-prem CRM/ERP tools that store historical information about customers, now you don’t have to spend hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars in moving and storing that information inside the Dynamics 365 database. You can just access it on-demand from a single system!
  4. And very often, your security team won't allow you to completely move/copy sensitive data outside the firewall in order to comply with security/data privacy laws such as GDPR, PCI, SOX, etc.

There are many more advantages and my team and I will be happy to walk you through the other advantages.

Virtual Entity and OData 4

So how do you get started with Virtual Entity? If you need Azure Cosmos DB (formerly Microsoft Document DB), a virtual entity provider is available from AppSource. And for everything else you have two options:

  1. Using the Dynamics 365 Data SDK, .NET Developers have the option of creating custom virtual entity data providers to help integrate external data source types that are not supported by an existing data provider
  2. The recommended way, as you can see on the custom virtual entity data providers page, is to create an OData v4 interface to your external data source, so that you can directly access it with the supplied standard OData v4 Data Provider

Even with OData you have the option of building it yourself vs relying on a trusted partner like Progress DataDirect. We are key member of the OData technical committee. We offer instant OData 2, OData 4 endpoints for a wide variety of data sources including Oracle, SQL Server, IBM DB2, SAP Sybase, IBM Informix, MySQL, PostGres, Hadoop Hive, Salesforce, Google Analytics, etc. Here are some quick assets to educate yourself on OData:

  1. OData FAQs
  2. OData 2 vs OData 4
  3. Instant OData 2 / OData 4 Connectors

Enough Chatter, Get Started with Dynamics 365 + SQL Server OData 4!

Tapping into the real potential of Dynamics 365 and Virtual Entity needs you to solve a bunch of problems – create an OData endpoint, GUID mapping, configure virtual entity, and many more intricate details. So, SaiKrishna Teja Bobba, our developer evangelist, came up with the industry’s first low-code tutorial to help you get started on your Virtual Entity journey.

Try our Dynamics 365 + OData 4 Tutorial Now


Nishanth Kadiyala

Nishanth Kadiyala is a Technical Marketing Manager at Progress. He got his B.Tech degree from IIT Guwahati and his MBA from UNC Chapel Hill. He has worked on several technologies including database designing, SQL querying and Cloud Computing in the past. Currently, he is committed to educating enterprises about standards based connectivity via ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET and OData. He is also proficient with DataDirect Hybrid Connectivity Services – DataDirect Cloud and Hybrid Data Pipeline. You can stay in touch with him through Twitter.


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