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A few days ago, David West posted about the new e-mail features in CRM 4.0. For many of you, this list of new features is probably music to your ears, but if you’re a newcomer to CRM you might be a little overwhelmed. The e-mail integration story we have in CRM is both powerful and very flexible—enough to cover nearly any IT setup out there. This post is designed to give you an overview of our e-mail integration story and set the groundwork for future posts where we will dive deep into our e-mail feature set.

Let’s start by looking at the basic building blocks:

  • A Microsoft Dynamics CRM organization
  • An e-mail server

Between those two bullet points, there are a vast number of deployment permutations. Your CRM org might be on-premise, on-premise + internet-facing, hosted, or on CRM Live. Your e-mail server might be inside the corporate domain, outside the corporate domain, behind firewalls, and might be POP3, Exchange, Notes, etc. You could easily be dealing with multiple CRM orgs and multiple mail servers. And CRM also does e-mail processing based on business rules.

Unlike previous versions of CRM, for 4.0 we wanted to have a story which would work with all these permutations. Basic solutions involving direct connectivity between e-mail server to CRM and vice versa fell flat quickly. What we needed was a bridge to connect the two that was flexible in different deployment topologies. This bridge needed to handle e-mail send/receive for the multitude of mailboxes across a business, do the appropriate e-mail processing, and connect to multiple CRM organizations.

For CRM 4.0, we have two “bridges” that the administrator can choose from:

  • E-mail Router
  • CRM for Outlook

The generic topology looks like this:

EmailTop

For incoming e-mail, CRM for Outlook and the E-mail Router regularly check for new messages in the mailboxes they’ve been configured with. When new mail is found, it is picked up, processed, and promoted to CRM.

For outgoing e-mail activities created in CRM and marked for sending, CRM for Outlook and the E-mail Router will poll CRM, pick up the mail, and push them out through the configured SMTP server.

Important: Without utilizing the E-mail Router or CRM for Outlook in your deployment, CRM will have no functioning e-mail capabilities (e.g. no e-mail marketing campaigns).

Which Bridge to Use?

Depending on your requirements, you can mix and match between the E-mail Router and CRM for Outlook on a per-user basis (though you must use the E-mail Router for Queues). As always, there are pros and cons.

CRM for Outlook: Single User Routing

Pros

Cons

Sent e-mail appear in Sent Items folder of Outlook

CRM for Outlook must be running and connected to process mail

Works with the mailbox already configured in Outlook

Do not need to manage inbox forwarding rules

Does not require an administrator to manage

 

This is a good option for CRM deployments without an IT staff, such as hosted offerings or CRM Live.

E-mail Router: Centrally Managed Routing

Pros

Cons

Can be used with forward mailboxes
 (more on this in a future post)

Standalone component

Connect to multiple CRM organizations

Requires an administrator to manage

Queue integration (unmonitored mailboxes)

Need to manage inbox forwarding rules when used with a forward mailbox (see video)

Ideal for centrally managed deployments

 

Supported for deployment on server or client OS

 

This is a good option for centrally managed CRM deployments, typically those on premise.

E-mail Router Supported Protocols

While CRM for Outlook piggybacks on the default mail server configured in Outlook, the E-mail Router supports the following protocols out-of-the-box.

  • POP3 (new for 4.0)
  • Exchange (via the DAV protocol, only Exchange 2003 and 2007 supported)
  • SMTP for outbound e-mail

We recognize that this is not an exhaustive list of e-mail protocols out there. In an upcoming blog post, Dominic Pouzin will discuss how you can write your own e-mail plug-in, providing options to connect to systems like Lotus Notes, Yahoo! Mail, etc.

To see is to believe…

There’s no better teacher than experience. I highly recommend taking a look at a few short videos I’ve made to illustrate connecting the E-mail Router to a POP3 server and also to Exchange.

The CRM 4.0 E-mail Router with POP3

The CRM 4.0 E-mail Router with Exchange

The CRM 4.0 E-mail Router with an Exchange Forward Mailbox

Michael Lu

We're always looking for feedback and would like to hear from you. Please head to the Dynamics 365 Community to start a discussion, ask questions, and tell us what you think!