Dynamics 365 – Virtual Entities

Almost every organisation uses more than one system. You may be transitioning to Dynamics 365 from another application, or have a financial system, or need an HR/time tracking solution. It can be challenging to decide whether to transfer information between systems or have users access two different interfaces.

Dynamics 365 users asked for virtual entities, and our prayers have been answered! A virtual entity obtains data from an external data source and displays it in Dynamics 365.

You can add a link to your external financial system, or to your account entity, and away you go! Users can see the data in one handy location. It is easier for your staff to use one application they are comfortable with rather than change between two. With virtual entities, your staff can focus on using Dynamics 365 and accessing only the data they need and allow other departments like Finance or HR to control their systems without worrying about staff accessing confidential areas.

Virtual entity diagram

 

Virtual entities are new—so new that they haven’t been rolled out to all organisations and regions yet—so there are limitations to keep in mind.

You’ll still need to do some integration

Virtual entities are great. However, they allow read-only access to data. Do you need contacts and accounts in both locations? You’ll need to sync them. A virtual entity offers a simple read-only view of data. There isn’t a magic solution to edit in two locations.

Security can be an issue

All virtual entities are visible at an organisation level. This means the data is available to all users of the Dynamics 365 system. You can’t set field level security, so there is not a simple way to lock down data. Don’t make the mistake of including private or confidential data via a virtual entity. Users can still access data in advanced finds and other methods, even if it is not displayed. So, if there is secretive information, it is best hiding it in an alternate system.

All records must have Globally Unique Identifiers (GUID) and must have Dynamics 365 object types

Virtual entities need to mimic a Dynamics 365 entity. So, it must have a GUID and can only be a standard Dynamics 365 type (Single Line of Text, Numbers, Images, Lookups, OptionSets, etc.). This may not be an issue, as it’s a logical expectation; however, it is wise to keep this in mind.

If you can understand these limitations and work with them, there is a tremendous benefit in using virtual entities in your organisation. Virtual entities are still in their infancy, and you can expect them to get bigger and better as they evolve. So implement them and reap the benefits now and into the future!

 

 

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