Friday, February 15, 2008

Figuring out the Email Router

I finally feel like I've got a good feeling and understanding of the new CRM email router. Most of understanding came from deploying it multiple times and reading multiple documents. I don't want to go into too much depth because each deployment is a bit different and the document links below will say everything that I would say...only better. However I will say a couple of things that I've learned.

There are a few new settings for users to choose from when setting up your user profile for email.
1. Forward Mailbox - just like 3.0, you need to set up a forwarding rule through the Rule Deployment Wizard.
2. Email Router - the email router looks directly at your mailbox and sucks everything in it up into CRM. So, if you have ten's of thousands of emails, tasks and appointments in your mailbox, you may either want to not choose this option or change your setting to this on Friday at 5pm. I once set multiple people to this setting in a short period of time and CRM came to a griding halt. Make sure your server can handle this kind of intake before you do it and do it in a reasonable deployment schedule
3. Outlook Client - this is what Outlook users should user

The Planning Implementation Guide goes into those definitions a little bit more so if you want to know more about their differences check there. It's not much in that doc but there are a couple of key definitions explained there.

Here are the links that should help you out with better understanding the Email Router:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 E-mail Router Readme (On-Premise and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Service Provider Editions)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: How to configure the on-premise E-mail Router in different deployment scenarios

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Implementation Guide

Hope this helps make sense of the new functionality and setup. I know it helped me.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

13 comments:

Steve said...

I have installed a handful of test environments with CRM 4, as well as a handful of production new deployments and upgrades to CRM 4.

I still haven't figured out how to decide what email options to configure or recommend.

Ideally I'd like to see some sort of table with the pros/cons of each option:

1) Email Router
2) Forward Mailbox
3) Outlook Client

So far, if every user will use Outlook and an Exchange mailbox, I don't know what is gained by installing and/or using the Email router.

I don't see what is gained by using a forwarding mailbox over the email router choice.

I've read and re-read the Email Config/Scenarios doc from Microsoft, and not gleaned any insights from it.

Can you offer any insights?

Thanks,
Steve

Dynamic Methods said...

Steve,

Maybe this will help a bit:

Email Router - the email router will look directly at your mailbox and anything it sees in your mailbox it will suck up into CRM. Emails, Appointments, Tasks, etc. This bares a heavy burden on both the mail server and the CRM server when you first set it up. Most people never clean up their email and thus bring GB's worth of data into CRM when Email Router is chosen. I personally don't like this option and will rarely use it.

Forward Mailbox - by running the Rule Deployment Wizard an Exchange Email Rule is placed on user's mailboxes. This rule will forward all email messages to the Email Router email address you have configured. The Email Router service looks at this address and looks for some flag, tag, or token to decide whether the email should be put into CRM. If it sees the token then it creates a record in CRM. It will then delete the email from its mailbox whether it creates a record in CRM or not. So, that email address stays clean and empty, not taking up tons of space on your Exchange server. This option only looks at emails, no tasks or appointments. This is the method that was used in CRM 3.0 and it's what I recommend, as well as most MS Support Engineers, for non-Outlook Client users

Outlook Client - This tells the router that the user is using the Outlook Client and that it will be the Outlook Client that will determine what records should be tracked in CRM. It's where users have the most flexibility to chose what goes into CRM from their personal email, tasks, appointments, contacts, etc.

Hope this helps shed some light on the email router for you.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Steve said...

Thanks David. That is helpful.

I'm inclined to recommend the Outlook client, with one reservation.

Suppose every CRM user is also using Outlook (and Exchange, though I think that's irrelevant). If the user is configured within CRM to use the Outlook client, than if that user sends or receives an email from OWA, I would assume that message will not be tracked, as it was never visible to the CRM-Outlook client. Is that accurate?

Thanks again,
Steve

Dynamic Methods said...

Steve,

You are correct in that OWA does not have any integration points with MSCRM. So, yes whatever they send out of OWA will not be tracked in CRM if you have the user's settings set to "Outlook Client".

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Benjamin Rutledge said...

What if I built the CRM server before I knew the final FQDN of the Exchange server. Turns out my assumption on the FQDN or the Exchange server was more than a little off. How do I change the FQDN of the Email Router on the CRM server?

Dynamic Methods said...

Ben,

You would need to change your Exchange Server settings in the registry. The only way I can see you being able to continue on in the installation without having an Exchange Server specified would be if you had chosen to have CRM to use it's own SMTP service for sending mail. Once you change the mail related registry keys you should be all set.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Anonymous said...

With the email router to individual mailbox setting ...assuming Exchange. What is the behavior of Appointments created in CRM ... will they flow out to the Exchange mailbox?

Dynamic Methods said...

If you set the email router setting on an individual to "Email Router" on their user card in CRM that will have the email router read EVERYTHING in their Exchange profile and push it into CRM. All appointments, emails, tasks, etc. Both personal and business. It is typically much more resource intensive (at least when it is first turned on for any user) on the server. Microsoft (and myself) recommends using the setting of "Forward Mailbox" so that not everything goes into CRM and resources don't get eaten up by CRM just trying to keep up to date with Exchange all the time.

So, appointments created in CRM would sync to Outlook and then be pushed to Exchange, assuming that the user has the Outlook Client installed. Without the Outlook client installed the appointment will only stay in CRM. Outlook is the medium in which CRM and Exchange communicate. With the exception of the email router reading your mailbox, but that only pushes things from Exchange into CRM, not the other way around.

That's my understanding at least. Hope that helps you in your decision.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Skipper said...

Hi, i have one question:
- Its possible to integrate CRM4 with Email Router with Lotus Dominio Mail Server and Lotus Notes as client??

Thanks in advance.

Lucas,

Dynamic Methods said...

The Email Router should be able to connect up to Lotus Dominio Mail Server just like it does with other POP3 or non-Exchange email servers. Lotus Notes as a client isn't supported, and at the same time doesn't necessarily matter because all of the email exchange goes through CRM. So, as long as the users records in CRM are set up then the email flow will work as you expect it to within CRM. Microsoft provides an add-in for Outlook so that you can track emails from Outlook directly into CRM. Lotus Notes doesn't have that (as far as I'm aware) and so that being said, emails sent from your Lotus Notes client won't get picked up by CRM unless you set up the CRM user account to read directly off of the mailbox, in which case, EVERYTHING (emails, contacts, activities, etc) will get sucked into CRM. If you are okay with that, then it should work. If that's not what you want, then Lotus Notes integration with MSCRM is probably going to be disappointing to you.

Hope this helps at least a little.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Neil McDonald said...

My God i hate this email router. Having emails stored in the CRM and on the Exchange server is a waste of storage. There must be a neater way of linking them together. Also, did MS not think of mailboxes having more than 1 email address? Having to set up a queue for every email address on an mailbox is crazy. Hopefully in CRM 5 they'll do the decent thing and retire the email router.

Benjamin Wilkins said...

Hi David, Thanks for the insightful article.

I recent have run into a problem with the "CRMmail@domain.com" reaching the Exchange storage limit. You write in your article that the CRM forward mailbox will automatically "delete [received] email from its mailbox." This doesn't appear to be the case in my deployment, do you have any insight into what might be causing this?

Thanks.

Dynamic Methods said...

Benjamin,

In the email router set up go to the "Users, Queues, and Forward Mailboxes" then go to the "Forward Mailboxes" tab. Open the properties window for the Forward Mailbox and make sure that the "Delete messages in forward mailbox after processing" is checked. If it's not, then everything will just stay there.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

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