Updated June 6, 2018
In the past year there has been a lot of movement and activity in Dynamics 365 (CRM) community in regards to portal options so it sometimes can be confusing when starting a new project.
I am hoping this posting provides a bit of insight of the Dynamics 365 portal options and provide some unbiased insight what is available (or not available) to help you during the evaluation of your platform for a portal project.
I won’t necessarily list the pros and cons of each option or tell you what portal platform to choose for your project. Each portal project (that I have been involved with) is unique and has its own set of requirements, challenges and goals.
Dynamics 365 Online Portals
This is the portal platform provided as part of a Dynamics 365 subscription and is essentially and extension of Dynamics 365 (CRM) Online. The portal is hosted by Microsoft. The platform and structure are what has evolved from the Microsoft aquisition of Adxstudio Portals and essentially is a more modern version of the Adxstudio Portal product. This platform is *only* available for Dynamics 365 (CRM) Online and NOT on-premise. One portal instance is provided with a minimum of 5 Full User Dynamics 365 subscriptions.
Support is provided via regular Partnersource/Office 365 channels.
Adxstudio Portals (aka “legacy”)
UPDATE: The Adxstudio Portal is no longer available and will not be supported after August 1, 2018.
The Portal Connector
While there are a number of 3rd party connectors available, the “Portal Hero” has been pretty active the last couple of years providing a very compelling 3rd party option. From a simple perspective The Portal Connector is a bridge between the Sitefinity content management system and Dynamics 365/CRM, however the solution definitely is greater than the sum of its parts. The Portal Connector is available for Dynamics CRM 2011/2013/2015/2016/365 onpremise as well as Dynamics 365 Online. While I haven’t had direct experience in a Portal project using this technology (yet), some new members to the team demonstrated some recent projects they built using the Portal connector and I was impressed at the capabilities and features of this platform.
Microsoft Portals Open Source
Microsoft announced a “one time” release of the Portal Source code (v8.3) that will run on both Dynamics 365 Online and On-premise. The caveat is that it will not be supported or upgraded… so really meant as a stop gap as a transition to Dynamics 365 Online Portals.
xRM Portals Community Edition
Adoxio (the consulting arm of Adxstudio that was not part of the Microsoft acquisition) announced that they will be spearheading a community edition of the open source portal. This would provide an interesting (and supported) portal option. This will be a topic that I will explore further when it is released.
Other 3rd Parties
There are other 3rd party Portal options available, these options might be good fit for certain projects depending on needs and platforms.
Alexa CRM – WordPress plug-in for Dynamics 365 (CRM)
Peak Portals – Another 3rd Party Option
Click Dimensions – While not a portal solution, Click Dimensions provides web landing pages for things like Lead forms.
Update – June 25, 2017: I was made aware today via @D365Guy of a Portal integration to Sitecore, the link is here
PortVue Portal – June 26, 2017: Another Portal option for Dynamics 365.
There are likely some I missed… if you find a good Dynamics 365 Portal solution, please let me know and I will add it to the list!
Tools such as Kingswaysoft, Scribe or even Microsoft Flow (Logic Apps) could be used to move data back and forth between an established CMS/Portal and Dynamics 365 (CRM). This a good approach if a lot of work has gone into the existing web/portal platform that might not have an established link to Dynamics 365. I am investigating using Azure Logic Apps to tie a low-cost web form application to Dynamics 365. I will post the results of the project at a later time.
Building From Scratch
At the end of the day, the Dynamics 365 SDK provides all the necessary tools for a web developer to use their favourite tools and platforms to build a Dynamics 365 (CRM) integrated Portal.
Having been down this road before, I found that for medium to larger portal projects it involves a lot of foundational work that comes readily available with other Portal packages. This option should be consideration if the “portal” turns out to me a single page application or simple data collection.
When engaging on building a web site or portal that needs to interact with Dynamics 365, there is no shortage of options. I hope this post provides a good list of options to consider as you evaluate your strategy and approach.