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Synchronize Dynamics 365 data with external systems


Applies To: Dynamics 365 (online), Dynamics 365 (on-premises), Dynamics CRM 2016, Dynamics CRM Online

Sometimes you’ll need to synchronize and integrate Microsoft Dynamics 365 data with data that is stored in other systems. The common data integration patterns include taking data from an external system and pushing it into Dynamics 365, taking data from Dynamics 365 and synchronizing it to some external data store, or updating Dynamics 365 with external data. You can now use several new capabilities to make writing code to achieve these scenarios more easily.

These new features can be used separately as needed in any situation, but together they address common issues related to synchronizing and integrating data with external data. The following table introduces these new features.



Removing specialized messages

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a number of specialized messages for specific operations that update records. These messages are deprecated in this release and you should now simply use Update to perform the same operations. The deprecated messages are:

  • Assign

  • SetParentSystemUser

  • SetParentTeam

  • SetParentBusinessUnit

  • SetBusinessEquipment

  • SetBusinessUnit

  • SetState

Simply updating the record is much simpler than using these messages and should streamline your development for data integration and synchronization scenarios. More information: Perform specialized operations using Update

Alternate Keys

In enterprise deployments of Microsoft Dynamics 365, it’s common for data from external enterprise systems to be loaded into Microsoft Dynamics 365 so that it can be presented to users. These external systems often can’t be extended to store the Dynamics 365 record identifiers, known as GUIDs, required for system synchronization. A common solution is to add a custom attribute to an entity in Microsoft Dynamics 365 that can be used to store the identifier of the related record in the external system.

When you build data load processes that update records in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and assign references to related records in Dynamics 365, you first have to make an extra Dynamics 365 web service call to retrieve the target Dynamics 365 record based on this external identifier. This lookup can be slow if an appropriate index is not in place for the custom attribute, and in Dynamics 365 (online) scenarios, each of these lookups requires a costly round-trip across the Internet. These extra round trips can increase by an order of magnitude the time it takes to update each Dynamics 365 record and can reduce overall throughput drastically.

Now, web service operations can target a Dynamics 365 record using one or more alternate keys instead of a GUID. In addition, entity references to related records can be specified using one or more alternate keys. Because alternate keys are indexed, lookup operations show increased performance as compared to adding a custom attribute as an identifier. If something goes wrong, the system will throw an error and roll back all the changes. More information: Define alternate keys for an entity

Change tracking

When organizations need to maintain Dynamics 365 data in external storage there is now a way to keep that data synchronized in a performant way by detecting what data has changed since the data was initially extracted or last synchronized. The RetrieveEntityChangesRequest message is used to retrieve the changes for an entity. See Use change tracking to synchronize data with external systems for more information.


When loading data into Microsoft Dynamics 365 from an external system, you may not know if a record already exists in Dynamics 365 and should be updated, or whether you must create a new record. Use the new UpsertRequest message to update the record if it exists, or create a new record if it doesn’t exist, in one API call. More information: Use Upsert to insert or update a record

The following table compares the complexity of synchronizing with and without these new features.



Update using specialized messages

For each record:

  1. Query Dynamics 365 to see if the account exists. If it exists, get its account ID (for example, ABC123)

  2. Query the contacts to verify that the contact exists. If it exists, get the email ID of the contact (for example,

  3. Query to get or set the region ID (for example, NW).

  4. Query to get the user ID to set the owner (for example,

  5. Update the account.

  6. Set the state of the account by calling the SetState API.

  7. Assign the owner by calling the Assign API.

Now, with the new features, it just takes one call to the server to perform the same operations as previously shown.



Update using UpdateRequest

Just one call to verify that there is an account with the unique ID ABC123, set the primary contact to, set the region to NW, set the owner to and the status to active.

In This Section

Define alternate keys for an entity

Use an alternate key to create a record

Use change tracking to synchronize data with external systems

Use Upsert to insert or update a record

Sample: Insert or update a record using Upsert

Sample: Synchronize data with external systems using change tracking

Perform specialized operations using Update

Customize Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications

Microsoft Dynamics 365

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