Dual Write for D365 Finance & Operations – D365 Customer Engagement

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During the Business Applications Summit last week we were excited to attend a session to learn more about “Dual Write” a new feature in Preview that helps to integrate D365 Finance & Operations (F&O) with D365 Customer Engagement (CDS).

The two applications may share the same Dynamics 365 moniker, but the underlying data structure is completely different. While it’s plausible that Microsoft may look to move the F&O entities on to the Common Data Service, it’s a huge undertaking, so we expect a continued focus on the Data Integrator and Dual Write instead.

What Dual Write does

Dual Write is a new way to integrate F&O with CDS that is very similar to the Data Integrator, with one key difference: after the initial synchronization, the integration is synchronous (real time). That’s where the name Dual Write comes from – instead of saving the data to one database, each save is committed in both F&O and CDS at the same time. It’s essentially writing to two places at once.

The demo was impressive. Save a new Account in CRM/CDS and the customer is immediately available in F&O. Update that Customer address in F&O and it’s immediately updated in CRM/CDS.

Here’s a look at the current features in Public Preview:

Dual Write Features in Public Preview

These capabilities are managed with plugins that are tied to the save operation in both environments. It’s so tightly integrated that if one side is down (say F&O is getting a platform update) saves in the other side will fail.

Microsoft has built in some simple error handling to overcome the “one side is down” issue, but this is one of the many scenarios that makes integrations in general so challenging. And even though Dual Write and the Data Integrator are built into the platform, they’re certainly not immune to these challenges. The Microsoft engineers said their internal demos of Dual Write would get a big “Wow!” at the first part, with the bulk of the time spent answering, “but what happens when…” questions that cover the myriad of scenarios that can trip up any integration.

The engineering team is aware of the big challenge to build an enterprise-ready integration, and they’re well on the path to making it happen, but it’s not there yet.

Some key requirements that we see missing are the ability to handle deletes, ability to handle complex conditional logic, and a detailed execution log for error handling to name a few.

What about Data Integrator?

Dual Write has a lot of overlap with Data Integrator, and for the time being it sounds like both will continue to get investment and live side-by-side. Data Integrator can continue to be used for scenarios where scheduled integrations are sufficient (daily, hourly or every X minutes), and Dual Write used when a more real-time integration is needed. Time will tell if one method will win out over the other.

You can check out more details of Dual Write capabilities in the Wave 2 Release notes. This new feature should be generally available in October with about 30 entities.

We’re excited to see the progress of Dual Write as well as the enhancements to the Data Integrator, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on both. In the meantime, if you have a need to integrate D355 F&O and CDS (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service, etc.) we recommend a custom integration, like the Azure-based integration we have on AppSource.

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