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Building an All-in-One Virtual Server for Microsoft CRM 2013 in Azure

By ClickDimensions Chief Customer Officer, Matt Wittemann

Years ago, I wrote an article for the Microsoft CRM team blog about how to build a self-contained virtual environment for CRM. At the time, the CRM version was 4.0, and the virtual environment was on a local desktop computer. With the advent of Microsoft’s Azure, this process has become significantly easier.

If you would like to have your own CRM 2013 server for development or testing, here are the 8 easy steps to make it happen. (Okay, this assumes you’ve already got an Azure account and access to the CRM 2013 installation files.) Note that Microsoft does not yet officially support running CRM on an Azure VM.

  1. Log into Azure and create a new Virtual Machine.
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    Select the “SQL Server 2012 SP1 Standard on WS 2012” – this will give you just about everything you need to install CRM.

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    I chose a “Medium” size server. This has the minimal RAM that I will need for a modest dev server.

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    NOTE: I also added HTTP port 5555, which is the default port that CRM uses. This way, when I’m all done, I will be able to browse from my laptop to the CRM instance at .cloudapp.net:5555">http://<servername>.cloudapp.net:5555.

  2. After the machine has been set up, you can use remote desktop to connect to it. The address you will use for a remote desktop connection uses the name you gave the virtual machine and the port that was set up for RDP. In my example, this is mycrm2013dev.cloudapp.net:3389.
  3. Adding Roles
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    From the Server Manager dashboard, you can add the following roles that will be needed by CRM:

    1. Active Directory Domain Services
    2. Application Server
    3. DNS Server
    4. Web Server (IIS)

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    5. Install the Windows Search Service (no worries – if you skip this step, the CRM installation will install it for you, but it will interrupt your CRM installation and require a reboot).
    6. Promoting to Domain Controller

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      After the server has been rebooted, the Server Manager will have an informational alert you can click on to start the process of turning the server into a domain controller. Give the domain a name, like COMPANY.COM and go through the rest of the Active Directory Domain Services Configuration Wizard accepting the default settings. At the end of a successful prerequisite check you will be able to install AD and make the machine a domain controller.

    7. Next, make sure that SQL Reporting Services is working. This needs to be working before you can install CRM.
      1. Go to the Start screen and type “Reporting Services Configuration Manager” to open the config manager for SSRS.
      2. In the configuration wizard, click on “Web Services URL” and click the “Apply” button.
      3. Click on “Database” and then “Change Database” to set up a new report server database. You can accept the defaults in the wizard and click Next as appropriate to finish the setup of the report database.
      4. Click on “Report Manager URL” and click the “Apply” button.
      5. Check to make sure you can browse to the report server address at /reportserver">http://<servername>/reportserver

        TIP: Create a service account in Active Directory for the SSRS service account. In the Reporting Services configuration wizard, under “Service Account”, set it to use another account and specify this service account.

    8. Get your install media and license key for CRM ready. (TIP: I use Virtual Clone Drive from Elaborate Bytes to run DVD images.) Launch the CRM Server installation.

      Installation tips:

      1. Prior to installing CRM, go to Active Directory Users and Computers and set up a new OU to contain the groups that will be created when you install CRM.
      2. During the installation, I select just the Network Service for all the services during installation of CRM. This is just a dev environment, so I’m not too worried about best security practices.
      3. Create a new website. If you later want to set up ADFS on this server, it will use the default website, so when installing CRM, have the installer create a new website.

        TIP: Disable the Windows Firewall for the ports you’ve set up for CRM.

      4. After running the CRM Server installation, run the CRM Reporting Extensions setup as well.

Congratulations, now you have a self-contained CRM environment for testing and development.

About the Author:

Matt Wittemann is a 13-time Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP and ClickDimensions' Senior Director, Pre-Sales Consulting.

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