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Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

  • 1.  Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 13 days ago
    Hi,

    We are currently trying to use Microsoft Flows more and more often instead of workflows. Yet we have an issue while deploying in different environments (we have dev, uat and production instances).

    I created a flow in our dev environnment, adding it to a solution. This solution containts a Common Data Service Connector and an outlook connector.

    When I import the solution to another environment, I must then manually recreate the connection to the CDS and to outlook. This must be done each time the solution is imported.

    According to the document "Administering a PowerApps and Microsoft Flow enterprise deployment whitepaper" from Microsoft this should not be requested at least for the CDS connector :

    "Applications that use the Common Data Service connector currently only can communicate with CDS
    databases in the same environment. This works well for apps that need to move between a dev, test
    and production instance because it adjusts automatically when imported into the next environment. "

    This is not true in my case :
    1 - I can use the CDS connector to communicate with another CDS environment
    2 - Environment doesn't adjust automatically (even when I choose the environment "(Current)")

    This whitepaper is already one year old so many things have changed since. Do you now if an updated documentation can be found regarding Flows deployment?

    Do you have the same issues when deploying Flows? How do you manage your flows deployments?

    Best Regards,

    ------------------------------
    Laurent Maneville
    Nmédia
    Drummondville QC
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 13 days ago
    Hi, in the Flow, when you use CDS connector, you have an option of using "Current" environment instead of specifying one.
    Hope this helps.

    ------------------------------
    Zarko Radevic
    Dynamics CRM Programmer
    Digitale Medier 1881 AS
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 12 days ago

    Yes, we have the same issue. Even if we target the "current" environment with the connector we still have to re-authenticate the connection for each flow step when we deploy the flow to a new environment.

    There is another CDS connector ​which is Common Data Service (current environment) which has more/different functionality to the original CDS connector. e.g. associate or disassociate records and use fetchXML as a filter for list record criteria.

    However, I think you still need to re-establish the connection when you deploy the solution to a new environment.



    ------------------------------
    Matthew Slack
    CRM Functional Specialist
    AQA Education Limited
    Manchester
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 12 days ago
    Hi @Matthew Slack and @Zarko Radevic, and thank you for your answers.

    Both "Current" option​, and the Connector "Common Data Service (current environment)" have the same issue when deploying solution.

    Guess we will have to be carefull each time we update our flows! Hope this will get better in the future.

    ------------------------------
    Laurent Maneville
    Nmédia
    Drummondville QC
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 12 days ago
    Yes, they have some nasty bugs that we have to be extra careful with. I had a weird situation when we did a "Clone" from Test environment to a newly provisioned Dev. I had a flow in Test which did not get copied and that is ok, but when I did an export/import (not via solution​, via admin center), my changes in Dev were triggering the flow in Test. I tried everything, updated connections, but no luck. I had a support case and they gave up at the end, couldn't figure it out. But if I created a new flow in Test (after Clone operation) and then export/import, it worked fine. So it seems like some kind of leftovers were present in cloned Dev environment. Not a usual scenario maybe, but something to keep in mind when creating a new environment.

    I hope they fix such things, Flow is really a powerful tool.

    ------------------------------
    Zarko Radevic
    Dynamics CRM Programmer
    Digitale Medier 1881 AS
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 11 days ago

    We've found with the CDS (current environment connector) that even though the CDS connections at each step are showing an error, if the flow is deployed to a new environment via a solution then it can still be turned on and will still run without re-authenticating each step

     

     

     

    Matthew Slack
    CRM Functional Specialist
    T: 0161 953 7500  Extn: 3500

    AQA Devas Street, Manchester  M15 6EX

     



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  • 7.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 11 days ago

    Wow @Zarko Radevic, this was a tricky bug you had, Never happy when those type of strange behaviours.

    @Matthew Slack, the behaviuor you have is rather strange to. Happy that it works fine even with the error shown.... Unfortunatly, I just tested it and doesn't work for me.

    For the moment, I will just removed flows for our AzureDevOps release pipeline and managed them manually, I am quite sure that this will be temporary. Flows are rather new and they improve quickly!​



    ------------------------------
    Laurent Maneville
    Nmédia
    Drummondville QC
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 10 days ago

    Adding myself to this thread as I'm in the same boat, trying to figure out best practice for moving flows from one environment to another. 

    What are the best documentation sources explaining the integration betweeen D365 CE and Flow you've seen, as well as how to migrate flows from sandbox to production?

    The rest of this is borderline rant... skip it if you don't want the detail, but I'm including it for those just starting to delve into flow and hopefully, if MSFT is reading these forums they will get the picture of where we stand trying to transition to Flow.

    We've already started using flow for a few processes, and love the flexibility and power it offers. There is no denial that is a superior solution to the current workflow interface. We are now trying to figure out how to properly maintain separate dev and production environments, as the flows we've written to date had to be manually recreated in production due to different references to both our D365 CE and Sharepoint instances.

    MSFT's online flow conference a few days ago was packed with 9 hrs of well done training, and really, flow has a TON of potential. It is way more powerful than workflows, being able to do far more complex data manipulation, integration and parallel processing. Yet, for all that content, the presenters did not cover how to manage and migrate flows between dev and production environments. I have not found any MSFT documentation containing instructions for migrating flows, with the environmental references automatically updating based on environment context for Dyanmics - only for CDS in general, and it sounds like there is some question as to whether the white paper above is up to date.  I also haven't found a way to use a variable to make it easier to switch a single flow to point at different instances of sharepoint with sharepoint connectors, such as adding rows to an excel file when generating a weekly report based on a query from D365 CE.

    In our admin settings, we have several powerapps instances listed as Dynamics 365 9.0 and several listed as CDS... I'm not clear if there is a relationship between any two of these, and if so, which ones.

    Here's what I've found by way of Documentation from MSFT:
    • The CDS What is Common Data Service page indicates that CE is integrated with CDS, but F&O would require additiional configuration of the Data Integrator to work at this point. Yet, when I try to use the CDS connector, I don't see the a data schema remotely matching our CE instances. The lead entity is not present for starters.
    • The D365 CE documentation Enable Flow Integration doesn't explain or link to a documentation explaining how to manage sandbox and production flow environments
    • The Powerapps documentation Migrate Apps Between Environments indicates they can be migrated, but doesn't explain in detail how environmental references for D365 are are handled, nor does it provide a link to such an explanation. 
    • The Flow documentation Solutions Overview naturally comes closest, explaining that flows must be created in a solution to be solution aware, but is in the context of CDS and doesn't specifically address D365 CE contextually aware references or how to create a variable to reference other environments, such as sharepoint, such that the variable can be stored as configuration data referenced by the flow from the D365 CE environment. 

    I'm guessing additional, clearer documentation is out there, and this frustration is simply remedied... I just haven't found it yet. ... Or maybe we're caught somewhere in an documentation gap between the CDS, D365 CE, PowerApps, and Flow teams as far as documentation goes?  Any helpful links? 

    Maybe if I figure this out, I'll write a blog to tell the story. 



    ------------------------------
    Ryan Perry
    Business Systems Analyst
    Auric Solar
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Deploy Microsoft Flows in several environements

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted 10 days ago

    Hi @Ryan Perry

    Thank you for all these details on your research. Hopefully documentations will get updated and deployment process will improve.

    I will participate to the Event "Colaborate Canada" in Ottawa in two weeks. There will be some conferences about Flows in Dynamics, including deployments considerations​. I hope to learn thinks there and discuss to other people and gets clues about how this will evolve.

    I will let you know if I found a solution or at least documentation!

    Best Regards,



    ------------------------------
    Laurent Maneville
    Nmédia
    Drummondville QC
    ------------------------------



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