Virtual Entities are a new, easier way to create a quick view of external data sources in Dynamics 365.
For example, users need to be able to see a contact’s Social Security Number in CRM but the data cannot be stored in CRM. Using virtual entities allows the data to be visible in Dynamics 365 without it being stored in a CRM database and allows the external data to be read at runtime for the page load.
Virtual entities also provide the capability for System Administrators/Configurators to be able to configure a data integration, rather than solely relying on a developer to manage and implement data integrations.
The entities are stored in CRM with an internal metadata flag on the entity marked as virtual, which tells the system not to put a schema in the database. Virtual entities are organization owned, there isn’t any CRM role level security for virtual entities. Each virtual entity points to a row from the data source.
Image from Microsoft
Ways to connect data using virtual entities:
- Initially OData v4 endpoint
- Azure Cosmos DB for Document DB API (future enhancement)
- Development team customization for web service hook with the framework to do pretty much anything
Here are a couple of things to be aware of with virtual entities: They do not support business process flow, portal to business logic, and cannot trigger workflows, since virtual entities don’t support or trigger an update of the data.
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Please note: All content and information is presented on preview versions and not the launched product. Product is subject to changes per Microsoft’s discretion.