Dynamics 365 vs the Common Data Service Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Power Apps icon 1.0.1109.1345

Dynamics CRM, Dynamics 365, Common Data Service it can be very confusing. What is what?


3 names that are commonly used and as lot seems to refer to the same thing. The names aren’t always used correctly by everybody.

I will also have a look at creating customisations using Managed Solutions, Unmanaged Solutions vs just creating entities and option sets outside solutions. As always there is a right way to do things and there might be an easy way of doing things.

In this series of posts I’m hoping to clear up some of the confusion.

Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM is the old name used before the product was called Dynamics 365. Anything that is installed in on premises environments, I’m still calling Dynamics CRM. All the Microsoft solutions related to Dynamics CRM in the cloud I call Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365

Since October 2018, Dynamics 365 is the new name for Dynamics CRM for the cloud version of Dynamics.

Common Data Services

The Common Data Services (CDS) are a set of services making it easy to connect into Dynamics 365’s data using the CDS connector. These be used by both PowerApps and Microsoft Flow,making it easy to use CDS data with both PowerPlatform applications.


You will fairly quickly recognise the entities that have existed in Dynamics CRM for many years. You can add your won new entities within now time. It is all just the same as in Dynamics 365.

New Entity


Most Dynamics developers will be familiar with the Solutions management in Dynamics 365. Over the years not much has changed here.

Solutions in CRM

Within the CDS things look a bit different but the fundamental idea behind solutions is still the same.

Solutions in CDS

You can develop managed and unmanaged solutions, where managed solutions disable the option to change elements within that solution once it has been deployed.

The big new things are that you can add PowerApps apps and Microsoft Flow flows to solutions so that you can deploy them from one environment to another. This all reasonably easy to do and there isn’t much difference between adding these compared to adding other elements that used to be added to solutions.

CDS Development

Now that we a have looked at some of the basics. The important questions to answer are:

  • Should all customisations be done through solutions?
  • Are you going to add all flows and apps to solutions?
  • If you create new solutions that use elements from solutions that used to be standard or custom in CRM,
    • will you first replicate all those entities, relations and any other relevant elements using an export and import?
    • or should we recreate all the required elements only within the CDS, risking that things are out of sync with standard solutions?

In my following posts I will look at creating solutions within the CDS environment. Comparing the CDS solutions to the traditional Dynamics CRM solutions.

By Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications and Office Apps & Services Microsoft MVP working as a Microsoft Productivity Principal Consultant at HybrIT Services. You can contact me using contact@veenstra.me.uk.

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