Sunday, October 30, 2016

Microsoft CRM + Azure Service Bus, part 3 (creating a relay service and endpoint)

Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Microsoft Azure Service Bus, using queues, topics, relays and the Event Hub

In this, third part of my blog series on using the Azure Service Bus capabilities I'm going to demonstrate how to set up a relay service and add the relay namespace as an endpoint in MSCRM.
Relaying allows us to have active listeners who can either just accept messages or accept and reply to them. This allows for business critical systems like ticket reservation and receipts to ensure we're working on updated and valid data.
Click here for part1
Click here for part2
Click here for part4

What is a relay service?

A relay service works by using the Service Bus like a kind of tunnel, in which the relay is an active listener at the other end. Unlike queues and topics, where the message is "dropped off", using a one-way or two-way (or REST) relay requires that somebody pick up the message immediately. With one-way the sender is happy as long as somebody accepts it, while in a two-way scenario the receiver has to return a value. In this post we'll start out with a one-way relay, but in the next one we'll look at how we can extend that into a two-way relay.

Creating a one-way relay

First off we write a service behavior class. This represents the code we're running whenever a message is received. I'm just going to write out something to the console.

public class RemoteService : IServiceEndpointPlugin
    public void Execute(RemoteExecutionContext c)
            $"Entity: {c.PrimaryEntityName}, id: {c.PrimaryEntityId}");

So nothing magical happening here. It's an extension of the IServiceEndpointPlugin, which writes the entity name and id to the console in it's execute method.
Next up we go to the main method and define a servicehost variable and a new endpoint behavior.

var sh = new ServiceHost(typeof(RemoteService));
var tcEndpointBehavior = new TransportClientEndpointBehavior(

OK, so here we've got ourselves a new servicehost variable, which we'll use to add a new service endpoint, with our newly created RemoteService service behavior as the type. Then there's the endpoint behavior. We create a new TransportClientEndpointBehavior, with a shared access signature as the token provider.
NB! In the SDK and the MSDN article this is specified as "Shared Secret Token Provider", but that's ACS and is no longer supported in Azure. You have to use Shared Access Signature (SAS) for authentication or it won't work.

        new WS2007HttpRelayBinding(), 

Here we add a service endpoint to the host. The type is IServiceEndpointPlugin, which is what the CRM async service sends to the Service Bus. We use WS2007HttpRelayBinding to match the source system, and we collect the endpoint from the app.config (formatted like the following: ).
What's important to note here is that the path specified should not be the same as an existing path. If you have a queue or topic with the same path specified, it will be overridden and you cannot recreate it in the Azure Portal afterwards. This also means that it's up to you which path you want to use for the relay, which also means you can modify it dynamically using the web.config or in advanced integration scnearios.
Finally we add the endpoint behavior we created ealier.

Console.WriteLine("OneWay-listener, press ENTER to close");

Finally, we open up the service host connection, which makes it start listening to new messages. This means we're ready to set up the service in the plugin manager and start sending messages.

Switching to relaying in MSCRM

First off we need to create a new shared access policy in Azure. It's the same as we did in part1, except that this time we create it on the bus itself instead of on a queue.
Then we head over to the plugin registration tool, connect to our organization and add a new service endpoint. This time it'll look kind of like this when it's filled in:
What's important to note here is the namespace address and path. The namespace address should be the complete path, and the path should just be a forward slash (the tool does not accept blank values). If you specify the path in the path box then it won't be able to find and connect to your relay service (that took me a while to figure out). In addition, this is an https endpoint, not an sb endpoint
Next up we go into CRM to edit our workflow (for more info see part2 of this blog series). The only thing we need to do here is deactivate and update the service endpoint. Then save and activate it again. I've kept the workflow running synchronously, just to be able to verify that it works as expected.
Now, just to demonstrate how it looks if you've specified the wrong endpoint, or if the relay isn't running, here's the error message you get. It is the same error you'll get if you specify the path in the path box instead of in the namespace box.

Now, for the fun part instead. Start your relay service and wait for the host to be ready. Then go into CRM and trigger the plugin. If you've done everything right then you'll see a command window looking something like this

And that means we've successfully posted a message from our MSCRM system, through our azure service bus and out of the relay service. This example isn't very exciting, but just think of the possibilities you get if you put this service out into Azure (or on a web server if you're still into that whole old school infrastructure stuff ;) ).

That's it for this blog post. In the next and (for now) final post in this series we'll look at how we can extend this into a two-way relay, as well as integrating with Azure Event Hub which is a service based on the ASB.

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