The Legend of Dynamics - Breath of the Wild
Written by Ken Miller, Product Director at Panintelligence
I'll be honest I am way too old to be talking about this but, a month ago I bought a Nintendo Switch. I bought it because it has Zelda on it and I'm going to be honest here, it hasn't disappointed. On the other hand, as any Zelda fan will know, there are moments of pure frustration and a recent business challenge involving our Microsoft licensing drew me to make some comparisons.
The Zelda quests
Fellow Zelda fans will know that the game is a series of quests. These quests are cryptic and expect you to use cunning to find a solution. As you progress, these quests become more and more sophisticated and often require complex decision-making. You get a real sense of achievement every time a quest is solved, because as Zelda fans will know, each quest requires a great deal of thought and often downright cunning to solve!
However, this has not been the only quest I have been on this month. The sales and marketing team at Panintelligence use Microsoft Dynamics for CRM. Over the last 3 years it’s become an essential tool in our business. We hold all our lead and prospect data in Dynamics and as a young business this is some of the most valuable information we hold. In January, we upgraded Dynamics CRM to the latest version, and so began The Quest!
In the beginning of time
We found out that we had a SPLA licence - I don’t know what this means either! Confusingly, we were then informed by our new CRM provider that we shouldn’t have a SPLA licence, but as our CRM consultant was already on-site and all ready to upgrade our system, the decision was made to put a trial key on the server as a temporary patch. Note – we were already paying for Dynamics at this point. As it turns out, this was the equivalent to throwing away the master sword! Zelda references will now flow thick and fast! And so, Microsoft Dynamics started to feel like a corrupted Divine Beast.
The corrupted Divine Beast
We ran the SQL on the database to find out when the key would expire and saw that we had 45 days to solve our quest. Phew! Plenty of time to find the master sword and tame the Beast. In Zelda, you stop and talk to strangers and they provide you with snippets of information or clues. With Dynamics, this is much the same. You talk to Microsoft partners who provide these clues – answers which are never quite the same, but which nevertheless allow you to edge ever closer to a licence key.
So, we started – first to find a partner authorised to sell a licence for Dynamics on-premise – easy you might think – but this would not turn out to be the case. This involved stepping through several distributors who, in truth, just acted on behalf of each other, but who were not actually able to generate the keys themselves! We lost a lot of time at this stage – and frustratingly we were given a few too many promises that ultimately they were incapable of fulfilling.
The plot thickens
We were now 10 days from the expiration date of the evaluation key. Just to reiterate, throughout the quest, we continued to pay for the SPLA licence – because we’re honest folk and as a software developer we always feel it’s only right to pay for any software we use!
Next we needed to authorise the distributor to get control of our 365 account. This took a little time to get from yet another Microsoft partner. I struggled to get into the portal – it doesn’t like Safari (understandable it is Microsoft after all), then struggled some more in Internet Explorer and finally succeeded – it worked well in Chrome!
Then we started getting errors on the licence, ‘Our service isn’t available at the moment. We are working to resolve our services. Try again soon’. Believing this was not an intentional misdirection, I tried back later. Then tried again and again. Still nothing. So, we raised the issue with Microsoft via our 365 partner. Everything is now taking lots of time and it now involves 5 parties. Zelda uses a map – let me draw one.
I’ve simplified it!
The master sword
The next trial is when we learn that the error in the customer portal was not actually an error – it was sent to test our resolve to make sure we are truly worthy of being granted the master sword – that being our much-needed licence! Zelda and Dynamics are now starting to meld.
Next we find we have taken yet another wrong turn – we have a syndicated licence with our 365 distributor, not a CSP licence. We need a CSP licence to look at the sword. Our distributor of 365 says we have fulfilled the requirements for the CSP licence and will be powered up – sorry – I mean migrated - by the end of the year. Wow! In Zelda, it only takes 20 minutes for the master sword to be re-energised! – we can’t wait till the end of the year!
By now we have met the Prince of Dynamics, the one distributor who seems able to guide us on our licence quest, but oh no!!!! We now get a server error from Dynamics. It’s now just 3 days before the trial key is due to expire. But the server error does not mention the licence – oh no!! We fear, yet another parallel quest.
Again - I’ll be honest – I have by now Googled and had some help with my Zelda challenge, and there is some great info out there. Try the same for Dynamics – nothing – zip. Just lots of other frustrated voices. There is no cheat sheet for Dynamics.
But hurrah! – The Prince of Dynamics (AKA George Morton from the amazing Microsoft partner called Azzure IT) has found a way of communicating with The Kingdom of Microsoft. He’s visiting there today – must be a magic portal! We must be nearly there!
Well, at this point, I must go. Just had another email - one of over a 100 I’ve amassed on this quest.
Just to update you, the Prince of Dynamics came through!!! We lost 3 working days when we were unable to access Dynamics despite being a paying customer – but finally, quest solved - we now have a licence key. George got a well-deserved round of applause when he visited our Leeds office!
Good job I love a Quest.