If you currently have a production CRM 2013 Online instance, Microsoft wants you to upgrade to 2015 by the middle of June at the latest. It is important to perform full UI and customization testing in 2015 prior to approving your 2015 online production upgrade. The more customizations and managed solutions you have deployed, the more the need for good quality assurance (QA) and user acceptance testing (UAT).

A best practice for creating your 2015 Sandbox org is to do a full copy of your production org to the Sandbox org bringing all of your production data into the 2015 Testing instance (as long as your storage capacity can support this). By testing your full deployment with production data in 2015 it gives you the best chance for finding defects and/or unsupported customizations.  

The process you should take depends on whether or not your instance already exists as a 2013 org:

1) If the Sandbox org already exists as a 2013 org, the steps are to perform the full copy of Production to overlay Sandbox, then schedule the sandbox org update to 2015

2) If the Sandbox org does not exist, then you’ll need to create a new Sandbox org first (which defaults to a 2015 org), then revert it back to a 2013 org, then do the full copy, then schedule the upgrade to 2015

However, if you are trying to “time” the production copy to occur just before a scheduled upgrade to 2015, you’ll be interested to know this fact:

  • The MS Instance Update Administrative Portal will automatically cancel your scheduled upgrade of a Sandbox org as soon as you perform a full copy overlay
  • Therefore, DO NOT schedule the upgrade of your sandbox org BEFORE you do your production copy.
  • Just use one of the two processes listed above and make sure you plan your production copy accordingly

 To demonstrate, let’s assume we have one production instance named “Powers” and 2 sandbox instances as shown below:

CRM Online Instance Picker

Now, let’s say we want to use the PSDEV instance as our 2015 test org. Then we’ll need to do 2 things:

  1. Copy our production org to PSDEV
  2. Schedule the upgrade of PSDEV to 2015 using the scheduling calendar in the Office 365 CRM Admin Portal

Microsoft requires a minimum of 7 days to schedule the upgrade. So you'll want to do your production copy at least a week before the time you want to start performing your 2015 testing to allow for this lead time. As you can see the Upgrade Scheduling Calendar grays out the days between today (in our example today is 4/26/15 and the earliest you could schedule this update is 5/3/15):

Upgrade scheduling calendar

Good luck with your plans to upgrade to 2015!

Note: As of this writing, the automated calendar scheduling will not allow you to request a primary date of upgrade beyond 6/16/15. However, it is possible to extend the time frame of your scheduled 2015 upgrade to the 2nd half of the year by calling the Microsoft Support Center at 800-865-940+1 (800) 865 9408.

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