Many companies choose to defer the upgrade to the CRM 2015 Online version from 2013 in order to complete adequate testing of customizations. Should you find yourself in this situation and have the need to stand up a new sandbox instance of 2013, you can do it but it’s going to be a multiple step process. The CRM Online Instance Manager will give you the options needed to make this happen.

CRM Online Instance Manager

As far as CRM Online is concerned all new instances will be setup in the latest release, no matter what release you are running in your production instance. So that will be step one, to create your initial sandbox org. If your intention for this new sandbox org is to have another dev/test org that will be used directly for/with your production instance (and you are running CRM 2013 in production) then you’ll need to perform the next 2 steps:

1) Perform an instance reset in the CRM Instance Manager (using the “Reset” button) and select the correct release that you’ll need for your current production instance.

2) Once the reset is complete, then you’ll want to copy your production instance to the new sandbox org, again via the Instance Manager, but this time you would use the “Copy” button

Instance Reset Instructions

Resetting a “blank instance” back to the previous release by using the Reset button from Instance manager is a straightforward task. Just change the target version to be CRM Online Spring 14 which is the CRM 2013 version.

Reset instance

The “reset” process will delete any data in the org so make sure you do this right after creating the new instance and before importing any solutions or data.

Instance Copy Instructions

Next you’ll want to move all of your custom schema using the Copy instance button and the “minimal copy” type.  Make sure you start with selecting the Production instance (or whatever you want to copy “from”) and click the corresponding Copy button at the right. Then in the Copy instance window, select the target instance for the copy and the “minimal” copy type if you just want to move the customizations and not the data.

Copy instance minimal

Note, you could instead choose to move all of your data along with all of the customizations schema using a “full copy”. Because CRM Online charges you more if you go over your storage limit, you may or may not want to move all of the data at the same time when building the new Sandbox org. It certainly is better if you are able to move the data, because that will give you a ready made full UAT or TESTING environment without having to manually create test data.

Copy instance full

Hit Go and wait for the copy to complete.

Early Adopter Issue

As I write this we are in the early stages of the CRM Online 2015 rollout and we have upgraded our 2013 version to 2015 in Production. We hit a few snags with JavaScript code and a small bug related to custom activity types but we worked through them and were able to get our system fully functional in a few days. However, it has been quite challenging to get the instance copy function to work so we have a fully functional Development and Test sandbox for doing the next phase of enhancements. The problem is with a back-end function that must be fixed by a Microsoft tech engineer. We are continuing to investigate the issue and have provided an overview of what is occurring next.

The instance copy begins, the status changes to “preparing instance” then after about 5 to 10 minutes the status changes to “instance failed” with a message like this:

Copy instance failed

Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done, from a customer perspective, to fix this. Hopefully, this will be addressed for the online environment via a HotFix. In the meantime, you will need to engage Microsoft for assistance. If you need to have a Dev/Test org built, it is best to execute it this way. Create a new instance and follow the manual schema move procedures that we documented in our previous blog Guidance for Updating Multiple CRM Online Orgs with Customizations.

We hope this information will help you to have a little smoother go of it when you upgrade your production org to 2015. For more information on this blog or C5 Insight, contact us here!