Applying Apache Kafka Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform that lets you Publish and Subscribe to streams of data like a messaging system e.g. Microsoft BizTalk Server.

In this post we introduce the basics on how to use Kafka for Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration.

Prerequisites

  1. A Linux distribution to host Kafka server. The examples used here were run on Ubuntu Desktop 14.04 LTS.
  2. Apache Kafka and Apache Zookeeper. Kafka depends on Zookeeper which is basically a distributed coordination service that allows us to run Kafka on a cluster of machines.
  3. An Apache Kafka client: Either kafka-net for .NET and/or kafka-python for Python. An Apache Kafka Client e.g. kafka-net implements the Producer and Consumer APIs that allow us to publish and subscriber messages to Kafka.

Getting Started

To setup a single-node Zookeeper server follow the Getting Started Guide. This should be a fairly straight forward procedure that takes about 30 minutes. For Kafka, follow the steps provided here.

To start publishing messages we create a Kafka topic which acts as a feed or message category. On the kafka server, in the terminal, cd to the unzipped kafka folder and type in the following to create a Leads topic:

bin/kafka-topics.sh --create --zookeeper localhost:2181 --replication-factor 1 --partitions 1 --topic Leads

A kafka-python consumer ingesting messages from the Leads topic can then be implemented as follows:

import requests
from requests_ntlm import HttpNtlmAuth
from kafka import KafkaConsumer

consumer=KafkaConsumer('Leads',bootstrap_servers='localhost:9092')

for target in consumer:
    url='[Organization URI]/api/data/v8.1/leads'
    headers={'Content-Type':'application/json; charset=utf-8'}
    requests.post(url,auth=HttpNtlmAuth([UserName],[Password]),
         data=target, headers=headers)

consumer provides an Iterator object over which messages from the Leads topic are continuously produced. The code then takes each message and attempts to create a lead by passing it to the Dynamics CRM Web API in the target object. For simplicity this code leaves out any validation of the message and assumes it is well-formed json.

With our consumer started we can initialize a Kafka producer which will generate the Lead messages:

bin/kafka-console-producer.sh --broker-list localhost:9092 --topic Leads
{'lastname':'Bourne','firstname':'Jason','topic':'Sample lead topic here.'}

Note that we are using the command line producer that comes with Apache Kafka to produce the messages.

At this point we have passed the Lead, Jason Bourne, to Kafka server and our consumer which is subscribed to the Leads topic has received the lead object and created it in CRM. Alternatively, instead of using kafka-python we can create the consumer in a .NET application using kafka-net.

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM to publish messages we place a kafka-net Producer in a Plugin or Workflow:

using KafkaNet;
using Newtonsoft.Json;
...
IPluginExecutionContext context = (IPluginExecutionContext)
        serviceProvider.GetService(typeof(IPluginExecutionContext));
Entity lead = (Entity)context.InputParameters["Target"];
string leadJson = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(lead);
...
var options = new KafkaOptions(new Uri("http://[kafkaserver]:9092"));
var router = new BrokerRouter(options);
var client = new Producer(router);

client.SendMessageAsync("Leads",new[]{new Message(leadJson)}).Wait();

In the example above we convert a lead from a CRM plugin to a json string using Json.Net. We then configure a kafka server and publish the string to the Leads topic. Too easy.

Obviously there is a bit more to Apache Kafka but I hope this makes it approachable.

Published: September 30 2016

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