Business Central OnPrem vs Azure vs SaaS

A few last months constantly I see misunderstanding what Business Central SaaS offering is. To be honest I thought it is all well known, but often it is not a case. Because of that, I’ve readjusted standard IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS chart and made it applicable to Business Central. I think this chart speaks for itself, but if someone needs additional info, you can send a question and I’ll add details.

Just to be clear, on the top level where we have Company Data, I think on using BC as a system through UI or API’s. That means you are master of your data. You need to be sure how you enter and post your documents. But if we talk about configuration of system, mostly it will be done by your partner, but again this is your decision (as customer) to find trusted partner to work with.

As this chart cannot offer completely picture, I’ve added one more. First one was all about technology, but the next one is about licensing and what is included in system.

*) One thing maybe not 100% clear from this chart is infrastructure subscription if you are using BC on Azure (IaaS model). If you want to use Business Central deployed on Azure infrastructure (no SaaS), you can use a few different models. First you (as customer) can have your own infrastructure (1 VM, 2 VM’2, or VM + Azure SQL). The second, you (as customer) can use partner infrastructure and in this case you can dedicated hardware or services to you (as if you use your own) or you can use shared resources (more cost effective). In this case, middle tier can be used for more clients, as well as Azure SQL database can be added to Azure Elastic Database Pool and to get better performances and better cost. You can find ideas how to make it here (and this is important especially if BC SaaS is not available in your country). And one more thing… if you are using model BC on Azure, cost for OS and SQL Server is included in HW Subscription.

I hope it is now far clearer, but again if you need any additional detail, just send a question.

How to integrate Business Central with Dynamics 365 Talent – part 3 (inserting data with LogicApps)

The last days of the previous year, I’ve started with blog series how to integrate Business Central with Dynamics 365 Talent (now Dynamic 365 Human Resources). I wanted to show how to integrate these two solutions without code, using only available services.

I’ve started with the first post, with an overview and then continue with the second one where I explained how to configure both solutions. Now I would like to continue with the third part where I’ll explain integration tools we can use.

Generally, you can use Flow (Power Automation) or Azure Logic Apps. Personally, for this purpose I prefer Logic Apps. There are many reasons for this, and I’ll show the basic comparison between these two solutions:

I don’t want to say Flow is not good solution as I enjoy in using it, but for this purpose (integration) I think Logic Apps is much better choice.

To use Logic Apps, first you must have an Azure subscription. When you open an Azure portal, you can easily find Logic Apps using a search feature. Create a new Logic Apps using Add command.

If you already used Microsoft Flow, you will find that Logic Apps are very similar, but as this is on the first place Azure service, you have to make some basic configuration as a choosing a service Name, what Subscription you want to use, Resource Group and Location for your service.

Then you just need to click on Create and wait a few seconds. If you still don’t see new service, probably you need to hit Refresh and new service will appear. When a new service is created, you need to open it and start creating a flow. System will open Logic Apps Designer and you can start with a Blank Logic App button scrolling little bit down (if this is your first time with Logic Apps, I can recommend to look the introducing video before you start). Do not forget that you need to have already deployed Business Central and Talent and created Talend entities in CDS (check in PowerApps with Data tab).

On the first sight you will see it obviously look like very similar as Microsoft Flow (Power Automation). First you need to start with a trigger, and as there is not trigger for Talent, you need to find ‘Common Data Service’ trigger – ‘When a record is created’. Yes, the first Logic App will be for inserting new data, but to complete this process, minimum necessary will be to make a Logic App for update as well.

Now you need to sign in to create a connection to Common Data Service. You will use credentials you used for Talent and CDS. When you finish with signing in, choose an environment where you have installed Talent and Workers as an entity name. On the end, add Organization as a Scope.

In a new step, you need to make an action. For this purpose, you need to choose Business Central and find ‘Create record’ action. When you sign in, first you need to choose if you want to use Production or some other environment and after that you need to choose a company name and as a Table name choose Employees (this is an API from Business Central).

On the end you just need to connect fields. To do this you need to click on Add new parameter and to choose Business Central fields you want to use for integration. Minimum you have to use are number, givenName and surname. Now you need to connect BC with Talent data i.e. Given Name (from Talent) to First_name, Surname to Last_name…

Click Save and as this is a service, do not forget to click Run. Only now, your Logic App is ready for using.

Be careful here with choosing fields for integration… you can try to integrate more fields here, but it cannot be useful. The answer on your question is when you create new record to the Worker entity in Talent, only a few field will be treated as an insert and the most of them will be treated as an update. Look at the last image where I’ll create new record… only these field you see are treated as an insert.

When you click Hire and add details, all other values you will add will be treated as an update. Because of that, you will see that created new Logic App for updating is absolutely necessary. But I’ll explain more about this in my next post.

But right now, you can create new Worker in Talent and you will see that system created new Employee in Business Central immediately.

How to integrate Business Central with Dynamics 365 Talent – part 1 (Introduction)

When I think about new Business Central features, the first thing in my mind is openness for integrations. As a part of Dynamics 365 family, the main power of this solution is when it can work simultaneously with other. Because of that, I showed these capabilities in a few conferences. As I got lot of requirement to explain it in more details, I’ll write about good example of BC integrations with one other Dynamics 365 solution – with ‘Dynamics 365 Talent’.

‘Dynamics 365 Talent’ is a new Microsoft Dynamics HCM solution (new name ‘Dynamics 365 Human Resources‘). This solution was initially based on AX HRM, but now it is separated solution. As we can use it independently and this solution is really amazing HCM system, I think it can be interesting how we can integrate this solution with Business Central and make them as the powerful tool together… and with no code.

If you are thinking how to make it and how to make it with no code, the answer is using one of the Azure services – Logic Apps. As ‘Dynamics 365 Talent’ has entities on CDS and Logic Apps has connectors for CDS and for ‘Business Central’, only what we need to do is to map entities and fields in both systems and of course, to think abut business logic on the first place. Depends what is the primary reason for integration, we can choose some of the options:

  • integrate HRM core system with HR in Business Central
  • integrate Attract or Onboard apps in Talent with Business Central.

In second option, we will use HR module in Business Central and use only one or two parts from ‘Dynamics 365 Talent’. On the other side, in first option we will use core HR in ‘Dynamics 365 Talent’. In this text, I chose to explain the first option.

In this first text, I’ll just explain some basic concepts and you will find more details in the following texts with this topic.

Basic setup in Business Central

First, as we don’t need all HR capabilities in Business Central (we already have all of them in dedicated HR solution – ‘Dynamics 365 Talent’), we will move only data necessary for other areas in Business Central. In this example I’ll show how to move data to Employee table as this table can be used for example in a Payroll system or you can use this information in Fixed Assets card.

Locate information in Talent

Now when we have the basic configurations, we can continue with integration. First, we need to find where an employee’s data are saved in Talent. To find this we need to open list of CDS entities and we can do it using PowerApps platform.

When we have these basic information, we can continue with technical parts how to do it in a practice.

New Development Tools for NAV

Today, Microsoft has been published preview of new development tools for NAV as promised (before the Christmas). New tools are intended for extensions and apps development.

We have two tools:

  • The In-client Designer to make extensions in the client by consultants.
  • Visual Studio Code for building powerful extension and apps development, based on tables, pages and codeunits, using the new objects Page Extensions and Table Extensions.

You can start if you have your own Microsoft Azure subscription, using the following link http://aka.ms/navdeveloperpreview

More about it on Microsoft blog.

My presentations from Directions conferences

Directions EMEA was finished one week ago. Ten days before, we finished with Directions NA conference. Both of these conferences were amazing and it was an honor to attend on them and to have some presentations.

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After these presentations, people who attended ask me to get these presentations. I know that both of Directions will publish these presentations, but in the mean time, I want to give you everything I prepared.

On the following link, you can get all three presentations:

  • DirectionsNA – Water-Agile-Fall methodology and NAV implementation
  • DirectionsNA – Choosing the best possible Azure platform for NAV
  • DirectionsEMEA – Choosing the best possible Azure platform for NAV

Thank you for being on my sessions and see you the next year in Orlando and/or Madrid. If you have some additional questions, do not hesitate to ask (you can use direct messaging on blog). Cheers.

Create an Invoice from Outlook Calendar in Project Madeira

I’ve already wrote about using integration of Outlook and Project Madeira. If you use Exchange Online, you can use a lot of automation. As I wrote in my last article, everything I used is based on Project “Madeira” currently demo features, but I expect we will have minimum the same in new NAV 2017. But OK, we will still wait with this until we get the official new release.

I older articles, I showed you how to use this kind of integration in emails, but now we can use some automation in Outlook Calendar as well. If we make an appointment to make some invoice for example, when we open this appointment we will notice Project “Madeira” button.

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Using this, system will as us what contact we want to use and when we choose one of them we will get all necessary information about him. Now, we can make new quote, invoice, order or credit memo for him if we want. We can add everything we want in this document without leaving the Outlook Calendar. When I finish, I can send this document on approval or just post or post and send.

On my first picture, I captured how it looks like in Outlook Online, but everything is a possible using desktop Outlook (as I noticed, you just must use Exchange Online). If we use desktop Outlook and open the same appointment, we can notice two buttons. The first is about Contact Insights and the second is intended for directly creating a new documents. You can type a new document directly in the right part of appointment or click on “Pop Out” button (you can use this in online and desktop versions as well) to get independent window for easier way of typing.

MadeiraCal2.jpg

And when you finish everything is the same as in online version. Now you can choose to work in Project “Madeira” or in NAV from email or from calendar and it will make your daily business faster for sure.

Microsoft Dynamics 365!

Today, Microsoft published story about Microsoft Dynamics 365 on Partner Source and on their blog. And in the same moment, they’ve also published Microsoft AppSource. What is this?

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Microsoft says that this represents the end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud and it will be worldwide available in the fall of this year. Generally Dynamics 365 will bring the best of Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions and currently it is based on Project “Madeira” (but not only; we can expect the enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 based on AX) and CRM Online, but not only on them. It will provide the main business processes as Finance, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Operations, Marketing and Project Service Automation.

And even more. This is not closed system. This system is natively integrated with big data and IoT, Power BI, Cortana Intelligence, Microsoft Flow,… everything what you need and when you need. Classic Software-As-A-Service story, but very advanced. I think I don’t need to spend my words about integration with Office 365; this integration will be extremely deep (you already saw just a part of this in my previous article about using “Madeira” with Outlook).

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And of course, if you want to know something more about it, the best is to attend on WPC during the July. Microsoft will provide three session about this new solution. You can also see more about it on Summit this year (Scott Guthrie will speak about it) and I hope on Directions.

You can expect more from me about this soon. But this is just small the first introduction about new solution in the family; remember this name – Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Advanced Scenario with Project Madeira and Outlook

I think in my few previous posts, I’ve already showed some very interesting Project “Madeira” feature in collaboration with Office 365 and Outlook. Now, I will finish this small story with the some more advanced business scenario.

I got an email from my client where he asks an offer for some items. As I expect, because he is my old client, “Madeira” automatically recognized him and gave me possibility to see his company contact card or him as my customer. This second info is more useful for me.

MadeiraScenario1.jpg

On this card, I can see his balance, past due balance, overdue as a chart and few interesting tiles with information about his existing quotes, orders, invoices, credit memos, posted documents… If I want to see details about his balance, I need just to click on amount and I’ll get all information from Customer Ledger Entry; again everything in mail Outlook client. I can see posted document from this entry or edit if I want it…

MadeiraScenario2.jpg

And the same situation is if I click on amount in the chart. I also can use these tiles to see all documents with details from this default place.

OK, I decided I’ll give him an Offer. From this customer card, I can make new Sales Quote (I can make other sales document as well). As I expected, system noticed me that he has overdue balance, but I will live with this risk J. Now, I just need to fill what he wanted on quote and choose Send by email.

MadeiraScenario3.jpg

System will automatically create new email with attached Quote as PDF and all necessary information in mail body. And I just need to click Send. When I get confirmation, I will continue with working making an Invoice and sending approval request. And after that I’ll choose to Post and Send this invoice.

As you saw, we can make almost all sales business processes without leaving our Outlook client. And this is not everything we can; this is only part of possibilities. But we can see all of these in only few months. I am really waiting to see this product in production environment.

Invoices in Project Madeira via Outlook

Few days ago, I wrote article about working with contacts in Project ‘Madeira’ via Outlook. Now,  want to show something more about integration with Office and Outlook.

What if you get an e-mail with invoice number in mail body? Outlook will underline this number and make link to your actual invoice in NAV if you just click on it. Beautiful.

MadeiraInvoice1.jpg

If invoice with this number doesn’t exist, system will offer you to search document in all your sales and purchase documents. You just need to choose type of documents, and you will get list of your documents as bricks. Impressive.

MadeiraInvoice2.jpg

But what when you find your documents? First, you can continue to work with this document in your mail body or you can choose to open it in new window for a better visibility. And then, you can choose a lot of actions, everything from your e-mail (you don’t need to open your Madeira client during all these actions).

MadeiraInvoice3.jpg

If I choose the first option (Send), system will just make a reply mail with this Invoice in PDF as attachment with the basic details about this invoice in a mail body.

MadeiraInvoice4.jpg

But you can make a different actions as well. Maybe you need to correct this posted document (system will automatically create and post Credit memo and create new document) or you want to create a Credit memo or change your payment service… Everything of this is possible, but only if this contact is connected with your customer.

There are still more possibilities, but in some other article… Currently we can say, Project ‘Madeira’ promises a lot.

New Extensions for Project Madeira

When I run Project ‘Madeira’ for the first time, I found only three extensions there:

  • QuickBooks Data Migration
  • PayPal Payments Standard
  • Envestnet Yodlee Bank Feeds

All of them were created by Microsoft. But now, we can find eight of them (one new from Microsoft and few of them by ChargeLogic and Sana Commerce).

MadeiraExtensions.jpg

It looks nice to see new extensions here from other vendors. I hope we will have a hundreds of them in few months as well.

But I’m afraid about their visibility when we have a hundreds or thousands of them. I use brick view for the best visibility, and yes – search works fine, but I think we have to have some additional tags. Minimum I need is Category tag, because we will have a lot of completely different types of extensions (data migration, notifications, integrations, payment, some specific vertical or horizontal solutions, localisations,…). Also, it will be fine to have Market tab because some of extensions are for global market, but some of them will be only for some specific countries.

I expect to have some kind of rating as well. We will have a lot of similar extensions, and we need something for differentiation. I think these ideas can improve ‘Madeira’ experience. But it look it will be a great product.