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Friday, October 30, 2009

A Possible Dynamics AX Solution - with the Cloud


As I talked about in my recent post, More Focus on the Cloud, I want to start showing how Dynamics AX 2009 and beyond can be used with the cloud, cloud services, cloud based applications and platforms.

To kick this off, I want to talk about a possibility that can be done today. So lets invent a company, called CompanyA. They already have Dynamics AX 2009 in place, and some integrations with Dynamics AX with other applications.

They are wanting though, to have a field service application for their field service agents. These agents are located all over the world, and sometimes are contract employees. They have a desired to have the Field Service mobile application to work directly with their instance of Dynamics AX. They want to be able to keep track of work done, by who, hours, operations performed, charges to the clients, ticket information, etc.

They don't want to open their network to the world, and don't really have a lot of internal staff to support hosting a web presence internally. They want to off load the hosting somewhere else.

Also they want to be able to push the data out in the cloud from AX for the field service agents to pick up when they can connect. Finally, they want to pull data from the cloud datasource, to get updates from the field service agents.

So with that said, lets look at this.:

This daigram shows Dynamics AX instance on the top part, with it's core business logic. Then you have AIF and the AIF generated .Net Services. These services live at the service layer, where some SSIS packages and custom .Net Services are used to perform some data extraction and loading for reporting into a datawarehouse possibly.

You have the Services layer acting as the bridge between the Dynamics AX On Premise solution, to the SQL Azure based Field Service Database.

With this option, which by the way can be done right now with the CTP version of SQL Azure, a very secure connection to the outside world, with limited and controlled interactions between Dynamics AX and the SQL Azure database takes place.

Next we have the Field Service Agents, that have a mobile based solution designed to connect to the SQL Azure database, when it can connect to the internet, to download specific information for that field service agent and to also upload updates from the field service agent.

So with this possible solution design, we can address the needs to the client, by making use of SQL Azure Cloud based database. And I point out again, this can be done right now with Dynamics AX 2009 and SQL Azure CTP.

Now to take some steps further, lets look at a diagram from MSDN.:

This image shows how a windows or web client, on-premise can be used and make use of the Windows Azure platform for SQL Azure and Application code that lives in the cloud.

That's all for now. More on this topic to come. If you have questions, issues, interests about seeing more of this. Drop me a comment on this post.

Till next time!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dynamics AX 2009 - SSRS Report Deployment Issue

If you have deployed the SSRS Report Lib.'s from Dynamics AX 2009 before, you might have ran into some timeout issues.

Even with deploying the reports one ReportLib at a time. And if you have not seen this yet, most likely you will.

An error message, sometimes with great detail will show up during the Reports Deployment process, and that will reference something similar to the following.

[ThreadAbortException: Thread was being aborted.]

The ThreadAbortException is the key for this error. Basically the thread trying to do the deploy is timing out writing to the Report Server.

Most likely you cause is related to the amount of langauge files / cultures that are trying to be deployed for the given ReportLib.

A simple change can be done to help fix this issue.

The following is the steps to do, that relate to the above table inside Dynamics AX.:
1) Open the AOT
2) Expand Data Dictionary > Tables > LanguageTable > Fields
3) Right click on the 'LabelFile' field and choose properties
4) Change the Visible property to 'Yes'
5) Save the change
6) Right click on the LanguageTable and choose Open
7) In the table, uncheck the Label file field for any languages that are not needed
8) Deploy the ReportLibs again that were having issues

This may not be the fix all the time, but most likely it will be. Also this can be used to help clean up the Report Manager. The initial deploy can deploy a lot of reports in languages you just don't care about. So you can remove those, or clear the entire Report Manager and then deploy with only the language files / Cultures that matter to you.

Well that's call for now, check back soon, as I have more post coming! See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, October 26, 2009

More Focus on the Cloud


So a topic that I have not talked about in a few months is really about to come into focus. Specifically in 2010. What I am talking about is Cloud Computing, and focused on the Cloud Platforms.

That's right I used the plural, because there are many now to choose from. However, the two that I will focus on for my postings are Windows Azure Cloud Platform, and then Google's AppEngine Cloud Platform.

Sometimes it will be a vs. and sometimes it will be different approaches. Because believe me, there are some major differences. For example SQL Azure is a true relational database. I have setup a SQL Azure database, then use SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) to connect to it, and create tables, etc. Then use SSIS to initially fill the tables or work with that data. It's that simple with creating your relational data with SQL Azure.

However with Google's AppEngine it's a different ball game as POJO's, Plain Old Java Objects are stored via JDO, or Java Data Objects, into a not so relational datastore.

So this is a totally different mind set in thinking.

Now, to point why this will be important for 2010, and beyond. First all of the previous news and interest up to this point, but now check out the following three links.:

- RCPMAG: Making a Cloud Play
Check this statement out from that post.:
"What are kids doing in college today? They don't have Windows servers sitting in their dorm rooms to build really cool applications -- but they do have access to the Google App Engine. What's going to happen in three to five years when those kids start coming into the workforce? You're going to come in with a proposal for $100,000 of infrastructure costs, and there's going to be some kid fresh out of college saying, 'I think I can do that for nothing.' You have to understand the tradeoffs. There might be a reason to spend $100,000 -- there might not be."

That is a big, and true statement. Think about what happened when all of us College kids had Microsoft to play with? Or Java even, how did that change the world? This is going to be a similar aspect.

Now the following, point to interest and also Microsoft expanding it's Office Web Applications testing.:

-ZDNet: Survey: cloud interest grows triple-fold; cost may not be main factor
-Microsoft expanding Office Web Apps test program

Both Microsoft Windows Azure Platform and Google.com AppEngine are in beta still but very soon will be in full swing. And I have been playing with both, and you can do a lot already with these two. Again though it's a totally different mindset sometimes when you look at how you design a service, application, etc.

So I am using this post to talk about the focus on the Cloud, and these two options for working with Dynamics AX instances, and having real world, pratical applications living in the cloud, parts living in the cloud, services living in the cloud, and interacting with Dynamic AX instances on different levels.

The Hybrid Cloud will be the most domaint, and will be like that for the next 5-8 years, as trust builds and certain low level aspects of the computing pardiam are worked out.

See you soon, as we will go cloud hopping! Yes cheezy closing tag... oh well!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windows 7 Launched Today!

Well I would not be much of a Microsoft person, if I did not talk about the launch of Windows 7 today. This is the next release of the Microsoft Windows OS. So far, this OS has had rave reviews from critics and analysts alike.

The full online press kit can be found here.:
Windows 7 Launch Virtual Presskit

Just to make sure it's clear, like I posted about last week, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 and 2009 are Windows 7 ready. So being able to take advantage of Windows 7 features as an OS for those companies wanting to make the move, your ERP investment is ready to make use of it now!

Here is the direct link to that post.: MSDW: Microsoft Confirms Dynamics AX Compatibility with Windows 7

Another interesting blog is one talking about what people are saying about Windows 7 OS.: What People Are Saying About Windows 7

That's all for now, congrats to the Windows OS development team, and the marketing team at Microsoft for the latest launch!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dynamics AX 6.0: A look at MFP's write up on the AXModel concept

Recent, MFP has been doing some great post about Dynamics AX 6.0, also currently known as Dynamics AX 2011. This next version is set to be released sometime in Q3 of next year, 2010.

MFP has done a series of post, talking about a new concept, called AXModels. This comes, as part of moving the Application files into SQL server, instead of being a flat file set of information.

Some of he highlighted benefits from this move to the SQL database, and also the introduction of axmodel concept are.:

  • You can have as many models per layer as you want.

  • You can deploy models from several sources into the same layer.

  • Strong Name Signing

  • Authenticode Signing

A few examples of uses for axmodels, specifically for development are.:

  • If you deliver more than one solution to a layer or across layers

  • If your solution is getting too big

  • If you write unit testing code and scripts

MFP has done a great job diving into this model concept, and it starts really with the move of the application files to SQL Server database.

So for the full details, check out the following, in order.:
-AX6 sneak preview - SQL AOD
-Introducing AX models - Part 1
-Introducing AX models - Part 2
-Introducing AX models - Part 3

I want to thank MFP for really diving into this topic. This will have a possible huge impact on the development of solutions and code, from a customer, VAR and ISV level.

MFP is planning on diving deeper still into axmodels, and so I recommend that you keep a close eye on his blog.

That's all for now, check back later as I have some great post planned. See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, October 16, 2009

MSDW: Microsoft Confirms Dynamics AX Compatibility with Windows 7

Well, hot off the wire, there is a great write up about Microsoft confirming Dynamics AX compatibility with soon the be release Windows 7.

Direct link to the post.: MSDW: Microsoft Confirms Dynamics AX Compatibility with Windows 7

From the article.:
"Moving an ERP system to a new operating system is, by its very nature, fraught with peril. But upgrading to Windows 7 won't be a problem for Microsoft Dynamics AX customers because Dynamics AX 4.0 and AX 2009 are compatible with Windows 7, as well as with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2"

""This is particularly important for AX because it's a product that customers and partners carefully customize to their business processes," said Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash. "And once they've got it working they let it run for quite awhile, so it's quite likely that customers would like to move clients to Windows 7 without necessarily upgrading their Dynamics AX installation because of the risk of an upgrade of that particular application.""

Rob Helm from Microsoft hit it right, this is very important news for Dynamics AX customers. It means that Windows 7 benefits can be taken advantage of, when released, for those clients on Dynamics AX 4.0 or 2009.

Thanks Linda Rosencrance, for doing such a great write up, and point this out. The article quotes from the following blog post.:
DAX UK Blog: Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 and Dynamics AX 2009 Compatible with Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2

That's all for now. What a timely post though, seeing as how Windows 7 is set to hit the streets on Oct. 22nd.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

5th year of blogging about Dynamics AX

Well this month, means I am entering into my 5th year of blogging about Dynamics AX.

It's hard to believe it's already been that long. Just thinking about when I first started blogging, there was hardly anything out there with Axapta, now Dynamics AX. Now, there is a lot of great people writing and blogging about topics that are direct and indirectly about Dynamics AX.

Microsoft itself has really put a lot of effort into making MSDN section on Dynamics AX a place worth reading, and where you can find useful information.

I would like to thank all of those that have read my blog up till now, and I just hope I can continue to add good, meaniful content to the Dynamics Community.

We are really at a point with Microsoft Dynamics AX, where more and more Microsoft technologies must be known, than ever before. And as the rest of the stack becomes more and more a part of Dynamics AX, this will only increase in the amount of solid knolwedge and information is needed.

This means, of course, more topics will need to be covered, in detail, so that not only customers can benefit, but also partners, whom implement the Dynamics AX solution.

I will leave with many thanks, and that I hope in five more years, I will still be adding to the Dynamics community.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MSDynamicsWorld.com: AX Decisons 2009 Conference

So I took the time and quickly regiested yesterday for the AX Decisions 2009 virtual conference.

I was sent an email, and went in early this morning, during lunch, and just now. I made sure to stop by most boths. It was actually very nice, and it seemed there was a good amount of turn out for this.

I also checked out some of the speakers, and the topics ranged along with speakers from Microsoft to Partners, and from the future of AX, BI, Lean, etc. etc.

For those of you that miss this event, it will be archived, so you should be able to get to the information, see the key note speeches on demand, through Jan. of 2010.

I am interested to see the published numbers from MSDynamicsWorld.com, on the actual turn out. It was nice though to get to meet people, virtually, from the Partner Space, AX Possible Customers, AXUG, etc. The great thing is, I could still get all of my work in, while having time to pop in here and there to check things out and get some information, make some contacts in the lounge area, etc.

Speaking of the lounge, it seems as though some might be getting cabin fever in wanting to play hide and go seek in the boths, and drinking a virtual beer here and there. :-)

That's all for now, but more great post are coming out. I also plan on taking some of the key note speeches and highlighting them from now, until they are taking down.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Microsoft Opens Windows Marketplace for Mobile Apps (WinMo)

Recently, Mary Jo from ZDNet, posted on her 'All About Microsoft Blog' about MIcrosoft starting a new online Marketplace for WinMo Appes. (For those that don't know, WinMo = Windows Mobile.)

When questioned about the number of Apps the store is starting with, 246 at the time of the start, Robbie Bach, the President of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Unit, said the following.:
"“Apple had less than 100 applications when it first launched its marketplace,” Bach said."

"Bach also claimed it was “kind of goofy” to focus on the absolute numbers of applications in Microsoft’s Windows Mobile store, since the real measure of success is how many of those applications get used."

This is an interesting move by Microsoft, and one that will focus, mostly on the Consumer End of the application spectrum. Though I see a chance for windows mobile application to be developed, and sold that can tie into Dynamics AX or CRM.

A direct link to the Marketplace can be found here.: Windows® Marketplace for Mobile has launched!

I can tell you this, more and more of the clients I see are wanting to hook into their ERP / Backend systems for many different types of Application. So this will have an impact, possibly even direct, for the mobile focus with Dynamics AX.

I plan on keeping track of this, as I want to see how this compares to Apples AppStore, and also what can make this different and stand out.

That's all for now, check back soon as more great post are coming, including a focus on the cloud and Dynamics AX.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Microsoft Dynamics Salary Survey 2009

Nigel Frank International contacted me today, about their current Salary Survey they are conducting.

Here is the direct link to their salary suvery.:
Nigel Frank International - Dynamics Salary Survey

Here is the information about it.:
"Nigel Frank International would like to invite you to complete what is to be our annual survey of Microsoft Dynamics salaries worldwide.

The survey will only take a couple of minutes to complete and your response and any personal details will be kept strictly confidential. The survey is available in the following languages for your convenience; English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, and Finnish.

As a thank-you for your contribution we will send you a PDF report of the results once they have been compiled. This will give you an insight into the salaries, opinions and demographics of your Microsoft Dynamics counterparts worldwide."

And finally.:
"Your response will be greatly appreciated and will help to give everyone in the Microsoft Dynamics community a greater understanding of their profession. "

I plan on doing this one myself, as I am interested to see how the rest of my peers, across the U.S. and the world are doing. It's always helpful, to understand the ecosystem in which who lives in. This is important part of that understanding.

Well check back soon, as I have some great post coming out this week. I am back at it, with about 90-95% myself. The flu, for a lack of better words, sucks!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sick... Ugh!

Well I was traveling this week, to client site, and as soon as I landed Monday morning, it all started with a cough.

It progressed quickly from that point, to cold chills, aches, pains, cough, runny nose and eye's.

I was lucky, that my doctor agreed to call in some Tamiflu for me. So I am taking that, but I have been up and down all night.

So I have to get some rest, and most likely will not be writing this week. However, I will be back in strong force next week, with a lot of great post.

See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, October 02, 2009

MSDW: Why Microsoft Dynamics Partners Begin with Big Advantages Over Competitors

Over at MSDynamicsWorld.com, a new article was posted recently by Raman Dhooria, IT Consultant, Microsoft India.

The full post can be found here.:
Why Microsoft Dynamics Partners Begin with Big Advantages Over Competitors

This is a good read, from a Microsoft person that gets it. You can tell that he understands the value and power of what the Microsoft partner community represents. Specifically in the Dynamics world.

From the article.:
"If we compare the partner programs of various ERP players, the new channel program from Microsoft (Microsoft Partner Network) clearly supports the essence of partnership. It allows partners to innovate and create business models on Microsoft user-friendly platforms supported by billions of dollars of R&D investments. Further, Microsoft would promote the vertical solutions from partners."

I agree with him, the spreading out over the massive partner channel that exists for Microsoft products, really helps drive innovation. It helps, to also really push the Microsoft technologies, and platforms through a larger section of the working world.

As pointed out here, by Dhooria.:
"Can any other company, including SAP, pay out equal to Microsoft in R&D? In short can they spend around $9 billion on R&D investments? The answer is NO...and the result is quite evident - SAP/Oracle can't come close.

Do SAP partners enjoy flexibility to create vertical solutions and own them?
Again NO - SAP/Oracle wants the whole share of Pie and leave only implementation to the partners. Plainly, the model is archaic and needs to evolve.

The Microsoft partnership model aims at creating large numbers of profitable managed relationships, and banks on human entrepreneurial instincts to grow the whole economy."

"If they can connect the enormous reach of their channel with the application prowess of Microsoft Dynamics partners, they create two new things - a new way of partnership driven business model. Second, change the rules of the game. The sheer size of this synergy would translate into a new economic phenomenon... ...How many sales persons can someone like SAP or Oracle afford to have?"

I also agree, that because of the nature and approach that the Microsoft Partner Channel brings, the sheer size of the force behind the technology, and implementing the solutions, means that more and more people reconize, learn and know how to use these technologies. This pushing then through the entire stack, from Office to Dynamics AX, to SharePoint and SQL Server.

This common platform approach, and something I wrote about now a few years back, found here.: What Dynamics AX beats SAP

And in that post, nearly three years old, I made a few statements, specifically talks on these same lines. The Product Stack, Research dollars, Microsoft's vision.

If you read through that old post, you will see the 2010 is upon us, and Microsoft Dynamics AX 2011 is set to be released then. What's on the roadmap for it? True SOA. ;-)

Now that last part is just a specific point to that older post, but coming back to Dhooria's points, Microsoft's Partner Channel is Microsoft's most valuable resource in making the sale and pushing the technology, that customer solutions are built on.

No other Partner Channel Comes close, not even from the other pseudo-platform companies.

Thanks Dhooria for the great write up. I think it's timely, because all the changes going on in the Partner Channel, from what I can tell, is going to really enable Microsoft and their partners to build up even further upon each other.

That's all for now! Check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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