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Thursday, July 12, 2012

AX 2012 – Data Migration Framework: Usability to date

I hope everyone is having a great week thus far! Being head strong into summer and WPC12 behind us all, it’s time to take the biggest year in Microsoft Product history and unleash an unprecedented amount of value on the world. Microsoft Dynamics AX customers will benefit from all the great products, from SQL Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 and Visual Studio 2012. Let us also not forget about the value proposition that Windows 8 will bring for Phone, Tablet, PC and more!

With that said, today I wanted to wrap up my review of the recently released Microsoft Dynamics AX Data Migration Framework. I started this coverage early this week, with the following two post covering the release and step-by-step setup.:

With this now understood, I spent some time looking into the current usability of this beta release for the Data Migration Framework.

Lets point out again, that this is the beta release and therefore there will be bugs, issues and it’s not a complete offering. With that, when we start to look at the use of this framework, we must start with the types of sources we can work from. We do this from the Data Migration Framework > Setup > Source Data Formats.

I want to point out that as you open the form, we can see there is a Type field. In looking at this closer however we can’t change this from the type of File. You can see this type in the above referenced screen shot. Further inspection of this form, and it’s table DMFDataSource and we see that the field type does not allow edit. This is shown in the screen shot below.

In looking at the Base Enumeration that this field represents, being that of DMFSourceType, we do find out that there are two other types.

These types are of Ax and ODBC. We can see that there are plans then for allowing both ODBC source types, as well as enabling AX-to-AX, source-to-target usage of this framework. Just not yet! Again this is a beta, which I would think will be getting a refresh pretty soon to enable these other type source types.

Moving along, since this is file based on source types for the Data Migration Framework, out-of-the-box usage for the framework is limited. It’s powerful, and has a lot of great possible value, specifically when the AX and ODBC types are fully added. Further the framework does work well with the file sources, as I’ve tested and imported products via. If your source data is in flat files, or you can export to flat files, then you can start getting a lot of use from the framework now.

Just to show that Microsoft does plan on really helping to enable this framework to have a multitude of sources, you can see proof in the naming of .Net assemblies that come as part of the install. Specifically the below screen shot of the ‘Microsoft.Dynamics.AX.DMF.SSISHelper’ .Net assembly reference.

In looking for how this is currently used in the X++ code that is delivered along with the install of the model file, we find the ‘DMFGenerateSSISPackage’ class. As you can see from the below screen shots however, this is only targeted for file based sources, for now.

With all of this stated, if you have more complex data import needs, or your already well under way with the concept of using services to import data for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 there still is value is the data migration framework for your needs.

If we take the above screen shot, we can see the installed DMFProductEntity table. This is the staging table for products. This table, along with other staging tables, can be targets of such services or import targets for more complex importing scope.

Finally on this topic around value, there is a ‘Create a custom entity for migration’ wizard that can be called to target any out-of-the-box entities or custom ones that you may have. This is shown in the screen shot above. Further the screen shot below shows the Wizard in action with what table should be the target of a custom migration entity.

With everything said, it’s a great start to helping fill a need. As I mentioned before we have been using this approach for over 2+ years now on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 projects. What this helps with is enabling a true framework, that is repeatable and everyone can build from. Like all things in AX, you can customize this, and for your custom entities you most likely will.

Well that’s all for this post, and my current coverage of the newly release Microsoft Dynamics AX Data Migration Framework. I will come back to this topic, at a later date when Microsoft has updates that are worth sharing around this topic. Further, starting tomorrow I will get back to my regularly scheduled topics around the Cloud, BI, EP Development – and our theme of Creating a System of Engagement with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Till Next Time!
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Blogger Unknown said...

Hi !

Great post ! (again)
I was thinking about building this kind of tool but my initial thinking was to create entities and staging tables using the Master Data Services of SQL Server.
Advantages of this approach would be:
1) validation/cleansing of the information before loading the data using the business rules you can define in MDS
2) creating a basis for a full MDM application with pre-built integration with AX.

Do you think that this is a valid option ?
Is there any chance of MS developing this ?

Thanks !

9:14 AM  
Blogger brandon said...


First thanks for reading my blog. I hope you always find that it brings value. That's the reason I spend the time to do it!

Next Microsoft at Spring Decisions 2012, talked about how AX 2012 R2 will have native support of MDS from SQL Server. Not much more that can be shared at this time, however I would suggest letting Microsoft handling this.

To your point however, you could still use the Framework, it's ability to create target entities, and use of Staging tables. You can have SSIS packages that feed from MDS, and target Services. I've done this for clients for complex data import needs with AX 2012.

Once the staging table is filled, the DM Framework could then take over.


10:52 AM  
Blogger Mohamed A. Raouf ElKhouli said...

Hi Brandon,

Great informative post as usual :)
I just wanted to know if DMF Beta 2 supports the SQL 2012 or not.

Thanks for your time & effort bringing this much knowledge to the community

1:25 PM  
Blogger tommy.skaue said...

Hi Brandon

I would really like to see some content on how to extend the Framework with custom logic. For example, I want to add logic that creates an entry in TaxVatNumTable when importing Vendors.

Meanwhile, I will try to figure it out on my own.

I look forward to see BETA 3 out. :)


12:53 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

Hi Brandon

Thanks for an informative write-up. I have an issue where sometimes after I generate the source mapping successfully, I click the Modify source mapping button, but nothing happens. I get an hourglass for a second or two and then nothing – no window with the maps. Any idea what would prevent the modify source mapping window from opening? Thanks!

12:02 PM  

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