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Thursday, May 28, 2009

SSRS Performance and scaling

Now that we have dove deeper and deeper into the BI world, one of the Technical things that needs to be understood by someone who would be implementing and administarting a companies BI solution, is proper planning of hardware, and also scaling-out for performance.

That means, that someone would need the ability to understand SSRS, how to scale, when to scale, differences in version between SQL Server 2005 and 2008 for SSRS, etc.

So lets start with an older article from MS TechNet. Planning for Scalability and Performance with Reporting Services

This article was wrote in 2005, focusing on SSRS for SQL Server 2005. Still the knowledge that can be gained from this article is a good bit, and a great place to start.

This document covers scaling up vs. scaling out, the technologies used with SSRS and getting into specifics.

Like some of the basics for SSRS performance would be spliting out the Report Catalog (SQL Serve Databases) from the Report Server (IIS and SSRS Service). That would be an example actually of a scale out.

More true to the term of a scale out would be though, taking the Report Server, and having a few different boxes that run the Report Server role, and load balance them for execution. These all would point to the same Report Catalog, and therefore could connect to Dynamics AX.

You can see this from the following:
"The remote configuration eliminates contention for machine resources between the Report Server and the SQL Server hosting the catalog. However, you must provide adequate network bandwidth between the Report Server and the catalog server.

Scale-Up and Scale-Out

After you split the catalog to another system, you can choose to either scale up the Report Server, by adding processors, or scale out by adding machines. Figure 4 illustrates a scale-out configuration that uses multiple Report Servers to access a single catalog."

After you get a grasp at this level, the next step would be to go a little further with the when to scale out, and there is another article found here: Reporting Services Scale-Out Architecture

That one goes into more detail about the scale out architecture, and also covers the max number of concurrent users SSRS can handle, and how this increases when your scale out.

After getting this under your belt, the next level would be to understand the comparison between SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 SSRS. For that, a very detailed analysis was done over at SQLCat.com. The article for that can be found here: Scaling Up Reporting Services 2008 vs. Reporting Services 2005: Lessons Learned

From the post:
"Http Errors vs. Request Time-Out Errors

To better understand the hardware limits we hit with Reporting Services 2008 compared to Reporting Services 2005, we compared the HTTP 503 errors we saw with Reporting Services 2005 with the Reporting Services time-out errors that we saw with Reporting Services 2008. We discovered that while the failure rate for reports with Reporting Services 2005 was directly correlated with HTTP 503 errors, the failure rate for reports with Reporting Services 2008 was directly correlated with time-out errors. These time-out errors, combined with our analysis of the disk queuing on the data source, indicate that the data source was unable to keep up with the request for data from the front-end servers."

So This is all very important to understand, or have someone udnerstand who will be helping you get the best out of your SSRS part of your overall Dynamics AX 2009 solution.

Well check back soon, performance tunning Dynamics AX 2009 will be getting a lot of focus from my post. I will also be adding another Dynamics AX BI pratical post, focusing this time on making use of OLAP Cubes, and creating a custom cube for use within your Dynamics AX 2009 instance.

See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Proverbs 31:10

"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies." - Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

Someone sent me the above passage from the book of Proverbs. When they sent me this, they did not quote the verse, instead they pointed to the verse, and said be careful where your wisdom comes from.

They went on to add their meaning of this verse as good women can't be found, but good men are more abundently found.

However you can't read such a thing from the verse above. And if you read the entire Proverbs 38, you will see that this is from King Lemuel, and it was actually his mother's advice about standing up for those who can't stand for themselves, and to not be overcome with wine or beer. However give such things to those that are hurting and in pain.

Also for the point that the above, 38:10, this is the start of the Wife of Noble Character epilogue. In this, King Lemuel's mother gave him advice for what to look for in a wife. These are choice words from a caring and loving mother to her son. And for sure are wise words.

So I suggest reading the entire passage of things, before making assumptions about meanings.

And so today's focus on YHWH God, the bible and Christ is around Proverbs 38. It has great wisdom in it, coming from a mother to her prince, which became a King.

God bless! Check back tomorrow as more post are coming!

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Back again!

Well that was a nice long weekend. A good break, to take and get refocused. Sometimes we need breaks, in order to deliver our best work. So I feel refreshed this morning, ready to get back to things.

I have several things to focus on. For this blog, I will continue down the BI road for Dynamics AX, again going into more pratical uses of SSRS and OLAP with today's technology that you find in Dynamics AX 2009.

I will have post coming out about Role Centers as well, and also I will be starting a series on Performance Tunning your instance of Dynamics AX 2009. Creating a plan, and doing this to get the most out of your instance.

So there are plenty of great post coming. I also have plans for this summer to have more Microsoft interviews, including some with the product team about AX 6.0.

So check back soon and often!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Though I don't agree with war's, nor governments a lot of the time. Especially our government and what they get involved in. There are still those who die for what they believe is correct.

Those that die for others, so that maybe a better day can exists when war does not have to be the option chosen the next time around.

To all those that have passed on, in any war, and from any country, this is your day.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

MSDW: A "Greener" Approach for Microsoft Dynamics AX Users Need Not Be Complicated

Over at MSDynamicsWorld.com, Natalie Davidson just wrote a great article on Dynamics AX, focusing in on her past experience with dealing in actual, pratical sustained life habits in Africa.

This article then goes into her drive to want and make use of those life lessons in the business world.

From the article:
"A few years ago, my days were spent in the African desert teaching ecology and conservation to students, teachers and government officials. I lived in a modest house powered by a combination of solar and wind energy, collected fog moisture to support daily water use and maintain a vegetable garden with refuse water. It was an experience solely focused on my place in the world and how everyday decisions impact how we interact with the environment - for better or worse.

Coming back to the United States and transitioning to the business world was quite a shock, not just culturally but also in terms of issues of environmental sustainability and conservation."

"When Microsoft Business Solutions announced on PartnerSource the addition of an ‘Environmental Sustainability Dashboard' to Dynamics AX several months ago, I began thinking about different ways in which businesses could reduce the environmental impact of certain business processes and transactional documents"

This was just a great article, and a great read really. I think Natalie has a great talent at writing, and a great amount of knowledge in this area that we could all learn from. Thanks Natalie for such a great article!

The full link can be found here: A "Greener" Approach for Microsoft Dynamics AX Users Need Not Be Complicated

This is worth the read, and I looke forward to hearing more from Natalie on this subject matter in the future!

Check back soon!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

AXUG Summit 2009

The AXUG summit will be held in Chicago Sept. 14-18, 2009. This event will be held at the Pheasant Run resort. (Link to Pheasant Run Resort info)

The AXUG summit is described as follows:
"The AXUG Summit features a wealth of information-packed Educational Sessions and Role-Based Tracks that deliver Dynamics AX knowledge and experience designed to help organizations optimize the functionality, flexibility, performance and return on investment benefit offered by Dynamics AX.

This year, Summit tracks have been replaced by Focus Areas. Each Focus Area will have between two and five roundtable breakout sessions. The Focus Areas include: Executive, Finance, Manufacturing, BI and Reporting, Security, Enterprise Portal, Supply Chain, Technology (development, infrastructure, performance), AX2009 (functionality, upgrades, and data migration), Customer Service, and Product Builder. Don’t miss out on the chance to share and learn from others in these always highly rated sessions."

If you note the "Technology" Focus Area, which combines what use to be Infrastructure and Development 'tracks'. Also notice the change of term and format from tracks to focus area's. I think this is a wise move, to help give people more time, and flexibility to cross attend different sessions from the different focus area's that will eixsts.

I recommend you going to the AXUG site and check out this years agenda. It's packed from pre to post events and every time slot in-between.

Sunrise Technologies, Inc. will be there, and is a Platinum Sponsor of this event. If your wanting to get connected to someone with Sunrise, I recommend contacting before hand so a meeting can be setup.

That's all for now. Check back soon, as I move into more Dynamics AX, BI and Performance Tuning post. See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Proverbs 15:18
"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." (NIV)

There is a lot of lessons to be learned from the bible. The word 'lot' does not do the amount of knowledge that exists and can be learned from reading the bible.

Proverbs, full of wisdom, is a great place for an eager mind to learn, gain insight, and to help obtain wisdom.

One of the things that is lost, in all of us at times, is patience. That word, sometimes can even make you anger by itself, depending on the situation and it's application.

We have all 'lost our patience' from time to time. Still it's something we should really, really keep close to us as a tool, perspective and ability. Espically in daily life, applying to even our simplest of choirs.

Take what Proverbs says about patience:
Proverbs 15:18
"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." (NIV)

That applies to general life, but what about Technical problems? Ever been working on a solution, against the clock, so complex with so many moving parts and it's just not working. Those are the moments that 'test' our patience.

Still it's patience that can provide the ends to the problem you are facing. And so I hope that this can help remind you of that. I know that it helps me. There have been so many times, feeling rushed to solve a problem, that when I stepped back, had patience, and calmly looked at the problem at hand, the solution presented itself.

The following link to 'christianity.about.com' is a great amount of verses from different books of the bible on patience.
christianity.about.com - patience verses

I hope you find the time, no matter how fast paced, and in need the problem is your facing, to use patience and more quickly solve the problem, and daily walk you have.

God bless!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services - Aka: Microsoft MDM, Project BullDog

Recently, Jeff O. over that MSDynamicsWorld started the conversation about MDM vs. IDM. I covered this on the following blog entry:

In that I went deeper into the need for understanding the technology behind MDM, and what will make up MDM in order for a company to create policies and procedures for managing their 'Master Data'.

Well Microsoft last week, at TechEd, took the covers off of Project "BullDog" and we now have 'Master Data Services'. This will be a part of SQL Server 2008 R2, and be managed, ran and used from SQL Server point of view.

'Master Data Services' is Microsoft's offering for 'Master Data Management'. Here's from the Microsoft MDM home page:
"In June 2007, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Stratature, a privately held company based in Alpharetta, Georgia, and a leading provider of master data management (MDM) software. This was the first step in Microsoft establishing a presence in the master data management space, and will accelerate Microsoft’s delivery of technology in the MDM market. The Microsoft MDM product codename is “Bulldog”. Bulldog includes Microsoft process and standards applied to the Stratature code base as well as several important new capabilities. Microsoft customers want a solution that leverages their technology investment, integrates with their software assets, is easy to install and maintain, and provides a low total cost of ownership. Bulldog will meet these requirements while building on a long‐term vision for master data management at Microsoft.

On initial scoping, it was determined that 'Bulldog' would ship as part of Microsoft Office SharePoint in the O14 wave. At TechEd 2009, we announced a change in packaging for the new MDM capabilities. Project 'Bulldog' will now ship as part of the next release of SQL Server codenamed ‘Kilimanjaro’ as 'SQL Server Master Data Services.'

This means that in addition to new capabilities such as Self Service BI and multi-server management, SQL Server ‘Kilimanjaro’ will also provide customers with a rich platform for MDM through SQL Server Master Data Services. Customers who have purchased Software Assurance (SA) should view this as net new value and innovation that they will have access to as a result of their investments in SA."

Great bit of information there, specifically about the move from office SharePoint to residing at the SQL Server level. This was the correct move. This should live at the SQL Server level.

Also note the bolded text, those customers that invested with Software Assurance will get this, as part of their next SQL Server Upgrade. Great value add there!

The link to the Microsoft MDM or Master Data Services for SQL Server 2008 R2, can be found here: www.microsoft.com/mdm

Here is a list of top features from that page:
"-Master Data Hub that provides central management of master data entities and hierarchies and provides a comprehensive role based security model that ensures fine-grained, secure access to master data.

-Flexible Data Model completely defined in a metadata driven data model. Data administrators are free to define the data model in any way that satisfies the needs of their organization. As new business entities appear or current business entities change, the master data hub data model can change to accommodate the new business requirements.

-Business Rules that ensure the quality of data entered in the master data hub. The business rules engine is efficient and flexible.

-Human workflow that notifies assigned owners of business rule violations by email. Notifications can be sent for every violation or grouped together for periodic notification.

-Versioning of all data entities and hierarchies. New versions can be created by an administrator whenever they are required.

-Hierarchy Management supports both level-based and ragged parent child hierarchies and is managed by an intuitive drag and drop interface.

-Security model is flexible and can be enforced at a very granular level. Security is integrated with Active Directory.

Security, Versioning, Workflow, Flexible data model, all the aspects of an MDM solution a company needs in order to have true policies, procedures and technologies to achieve Master Data Management.

Notice the tag into the self-service BI. This was a voiced concern by a lot of people, 'different versions of the truth' that people were complaining about would exists with this self-service BI. Master Data Services is the solution to that possible issue, that techology, being implemented correctly with customer specific policies and procedures for managing it.

There is a ton of things to check out on the Microsoft MDM home page, so I suggest going there, and learning as much as you can.

Also read from Kirk Haselden, Microsoft Product Manager for for Master Data Services.:
Master Data Services – What’s the big deal?

"As corporate information ecosystems become more complex, so goes the management of company lists. Master lists are used, accessed, managed, changed and unfortunately corrupted in myriad ways throughout the company in various divisions and in various locations. For example, customer data may be used in the front office for direct contact with customers or in the back office in marketing, billing and other business processes. ERP and CRM systems do a great job of providing the functionality around how you use say, the product master or customer master. That’s what they were designed to do. However, they don’t do a great job of actually managing the forces that impact the master data itself. Four of the most important of those forces are decay, conflict, corruption and inconsistency."

He goes on...
"Traditional applications manage master data and these forces insufficiently. What is needed to solve these problems is an application that focuses on managing these forces with a set of tools that is specifically designed to ensure that the master data remains authoritative, is available in a secure way across the enterprise and is integrated with the applications that use it. Often the term “One source of the truth” is used to describe what master data management applications deliver. I prefer the term “authoritative source of master data”. Having one source isn’t always desirable nor is it always realistic. Master data isn’t truth. It’s simply data that represents the world at a given time slice. The trick and it’s a difficult one, is to keep the master data authoritative. Authoritative data is reliable, represents the state of the world at the time it’s referenced and is delivered in a secure, integrated and performant way."

So your thinking this is all great, but how does this apply Brandon? Well Master Data Services will apply, as Jeff pointed out in his article, as more and more SOA or Service Based ssolutions come into play. And read back to the top, where I interviewed Lachlan Cash and talked about SOA and Dynamics AX.

That will be the Service Bus for Dynamics AX WCF Services / SOA will be. And that means, MDM offered through Master Data Service for SQL Server 2008 R2 will offer the ability to a Microsoft customer to manage their Dynamics AX instance, master data with.

This will also apply to BI, which I have been heavily writing about, and any custom SOA projects that a customer would be working on.

So as you can see, it so very important you have a Partner that can understand all of this. Someone that can take and guide you through all this technology, to do proper planning, to understand your technical needs that are demanded from your business functionality desired. Sunrise Technologies, Inc. is that kind of partner that has the Technical and Functional depth and expertise that can help you.

Check back soon, as Master Data Service will be something covered more often and sooner rather than later. I will go into the pratical, by examples of how this will be used with a Dynamics AX instance, include BI and get into even a custom SOA and how all three can come together for a customer and offer "one source of the truth."

See you soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Microsoft Talks xRM on PartnerSource

[* PartnerSource Access Required *]
xRM - One Platform : Many Applications

Recently on May 6th, Microsoft did a news post on PartnerSource talking about xRM. I went over xRM in the previous blog post.:

-Convergence 2009 - Wrap up
-What is xRM?

The ParterSource post, provides around the same level of information and knowledge that I posted about in the 'What is xRM?' blog entry.

As you can see, here is from the Microsoft PartnerSource entry on xRM.:
"XRM is the official positioning of the platform components underlying Microsoft Dynamics CRM (which Steve Ballmer talked about as the ‘Titan’ platform at WPC 2008). While the C is equal to customer in CRM, X is equal to ANY relationship that needs to be managed, such as vendors, employees, prospects, dealers, as well as other types of business relationships including properties, assets, projects, grants, legislation, etc. The flexibility of the XRM platform components enables it to be leveraged in a wide variety of ways by many different organizations.

XRM enables organizations to rapidly create and deploy MANY relational LOB applications ON a single platform WITH shared resources & technologies."

"XRM is a business application platform layer that sits on top of – and leverages the power of – the Microsoft Application Platform technology building blocks (Windows, SQL Server, .NET, and Office) and is designed to significantly accelerate the creation of enterprise-class relational business applications by providing IT professionals with reusable ‘application services’ that can be rapidly adapted to fit the unique needs of users and businesses through point & click."

So lets revisit now, why it's important to understand what xRM can do for a Dynamics AX customer. xRM is the use of the Dynamics CRM platform, resources, modules and code to quickly create other LOB, or Line of Business Applications for management of relationships.

xRM is not meant to offer ERP or SCM funcationality. That is best suited for Dynamics AX platform. xRM is not meant for developing high end, custom applications, web based interfaces, or front end's to custom, deep funcationality applications.

xRM is meant, at least in my on thoughts on the matter, to offer a compliment to Dynamics AX, similar to the way Dynamics CRM itself does. To get to the actual bottom of this, xRM makes sense for a Dynamics AX customer that will already be *Also* implementing Dynamics CRM. In making use of xRM in these case as a rapid LOB platform for that company, that can take advantage of the technology stack, platform and license that already have purchased as part of CRM purchase.

This is also not to say that xRM by itself is not a value added possbility for a company, it is. However, my focus is from the Dynamics AX vantage, and in keeping to that vantage xRM is a great extra that companies can get when they choose to implement Dynamics AX along with Dynamics CRM.

Well check back soon, more great post. See you then!

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Friday, May 15, 2009


Recently, over at MSDynamicsWorld.com, an article was posted about 'MDM vs. IDM'. This article talked about SOA, and the importance of understanding what Master Data Management means.

I assume this was prompted by the soon to be released IDM, or Intelligent Data Management tool that will be coming out for Dynamics AX. This was actually talked about during convergence, and there is not a lot out there right now talking about this.

I agree with the article, the points about needing to understand MDM, or Master Data Management, specifically in regard to SOA. And why would that be important? Well the reason is, as in previous posts I have pointed out.:

-Microsoft's strategy and vision for Dynamics AX and SOA
-WCF: The Enterprise Service Bus for Dynamics AX and the rest of the Microsoft Stack

SOA, and the cloud, are becoming more and more important and very much a part of Dynamics AX. SOA or WCF Services are being developed for the next versions of Dynmaics AX so even the internal modules that make up Dynamics AX will communicate with each other in such a way. And what does this mean? This means that then parts of a Dynamics AX instance could truly be in the cloud, with other parts being on premise at the customer still. (Not all modules or types of processes make sense for the cloud, like MRP, etc.)

So to Jeff's point in the article, that it's very important to understand and develop processes and polocies for Managing your Master Data, he is right. What will lead you though, to that understanding and give you the ability to develop such processes and polocies is understanding what technologies will make this up, so that the solution can be properly deployed, and therefore proper and correct processes and polocies can be setup for managing your Master Data.

For example, take my post about the future of Microsoft BI: Project Gemini, that was demoed in full this week at TechEd.

In that post I go over the future, and part of that is Excel Services. Note the part, that IT orgs will be able to use this to control access to your data. The point should be well understood, in that, if there is not control, several versions of "the truth" start to exists, and without proper control this can get out of hand, and get a company in trouble.

So it's very important that your partner understands these technologies, the future of them, and can work with you to develop a plan. I happen to know one of the best, Sunrise Technologies, Inc.. If your needing a partner that understands this, and understands the technologies, and deep vertical knowledge you need, then feel free to contact us from the link provided.

As for IDM, more will be coming out soon about that. I am lining up some Microsoft technical interviews about this release. The point of IDM is well covered in Jeff's article, linked from the top. It is a tool that will help manage an instance of Dynamics AX, to cut down on unneeded data, to archive old data and help with even indexes.

Well check back soon, as more great post to come! See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why we do, what we do

On the way in to work today, I saw on the back of a utility truck, a small little square that had:

"Matthew 28:19"
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..."

This is of course from the KJV of the Bible, from the book of Matthew. The whole verse is:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" - Matthew 28:19, KJV

It just struck me, driving to work, this other person driving to work, 'why we do, what we do'.

He put that sign on his truck, and who knows how many people paid attention to it. Read it's word while angry with road rage. Passes the words with their eyes, and grinned with a touch of 'good feelings'. Those that never paid much attention to the words in red, on the phone already focusing on the day events.

All of us though, surronding this utility truck. Cars in front, to the left, behind and to the right. All going to do the things we are suppose to be doing.

So I revert back: 'Why do we do, things we do?' More of question now, than a statement.

In asking that question, and referencing Matthew 28:19 again, that's why I do these kinds of post.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" - Matthew 28:19, KJV

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Whitepaper: Consuming Web Services in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009

The following link is a Whitepaper from Microsoft, on consuming web services in Dynamics AX 2009: Consuming Web Services in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 White Paper

This whitepaper was published just a few days ago, 5/5/2009. This white paper covers the basics of working with the AOT objects, creating a service reference from within the AOT, and creating the class and correct X++ syntax usage for making use of the new service reference.

Web Services, and WCF Serverices are becoming more and more the way to integrate. In fact they should be the way most things are integrated these days, espically new integrations into Dynamics AX 2009 and beyond.

Just check out this post I did, when I talked to Lachlan Cash from Microsoft. You will see SOA and WCF Services will be of heavy focus in the next release of AX, and can already be made use of today in Dynamics AX 2009.:

- Microsoft's strategy and vision for Dynamics AX and SOA
- WCF: The Enterprise Service Bus for Dynamics AX and the rest of the Microsoft Stack

This white paper is a simple, step by step guide for pratical use of Web Services inside Dynamics AX 2009, for working with them and consuming them. It is a must for all developers, technical consultants to understand this now and moving forward.

Check back soon, as more great post are coming your way! See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Dynamics AX 2009 BI: Practical use with SSRS and looking at OLAP

We have looked at BI from the SQL Server Level (SQL BI - I, SQL BI - II), and dove into the technologies that make up BI for Dynamics AX. (Dynamics BI for the Masses) We have also looked into the future for BI, Microsoft Project Gemini. (Project Gemini)

Now that has taking place, lets take a turn into the practical. Lets look at what it takes to create an SSRS report inside Dynamics AX 2009. Let's also then take a dive into the AX Cubes that are out of the box, and other tools and links that are for pratical use with Dynamics AX 2009.

Lets look at what it takes to make up an SSRS report for use inside Dynamics AX 2009.

In order to create a custom SSRS report for use inside Dynamics AX, SSRS and all the infrastructure must already be in place. Also this assumes you have deployed Visual Studio 2008 to the machine for developing reports, and the Report Development Project Template for AX SSRS Reports.

once that is in place, Dynamics AX and Visual Studio 2008 will be used to create a custom SSRS report.

An SSRS report used within Dynamics AX is made up of:
- A Query AOT Node.
- A Visual Studio 2008 DAX Report Project.
- A Report created inside the VS 2008 Report Project.
- A Dataset inside the report definition, that references your AOT query.

There is actually a great setp-by-step guide for creating a custom SSRS report and deploying it to an instance of Dynamics AX for use and reference from within the AOT.

Here is that link: Saveen Reddy's Blog: Dynamics AX 2009: Creating a simple SSRS Report

So now we see what we have been talking about the past few weeks in action. We now see the pratical use of BI technologies in use with a Dynamics AX 2009 instance.

The next area we want to talk about, in terms of pratical BI for Dynamics AX is OLAP and OLAP cubes.

First let me reference the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - BI Cube Reference PDF File.

That file goes into great detail about the OLAP cubes that come part of the out of the box offerings for OLAP cubes with Dynamics AX install. I recommend highly that these be looked at, and understood. These can be the base for your own custom OLAP cubes, and could be modified to include your own custom dimensions and needs.

To go hand in hand with that reference PDF file, is the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - White paper for configuring the Default OLAP cubes.

That white paper will walk you through deploying the default cubes covered in the reference guide.

Once last thing to help you, is the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - Cube Advisor Tool. This was recently released and is used to help you determine the cubes you have installed and setup that you don't have a license for or it's Role Center, and therefore can be removed to release resources.

So now we have some practical uses, and information for making use of the BI offerings that eixsts from within a Dynamics AX 2009 instance. We will move forward in the future with this to include making use of Excel for readin in an OLAP cube into a pivot table, and drilling down to the transactions inside Dynamics AX instance that make up the cube dimension data.

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

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Future of Microsoft BI: Project 'Gemini'

So these past few weeks we have had a chance to take a dive into BI. What BI is from SQL Server, and how that is used as a based for the BI - SSRS, OLAP Cubes, KPI, etc. - inside Dynamics AX.

-What is SQL Server BI anyway?
-What is SQL Server BI anyway? - Part II

Now that we have a sense for what BI is in these terms, let take a step forward in the not to distant future, and look at what Microsoft has been, and still is calling, project 'Gemini'.

Project Gemini is the next step for the Microsoft BI solution, as is meant to be a real step forward into the theme of 'BI for the masses' (Dynamics BI: BI for the masses)

This BI for the masses theme, is Microsoft focus in making use of technologies companies already invest in, in order to offer up a true BI solution with. These technologies are: SQL Server, SharePoint & Office.

Project Gemini will allow information workers, to take and select from the millions of lines of data, from a datawarehouse, and use that to create reports, publish them on SharePoint, and use SharePoint to collaborate on them.

These reports can be created in Excel, driven by Excel, and super users making use of the latest Office technology will have the ability to create the reports they need, and have Excel Services update the reports as designed, and for delivery through SharePoint.

Also IT dept. will still have control over the data, and will be able to use the security and roles inside Excel Services, SharePoint and the SQL level to control access data. So this will not be a free for all, 70 versions of the truth problem. But an actual solution.

The Key points to project Gemini are:

- To ship First half of 2010

- Brand new technology, that will enable management of millions of lines of data called: ‘In Memory Business Intellegence Engine’

- This IMBIE (m-bye as I now call it) will reside with the excel environment. (based on current Microsoft information about it.)

- Excel services are then use to refresh the data, once published, and also used to delivery the data via SharePoint to other end users. Also Excel services can be used by IT pro’s to limit and control the access of data.

So this IMBIE technology, which is brand new, will be the key for allowing access and processing of massive amounts of data. This is the enabling technology, and look for more coverage on this, here on, in the future.

Also, TechEd, which is happening next week from May 11th - 15th will have a full demo of project Gemini from end to end, being driven by the Microsoft BI team. If your going, I highly recommend you check this out and the other BI sessions that will be going on there.

One last resource is a link to a nice presenatation that gives some insight into the bigger Microsoft BI picture, including working with data in the cloud.

BI Presentation from Microsoft

Well that's all for now. Check back soon, as more great post are coming out, and we will continue some BI as well, as we dive into actual, real world, Dynamics AX BI reports, technologies, and use with today's releases of technologies.

See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

A knock at midnight

5 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

7 "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

If we have a knock at midnight, a knocking on our door. How would we react? Would we be kind and offer as much bread, more than the need?

Do you hear the knocking? Christ knocking to the door of your heart? This parable touches on many deep levels, but should also be read for the value of the words as they are.

"If you (myself included) then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Call upon the name of the LORD God. Ask of the Holy Spirit to guide you and you shall recieve it. A whosoever, that's the only requirements.

I would also like to recommend a book I have read, it's some of Dr. Martin Luther King's Sermons, and the title of the book is called: "A Knock at midnight" It's very much inspiring!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Interview with Microsoft's Doug Kennedy, including comments from Crispin Read

Recently, I virtually met with Doug Kennedy, vice president of the Microsoft Dynamics Partners team.

This is the second year in a row I spoke with Doug about the state of the Microsoft Dynamics community and partner ecosystem. (Link to: Interview with Microsoft Dynamics Executives - 2008)

The focus of this interview was to revisit some of the points and goals from last year as well as to get Doug’s thoughts on the current economic climate and his advice to partners in the year ahead.

The following is that interview:

Brandon George: "Last year you stated that your 12-18 month goal was to expand on the work that was in progress for aligning verticals by country and region. You also wanted to make sure that ISVs and VARs were making it to market with Certified for Microsoft Dynamics Solutions. How do you feel that goal is doing? What are the next steps for focusing partners in on specific verticals and regions?"

Doug Kennedy: "A lot of good progress has been made on the vertical focus by geography. Not just for VARs, but also for those partners listed as ISVs.

Microsoft started a new role called 'Industry Market Development Manager' (IMDM) that has people within Microsoft focusing on creating cross-border vertical reach. Beginning in FY10, you’ll see this role being used to help bridge the gaps of existing expertise, and make use of the expertise where needed.

The focus here was the 'white space'. We took inventory of the types of vertically focused partners we have in different states, countries and regions across the world. Now that we have this inventory, and are actively building it, we can fill in the white space as needed.

For example, say you have an ISV based in northern Italy that has a great vertical focus in retail, and there comes a need for that specific retail expertise in Switzerland. This should now show up quickly, and the IMDM roles should step in and help 'import' that good partner from northern Italy to Switzerland to address the need.

As for Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD), those solutions that are certified will get top choice and priority ranking for doing such things as helping to move across borders (importing) into other geographies. As I stated before, this will become an even heavier focus in the coming fiscal year.

In addition, those solutions that are, or will soon be CFMD, will get the focus in this new approach for direct and indirect marketing support in FY10. This way, those that are certified and ranked highest by vertical, country, or region will be at the top of the list, and first looked at for being recommended for inclusion for go to market activities.

As you can see, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, along with the new Industry Market Development Manager role have come together and will be an important part of our business and execution model."

Brandon George: "Last year it was mentioned that one of the biggest problems partners face is hiring and training Dynamics Professionals. Has the efforts of the last year helped to address this issue? Has the economic downturn changed Microsoft's game plan for helping partners with this area?"

Doug Kennedy: "The economic downturn has actually helped solve this, because partners have had to sub-contract out due to the downturn. This is not the solution everyone wanted, but it did help relieve pressure there.

What we are seeing now is more 'talent on demand'. Contracting and sub-contracting out, per project and need has really been the focus. As companies turn from full-time employees that they have let go, they land projects and hire these same employees back on a contract-by-contract basis."

Brandon George: "This could be a negative thing, because nothing would stop that employee from going to another partner, which could be directly competing with the company that wants to contract them back."

Doug Kennedy: "There is nothing stopping partner employees from doing this today but it is a small enough community that this will be self policed. Once the economy picks up we will see most of this on demand consulting capacity be pulled back into the partners as full time employees.

Brandon George: "The VAR I am a part of, Sunrise Technologies, Inc. We focus solely on Dynamics AX, and the rest of the Microsoft stack that comes with that. We strive to keep our consultants, as that is what makes up our company."

Doug Kennedy: "Yes, so the VARs that have Microsoft Dynamics AX as a second or third choice in their lineup of offerings or those that say only 15-20% of their profit coming from Microsoft Dynamics AX. These are the ones that are making use of the talent on demand approach, and would even make use of a company like yours who’s primary focus is Dynamics AX."

Brandon George: "Doug, if you were told you could only tell partners three things, what would be those three things during these rough times?"

Doug Kennedy: "First, I would tell them to commit to marketing. Do not back down from marketing and sales during this downturn. Now is the time to be larger than life. Backing down at this point, is for sure a quick death to your business.

Changing out an ERP system for a company is like having the choice to get heart surgery. It's not if, but when, the change will take place. Because of the economic downturn the change is being delayed, but it still needs to take place, and still will take place. Unlike some nice-to-have system, ERP is a have-to-have, especially in tough economic times like we are facing today. Worse case it’s delayed, but it's still coming. Therefore, the partners should continue to focus on finding ERP AX opportunities and working these through the sales cycle.

The last thing I would point out to partners would be to have open, honest communication with Microsoft. Ask the hard questions; talk with your PAM’s. Communication is now, more than ever, the key to how Microsoft can help partners. We are asking partners to do their part in asking us the questions that can get them the help needed.

Finally, I would like to close with the statement that Microsoft believes that our Dynamics partners, will come out of this downturn in a very strong position."

Brandon George: "Thanks Doug for taking the time, to do this interview."

Also there was another question I had, focused around the feedback Microsoft is seeing, since its release of Dynamics AX 2009, SP1 and also what are some of the highlights they are looking forward to for AX 6.0. Microsoft's new General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Crispin Read sent me the following statement:

"We are receiving excellent feedback from customers experiencing benefits from the new capabilities presented in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. We recently released new capabilities for our customers around Project Time and environmental sustainability, and are looking forward to expanding the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX to help customer be more efficient, improve productivity, and lower total cost of ownership. You’ll see that the next version of Microsoft Dynamics AX will continue to build on RoleTailored user experience, expand Microsoft Dynamics AX functionalities across key industries, and deliver enhanced support for multinational customers.” - Crispin Read, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics ERP

I would like to thank everyone involved that help put this together, Doug, Crispin and also Katie and Beret! Thanks you so much.

I look forward to doing a follow up with Doug next year, and also look for more discussion with Mr. Crispin Read in the near future.

Check back soon!

Doug Kennedy
Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics Partners
Microsoft Corp.

Doug Kennedy joined Microsoft Corp. in March 2008 as vice president of the Microsoft Dynamics Partners team. In this role, Kennedy is responsible for managing the overall business relationship between Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics partners.

Before joining Microsoft, Kennedy worked for Oracle Corp. for 17 years, holding various positions within Alliances and Channels, Field Sales, On Demand, and Enterprise Support. Most recently, Kennedy was Oracle’s senior vice president of Worldwide Alliances and Channels. In this role, he reported to Oracle’s president, Charles Phillips, and led the organization that was responsible for the ongoing development and execution of Oracle’s Alliances and Channel strategies and programs, partner revenue-generating initiatives, Oracle’s PartnerNetwork program, and the models for managing all of Oracle’s 20,000-plus Alliance and Channel partners. Kennedy also held technical and sales positions at IBM Corp., where he worked before joining Oracle.

Kennedy graduated with a bachelor of science degree in computing science and business administration from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He also holds a diploma of technology in broadcast communications from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Crispin Read
General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics ERP
Microsoft Corp.

Crispin Read leads product management and marketing for Microsoft Corp.’s portfolio of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. In this role he is responsible for ERP strategy and execution worldwide.

Read has over 20 years of experience in the software industry in engineering, sales and marketing positions. Before joining Microsoft, he was chief marketing officer at Cartesis SA, a venture-backed financial applications company that is now part of SAP AG. Previous positions include vice president of product management and product marketing at Business Objects, and senior positions in systems integrators and software companies.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King’s College, University of London.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, May 04, 2009

MFP: AX6 sneak preview - SQL AOD

Well MFP is giving us a sneak preview into AX 6.0 milestone. The AOD files are 'a changing'.

Check out the post here: MFP Blog Post: 'AX6 sneak preview - SQL AOD'

From the post:
"Today we built the first official build of Dynamics AX ever that does not run on AOD files. Starting today Dynamics AX's model database is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database."

That's right, the Model Database will now be in a SQL Server Database.

More from the post:
"So far we have aimed at providing 1-to-1 parity with AOD files; but the potential of this is amazing - I hardly know where to start...

-Performance can be further improved as the subsystems querying the meta data store starts levarging the powers of SQL. For example; the ISAM database used for the AOD files (and still used by temp tables) doesn't support joins. Due to this many subsystems are overly chatty when reading meta data as they query row-by-row.

-Solving the element ID problem is now possible, as we can leverage the flexibilty and powers in SQL for modifying and extending the model schema.

-Capabilities... There are so many cool scenarios we can enable - but you'll have to wait for an sneak preview after the next milestone to learn more. But to get you thinking: What deployment capabilties did AOD files lack?"

My gears are already turning on how much better this will make the overall performance of the entire system work. True indexed model data, speed at the SQL level, this is for sure the right move.

I can't wait to hear more, thanks MFP for sharing and getting this out there.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, May 01, 2009

What is SQL Server BI Anyway? - Part II

Recently I post this article: 'What is SQL Server BI Anyway'

In that article I took and addressed, at a high level, what SQL Server BI is. What technologies from SQL Server can and are a part of a SQL Server BI Solution.

We answered with that post: 'So what is BI in terms of SQL Server?' We talked about the 3 main teachnologies that make this up: SSRS, SSAS & SSIS.

Now having that knowledge level of SQL Server BI Solution, and technologies, that make it up, we can move forward with the next question posed during that post.

Why is this important to understand?

The reason why this is most important to understand, for someone wanting to know about BI in terms of Dynamics AX, is that the BI offered in Dynamics AX is based on the technologies that SQL Server BI Solutions are made up of.

On top of that, the BI solutions inside Dynamics AX add another part to the dimension of reporting, with KPI offered up by PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint. Also SharePoint itself plays another critical role in offering these reports, Cube, KPI point, etc. via Role Centers, targeted to information worker roles inside the Dynamics AX instance.

Once you understand the BI solution from SQL Server point of view, then you can truly incorporate that into Dynamics AX 2009 (and beyond) with how those technologies, were meant to be used.

For example, SSRS reports are meant to be used within Dynamics AX, and Dynamics AX role centers for reports. There is a new AOT node inside Dynamics AX 2009 called Datasets. These Datasets are part of what enables datasources for SSRS reports to be built with.

You also have OLAP cubes, which Dynamics AX comes with standard cubes out of the box. These can be built, processed, and then viewed from within Dynamics AX. For analytics, this is where your data comes from. Looking at different dimensions of data, across a slice of time, customers, vendors, inventory, etc. etc.

Then PerformancePoint comes in, which will not be delivered by SharePoint, and be a part of SharePoint. This offers KPI and other Analytical dashboards, etc. for use with your transactional data.

This could also be made use, of say you make use of SSIS to build a data mining database or several that come into a Datawarehouse. Well in turn the KPI, Dashboards and reporting inside PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint could be ran not just on the Dynamics AX parts of the information, but on all the data in your Datawarehouse for cross sections of information from all the systems you make use of.

There is a white paper on Microsoft's site, that is right at a year old. Actually one year old this month, to be exact. Even though this is a year old white paper, this does a great job of giving even more details into what I am talking about here. The direct link to that whitepaper can be found here: Microsoft Dynamics AX - BI White Paper (2008)

The only thing you need to really make note of in this, is that PerformancePoint Services is now part of SharePoint. That knowledge was not known yet when this white paper was wrote.

Also feel free to take a look at the BI home page of Microsoft: Microsoft BI Home page.

With the knowledge that you have gained, or can gain from these several post that have been done, you can start to really understand BI from Microsoft's point of view. The solution, how they are used and built from SQL through Dynamcis AX.

One other thing that can come into play is Office. I did not mention that, but Excel is a favorite of everyone. That very much can play into your BI solution, where Excel can be the front end for deliverying BI reports and Analytical information to your information workers.

Well check back soon. More great post are coming out. If you have further questions about BI, getting BI working for you at the SQL or Dynamics AX level and want to get into more details. Feel free to contact the experts at Sunrise Technologies, Inc..

See you soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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