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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dynamics ax on the iPad and iphone

With the release of the apple iPad, the form factor that everyone loves about the iPhone has made it to a tablet device. The iPad is not the first tablet device, with Microsoft and others having tried before. However with me typing this blog post from my new iPad I can see why this is the form factor and is a success for the tablet device era.

I have actually switched most of my research, reading and the alike already to the iPad. One part could be because it's new and cool factor. However even as I type this the other is the natural side, of how it fits into the need of what I am trying to do. It's so easy, and unlike my MacBook pro I got that had the strange garlic smells, this apple product just works.

I have just got my replacement by the way, and no garlic smell whatsoever... And I am off downloading the xocde ide and ios sdk.

Now the biggest draw back I can see with the iPad is what it takes to have an enterprise developer license. Right now it takes a company of having the size of 500 employees plus a duns credit number. I actually got feedback on this from the apple developer support team and this is staying as is for now.

Still, with that said, a company can have the iPad for internal and external application use, even if it's just a 3 person shop.

How is this you ask? Well for one, let's take and say the company has a desire to connect with outside customers, vendors and employees. Let's say also the company would like to have their product catalog running on he iPad and iPhone in a native application. (html5 talks aside for now, as well as rdp, which both can be used for extended dynamics ax use to the iPhone and iPad.)

Let's also say this company has dynamics ax as their erp platform. Then they can have an app developed that targets both iPhone and iPad that helps brand their company in a native app fashion on the apple platform. This app can connect to dynamics ax through either wcf services hosted on premise with the company, or, hosted in the cloud through windows azure platform.

This means that the dynamics ax investment for any size company can be extended to the ios apple platform, with a targeted app, that would allow customers, vendors and employees to make use of for interacting with the company and with the companies dynamics ax investment.

I will leave this post now, and I hope I have you thinking about the possibilities. The iPad is a great platform that if targeted right can help your company extend and build upon it's dynamics ax investment, including the windows azure cloud platform.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PartnerCompete Spotlight and How Not to Annoy Your Consultants

Let me first say I love PartnerCompete, which can be found here.: www.PartnerCompete.com. It is very informative, and targeted at Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

You have to pay to be a member, and I am a "news" member, which means they send me emails, for recaps on recent story's and publishing that have taking place on their site. This site is a must to check out for any Partner that lives and works in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem.

Now with that splotlight said, an area I cover a lot with this blog is actually focused around Microsoft Partners. A lot of the technical post, can be both partners and customer focus, but still I have a lot of content that is focused around partners. One thing that caught my eye, fromt he Recent PartnerCompete newsletter, was this "The Death of Reason" blog.

The top entry right now, actually caught my eye, as it's focused on Partners, specifically consultants that work for, and are a part of Microsoft Partner companies.

The direct link to the blog post I am talking about, can be found here.: How Not to Annoy Your Consultants

The author of this post, is a fellow Dynamics Blogger - Mark Polino, who focuses mostly on the Dynamics GP brand. He recently joined the "Death to Reason" blog, and I believe he has some great insights.

The basis for this blog post he did, was around the book called.: Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun.

In this post, Mark goes on to have Ch. 10 of this book really catch his eyes, in which he believes the topics apply to Consultants for a Microsoft Partner Company. This is a really good list, and I believe Mark is really speaking for the Mind and Heart on this one.

One section, which is just great, can be seen here.:
Waste a consultant’s time

"A consultant’s time is precious, they know exactly what it’s worth. It appears on a bill every week. Most consultants I know only have two types of time, billable and family. Anything that wastes either of those is really annoying. When consultants have to over document because management is over protective, it’s annoying. When there are flip flops on important decisions its annoying. When poor management decisions lead to rework and wasted time, it’s annoying. When consultants have their time wasted in unnecessary meetings, it’s annoying."

I love the fact, that the time split up is so true and to the point. We are either billable or family time marked, that's the split. :-)

The summarized list from his post, can be found here.:

  • Assume a consultant is an idiot

  • Don’t trust a consultant

  • Waste a consultant’s time

  • Manage Consultants without respect

  • Make consultants listen to or read stupid things

I highly recommend you read the post in full, and I have never read that book, so I will be downloading it to my iPad for reading later.

I want to leave with Answering Mark's question, in that.: "Can your firm say the same thing about your consultants?"

His question was the fact that his current employer, I.B.I.S treats him with respect, and is not one of those firms that fits into the "bad" partner category.

Now let me answer Marks questions with a big, and bold YES! And that yes to to Sunrise Technologies, (www.sunriseconsult.com). Like Mark, I have worked for and with some bad Microsoft Partners. I will not name, names, however there are some out there. That have sales people who will flat out lie, and then place everything on the implementation team to "make true", in order to salvage a failed project, which failed before is even started. Also these same partners don't treat their company, which is made up of the people / consultants, correctly.

I have seen some of these "bad" partners goes away, and some still around somehow. The bottomline however, when I found Sunrise, I finally felt like I was a part of it. Sunrise is not just a company that employees me. It's My Company! Now granted John Pence is the actual owner, but I treat it as if I own it. And the people that make it up, our my work family.

There is always ups and down, but we strive to be honest, kind, and focused on our customers. I see this every day I work as a part of Sunrise, and I have to be honest, it's the first company I have ever been apart of. The rest, I was just employed.

Thanks again Mark for a great post, and look back here, as more post coming soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Microsoft Azure - Cloud Platform Update and Article

I saw on twitter today, and nice linke to an Article from Forbes.com, talking about Microsoft's Cloud Computing platform Azure, and how it's hybrid ability to be hosted on-premise + in the cloud will enable it to be, along with other things, the dominate cloud platform.

I agree with this statement, so I thought it was a great article write up. You can see the full article here.: Why Microsoft's Hybrid Cloud Threatens Google

It's interesting actually, because Google recently has been feeling this threat, and therefore has changed it's "Intranet" cloud offering pricing and structure. I use "intranet" because it's still not on premise.

What I love about Microsoft's cloud approach, is the fact that I can develop a WCF service, and run that on-premise, or repackage, and run in the cloud. I can also use upcoming Windows Server AppFabric with Azure AppFabric to help scale out services, and control them like other Windows based technologies, through scripting and MMC snap in that is faimilar, IIS Management console.

Google, still in the cloud only.

I also have years of .Net and Microsoft technology skills that I have invested and built upon which makes it feel like a natural choice for using Azure for any cloud based development needs, as well as recommending doing so to my clients.

Getting back to the article, it points out that BizTalk is not in the cloud. And for now that is true, however BizTalk is very much a key to enabling ESB's, that include cloud based services. It plays a part of enabling Hyrbiid clouds, on the on-premise side of things.

Also, a nice little recap of the recent updates to the Azure platform can be found below here.:
"Recapping the Azure announcements: an updated version of Windows Azure Software Development Kit; support for .NET Framework 4; support for Visual Studio 2010's IntelliTrace feature; under SQL Azure, Microsoft now offers developers 50 GB (from 10 GB) of database storage; and Windows Azure Content Delivery Network is also now in production."

I have been talking about the cloud since 2007, and also how Hybrid clouds will be the norm. Now, here we are in 2010, and well into seeing these Hybrid clouds be formed, and more and more companies seeing the benefits of using the cloud for their needs.

That's all for now, check back soon as more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dynamics AX 2009 - Home Page Icon missing & Role Centers don't load up

Alright, so you have Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 setup and running. You even have the out of the box Role Centers setup. You have started to use them actually, and are getting use to it loading up when you launch into AX. You get to see your task list, any Cue's, KPI's, etc.

Then one day, you open AX and Role Centers don't load. It's the normal Content Pane, of whatever last module you were in. You start to investigate, and realize that when you go to the AX Navigation bar, that the Home Icon is no longer showing up?

Is seeing this, your puzzled, and so you start to check a few things. Making sure the Role Center site is still listed in the Admin module. Checking the EP parameters, etc.

After doing the normal checking, maybe you recall applying for example Dynamics AX Kernel Rollup 4? Or some other update, that would generate a checklist for AX?

See there is this method on the EPGlobalParameters table, called homepageSiteURL(); that is a static method, which looks like this.:

If you noticed the highlighted code, this checks to see if your in the middle of an upgrade, and if so, then return null, or better, ''(empty sting). When this condition is being meant the home page icon will not show up, and Role Centers will not load within Dynamics AX.

To resolve this, you can reload the upgrade checklist, and most likely you will see a step was not completed. Make sure to complete the list, and you should be good to go. If multiple list are left uncompleted, you might have to update the SQL Server DB directly, but once you do Role Center page comes back and you get your home page icon back as well.

That's all for now, but check back as more to come.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MacBook Pro Woes

So I bought a MacBook Pro, with the latest Max OS X build. Yes, you just read that correctly, Mr. Microsoft guy here bought a MacBook Pro. The reason why, is so I can develop native applications for the iPhone / iPad platform with Xcode IDE and Objective-C. Lets face it everyone, Apple has the best form factor and platform for Phones and Tablet / Slate devices.

Because of this, I broke down, and bought my first MacBook every. I have made 95% of all my income in my 12 years of being a Software Professional on Microsoft technologies.

I was excited when it arrived today, and could not wait to get it booted. When I first got the box, I noticed a strange garlic smell. In further openning the shipping box, to reveal the white MacBook Pro box, the garlic smell was near overpowering.

This would end up setting the tone, or smell, for the rest of what would take place.

After getting past the smell, and realizing the MacBook itself had the new computer smell, I powered up. I was able to connect to my Wifi, get registered, and launch into my new MacBook desktop.

From there, I went directly to the reason I bought the MacBook Pro, which was sign up for the iPhone Developer program, so I could download and start to make use of the XCode IDE and iPhone SDK.

When browsing, I noticed at times the MacBook would freeze. Then pick back up, I thought 'ok' but continued on. About 70 megs out of 2.3 gigs my MacBook totally froze. Keep in mind I am a Microsoft Technologist mostly, and have never even touched a MacBook. So I went to my Windows 7 laptop and started looking up things. Finally, after playing around a little bit, I called Apple support.

This started out with the typical kind of support options, which I learned a lot about MacBook's today. I have leared how to boot up in Safe mode, how to load the Disk utility, how to launch the Activity Monitor, how to select a startup disk, and finally how to earse a hard drive and watch it fail in the earse process and remove the harddrive from the drive selection list.

In the middle of all of this I also installed Firefox, and learned all about how to do such a thing, which is very interesting compared to a Microsoft based PC. Nothing seemed to help though.

The funniest thing to me, or the most ironic, was about 20 mins into the support level I engineer call, he suggest a total reinstall of the Max OS X. Which to me, again, is just very ironic. All this start over, rebooting, etc. that was taking place. I could not help but laugh as I thought of those claims and commericals of how it just works. And I am a PC, well I am a Mac.

As I mentioned above, we did try to earse and was going to reinstall the Max OS X, in hopes that would fix this issue, but instead, the earse failed, and the HD totally disappeared. At this point I was working with a level II support engineer from Apple.

Finally after about 3.5 hours of total phone and support time, the level II Apple support engineer got the process started for a return and replace. I will add, the whole time, they were very professional and had good humor, as of course the sense of irony was all over me and in my tone. Even pointing out the "grey" screen of death we kept running into at times.

When the nice lady for the replacement got on the line, she had never done a DOA replacement before, which either is not true or does say something for their lack of need to do this kind of return. She was also very helpful, even though it was her first time at this.

Also, no one from the support team or herself ever heard of an elusive "garlic" smell, and I had someone comment 'might be someone's lunch they find when they open this MacBook up'.

In the end, I am waiting now for an email with instructions on what to do next for sending back my MacBook, so they can send me another one. I am still looking forward to developing iPhone and iPad applications with my MacBook, I just hope this time around it works. I also can't help but to smile a little, yes I paid over $1,600.00 for a new MacBook Pro, that on the first day, on arrival did not work.

Coming from a mostly Microsoft world, and writing this from my Windows 7 Laptop, which I am very happy with, just seems fitting. And actually, I had to open the support case up from my Windows 7 Laptop... which without my Windows 7 laptop, I don't know how I could have even started to resolve my MacBook woes!

So what does this have to do with Dynamics AX? Well this specific event, not much directly. I thought it was a good story. However, some of the work I will be doing on the iPhone and iPad is enabling native applications for those device to work with Dynamics AX and Microsoft Azure - Cloud Platform.

So in an in-direct way, and not at all how I would introduce this line of post, this does kick off my series on enabling iPhone and iPad, native applications, to work with Dynamics AX and Azure.

That's all for now, but check back soon, as more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, June 14, 2010

SSRS 2008 Setup Option for Dynamics AX 2009

With deploying Role Centers, and specifically around SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2008 for Dynamics AX 2009, we have seen all kinds of existing whitepapers, blog entries, etc. That help get Role Centers up and running.

Reporting Services is a part of the underlying technology that enables Role Centers to work.

With Dynamics AX 2009 and SQL Server 2005, as part of SSRS setup we had the IIS Pool Identity that we set to the .Net BC. We also had to setup an execution account that the Reporting Service executed under, and that had correct Kerberos Security SPN's created.

With SQL Server 2008, Reporting Services, we no longer have a SSRS site in IIS, and therefore no longer an AppPool identity to set for the .Net BC. What does you do then?

Well if the .Net BC account is also your execution account for SSRS, what the service 'logon as' is set too, then your fine. However what if you Want a seperate account for your .Net BC, that is different from the account used for esxecution of the Reporting Service?

This is where the execution account, in the Reporting Services comes into play. Wait though!

In the setup, have we not seen where when this is set, we see issues with Role Centers, specifically SSRS based web parts not working? Yes, but with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, and this desired setup, then we have to supply the execution account be that of the .Net BC.

Doing so enables us to have a seperate account for the execution of the SSRS service, that is different from the .Net BC account, while still enabling Kerberos security work and Reporting Services Web Parts to be fired correctly that point back into Dynamics AX.

So in short.:

  • You can have a seperate account that runs the Reporting Service, that is different from the .Net BC account.

  • In SQL Server 2008, no AppPool identity to set.

  • Instead of AppPool identity, setup the Execution Account as the .Net BC account.

  • After having correct Kerberos Security, with SPN's setup, then this will enable the desired mentioned configuration.

    One other point with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, do everything through the 'Reporting Services Configuration Manager'. This includes restarting the services, and setting accounts and settings. It's not recommended that you restart the Reporting Service, through the Service MMC. Doing so cause order of service startup actually to sometimes mess up.

    That's all for now, but check back soon as more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Dynamics AX OLAP Cube MSDN Walk throughs

With Dynamics AX 2009, some great boost came to the BI area of AX. I plan on covering BI from a higher level very soon, on how to select from all the options that exists, third party, base tools, office, etc.

Before I went into the higher level, I wanted to revisit three really good walk throughs on MSDN that anyone working with cubes in Dynamics AX 2009 will find very helpful.

The following are those three walk throughs.:

I would recommend taking some time, and walking through the above, in the order given. With this we see the power, that exists right out of the box with creating perspective's, and using that to generate a BI project, and cube definition.

It's also worthy to note that in the first walk through, for creating a cube with Dynamics AX 2009, that the creation of the Master Company Reporting Currency Dimension is specifically laid out in exact order for enabling the display of KPIs for a cube in a Business Overview Web part in Enterprise Portal / Role Centers.

These walk throughs focus on the out of the box BI platform provided with Dynamics AX 2009, and can be used to create your own custom Cubes, KPI's, and report against the cubes from within Excel, as well as enabling your KPI's to be pushlished as Web Parts and placed as part of Role Center pages.

BI is a part of a Dynamics AX 2009 ERP deployment. It may be a later phase, but and more should be considered ar part of the early phases of a Dynamics AX 2009 deployment. With this in mind, it's important to understand the different aspects of what's offered out of the box with BI. That's why it's important to understand the above walkthroughs for understanding how one creates a cube for Dynamics AX 2009, for adding KPI's, and accessing that data.

I plan on referencing this post in future post, as I start to talk about BI solutions with Dynamics AX from a high level, with the goals to help decision makers in choosing what is BI for my company? What does it mean? And what is the best tools, suites, etc. to enable that for my Dynamics AX 2009 investment? How does this fit into the Vision Microsoft has for 'BI'?

That's all for now, but check back soon as more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Back Again, and a new Executive Insight Post to cover

Well you may have noticed that I have not posted in a week. I actually got away from the computer and went to the Gulf. We typically go 4th of July week, however with all the horrible affects of the BP oil "bath" going on, and their inability to do anything about it, my family and I decided to support our Gulf area this past holiday weekend. Which, I must say the beaches are white sand, the water was clear, and the food was amazing!

With that, I totally stepped away, and got some nice R&R. Now I am back at it, and will be coming with full force!

To help kick off the return to blogging, I have a new Executive Insight post to cover, from the Microsoft Community site.:
Harness the Power of Services for the Dynamic Business

In this post, David Pennington, Director of Microsoft Dynamics Annuity Product Management, talks about what it really means to be a "Dynamic Business" and how Microsoft is enabling this.

From the post.:
"I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to all of you in the Microsoft Dynamics Community to expand on embracing the concept and vision of the “Dynamic Business”... ...Although, maintenance programs aren’t always viewed as the most glamorous topic, the Business Ready Enhancement Plan is a customer’s direct connection to Microsoft and the centerpiece of the pillars Kirill and Mike Ehrenberg alluded to when speaking of the “Dynamic Business”."

"Behind the great products and innovation, there are people who drive the results. At Microsoft, we believe that people, when properly equipped with the right tools, can surmount even the most complex business challenge. This is why we’ve created over 1250 interactive training courses known as eLearning; making it a valuable way for users to continue ongoing education, increasing their capabilities, knowledge and productivity. The Enhancement plan gives customers access to these courses, 24x7, with unlimited coursework, helping them stay ahead of the learning curve. In addition, customers have visibility to the tens of thousands of technical articles written by Microsoft Dynamics Support Engineers, helping them easily answer questions on their own. These types of activities help customers ramp up quicker, allowing them to have an immediate impact on their business."

You can see how these Executive Insight post build upon each other, and how the further we proceed in time, each post helps bring into perspective the vision Microsoft has, and the actual meaning behind the tag lines, like "Dynamic Business".

I hope each and everyone of you are doing well. Look here for more post to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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