SQL 2014 updates April 2019

April 18th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

SQL Server 2014 seems to have become a lot more stable i.e this shot list is the entire list of fixes in Service Pack 3, Cumulative Update 3:
• Query plans are different on cloned databases
• CDC source preview fails with an error
• Incorrect query results for columnstore filter pushdowns
• Log reader agent fails after AG failover when trace flag 1448 is enabled

And for the entire list of fixes in Service Pack 2, Cumulative Update 17:
• SQL jobs fail due to blocking in SSISDB
• Fail to join the secondary replica if the database has a defunct filegroup
• Incorrect query results for columnstore filter pushdowns

Microsoft opens first cloud data centres in Africa and signs agreements to support U.A.E. Smart solutions

April 15th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

A landmark achievement for the MEA region. 6 March 2019 saw the launched of the first Microsoft datacenters in Africa. which opened in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. This world-class cloud infrastructure will power emerging cloud, AI and edge computing innovations across the African continent. Microsoft is the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacenters in Africa, and has announced 54 Azure regions worldwide, more than any other cloud provider.

According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report, use of the cloud among medium and large organisations has more than doubled from less than 50 percent in 2013 to pervasive use in 2018. While Kenyan and Nigerian businesses see business efficiency and scalability as the most significant benefits of cloud computing, South African companies view time-to-market and speed of deployment as the greatest advantage. The security and reliability of cloud services are pivotal when discussing digital transformation. At the same time, cloud services help with compliance for evolving laws around data protection, which have become increasingly focused on data residency requirements.

Today the Abu Dhabi Smart Solutions and Services Authority (ADSSSA) today announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft to establish a ‘Cloud centre of Excellence’ that will aim to build its capacity for the delivery of cloud services and platforms, as well as upskill the emirate’s public sector workforce. Microsoft’s collaboration with ADSSSA will focus on the establishment of a Cloud Centre of Excellence. Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide instructor-led training for 240 government employees from various departments and agencies. The training will be distributed across 11 tracks, and will encompass all Microsoft skill levels, from 0 to 300. Instruction will ensure that Government of Abu Dhabi employees are well-versed in such technologies as Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, Office 365, data, AI and Dynamics 365. Through Cloud Society in Box, Abu Dhabi Government employees will receive access to an online training portal hosted on ADSSSA Azure Tenant that can be customised to assign and track training paths. Microsoft specialists will be on hand to deliver regular support to all training delegates and guide them on their upskilling journeys.

Yesterday Smart Dubai today announced a landmark collaboration with Microsoft to achieve the goal of making Dubai the happiest city on Earth. The move aims to accelerate digital transformation across the emirate and empower government employees to innovate faster. Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by H.E. Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General, Smart Dubai, and Sayed Hashish, General Manager, Microsoft Gulf, Microsoft will support Smart Dubai in its digital transformation journey by accelerating adoption of Microsoft Cloud technologies, and will conduct targeted training sessions as well as upskilling workshops in cloud and other associated technologies.

Smart Dubai was formed under the guidance and vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai a knowledge hub and the happiest city on Earth. The organisation’s strategy is to urge participation and counsel from a wide array of city stakeholders, including residents, visitors and business owners.

“We all have a responsibility to accelerate towards the vision established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister & Vice-President of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to create a Dubai that shines as a beacon for others to emulate,” said H.E. Dr. Aisha Bin Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General, Smart Dubai. “Through this collaboration with our trusted partner Microsoft, we are taking another decisive step in that journey. By upskilling and empowering our people, we are building a platform for change and innovation that will serve our citizens, residents, visitors and businesses for decades to come.”

Under the MoU, Microsoft’s UAE datacenters that are expected to open this year, will be used to support the Government of Dubai’s digital transformation efforts through the adoption of a range of Microsoft technologies. Microsoft will train departmental staff in those technologies, empowering them to achieve more in their roles, and accelerate digital transformation across the emirate of Dubai.

“The intelligent cloud has become a cornerstone of digital transformation, and Dubai’s government has led the way in its adoption,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations. “We remain a steadfast partner to the Government of Dubai in its journey to become a smart city. As strong proponents of lifelong learning, we are uniquely poised to reskill and upskill public sector employees in cloud, allowing them to add immeasurable value to Dubai’s excellence e-government services.”

Microsoft experts will also collaborate with Smart Dubai on use cases and adoption scenarios, and will work jointly on roadmaps for rolling out new platforms to other government entities. Microsoft will also conduct awareness sessions on its cloud technologies for government entities and guide those entities on how best to benefit from online Microsoft courses and certifications.

Last week HE Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence confirmed that the UAE government adopts an integrated and dynamic model for the utilization of artificial intelligence that supports industry growth, development of new sectors as well as strengthening governance and ethics frameworks, ultimately anticipating future challenges and creating a positive change for humanity.

This came during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf, to enhance joint cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence development, governance and ethics in the UAE, as well as developing a set of concepts, strategies and future ideas and study implementation mechanisms then implementing them. HE Al Olama said: “The UAE government focuses on enhancing innovation in modern technology applications and employing them in achieving sustainable development, and realizing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai”

The focus of this collaboration will be on four key areas: identifying and developing technological solutions based on artificial intelligence to achieve the United Nations goals of sustainable development, enhancing the use of artificial intelligence in all government bodies in the UAE, establishing an integrated and global framework for governance and AI ethics, contributing to achieving the outputs of the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

Wifi 6 what is it? Why does it matter?

April 13th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Wireless speeds will soon get a lot faster thanks to the introduction of Wi-Fi 6 later this year.

Wi-Fi 6 is the next evolution of wireless local area network (WLAN) technology and it will improve upon older Wi-Fi standards, especially with the coming release of 5G wireless technology. With Wi-Fi 6 and 5G emerging onto the market at roughly the same time, it would make sense that they’re somehow related; while both promise similar improvements, they’re distinctly different technologies.

The name Wi-Fi 6 is part of a new naming convention the Wi-Fi Alliance to make these more easily understood by Wi-Fi users, making it much like the 3G/4G/5G naming convention used by cellular data networks. Behind the Wi-Fi 6 name is the latest version of the 802.11 wireless networking standard: 802.11ax. This new Wi-Fi standard is reportedly up to 30% faster than Wi-Fi 5,. Speed hasn’t been the main benefit touted by the Wi-Fi Alliance and other industry experts; Wi-Fi 6 also brings lower latency, more simultaneously deliverable data, and improved power efficiency.

Latency is a significant problem especially for mobile, internet and cloud users i.e. just about everyone. Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), h is an improvement on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). OFDM is used by Wi-Fi 5, 4, and older standards to encode and transmit data form multiple clients or access points (APs) and to contend for the ability to transmit data; once the network is idle, data can be transmitted. OFDM is a popular and reliable way to decentralize access, but it has a major problem in that it can lead to serious latency.

OFDMA, makes a major change and puts the transmission coordination in the hands of 802.11ax APs. The AP centrally schedules data transmission and is able to further divide frequencies so as to transmit data to/from multiple clients at the same time. The aim is to reduce latency and increase network efficiency—especially in high-demand environments like stadiums, conference halls, and other public spaces. OFDMA broadcasts multiple signals at the same time, and can also increase the unit interval, which means outdoor Wi-Fi deployments will be faster and more reliable.

Wi-Fi 6 will extend the capabilities of Multi-User Multi-Input/Multi-Output (MU-MIMO). MU-MIMO was previously available only for downstream connections and allowed for a device to send data to multiple receivers at the same time; Wi-Fi 6 will add MU-MIMO capabilities to upstream connections to allow more simultaneous devices on one network. MU-MIMO, is already in use in modern routers and devices, but Wi-Fi 6 upgrades it. The technology allows a router to communicate with multiple devices at the same time, rather than broadcasting to one device, and then the next, and the next. Right now, MU-MIMO allows routers to communicate with four devices at a time. Wi-Fi 6 will allow devices to communicate with up to eight. As an analogy compare adding MU-MIMO connections to adding delivery trucks to a fleet, You can send each of those trucks in different directions to different customers. “Before, you had four trucks to fill with goods and send to four customers. With Wi-Fi 6, you now have eight trucks.

Extending the truck analogy OFDMA allows one truck to carry goods to be delivered to multiple locations. The network look at a ‘truck’ and see that it has only allocated e.g. 75 percent of the load capacity of that truck and this other customer is on the same route, so it fill up that remaining space with a delivery for the second customer. In practice, this is all used to get more out of every transmission that carries a Wi-Fi signal from a router to your device.

How fast is it?

– The short answer: 9.6 Gbps. compared to 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5.

– The real answer: both of those speeds are theoretical maximums that you’re unlikely to ever reach or need in real-world Wi-Fi use. The typical download speed in the US is just 72 Mbps, or less than 1 percent of the theoretical maximum speed. The fact that Wi-Fi 6 has a much higher theoretical speed limit than its predecessor is still important because that 9.6 Gbps can be split up across a whole network of devices which means both more devices or more potential speed for each device.

When Wi-Fi 5 came out, the average US household had about five Wi-Fi devices in it. Now, homes have nine Wi-Fi devices on average, and various firms have predicted we’ll hit 50 on average within several years. Those added devices take a toll on your network. Your router can only communicate with so many devices at once, so the more gadgets demanding Wi-Fi, the more the network overall is going to slow down. At first, Wi-Fi 6 connections aren’t likely to be substantially faster. A single Wi-Fi 6 laptop connected to a Wi-Fi 6 router may only be slightly faster than a single Wi-Fi 5 laptop connected to a Wi-Fi 5 router. Devices are more likely to maintain fast speeds on busy networks

As more and more devices get added onto your network, current routers might start to get overwhelmed by requests from a multitude of devices, Wi-Fi 6 routers are designed to more effectively keep devices up to date with the data they need. Each of device;s speeds may not be faster than they can reach today on a high-quality network, but they’re more likely to maintain those top speeds in busier environments. In a home where one person is streaming Netflix, another is playing a game, someone else is video chatting, and a whole bunch of smart gadgets — a door lock, temperature sensors, light switches, and so on — are all checking in at once the top speeds of those devices won’t necessarily be boosted, but the speeds you see in typical, daily use will get likely be better. Exactly how much fast will depend on how many devices are on your network and just how demanding are those devices. In a cloud world working on html 5 pages rather tcpip protocol, and with growing use of social media, digital storage, streaming video, AI, and querying data lakes its essential that the underlying infrastructure keeps up. We are seeing similar evolution with databases, chips and memory.

Wi-Fi 6 introduces some new technologies to help mitigate the issues that come with putting dozens of Wi-Fi devices on a single network. It lets routers communicate with more devices at once, lets routers send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast, and lets Wi-Fi devices schedule check-ins with the router. Together, those features should keep connections strong even as more and more devices start demanding data.

Wi-Fi 6 will also:
• Increase the number of transmit beamforming streams to eight in order to increase network range and throughput;
• use both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously to greatly improve performance;
• use 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (1024-QAM) to increase throughput for emerging use cases (Wi-Fi 5 uses 256-QAM);
• implement individual target wake time (TWT) to improve battery life and reduce power consumption for Wi-Fi devices;
• introduce spatial reuse technology that will allow devices to more easily access a Wi-Fi network in order to transmit data.

Wi-Fi 6 allows devices to plan out communications with a router, reducing the amount of time they need to keep their antennas powered on to transmit and search for signals. That means less drain on batteries and improved battery life in turn. This is a feature called Target Wake Time, which lets routers schedule check-in times with devices.
Your laptop needs constant internet access, so it’s unlikely to make heavy use of this feature (except, perhaps, when it moves into a sleep state). This feature will be more valuable for smaller, already low-power Wi-Fi devices that just need to update their status every now and then. (Think small sensors placed around a home to monitor things like leaks or smart home devices that sit unused most of the day.)

Wi-Fi generations rely on new hardware, not just software updates, so you’ll need to buy new phones, laptops, and so on to get the new version of Wi-Fi. new devices will start coming with Wi-Fi 6 by default. As you replace your phone, laptop, and game consoles over the next five years, you’ll bring home new ones that include the latest version of Wi-Fi. There is one thing you will have to make a point of going out and buying: a new router. If your router doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, then you won’t see any benefits, no matter how many Wi-Fi 6 devices you have. (You may however see a benefit, though, connecting Wi-Fi 5 gadgets to a Wi-Fi 6 router, because the router may then be capable of communicating with more devices at once.)

A new security protocol called WPA3. WPA3 makes it harder for hackers to crack passwords. For a Wi-Fi 6 device to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, WPA3 is required. (so be aware that it may not be included in uncertified devices.)

So where does 5G fit in ?
5G is the umbrella term for the fifth generation of mobile network technology, and it encompasses a lot of different elements. Cellular, or mobile networks, rely on licensed spectrum bands, auctioned off to the highest bidder. Carriers, like Verizon or AT&T, pay to use those bands. To roll out coverage they build a network of connected base stations capable of sending out a strong enough signal that it can serve multiple people (thousands in urban areas) at once. To recoup their investment, we pay them subscriptions.

Wi-Fi relies on unlicensed spectrum which is free to use, but the signal is relatively weak. We pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to deliver the internet to our door and then use a router to fill our house with Wi-Fi. We the same frequency band as our neighbors and that is a problem, when you live in a very densely populated area. The two frequencies that Wi-Fi uses are 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. The 2.4Ghz has a lower potential top speed but it penetrates better, so it has a longer range than 5Ghz.

(Note that that 5Ghz Wi-Fi has absolutely nothing to do with 5G mobile networks.)

In every day life, most of us rely on Wi-Fi both at home and in the office — or in coffee shops — and mobile networks when we step out the front door and move out of range of the router. (Though for security reasons I would never recommend anyone to se a public hotspot)

Smartphones switch automatically and we don’t have to give it any thought, we just want a good connection at all times. That will continue to be the case for the vast majority of people after 5G rolls out. The difference is that both mobile networks and Wi-Fi are going to get faster. The prospect of download speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps, and upload speed or latency of just 1 millisecond, has us excited about 5G. The reality is that we will not get anywhere near the theoretical top speeds. The speed of your 5G connection will depend on many factors including: where you are, to what network you connect, how many other people connect, and what device you use.

The aim is to achieve a minimum download speed of 50Mbps and latency of 10ms. That will represent a major improvement over current average speeds, but just as with 4G LTE, 5G coverage is going to expand slowly. It’s also going to work hand-in-hand, not just with Wi-Fi, but with earlier generations of mobile network technology, so 4G LTE will continue to be offered as a fallback and will continue to evolve and get faster.

Goodbye XP

April 13th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

This week we have the end of Windows XP support, which means the lifespan of the OS was over 17 years. That’s a long time to run any system without an upgrade. There probably still a few SQL 2000 systems out there, which is older than XP, and likely a few of them are running on Windows 2000 in a VM somewhere. Sosome companies will continue to run XP and provably some ATMs, kiosk displays, and other embedded applications will show that XP start screen on occasion.

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights- now available for MEA region

April 11th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

In November 2018, Dynamics 365 AI for Sales (Now called “Sales Insights”) was made available in North America. We are happy to announce that Dynamics 365 Sales Insights has expanded availability to also include Europe, Middle East and Africa. Customers can join the product preview, start a trial as well as purchase licenses to empower users across the sales organizations with Dynamics 365 Sales Insights.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is a “next-generation” application of big data and machine learning.

Region and language availability for Dynamics 365 for Sales

Before November 2018, we used the term “international availability” to capture multiple intentions: the physical location of the data, where the data is stored (“Region”), and the language in which information is displayed (“Display language”). Following the release of the new Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, there is a new intent: the Model language, specifically the language of the data that is parsed by the model to produce insights.

Region

With Dynamics 365 for Sales, System Administrators can specify the region where customer data will be stored. In the process of creating a new org, customers can select a geographic location (“Geo”) to determine where data will be stored. Data will not move from one geo to another, and Microsoft will not limit the geos/locations where customers, or their end users, can access data.

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights is now available across multiple geos, including North America, Europe and the UK.
We expect availability to additional: Australia, Asia Pacific, South America, Canada, India and Japan, also by end of April 2019.

Display language

When creating a new org, System Administrators need to select a base language for the org. The base language determines default regional and language settings for the org. Once base language is selected, System Administrators can enable additional languages for display as well as for assistance (“Help”). Dynamics 365 for Sales currently supports 45 display languages.

Currently, Dynamics 365 Sales Insights for Sellers supports all 45 display languages.

Model languages in Dynamics 365 Sales Insights

With the new Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, some features use natural language algorithms to derive insights. Those capabilities analyze text (such as email communications or notes) as well as voice utterances (from call recordings), to develop relevant and actionable insights.

From the full list of Dynamics 365 Sales Insights capabilities, two features are still limited to North America. These include Who Knows Whom and Relationship Analytics from Exchange. However, Customers in Europe, Middle East and Africa can still benefit from Relationship Analytics, to analyze the health of their customer relationships, based on activities within Dynamics 365 only.

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps v 9 – User Session Timeout Management

April 11th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

The maximum user session timeout of 24 hours is being removed. This means that a user is not forced to sign in every 24 hours to use the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps and other Microsoft service apps, like Outlook, that were opened in the same browser session.

Honor Azure AD session policy

By default, the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps leverage the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) session policy to manage the user session timeout. Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps uses the Azure AD ID Token with Policy Check Interval (PCI) claims. Every hour a new Azure AD ID Token is fetched silently in the background and Azure AD enforces the Azure ID instant policy. For example, if an administrator disables or deletes a user account, Azure AD instant policy will force a user password reset and revoke the refresh token.

This Azure AD ID token refresh cycle continues in the background based on the Azure AD token lifetime policy configurations. Users continue to access the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement/Common Data Service data without needing to re-authenticate until the Azure AD token lifetime policy expires.

Resilience to Azure AD outages

In an event that there are intermittent Azure AD outages, authenticated users can continue to access the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement/Common Data Service data if the PCI claims have not expired or the user has opted in the ‘Stay signed in’ during authentication.

Set Custom Session timeout for individual environment

For environments that require different session timeout values, administrators can continue to set the session timeout and/or inactivity timeout in System Settings. These settings override the default Azure AD session policy and users will be directed to Azure AD for re-authentication when these settings expire.

Dynamics 365 ‘One Version; April 2019 release – what’s new?.

April 11th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations unifies global financials and operations to empower people to make fast, informed decisions.
Finance and Operations helps businesses adapt quickly to changing market demands to drive rapid business growth.

The April ’19 release will bring users together on One Version (version 10) for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. This release marks a monumental shift in supportability based on a common codebase and continuous update cadence. that’s till allows for customers to build extensible solutions for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.

This release also enhances the user experience of the solution with Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback as a primary driver. The targeted areas of t enhancements include: performance, compliance, automation, and supportability of the service.

Financial management

The April ‘19 release for financial management provides capabilities needed to comply with IFRS 15 and for responding to the guidance on accounting for revenue recognition on contracts. An enhanced expense report entry experience with a new header and details expense report, together with an automated settlements processin the general ledger completed periodically. Bank foreign currency revaluation I also added..

Supply chain management

Product information management and inventory management

Inventory management performance improvements. The April ’19 release, introduces the ability to configure and apply unit of measure (UoM) conversions for product variants so that UoM conversions at the product variant level are supported throughout the application.

In future releases, new classes of products and production processes will evolve the product definition . The inventory valuation capabilities will be expanded to support scenarios where multiple valuation methods and multiple currencies are required—for example, in case of different managerial reporting and statutory reporting requirements. Inventory on-hand information will be more readily available in distributed scenarios, such as the retail industry.

Warehouse management

The Warehouse Management System (WMS) has been gradually enhanced since its introduction in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, and a large suite of additional enhancements has recently been licensed from an ISV. With the April ’19 release, the integration of these enhancements will begin, and the ability to handle catch weight (CW) products in WMS processes will be added.

The suite of 30-plus distinct features will partially be integrated as preview for the April release and its subsequent monthly releases. For example, a feature like enabling label printing during wave adds flexibility in configuration and operation.

Sales and procurement

Usability enhancements in sales and procurement will allow Super users will be able to propose filtered views and build forms where unnecessary fields or actions can be removed. Super users knowledge can thus be more easily disseminated to the organization and all skill levels of users can benefit from targeted views, crafted for the task at hand.

Going forward expect to see: supplier collaboration, extended self-service, data sharing and maintenance capabilities, and improved business support within integration scenarios such as : purchase requisition, request for quotation and purchase ordering relative to data flow and accounting distribution constraints.

A primary focus will be improvements to track and account for goods in transit.
There will also be enhanced support to kit to stock, as well as kit to order, and to enhance sales price and promotion management with extended price management flexibility.

Manufacturing

In the April ’19 release, the focus is on optimizing the resilience of master planning toward platform and infrastructure errors, as well as to deliver incremental master planning performance improvements.

To support the connected, intelligent operations of modern manufacturer integration with the intelligent Microsoft Azure IoT service will support manufacturing customers close the digital feedback loop with close to real-time information from the shop floor with business data to generate events and actionable insights.

The future road map includes enterprise asset management capabilities to track the total cost of ownership of operations assets, nd to manage the ongoing maintenance of those assets. .

Globalization

Microsoft Dynamics for Finance and Operations is localized for 37 countries/regions and provided in 42 languages directly.

To operate in many countries or regions, businesses need to quickly respond to changing regulatory requirements and meet very specific requirements of industries and verticals. The April ’19 release, will expand the areas of configurable localization to simplify this process. Configurable engines for both Electronic Reporting and Global Tax, are accessible through Regulatory Configuration Service, so that users can extend Microsoft-delivered regulatory configurations or build new configurable features from scratch.

The invoice layout is one of the most-customized areas by customers who deploy globally, in the April ’19 release there are more configurable invoice layouts beyond the Free Text Invoice layout that shipped in the October ’18 release.

Platform

Several improvements to the developer tools will be previewed in the next 3 months.
-Development of more than one application on the same environment will be possible.
- Build automation will not require build virtual machines and will enable automated deployment to Lifecycle Services (LCS).

The Web Client introduces new features guided by user productivity, usability research, and customer feedback. This includes personalization of forms and workspaces, interacting with large data sets (with better filtering), and mobile device responsive capabilities.

An improved workflow experience, including integration with Microsoft Flow, will be available.

Analytical Workspaces support new personalization options and power user editing tools of Power BI reports within the Finance and Operations client. Power users can extend reports and do data mashups using PowerBI.com functionality without any developer intervention.

New tools for management of network printers are also introduced. The Entity Store is supported for on-premises deployments.

Integration

Customers will be able to seamlessly link to Common Data Service (CDS) for Apps from Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. A breadth of Finance and Operations entities will be available in CDS for Apps.

Entity Store will be staged in a customer’s Azure Data Lake. Microsoft will keep the data fresh with incremental syncs.

Event-driven integrations is a new capability that provides a framework to allow Finance and Operations business and workflow events to be consumed by Microsoft Flow and external systems. For example, this will enable a PO confirmation to trigger fulfillment by the vendor earlier; or enable a receipt of a damaged part to trigger the vendor claim process in real time.

Cloud operations and lifecycle services

Microsoft will manage the continuous updates of Platform, Application (Finance and Operations, Retail), and Financial Reporting . A set of tools and experiences to support this experience (called One Version) will be made available in Lifecycle Services and will enable predictability, reliability, and continuous delivery.

The service will also be made available in the China Sovereign Cloud with all customer data maintained within the region.

Diagnostic assistant enables an IT administrator to diagnose user-reported issues or performance issues using a guided troubleshooting experience in Lifecycle Services (LCS). The administrator selects from a list of predefined issues and provides a set of inputs to narrow down the search results. The inputs could vary based on the issue selected. They will then be guided on a drill-through experience that correlates multiple sources of information to help the administrator identify the root cause quickly and efficiently. Today, a lot of this information is available in LCS, but you need an expert to correlate the different pieces.

To troubleshoot the issues that arise from customization, activity monitoring, SQL insights, critical health metrics, and live view are made available to the IT administrator. The goal of this feature is to help simplify this experience. Once a potential root cause is identified, the administrator can choose from a set of predefined actions that they can take to mitigate the originally reported issue.

The true value of a cloud service is realized through continuous updates that can provide both improved reliability and new features, while minimizing operational impact.

Microsoft is optimizing the way it w ll deliver updates. A monthly update cadence aims to provide predictability, lower upgrade costs, user access to the latest product capabilities and performance improvements, and a better support experience. the ONE-V update experience available to customers and partners. You first need to Onboard: This is a one-time activity in LCS Project Settings to configure the environments for the update, configure the date and time for the production update, or select to pause updates up to three months, and to sign up for any first-release programs.

Tools to support the continuous testing process include:

Impact analysis tool: This tool provides insight into the usage, churn, and feature areas that can help assess risk and drive smarter testing.

Regression Suite Automation Tool (RSAT): Customers and partners can use this tool to validate business processes by using the web client without having to write code. This tool relies on the task recording framework that allows functional users to record business flows and play them back.

Data Task Automation: This tool allows the automation of data import and export tasks by using a data task manifest and data project definition, which therefore provides a robust framework for regression testing of data integration scenarios.

Power BI updates April 2019 – ask Synergy Software Systems

April 10th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

We have delivered many Power BI models, reports and training sessions over the last two years, and it has been enthusiastically adopted by customers. Microsoft is continually adding new features.

– Power BI Report Builder, is the latest companion application for Power BI that lets you author Paginated Reports is a free, standalone Windows Desktop application that can now be downloaded from the Power BI website. As the name suggests, paginated reports can run to many pages. They’re laid out in a fixed format and offer precise customization. Paginated reports are .rdl files. You can store and manage paginated reports in the Power BI Report Server web portal, just as you can in the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) web portal. You create and edit them in Report Builder or Report Designer in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), then publish those to a web portal. Report readers in your organization can then view the reports in a browser or in a Power BI mobile app on their mobile device.

Power BI Report Builder enables you to:
•Use the Report Builder ribbon to quickly add items your reports, launch table, chart, and map wizards, and format your report data.
•Add data from built-in data providers.
•Create and use report parameters and other interactive features.
•Preview reports in HTML or print format.
•Export reports to file formats such as Microsoft Excel or PDF.
•Save your report locally
•In a future update, you’ll be able to both open and publish from/to the Power BI Service

To download and install Power BI Report Builder, you can click on the COG icon in the title bar of Power BI site and select the Report Builder option.

The March 2019 release of Power BI Desktop has brought us keyboard accessible visual interactions. One of Power BI’s natural strengths is that you can click on a data point within a visual and have it cross-highlight or cross-filter the other visuals on a page. Keyboard-only users weren’t able to use this feature until now. Interact with a visual using keyboard commands. Notice you can select specific data points within the line chart, and the other charts on the page filter based upon the selection.

Dynamics One Version – nearly here… and then what lies ahead?

April 1st, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Customers at User Group Summit Europe this week listened intently to guidance on updates delivered by Microsoft MVP Andre Arnaud de Calavon who explained the One Version approach. He suspects that while some customers have a good understanding, others still do not, both in terms of Microsoft’s policies and the responsibilities they will put on the customer as opposed to the partner.

“If you look at DevOps and split it, there is the development part operations part. The partner can do the development part and then hand it over. The customer has to do verification, the acceptance tests, and when you have done that then you will decide when and if you are going to apply [updates] in production.”

His message to AX and D365FO users was to prepare to own the operations of their own systems, especially as it relates to evaluating, preparing for, and deploying updates on a monthly or at least quarterly basis.

Historically customers have been unwilling to make frequent updates when they knew a system was working well enough. One Version forces them to do just that. The new paradigm is agile response to disruptive digital change. However, many have moved to the cloud in order to ‘outsource it’ not to be a software testing site. The move to extensions has eliminated the problems of code merges, but it does not mean that updates will be lights out and painless.,

Microsoft continues to converge its planning across Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Flow, and the Common Data Service. It has an Application Platform as a Services (APaaS) approach. industry accelerators will be delivered to these guidelines:
• Microsoft will provide the components that are the most universally applicable to a vertical. Country-specific, or micro-vertical, and other niche capabilities will be left as white space for customers t build a competitive edge with their partners/
• The architectural model will build on the state of the art for Microsoft today and will include the Power Platform, Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2, and other Azure service use cases thatinclude even more Microsoft products like Teams and Office 365 and Linked in features.

Flow will become the workflow engine of choice over time for D365CE. A Microsoft presenter spoke against the idea of continuing with processing-intensive workflows that queue up within a relational CRM database, and slow down the cloud service. reality of this change – customers will pay for the privilege of making Flow a core component of their CRM architecture, as with Dynamics Finance and Operations for any serious volume of use, and as is the case with Power BI once you want to use it seriously.
Its an Enterprise solution that comes at an Enterprise cost and it with azure it has the enterprise architecture to deliver.

Because access to the production instance is controlled by Microsoft analytics for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) analytics had to use Entity Store and BYOD data sources. Expect a move to azure data lakes and the use of ADLS Gen2. The approach will replace today’s options, while putting more importance on PowerBI.com. This means customers will be required to buy seats of PowerBI.com Pro or Premium for all report consumers, plus renting their own ADLS Gen2 service. Pricing for data lakes will vary. Microsoft introduces a new class of enterprises to the use of cloud data lakes for their data optimization and reporting needs. As with the case above of Customer Engagement’s use of Flow, eliminating the expense of the Entity Store databases may not result in any comparable direct savings to offset the added expense of ADLS Gen2. Its m ore about the potential for value add of enhanced analytics.

Power BI update March – April 2019

March 21st, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft launched the public preview of new Power BI workspace experiences in August 2018 to enable Power BI workspace admins:
• to use security groups to manage access to workspaces,
• to enable BI teams to create workspaces without needing to create an Office 365 Group,
• to provide granular workspace roles to make giving access to workspaces easier.

At the beginning of April 2019, the new workspace experiences. will reach General Availability (GA)

Usage metrics for new workspaces are rolling out this week
This capability is much requested by customers and works the same as it did for classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. It may take until late this week or next week to reach all commercial cloud customers.

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/update-on-the-new-workspace-experiences-preview-including-ga-timeline/

The March update for the On-premises data gateway (version 3000.2.47) includes an updated version of the Mashup Engine, which matches the one released as part of the Power BI Desktop March update.

This will ensure that the reports that you publish to the Power BI Service and refresh via the Gateway will go through the same query execution logic/runtime as in the latest Power BI Desktop version.

Happiness Day, Loneliness and Power BI

March 21st, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

At the annual Gartner BI Bake Off session at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Orlando, Florida the Power BI team featured this report which you can explore here:

Here are some insights and highlights from the report:
• The employment groups with the most happiness are employed and retired people followed closely by stay at home parents and students.
• The highest ratio of lonely to non-lonely people by age group is between 35 and 44 years old.
• For the countries in the dataset, the UK and the US have higher loneliness ratios (0.30 and 0.29 respectively) than Japan (0.10).

if you think Power BI might provide insights into your business, and need training or assistance with report modelling, or need to understand the different licence types, then contact us – 009714 3365589

SQL 2016 SP2 CU6 is released also SQL 2016 SP1 CU 14

March 21st, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

The good news is that Microsoft has fixed the “String or binary data would be truncated” error!
With KB#4468101 if you enable trace flag 460, the SQL Server will now tell you just what l is going to be truncated.
SP2 CU6 also includes other fixes like:
• Users are incorrectly permitted to create incremental stats on nonclustered indexes that aren’t aligned to the base table
• Assertion for parallel deletes from filestream tables
• Filestream IO can’t be enabled on cluster shared volumes
• Assertion for linked server queries that point to themselves during a cross-database transaction (as bad as it sounds)
• MDS database upgrade fails
• Filtered nonclustered columnstore index over a clustered columnstore index may not be maintained ( in layman’s term we call it corruption)
• Stack dump during change tracking cleanup
• Data masking (doesn’t)

Microsoft also released an 2016 SP1 CU14 but that doesn’t have the key#4468101 fix. .

Dynamics 365 ‘One version’ update 10 April 2019 -some FAQs

March 9th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

In July 2018 Microsoft announced a change to the way it ill deliver Dynamics 365 updates that will help you to stay current in a consistent, predictable, and seamless manner. With Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, you receive new service updates and features monthly instead of doing expensive upgrades every few years.
- You can manage how your organization receives these updates. For example, you can sign up for an early release so that your organization receives updates first.
-You can designate that only certain environments receive the updates. Or, you can remain on the default release schedule and receive the updates later. This topic explains the different release options and how you can use them for your organization.

Service updates contain both application (including Financial reporting and Retail) and platform changes that are critical improvements to the service, including regulatory updates. New features will be included in service updates.

Release processes

Each new release is designed and developed by the Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations team. Any new release is first tested and validated by the feature team, then by the entire Dynamic 365 for Finance and Operations and Retail teams. Extensive testing is done on various test topologies. A compatibility checker also runs tests to ensure backward compatibility. In addition, several customer databases and code are benchmark-tested with automation to ensure no breaks.
Ring 2 is a targeted release. This release is available to partners, customers, and ISVs who opt in through the Insider program and join the Preview Early Access Program (PEAP). During a targeted release, Microsoft monitors telemetry, collects feedback, and further validates quality by monitoring key metrics. During this phase, the release must be deployed on Dev/Test environments. In this preview phase, partners, customers, and ISVs use the release to validate their customizations and provide feedback. This release cannot be used in production.
•Ring 3 is a production-ready, first release for customers who opt in. During this phase, customers have the option of taking the release all the way to production and can choose between Microsoft managing the update or self-managing the update. Participating in the First release program has the benefit of having the Microsoft engineering team closely monitoring the update for any aberrations to ensure a successful update.
Ring 4 is the final, default ring and is available to all customers. Microsoft will manage and update all environments based on the configured maintenance window.

Here are some FAQs to provide clarity on the Finance and Operations service updates, processes, and tools you can use to prepare for it.

Schedule for April 10.0 release The 10.0 release, which will be available in April 2019, will be an update and not an upgrade

Can the update to 10.0 be delayed? A customer can pause or opt-out of the 10.0 release when they are on 8.1.2 or 8.1.3. In early March, the ability to set up this configuration or to pause updates will be available through LCS.

For a release date in early April, which ring is being released at that time? Is it the GA ring? Or will GA be released several weeks later? Standard release/Ring 4 production updates for a monthly release will be scheduled for the first, second, and third weeks in April. Depending on the configuration that you set up in LCS, you will receive updates during that specific week.

For the April 10.0 release, Microsoft will perform updates during the weekends of April 6, April 13, or April 20 based on the configuration that you set up in LCS.
Sandbox updates will always be scheduled a week before the update.
The configuration setup will be available in early March.

Service updates

What product versions are impacted by service updates?

8.1 and later All customers on 8.1 and later will be scheduled for updates monthly with a combined application and platform update starting November 2018. You will be required to have an update that’s no older than 3 months.

8.0 Customers on 8.0 will receive a monthly platform and financial reporting update. You will be required to have an update that’s no older than 3 months. The 8.0 lifecycle ends in April 2019. Customers on 8.0were encouraged to update to 8.1 by December 1, 2018. This process is like a regular package update. For detailed documentation, see the Update environments from version 8.0 to 8.1 topic.

7.x Customers on 7.x will receive a monthly platform and financial reporting update. You will be required to have an update that’s no older than 3 months. You are required to upgrade to 8.1 before April 2019 (unless extensions are not available, the only over-layered version in market will be version 7.3). Starting April 2019, the service will be updated to version 10.0.

What does the update contain?

For 8.1 and later, service updates will contain both application (including financial, reporting, and Retail) and platform changes that are critical improvements to the service including regulatory updates. New experiences will be opt-in. The service updates are backward compatible. There will be a single version representing this update.

What is a regulatory update?

A regulatory update is a new feature or an existing feature change required by law (usually for a specific country/region). The regulatory update is always required by a specific law enforcement date (LED) and should be enabled by this date or earlier.

What’s the upcoming schedule of updates?
Service updates will be available each month and starttd in November 2018. Microsoft will apply the updates monthly, based on the selected maintenance window. You are required to have an update no older than 3 months.

Are there any major updates post 8.1?

There will be 2 major updates in April and in October where new experiences will be enabled. Major updates will not require code or data upgrade.

Breaking changes will be communicated 12 months in advance such that customers can plan accordingly. Such a change will only be introduced during a major update.

What does Backward compatibility mean? This covers binary and functional compatibility. Binary compatibility means that you can apply an update on any runtime environment without needing to recompile, reconfigure, or redeploy customizations. This also means that on a development environment at design time, X++ public and protected APIs and metadata are not modified or deleted.

If Microsoft needs to break compatibility by removing obsolete APIs, then it will be communicated 12 months in advance and follow a deprecation schedule. Functional compatibility is about user experience, all new experiences will be opt-in.

Backward compatibility does not include non-X++/metadata APIs.

Microsoft reserves the right to update versions of any dependencies the product uses, as well as remove dependencies without early warning.
Microsoft does not commit to maintain backwards compatibility of dependent software libraries unless expressly stated

What does end of service mean?

Microsoft will not provide any fixes to issues on versions that have reached end of service. Microsoft will also not investigate or troubleshoot any issue that you may encounter on an older version. If you encounter an issue on a version that has reached end of service, you will be required to update to the latest update and report the issue if it persists.
All environments will continue to be operated by Microsoft. All automatic processes around your environments, such as monitoring or self-healing, will also continue as is.

Will individual hotfixes be supported?

Individual hotfixes will not be supported after 8.1. Customers must update to the latest cumulative update available to apply the fix (such as 8.1.1). Critical fixes will also be cumulative and available through the LCS servicing experience.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations version 10.0 includes Platform update 24.
New APIs have been added to help data integration retrieve errors that occurred during the import execution runs in a data project.

Power BI recent enhancements – export to PDF and to Powerpoint

February 28th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Users can now export Power BI reports to either PDF or PowerPoint and have their selections on screen be respected in the exported document. This feature was still rolling out to all regions in February and should be available everywhere by now,

When you export to either PDF or PowerPoint, you’ll see a pop-up window.

By default, export the current report values, along with any other changes made across the report during your session. For your quick reference, when change any of the following for the current report page, you’ll see it in your export –
•Filters
•Slicers, including slicer type (for example, dropdown or list) and slicer state
•Visual selection state (such as cross-highlight filters)
•Sort order
•Drill location
•Visibility (of an object, using the Selection pane)
•The focus or Spotlight modes of any visible object

For pages in your report that you’re not viewing when you export your report, it’ll respect the same items respected with Persistent Filters, and those changes will also be shown in your exported report.

If you’d prefer NOT to have any of your changes in your exported document and continue to have it work as it did prior to today in the service, then change the dropdown to “Default Values”, and it will export the report as it was originally authored.

An additional enhancement is the ability to exclude any hidden report tabs from the exported report. Until now, all the report tabs, including those the author had hidden, were included in the export. This unnecessarily increased the size of your export, and users asked to exclude those in certain cases. Now, check the box to “Exclude hidden report tabs” and they will not be included in your export. If your report doesn’t have any hidden report tabs, then the box will be grayed out and unavailable to select.

Power Bi a leader again in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics

February 28th, 2019 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft is a Leader yet again in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms for the 12th consecutive years.

Synergy Software Systems has delivered many training courses on Power BI to enable companies to get actionable insights from their date,

For companies that use Dynamics Ax/365 Finance and operations, we build advances business models that make it easy for authorised users to slice and dice their data and to build numerous reports of their own.

(This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Microsoft. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.)