My Dynamics 365 FastTrack experiences

If you have not heard about the Microsoft FastTrack program for Dynamics 365 on-boarding, then this is the post for you. So, to say it simple; the FastTrack program is Microsoft’s involvement after the licenses have been purchased to get you fast up and running on the cloud platform.

It starts when the licenses have been purchased through the CSP-portal (or through a EA agreement), and lasts until the live production system have been deployed.

When a Dynamics 365 deployment should start, we get a checklist of tasks that need to be completed when we move from one stage to another. The LCS implementation project looks a bit different than the ordinary LCS projects.

As you can see here there are a lot of checks that needs to be confirmed before going live. In the process, some guidance is needed, and Microsoft is giving this as a service included in the license. As the implementation goes forward Microsoft is conducting some bi-weekly workshops, where each meeting has a predefined agenda with information and some room for discussions and guidance. The touchpoints are divided between actual workshops using Skype 4 Business and Tech Talks that is a kind of webinar session.

In the FastTrack program there is a role and responsibility, that is explaining what is expected from the parties involved in a Dynamics365 rollout.

I have been lucky, and have been involved in a complete cycle, and I have to say that I’m impressed how this FastTrack program works. As the Dynamics 365 is quite new, and the entire Dynamics ecosystem is trying to absorb the information made available, it is easy to get lost and to think that implementations are conducted in the same way as earlier. If you expect that some hardcode system administrator/developer can jump into the sandbox/production environments, then you are wrong. Now things have to happen in a sequence and have to follow predefined quality steps to ensure that we get a rock-solid production environment.

Our FastTrack contact have always been available and have given us the “light touch” on the shoulder to guide the implementation and expectations. Remember that FastTrack is not about business processes, masterdata and project management. That is still handled outside of this program.

A small and important reminder; remember that you have to purchase your implementation licenses, and remember that you could start small, and ramp up you license count as needed.


Testing Microsoft Flow for CRM –> AX integration

A few days ago Microsoft have the Flow connector available for preview, and you can read more about it here. What I wanted was to see if I could make a very simplified flow, where a customer is created in CRM, and then transferred to Dynamics AX.

The flow therefore consists of the following steps, when a record is created in CRM, a customer is created in AX. After that, I wanted an email to be sent to me.

To test this flow, I created a Customer in CRM online.

Then I waited for a few second, and then the customer was visible in AX. I just became very impressed.

I also received an email, telling me that a new customer was created in AX from CRM, and that made be even more happy.

If I when in and analyzed what happened, I could trace the entire integration in Flow, and also see how much time spent on processing each step. In this case, I see that AX used 10 seconds to process the JSON/ODATA message, and spent 3 seconds to sending me an email that the record was created.


Here are the steps I used to create this flow. First I select the Flow action “Dynamics CRM Online – When a record is created”.

Then I specify the organization and the entity name: Accounts

Next I add the action Dynamics AX Online – Create a record

And I select the instance, and what user I should log in with. I also select the entity name: Customers, and select to only transfer the Account number and Account name into the AX entity. Some of the other fields, I choose to hardcode for simplicity reasons.

The last step is to send an email to myself

Some summary.

Using Dynamics AX with flow will certainly be the way forward on how we integrate AX with CRM and all kinds of other 3’rd party systems. It is still in preview, and the next thing we are waiting for is that Dynamics AX can get reactive, and then when a record is created or modified inside AX, this can trigger a flow. But Microsoft have promised that this is on its way. Also remember that this tool has its current restrictions and that we need to be patient and let Microsoft further develop and improve its capabilities. But for easy and simple integrations I would call this as a unique opportunity to get rid of complex and time consuming integrations. As long as you keep it simple it works as intended.

Thanks Microsoft, keep it coming!

Dynamics AX Retail Scale Unit

In the AX Licensing Guide from february 2016 Microsoft announced a new add-on to retail called; Retail Scale Unit.

Retail Scale Unit

As part of our future offering, we are considering offering a scale unit (Retail Scale Unit) that will enable businesses to run in distributed environment across datacenters to support proximity to physical locations
as well as allow distributed storage and help scale out needs of retail and commerce operations. This offering will allow the ability to add one or more identical scale units that can meet the transactional compute needs of retail and commerce channels. Additional details coming soon.

Even though details have not yet been disclosed on what or how it works, it is now available on sites where you buy Microsoft Licenses. Even prices are available, and it is a service priced per month.

Try to google-search on “E3307B7FD0C149AE9B95E4707C9D1AD7” and you will see distributors that are having this SKU/product in their assortments. Stay tuned as more will be explained as Microsoft makes more information available, but this is great stuff for all retailers!





Dynamics 365; Hello CDM

The Common Data Model was today as promised made available in preview through PowerApps, and gave us insight on how it works. You need to take a log at the following blog posts. Your entry point for starting to explore CDM is

Let’s jump past
all introductions take a small look at the products made available the sample demo data when the CDM database is created. After the sample CDM database is created you will have access to the entities here

Then find the entity named Product. Then click on the “Open in Excel

After logging in I start to see some similarities to what we have in the new Dynamics AX. It’s the same excel app on the right side.

It is even the Contoso data, and as highlighted here I’m showing the item 1000 – the good old Surface Pro 128 Gb J


Now start your journey into the CDM. It will be the backbone and foundation of our entire Dynamics 365 stack.



Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Flow and Common Data Model

This summer at WPC Microsoft unveiled the Dynamics cloud strategy by explaining their new initiative named Dynamics 365. Let me say it very short; IT ROCKS !

A good Q&A blog explaining it is this blog post from James Crowter. The essence is that the Dynamics 365 will be available in 2 editions; Business (cloud based NAV-edition) and Enterprise (new Dynamics AX, aka AX’7′). In addition, Microsoft have also launched the AppSource that can help finding the right business apps available from other ISV/VAR’s. This is a great offer to customers, where 3rd party apps and extensions can be previewed.

As the new name implies ‘Dynamics 365’, there will be a tight connection to the Office 365 package. Is there something Microsoft is good at, it is cross-selling and building strong dependency though the entire stack of Microsoft technology. This will further strengthen the offering. Some concerns are that the total offering could be regarded as an increase in costs. Very often we see customers comparing their offer based on the wrong assumptions, and where on-premises offers are compared with cloud and SaaS offerings. This will give the wrong perspective, because often in on-premises solutions don’t include all costs related to implementation and running the systems. What looks as cheap today may in the longer run actually result in higher costs and the build-up of a technological debt. When making the classic tradeoff decisions in technology, make sure you understand the implications.

Dynamics 365 is more than just a rebranding, and the introduction of the new Common Data Model(CDM) is the glue(database) that will stick all pieces/entities together. We can expect that in future, all the components will be working together across the ordinary product lines as we know it today. Customers will download a app, and don’t care if they have a business or enterprise edition of Dynamics.

CDM will over time make sure that Microsoft PowerApps enables users to create applications for Windows, iOS, and Android mobile devices. Using these apps, you can create connections to common SaaS services, including Twitter, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Dropbox, and Excel. Making all kinds of apps will easier, and in many cases not even involve any coding.

My Dynamics friends, please try out the Microsoft PowerApps because this a central element in the future of Dynamics 365, and also check out Microsoft Flow, to understand how the CDM in the future will enable the flow of data and processes between all components in the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 landscape.

Again we have a lot of learning, and I’m amazed how fast the transition to a cloud and mobile first business environment is going. This change will also make ripple effects on the entire ecosystem. New technologies require new organizational approaches and new workforce skills and knowledge. I assume that we again will see consolidations and mergers among the traditional ERP vendors, where the traditional WEB and .NET consultancy is being consolidated under the Dynamics 365 umbrella. We can also assume that smaller ERP vendors are just too small to master all these new technologies, and will slowly fade away. Soon, most of our business processes is handled on your mobile phone, backed by the cloud.

And remember, your best bet is to learn!

How I saved thousands of dollars on my Azure environments!

I just love such headlines, because it instantly attracts attention.

But in this case it is actually true. And Microsoft is even wants us to do this. I want to write how to automatically shut down and start up environments in Azure, so that you are not spending more than needed. This post is for newbies, and experts surely will bombard the comment section with improved suggestions on how to make it even better.

In this example I have 4 environment running in Azure and the machine type I prefer is the D13_v2. This will cost me 3696 USD per month if I just let them stay on for 744 hours per month.

But I only plan to use them 07:00 à 17:00 Monday to Friday. This is 200 hours per month, and then it will just cost 993 USD J A lot of fun can be done with these extra credits.

So what is the next step? The trick is to use the Azure Powershell Runbook. Here is the step-by-step instruction on how to set it up:

1. Log into Azure, and open the Azure automation

2. Add an Automation Account.
    Create a name, like “TurnOffOnVM”.
    Select the subscription, and if a resource group should be created. Also if you want an Azure Run As Account. (I didn’t bother to have that, since I have no important stuff on these environments)

3. Then create an Asset named “automation” for holding credentials, that will run the shutdown/start up scripts. The credentials you are using must have the rights to run scripts and to start/stop VM’s.

4. Let’s create 2 Runbooks, that holds the scripts and schedules for the start and stop scripts.

5. Use the “Powershell Workflow” type


6. Let’s put in the “Start script”. It’s done here


I have removed my VM-names in this example.

If you wonder what your VM name is, it is the computer name, that can be seen here:

Here is a copy-paste version of the Start-up script:

workflow StartVM


    $cred = get-automationpscredential -name “automation”

    add-azureaccount -credential $cred

    select-azuresubscription -subscriptionname “Microsoft Azure Enterprise”


    $VMs = Get-AzureVM


foreach($VM in $VMs)


if ($VM.Name -In “VMName1”, “VMName2”, “VMName3”, “VMName4” )


if ($VM.PowerState -ne “Started”)


     Start-AzureVM -Name $VM.Name -ServiceName $VM.ServiceName -ErrorAction Continue





7. Let’s put in the “Stop script”. It is basically the same procedure as creating the “start script”, so I just add the copy-past version of the script.

workflow StopVM


    $cred = get-automationpscredential -name “automation”

    add-azureaccount -credential $cred

    select-azuresubscription -subscriptionname “Microsoft Azure Enterprise”


    $VMs = Get-AzureVM


    foreach($VM in $VMs)


    if ($VM.Name -In “VMName1”, “VMName2”, “VMName3”, “VMName4” )


        if($vm.Status -eq ‘ReadyRole’)


        Stop-AzureVm -Name $vm.Name -ServiceName $vm.ServiceName -Force







Remember to press the “publish” button the scripts J

8. Let’s create a schedule (one for the Start runbook, and one for the stop runbook)

9. You can now monitor the start/stop scripts:


10. Go party with all the credits you have saved! And if you see me, and use this script, buy me a beer J


Happy DAX’ing J

The most important AX.HELP page

To always keep an eye on what’s happening is important. We see that AX.HELP is growing and becoming the number one center for understanding the new AX. I want to give you the most important page; Read it!

What I did was to setup a RSS feed to get all the news and new articles, and the address is

Setting this up in Outlook is easy. Right-click on the RSS Subscription, and add

You will then get a RSS message for each new post and article. You will in 5 minutes every day get the overview of what have been published and update. No more slow searching, and you will quickly be the “go-to” expert, that knows it all.

Happy DAX’ing