NAV 2013 R2 on Azure part 2

In a earlier blogpost I mentioned, Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 can be installed on Windows Azure. Until recently you needed a Dynamics NAV ISO before installing it on a Virtual Machine. With the latest updates on the Windows Azure Platform Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 is added to the Windows Azure Virtual Machine Gallery.

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Now it all became easier. Follow the steps in the Wizard and your Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 environment is ready. This is less than a quarter of an hour.

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Happy Coding.

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NAV 2013 R2 on Azure in Office 365

Last year during the Directions EMEA 2013 they announced NAV 2013 R2 on Windows Azure in Office 365. It sounds very vague because there was not much details on this. The announcement contained two remarks:

  • NAV 2013 R2 is certified for virtual machine on Windows Azure
  • An Office 365 user can be used to login on NAV

As a fan of Windows Azure I liked it. Windows Azure Active Directory, or Active Directory of Office 365, already has a great use for Website/Apps etc, but now it also can be used for standard Business applications like NAV.

To start my trail I did a search on “NAV 2013 R2 Office 365” and you get the links below. In the short movie they show you the whole process. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/dynamics/nav/dn474204

More details and other great links can be found on: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/nav/archive/2013/12/19/validating-single-sign-on-with-office-365-and-nav-2013-r2.aspx

On Windows Azure I created already a Virtual Machine with NAV 2013. I am not a NAV Consultant or developer, but my company Prodware is doing business with Dynamics products, so I wanted to know something about it. This environment was created as a personal playground. Handy those free Window Azure minutes with your MSDN subscription. I used this environment to get via OData data from NAV to show in my Windows 8 app.

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NAV 2013 needed to be upgraded to NAV 2013 R2. Then a NAV user with a Office 365 account has to be added. The NAV services configuration needs some adjustments. Default the NAV installation is setup for Windows authentication and it must be changed to Access Control Service. This needs some certificates to be installed. The web.config of the WebClient also needs some adjustments, just like the CustomSettings.config and on IIS authentication must be Forms authentication.

Don’t forget the ports (8080, 80, 443, 7048, 7047, 7046 etc) added to the endpoints of your Virtual machine. Otherwise NAV and the WebClient are unavailable external.

In the Windows Azure Active directory configuration we add an Application. Different EndPoints are created and some need to be added to your NAV Configuration.

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When everything is done, go to the URL http://<server>.cloudapp.net:8080/DynamicsNAV71/WebClient (unless you changed the defaults). My server is named mynavvm. With DNS assignments it can be changed to your own domain .

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After this the well known Office 365 sign in form appears.

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Fill in the credentials. Tada!

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Super handy!

Some problems I had:

  • forgot some ports in de VM endpoints
  • certificate needed to be on more places in the CERTMGR, the documentation was complete
  • IIS has to changed from Windows Authentication to Forms Authentication.
  • I first found the movie and much later the Blog.
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XBOX ONE

I was very disappointed to hear the announcement of delaying the launch of XBox One in the Netherlands. Except in Belgium and Luxemburg he did launch in Germany and England. For a moment it looked like the XBox would come to the Netherlands late 2014. I was not willing to wait that long, I was to curious about the device. What could it do, how will the new Kinect react and work, what are the differences with XBox 360 and how much better are the games. I am not a great gamer, but I like to kill some time behind the XBox.

In the Netherlands I preordered the XBox One. But waiting is not one of my habits. In Germany they sell it via the Microsoft Store or Amazon and they will send it to the Netherlands. England is also possible, but the plug gives some problems.

Via Amazon I ordered the XBox One bundle with Call of Duty. Luckily I did not have to wait to long, right before the Holidays it was home.

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After connecting the XBox to your TV and following the wizard the XBox is set up. Standard things like location, language, Internet, XBox account etc were needed during the wizard. Language and Location are tight together for some reason, in location Germany English is not a language. During the wizard Kinect is proposed as device to sign you in with your face on the XBox. It shows how great quality the Kinect camera is.

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Then your new XBox One is ready to go. But you can not do much with it. Just like a PC, the Operating System is loaded and active. Now you need to install the apps.

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For every goal there is an app. An app for audio CD’s, app for DVD’s and Blu Ray’s, Skype, Netflix, SkyDrive. If you don’t need it, it is not installed. You are in control.

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My bundle contained a game. This game was not on a Blu Ray. Instead there was a card in the box with an QRCode. To install the game, you go to the store app, tell you have an QRCode (the 26 characters codes exists too) and you show the QRCode to the Kinect while sitting on your couch. The XBox scant it, checks it and gives the possibility to download and install. How easy. Ok, the games are a bit bigger, so it takes a while. But you do not have to wait till the end of installation, after a couple of percents ready you are able to play it already. Handy!

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After installing the games, you can pin them to your Home menu. It looks bit like Windows 8.1. After install it is in the all Apps and Games section, by selecting it, you can pin it. Here I miss the possibility to create sections or groups like Windows 8.1.

I am not playing XBox the full day and the livingroom is also used to watch TV. On the One you can connect your digital decoder of your provider, the XBox will pass the signal through to the television set behind the XBox. So it wrapped in your XBox OS. Now watching television takes 3 devices: XBox, Decoder and Television. Advantage you can Skype watching TV etc. We have Interactive Television from KPN and it just worked. The XBox can be setup, that he will turn of the TV if you turn of the XBox.

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Skype can be installed on the XBox and it pretty complete. I had to try that. The camera of the Kinect is really great, it follows the speaker and zooms in to the speaking person. The microphone of the Kinect will be used during the Skype call of course.

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Another nifty feature of the XBox One is snappen. A bit similar to Windows 8, two apps run side by side. Underneath Skype and TV, that is fun. I missed the possibility to change the space of the ‘snap’, it is a standard value.

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Like I told before the XBox One can be controlled by Voice too. You yell: “XBOX” and it will respond with a“Listening” in the Righthand corner. Then commands can be used, like “WATCH TV” or “GOTO SKYPE” or “SNAP TV”. And the command is executed. Super handy.

Despite I bought the XBox in Germany, everything is functional. I have bought games in Germany and England. Without problems I can play them. What does not work are Xbox Music and XBox Video, those two apps are regional and do correspond with my region of my Live account.

And support is also ready, I had to try that one too. My XBox One had a faulty Blu Ray drive, I could not play CD/DVD/Games. But via the Support site (in Dutch) it was send to naar Czech Republic, repaired and return to me again.

So if you do not want to wait …

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Windows Azure Costs

If you get Windows Azure subscription, there is a Spending limit on it. But turning it of made it impossible to add it again later. That pretty annoying especially for the starting Windows Azure developer to keep the costs down. If you connect your Windows Azure subscription to your MSDN account, you get credits to use for every resource on the Windows Azure platform.

Even then you want a limit to the costs beyond the credits. Nowadays you can put the spending limit on, but it is all or nothing.

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You would rather set an alert if you reach a certain amount. You want an e-mail, so you can go to the portal to remove/shutdown or close unnecessary instances.

This is preview option. You can set an alert on total amount or available credits!

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This makes it much more relax to connect your Windows Azure subscription to your MSDN account. This way the costs are manageable.

Happy Cloud developing!

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Visual Studio Online with Azure Websites

During the launch of Visual Studio 2013 they showed us Visual Studio Online codename Monaco. This online version of the desktop Visual Studio makes it possible to make code changes from a none Windows powered device or a Windows RT device without the need of a local installation of Visual Studio.

Not completely new, Cloud 9 (http://c9.io) is already available with some likewise. But Microsoft did not build a version yet. It was matter of time if you looked good at their Office Webapps possibilities.

With Windows Azure Websites you are now able to set the option to edit it with Visual Studio Online.

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With this option activated, you can click on the link to edit the website online.

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A nice browser based editor starts. Left it shows the folders on the server and right it shows the editor itself. This editor is already very rich! With intellisens and search and highlighting etc.

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Neat right? All made possible by using TypeScript!

Happy coding!

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Web Endpoint Status checks

One remark about Windows Azure which is heard a lot is about Monitoring. Not about the monitoring of the hardware, that is done by the platform itself. But of your own deployment (website, virtual machine, cloud service).

Now there is a new feature available. With this feature your End points (visible for your users) can be checked periodically from more then one Microsoft Windows Azure location.

For Virtual Machines / Websites / Cloud Services it is beneath the Configure tab and the results of the checks are on the Dashboard. The Dashboard shows something like this:

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When clicking on the ‘homepage’ (which name you give it yourself), a pop-up shows the results. For every call back you see how many milli seconds it took.

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On the configure tab you are able to adjust and enter the end point monitoring check.

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Now we need something to alert you without having to visited the Management portal to see the status.

Happy monitoring.

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Backup on Windows Azure

Windows Azure is build on the fact that services and applications will never be unavailable by hardware failures. The Windows Azure platform made self healing. Your website runs on a server, in case the physical hardware should break down, the platform will move your website to another server. Also possible with virtual machines and Cloud Services if you have al least two instances of your service.

Many think this a great feature of the platform, but they are worried about the failures made by users. How could the platform help us with that? I am not trying to start a discussion about  backups and our service oriented systems, because of the connected services a partial backup/restore is not an easy job.

On the Windows Azure platform there is now a possibility to export a DACPAC of a SQL Database. This DACPAC will be stored on Storage. More info on this blogpost http://blog.marcelmeijer.net/2011/09/15/sql-azure-dacpac-import-en-export-data

Great feature, but can we make this periodical. With Mobile Services there is Scheduler on the platform, but you have to script it yourself.

Now there is a new preview function available for SQL databases. The exports of a database can be automated.

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After adding the different data for the automation process. You are good to go.

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This way without human interference a periodic export is possible. These exports will be stored on Storage too. And restoring data from such an export, can be done too.

There are possibilities For Virtual Machines too, later more on that.

Again a great feature to the platform.

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Windows 8.1 goodies

It depends on which version of Windows you are using if you like Windows 8. The sentiments about it fill the full range of emotions, some like it a lot and others hate it. The haters mostly don’t like it because their cheese has been moved. It is still there, but a bit difficult to find perhaps. Windows 8 focus on touch. But everything can be done by keyboard and mouse too, although the it is less obvious.

The  free upgrade to Windows 8.1 makes a few of the bad things better. The only thing it does not solve is liking it ;-) However the layout with Tiles will be by default on all Microsoft powered devices: tablet, phone, x-box and PC. If you already installed Windows 8, you can update for free to Windows 8.1. Via the Store the update can be downloaded and installed.

The utterly missed Start button is back again. Well in fact it never left your keyboard, but now it is on screen again. Big difference compared to previous versions of Windows versions our startmenu is replaced by a flat startscreen. The desktop isn’t the center anymore. Lot of Windows users were using the desktop to put shortcuts to their favorite applications/documents/sites etc. These shortcuts are now replaced by living tiles on a Start page. With the addition to show important information or give it a bigger presence. At the end it is all about taste, but also getting used to it. Need your desktop as a center point again? With Windows 8.1 you can boot to the desktop again.

But there a more goodies in Windows 8.1.

The integration with SkyDrive is enhanced now. This very much visible on a Surface RT or other tablet using Windows RT 8.1. Now both configurations use the same usage and SkyDrive is more part of the operating system.

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To get to the Control Panel you now can do a rightmouse click on the Start button. A Command Prompt can be started via the same way (I am using WIN-Q Command a lot oftener). The Control Panel is still more detailed compared to the PC Settings screens. The PC Settings are now better ordered and there is a more leveling in it. It looks cleaner and smoother.

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In the previous version of Windows 8 a Registry hack gave you 5 instead of 3 rows with tiles on your Start screen. Nu this can be done on a secure and easy way via PC Settings. Your video card must have enough capacity though. Look for the More Options setting: Smaller of Default.

The default setting:

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The smaller setting:

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If your are still using Windows 8, there are enough reasons to use the free update. Not using Windows 8 yet? There are even more reasons to move on to the next generation.

Have fun!

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Windows Azure Portal Enhancements 2013-11

They work hard on the Windows Azure portal, which results in many enhancements and changes. It starts with logging in. If you go to https://manage.windowsazure.com the first change/enhancement is there. Before the portal assumed you wanted to login with a Microsoft account. If you wanted to use your Office 365 account (Organizational Account), there was a obscure link left in the picture. The login screen changed to the Office 365 login form.

Now you get a clean and empty form with just an edit field. In the edit field an e-mail address is entered. The portal will find what kind of account it is (Microsoft of Organizational). When you return to the portal, you can click on a previous used account.

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This makes life a lot easier.

Another enhancement is when creating a new Virtual Machine from the gallery. The different images are now grouped nicely. So the Microsoft software is grouped, next to the Oracle Oracle images and the Linux versions. That makes selecting and choosing a lot simpler.

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A new option is the MSDN checkbox at the bottom. This is only available if the Windows Azure subscription is connected to a MSDN account. With this you get the ability to create a VM with Visual Studio.

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Below the MSDN checkbox is a checkbox Supported. Also really handy. On Windows Azure regularly Preview or Evaluation images are placed by Microsoft. This makes it possible to get familiar with coming version of software. With the checkmark your choice will be limited to supported/production versions.

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Another beautiful thing. If the Windows Azure subscription is connected to a MSDN account you are entitled to a number of credits. Look here for the correct and current values. The credits are rather valuable, but to view the status of your usage you had to go to the billing portal. With this gem it is much more clear.

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As you see the cloud is always on the move and changes follow quick. The release cycles are very often.

Happy Windows Azure!

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Windows Azure tools 2.2

Evert now and then a new version of the Windows Azure tools for Visual Studio is released. With the arrival of the version of Visual Studio that would be a great update moment. This time not just a refresh of the tools, but there a great jewels of additions. Which are also available for Visual Studio 2012.

This time the process to manage your Windows Azure subscriptions in Visual Studio is redesigned and changed. In previous versions you did need to download a .publishsettings xml file (on https://windows.azure.com/download/publishprofile.aspx). This file contained all the information about your subscriptions.

By importing this file in your Visual Studio the Server explorer was filled with the subscriptions etc. This downloading was really better than the way before that. But the file contained security information and we often forgot to throw it away after using.

With this version of the tools (2.2) this process is definitely better.

In the Server explorer you choose from the right mouse menu for “connect to Windows Azure” on the Windows Azure node.

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You will be transferred to a login windows and you can login with the username/password combination of the Windows Azure subscription you want to use.

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After this you get a overview of your subscriptions assigned to this ID.

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Visual Studio will download the data and the Windows Azure resources belonging to the subscriptions will be shown.

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Super handy and really user friendly.

Have fun met Windows Azure!

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