Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Deploying Business Analyzer Companion App Services on Windows Azure Service Bus

Business Analyzer App for Windows 8.1

If you are not using Business Analyzer today, shame on you. Last year sometimes I wrote a small article on how to deploy the Business Analyzer Windows 8 application on a personal laptop, which is typically how most of us road warriors need it to be for demo purposes. However, here at Intelligent Partnerships, we've changed our approach a bit: all our infrastructure and demo environments now reside on Windows Azure, which gives all of our people the flexibility of having a single environment and consistent across the board, while allowing our accounting staff to do work from anywhere in the world.


Today, I want to talk about another one of those cool features in Windows Azure: The Azure Service Bus and how you can leverage it to run the Business Analyzer app for Windows 8.1.

I really don't like to oversimplify anything, but think of Azure Service Bus as cloud based message queuing system, akin to MSMQ, but running on a much more robust platform. The advantage is that applications are no longer bound by myriads of layers (like firewalls, complex authentication, etc.) to communicate with each other and can reside anywhere and on any device that can communicate to the Internet.

So let's get started...

1. To setup a Service Bus you sign into Azure's management portal, then click on the Service Bus option on the left navigation bar.

Service Bus service
2. Click the Create button to add a namespace for your service bus. The namespace identifies the service in Windows Azure and is assigned an address. You can then choose the region where your service will be hosted.

Service bus namespace

By clicking the Ok button, Windows Azure proceeds to activate that namespace if it's available. If it's not available, you will be prompted to enter a new namespace, before you can continue.

3. You can then proceed to install Business Analyzer Companion App Services on one of your virtual machines (preferably not your SQL Server). The installation is straight forward and all you need to do prior to running the setup executable program (setup.exe) is to install the reporting services configuration reports for Business Analyzer. Those are provided in the Companion App services SSRS zip file (MDGP2013_CompanionAppServices_SSRS.zip).

4. Once the Companion App Services application is installed, you can proceed to launch the configuration app, which can typically be found in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Dynamics\GP Companion App Services\ folder.

Welcome screen
The Welcome screen displays the Companion App Service current connection information, which should later on be replaced by the settings you establish for this instance.

5. After the Welcome screen, you are presented with the Windows Azure configuration screen.

Windows Azure Service Bus Configuration window
In this window you will enter information about the Service Bus you previously configured using the Azure management portal. For the most part you specify the namespace, issuer, and issuer key which can be found


Service Bus connection information
Note the default issuer and default key must match the issuer name and issuer key, respectively, in the Azure configuration window. Click Next to continue - you will experience a short delay while the wizard validates the Azure service bus information you provided.

6. On the Host Configuration screen you can enter the host name and port of the machine that's going to be running the service - typically, just accept the default port. The beauty here is, since we already configured access via the Azure service bus, it's not necessary to expose the public name (server.cloudapp.net) of the host and create an end-point for the port, thus exposing our servers to the world - this is why we created the service bus to begin with!



7. Next on is to select the Companion Apps that will be used with the service. You will want to mark both of them here.

Select Applications

8. You will then want to choose the Data Connections to use with Companion App Services. In this case you have a choice of either Excel Reports or SQL Server Reporting Services reports.

Data Connections
9. Next you must identify where to find the Excel reports using UNC path to specify the folder. My reports happen to be at \\servername\gpfiles\excel reports\reports.

Shared Excel Reports folder

10. You are now asked to enter the address to Report Server and specify a folder where the reports can be found, if you happen to have multiple instances of GP deployed.


If you have deployed SharePoint Integrated mode, then click the checkmark and specify the library address for the reports.

11. Once the report server information is validated, you will receive a confirmation page with the address to be used when configuring the Business Analyzer application.

Configuration Complete window
The address we are particularly interested in is the Service Bus address, which in this case is simply ip-contoso. (with the period at the end).

12. Open the Business Analyzer application, the go to the Configuration window from the Charms on the right. You can then enter the ip.contoso. address in the service configuration.

Business Analyzer Configuration

Sweet! Now, we have configured BA without really exposing the public address of our Azure VM, which should make system administrators very happy.

MG.-
Mariano Gomez, MVP
Intelligent Partnerships, LLC
http://www.IntelligentPartnerships.com

4 comments:

Kurniawan Hiu said...

Hi, i have installed GP Companion App Service and i have the service connection. But, when i enter the service connection string to configuration of business analyzer, an error always occured, it said : The Service Connection cannot be established. Please help.

Thanks.
Kurniawan

Mariano Gomez said...

You need to be more specific. Where did you install it? On Azure? Did the installation complete fine? I have no issues with my connection to the Service Bus. Are you including the period at the end of the namespace?

Peter Berton said...

I have the companion service setup correctly for Report Server Reports, but I cannot seem to get my Excel Spreadsheets to show as reports. I have a share setup with a subfolder "Excel Reports", and a folder under that named "Reports", then a Company folder, then a Financial folder. The spreadsheet is in the Financial folder. Do any other files need to exist in the Excel Reports folder?

Mariano Gomez said...

Peter,

In Business Analyzer, click on Reports. They should show up there prefixed by the company database name.

MG.-
Mariano Gomez