|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|
|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.
5. After the Welcome screen, you are presented with the Windows Azure configuration screen.
|Windows Azure Service Bus Configuration window|
|Service Bus connection information|
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.
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.
|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|
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.
Mariano Gomez, MVP
Intelligent Partnerships, LLC