As many of us wind down for the festive season, now is a great time to think about the maintenance of the systems your business relies on, and get organised for next year. Next year, we see new trends emerging including Evergreen updates for Microsoft Dynamics 365, so use the end of the year to ensure you are prepared for changes to come.
There are significant differences in the actions you can take to maintain Dynamics 365 and Dynamics AX 2012 and older. Here’s our handy guide to the actions you should take now in order to maintain your systems:
Your checklist for Microsoft AX 2012 and older
Patch your servers
- Non-production first then, after sufficient testing PROD - Security updates should go in ASAP, the rest one month behind
Unique rebuild / reorganize Index jobs
- Standard SQL out the box is not very efficient - Minimum best practice > Ignore 0-33% Fragmented > Reorganize 34-66% Fragmented > Rebuild 67-100% Fragmented
Every version of the AX system fragments in different ways and speeds, so it is recommended that you run a check index fragmentation script to an output file / DB for a few weeks evaluate the collected data to see which your key tables are and tweak the above job to fit your exact system.
This should be run in accordance with the frequency of the index jobs. If you have highly transactional tables it would generally be beneficial to run more frequently but you can run jobs that only target fragmented tables
- Use the standard module clean up batch jobs to maintain and keep your database growth in order, example below - Target and frequently check the following tables for large growth: > Dbo.batchjobhistory > Dbo.batchhistory > Dbo.eventcud (there is a job in AX to cleanse this but often still grows due to the criteria of the clean-up job) > Dbo.sysdatabaselog
Batch Job Setup
User will setup more and more batch jobs as time goes on, ensure that they are configured with only say history ‘errors only’ as if you have 30 batch jobs running every 10 mins and logging history upon competition it will soon be millions of records and exponential DB growth.
Save ERP downtime
Setup Application Object Server (AOS) to have windows service auto restart 3 times before no action (most restarts a day) often saves ERP downtime.
Stop processes crashing
Setup AOS config to have garbage collector set to false, this will release RAM faster and stop processes crashing out the AOS if AX gets itself in a mess.
Have auto log off on thin clients for anything over a few hours as AX sessions can become corrupt if a user tries to reconnect.
Test your disaster recovery plan on a regular basis
- Know your RTO (Recovery time objective) how long your business can live without ERP - Know your RPO (Recovery point objective) how much data can be lost during the disaster recovery process - Test this process to make sure you can hit both of the above
Consistency check job
- Can run in either check or fix mode against modules: > Check mode may well hit the 1000 limit of info log messages > Fix mode can fix missing data and orphaned data - This can take a long time and should only be ran infrequently but still a planned activity - Example for fixing inventory management
Test your backups regularly
- Perform full backups minimum daily - Log backups as often as the customer needs
Check for users last login dates so you can disable any used accounts for license saving
- There is a last login report but this does not bring back just the last one per user, it has multiple entries per user - SQL script can be easier to get this info, example below which will only bring back one record per user:
FROM SYSUSERLOG INNER JOIN USERINFO ON SYSUSERLOG.USERID = USERINFO.ID
group by USERINFO.ID
Allow security allocations to be audited
- Microsoft address the common request from customers to be able to audit security allocations made for users in Dynamics AX
Your checklist for Microsoft Dynamics 365:
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a completely different animal to Microsoft AX, but there are still steps you can take to maintain your system by:
Patching your servers
Preparing for Evergreen updates, which are set to hit Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in April 2019. it’s not too early to begin to manage the process of ensuring your systems will still function post-April.
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It works for you. Your employees are comfortable using it. You know what you pay for. But the trouble is, you haven’t updated that software platform in a long time. So long in fact that the vendor has stopped supporting the version your business relies on. No harm in that, right? Wrong. 96% of outdated software has security issues. Say you just bought your dream car - would you park your car without locking the doors? So why then, would you leave the engine of your business unlocked and unsecured? The systems you use to run your business are every bit as valuable as the tangible assets you hold dear. Here are 3 of the dangers of running old software: 1. Security It is no surprise that security tops our list. Outdated systems leave you open to cyber attacks, security breaches and vulnerability in the systems you run. 2. Competitive Disadvantage Unsupported or outdated software also leaves you at a competitive disadvantage, as new features and functionalities are not being added to the versions you are running. 3. Unpredictable increase in cost With your systems not up-to-date you’re running the risk of incurring unwieldy costs not just when something goes wrong, but also when your staff are working with inefficient software that effectively slows them down and costs you more. So, with every reason to ensure you are using an up-to-date platform, how do you ensure you don’t miss an update? Welcome to Evergreen updates Back in 2009, PriceWaterhouseCoopers coined the phrase ‘Evergreen IT’, defining this as standardised resources shared across the enterprise that are scalable to multiple users and flexible to changing demands, without disrupting the entire technology base each time. Microsoft refined PWC’s definition and revised it to be ‘running services comprised of components that are always up-to-date’.  In much the same way you are familiar with continuous improvement processes in your organisation, staying on top of your software’s updates can be seen as an incremental business improvement. Software providers like Microsoft will work to similar Kaizen processes as your own business, seeking feedback on their systems; improving the efficiency of the platform; and evolving the software to the benefit of the end user in an incremental way. Evergreen updates for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Upgrades can be an expensive activity, so managing the process in an efficient manner that reduces business risk has always been an imperative for anyone responsible for the lifecycle of a key business application – the time is fast approaching when having a slick process for deploying the latest and greatest software to your workforce will be essential. From April 1 2019, if you are a Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations customer, your application will become subject to mandatory updates which will be automatically applied to your production system in a timeslot of your choosing. This is good news, right? Yes… it means that all the dangers we’ve discussed around security, costs, and competitiveness are solved in one foul swoop. The problems you have had in the past relating to keeping your business software up to date are solved at a stroke. Not the same as Office 365 You may be used to Microsoft’s Evergreen updates with Office 365. While they are both Microsoft products, the nuances of the change to Evergreen are not the same. You’ll want to be 100% sure that your application, which has potentially been customised, will still function as expected following your chosen patch date. How to manage this process So, are you wondering how you’ll manage this process? Download our guide Evergreen updates for Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations today and start putting in place your plan of action to be ready for these changes when they arrive in April 2019.
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