Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 on Azure: Reflecting on an Early Installation

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At the end of last year, as Microsoft was wrapping up its partner briefings regarding its preparations for an approach to hosting Dynamics GP 2013 in Azure, Microsoft Dynamics GP MVP Mariano Gomez offered the first public look at what an Azure-hosted Dynamics GP solution might look like.

At the time, Gomez reported that he was planning to stand up a GP-in-Azure test system based on a deployment architecture supplied by Microsoft. This architecture, which was also being tested by Microsoft, used the standard Azure cloud computing architecture.

Recently, Gomez wrote a series of posts on his experience setting up the Dynamics GP on the Azure environment.

And while he had a few hiccups along the way, Gomez also had some fun trying to get the Dynamics GP 2013 Web Client to run on Azure.

"The bottom line is Windows Azure offers a very compelling deployment case for organizations running their applications (SaaS) and infrastructure (IaaS) in the cloud," Gomez said in a recent blog post.

Gomez said that although the Azure platform features are still in preview mode, those features that do exist work very well.

"I had a few hiccups and I had to drop and recreate some VMs a few times, but I attribute that to the fact that I wasn't too aware of some of the feature settings," he said, adding that part of the problem was that his environment was running in free trial mode.

Additionally, Gomez said he discovered that the VMs (virtual machines) tended to be a bit undersized on Azure.

"For example, a ‘large' VM is 4 cores + 7GB in ram, which leads me to believe that the Azure platform is more geared towards lightweight applications than heavy, user-driven, business applications," he said.

Although he admitted that maybe he was wrong assumptions, he said he was basing those assumptions on the fact that a decent size Dynamics GP deployment, involving more than users, might need up to four web servers and four session hosts to minimize any performance impact due to high user volume versus provisioned hardware capabilities.

"Overall, the installation of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Web Client wasn't without its head scratching moments," he said. "For example, certificates need to be switched to server public DNS names. While I got the Web Client up and running with the private DNS names, making the switch to public DNS for the certificates proved to be a task requiring reinstallation of the Session Service portion of the web client on the session host machine - changing the certificate for the IIS web site proved fairly simple."

Despite those hiccups, Gomez said he really enjoyed working on this "mini-project."

Here's a look at the steps Gomez took to get the Dynamics GP Web Client to run on Azure. Click on the links to get his full step-by-step directions.

  1. Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 on Windows Azure: Subscription Process: The first thing you will need to do is set up a subscription. Gomez said Microsoft is running a 90-day free trial that allows you some good room to get a couple servers required for setting up a Dynamics GP 2013 session host and the Web Client.
    "Storage is set currently at 35 GB, so I believe we have plenty room to play," he said.
  2. Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 on Windows Azure: Provisioning Process: In this post, Gomez reviews the provisioning process for the virtual machines.
    "For all intents and purposes, this environment will consist of an Active Directory Domain Server (AD DS), required to support authentication within our Azure environment; a Microsoft Dynamics GP application server, which will serve as a session host, therefore running GP and the Web Client Runtime; a Microsoft SQL Server database server, which will host the GP databases, the Web Management database, Session Central database, and Tenant Services database; and finally, a web server running IIS to support the Web Client itself along with the different session services required to run our web application," he said.
  3. Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 on Windows Azure: The Deployment Process: In this post, Gomez offered a summary of the VMs with the applications and services they'll be running. Then he walked you through the deployment process, which started out with some prep work.

"Azure provides a serious deployment option for middle market organizations looking for a serious infrastructure hosting partner," Gomez writes. "The deployment procedures for Microsoft Dynamics GP are no different than those for an on-premise or hosted network, however proper security planning goes a long way to ensure your financial data is highly secure. Still, more documentation on the Azure installation process is required, and I know it is being worked on . . . ."

About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in Massachusetts. She has written about information technology for 10 years. She has been a journalist since the late 1980s. She wrote for numerous community newspapers in the Boston area, where she covered politics and was a high-profile investigative reporter. She has freelanced for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. She is the published author of four true crime books "Murder at Morses Pond," "An Act of Murder," "Ripper", and "Bone Crusher" for Kensington Publishing Corp. (Pinnacle imprint). She has just started her fifth true crime book for Kensington.

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