reImagine 2016 - Day 2, Part 1

So, what happened on Day 2? No, really, that was yesterday (as I write this) and the time starts to blur when you’re at a conference. What you think happened yesterday was actually this morning or Monday, you have no idea. So… I’m recreating this as best as I can from my notes and Twitter interactions!

Session 1 – Advanced Power BI – Belinda Allen

Of all the sessions that were on the schedule this year, I more or less targeted the Power BI sessions as something to attend to keep immersing myself into this tool. (I was going to say “new” tool, but it’s not really that new anymore).

My biggest takeaway from this session was related to the “update” frequencies of the various versions, which is always good information:

  • Desktop – a new update is released every month (you’re prompted when you launch Power BI to update it).
  • Service – a new update is released every week (automatic, you don’t have to install anything)
  • Mobile – app stores appear to take care of pushing out updates when they occur

Session 2 – Dynamics 365 for Consultants – Chad Sogge

This was a highly anticipated session for many in the crowd, being the “next” thing, we were curious to learn more about it from a consultant’s perspective. They did cover some pricing details but since I’m still unclear whether it’s considered public information or not, I’m not going to disclose that part of it. For partners, the pricing is available on Partnersource (link removed, no longer valid) via FAQ documents etc.

Here’s what I know and what I think is safe to share:

  • On the D365 for Business side of things, it is SaaS only, no possibility of on-premises.
  • The pricing appears to be very reasonable, with “light” user and “full” user differentiation.
  • The pricing is per app (if that is the right word – Financials, Sales, Marketing being the apps) or per plan (which is the whole suite).
  • The pricing for the whole suite is barely more per month than for just Financials so it seems like it’s the best bang for the buck to me.
  • There is no minimum user purchase according to what I read on Partnersource which I think is great. I know for CRM online there is (was?) a 5 user minimum seat purchase which then took a reasonably priced product and made it priced out of reach for many small sites IMHO.
  • It will only be sold through CSP (Cloud Service Providers). Partners can register to be a CSP or they can work through firms like Ingram-Micro.
  • Add-ins via Office 365 allow you to interact with D365 mainstay features like contacts, mail and calendar, no “switching” to your ERP app to continue. Very slick looking.

What is planned to be in general availability (“GA”), which is November 1st, 2016:

  • Financials, Fixed Assets, Supply Chain, Opportunity Management, Workflow, Project Management (jobs).
  • Additional functionality will be via monthly updates
  • Once it hits GA, CRONUS (sample company) will be unlimited use – all functionality, no time restriction but you’re using sample data.
  • The “My Company” option where you can provision your own company and configure it with your own data/uses will be free for 30 days only. It was unclear if you have already provisioned a “My Company” during the trial phase, how that works but the expectation is at this point that your 30 days starts on Nov 1st so you may have from now ’til Nov 30th to use a company with your own trial configuration? Hard to say, but safe to say you will find out one way or another on Nov 1st. :)
  • There is a data migration from Quickbooks Online as well as Excel. Those options appear to be master records, possibly account balances. There will be a GP migration option in the future and it is expected to contain customers, vendors, items, accounts and opening balances.
  • An OData URL is available to report via Excel or Power BI.

A general note somewhat related was the AppSource concept and that was it will only be for products that have a SaaS or PaaS option, which explains why you will not find anything for Dynamics GP.

Session 3 - Advanced Mgmt. Reporter - David Treleaven, Jeff Zens

This session wasn’t quite what I expected it to be but there was plenty of useful information anyway. It ended up more focused on troubleshooting techniques than “using” MR. Here are the kinds of things that I picked up in this session:

  • The ManagementReporter database contains the following types of data:
    • Report definitions
    • Security
    • Generated report data
    • Integration information (i.e. legacy vs. data mart info)
  • The legacy integration is a direct connection to GP and is intended for smaller environments or when server resources are limited.
  • The data mart integration consolidates the reporting data and is optimized for high performance reporting.
  • Some things I don’t think I knew about the data mart:
    • MR uses SQL server change tracking to notify the integration that records should be integrated. If the record already exists, the existing record will have “ended” and the latest will be integrated.
    • SQL change tracking only has a 3-day retention period so if the integration wasn’t running for 3 days, you will have to rebuild your data mart. This was interesting to me, even though it’s unlikely someone has an outage longer than 3 days but if you were to take a server offline for a weekend update or something, if it was offline more than 3 days, you’d need to rebuild the data mart. If it’s less than 3 days, the SQL server change tracking will keep track and it will sync fine once the server is back online.

At this point, this post is getting long again so I will continue on Part 2…

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