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PowerApps and Microsoft Flow with Dynamics 365

 

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Written by Nguyen Xuan Luan for I-Net Dynamics

In this article, we will be looking at PowerApps, commonly used to build task-based applications that work with Dynamics 365 data and other data in your enterprise. Also, see how you can use Microsoft Flow along PowerApps for automation of tasks across different applications including tasks started within the PowerApps.  In both cases, we will be looking within Dynamics 365 and leveraging some of the data and services that you are used to working with.

PowerApps, Microsoft Flow Overview

 

We’re focused on an internal line of business applications, productivity applications that make users more productive, these are guided by measure, act and automate.

Think about the measure as being all about analytics and measuring performance and how are we doing on things and using that to ultimately decide how to act.

Act is when a user is interactively using the application that’s been built.  And automate is the background, something that happens either on a timely basis or in the background started by another process. It runs without guidance automating something that might be either too complex for the user to do on their own or too tedious, therefore, we want to automate the process or connecting across multiple systems.

The key thing to understand here is that the focus is on empowering the power users and you will be able to build applications without requiring developer level skill sets or knowledge of the underlying developer technologies. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role for developers also.

There may be some things that you need to do in your PowerApps that requires developer assistance, e.g. developers can build things in Azure App Services or Azure Functions that can be called from PowerApps and be able to extend PowerApps to integrate with those more complex operations, allowing that seamless transition from power user-created application to developer created functionality.  The same thing with Microsoft Flow, the Flow runs on top of the Azure logic app’s infrastructure but provides a more power user focused interface, but at the same time that Microsoft Flow can be re-implemented using the Azure logic apps to be able to do more complex things that aren’t possible in the Flow interface.

PowerApps and Microsoft Flow have the ability to connect to data and services across the enterprise as well as external services that you need to bring in and orchestrate processes across the different applications.

Common Data Service Overview and connectors

Microsoft PowerApps also have the Common Data Service that has a Common Data Model allowing you to store either working data for integrations that you do across these applications or to build applications on that wholly contain the data inside that Common Data Service.

PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, the Common Data Service, and the connectors and gateways that make all this possible to connect.

The PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Azure all being the low-level infrastructure components that we then build on top of it the other applications such as Dynamics 365.  But these all work together, and through the connectors that we have available that are in use by PowerApps and Flow we can connect to things like the Office 365 services.  We can connect to the external services that are provided by third-party business applications and using the Common Data Service we can store data that are relevant to all of these.

 

Building Apps to Extend Dynamics 365 on high-level

Let’s look at a high level the architecture of an application that leverages PowerApps Flow and Common Data Service to build an application that extends Dynamics 365.

First, in Dynamics 365 business applications (sales, field service, customer service, project service automation) that all make up the customer engagement applications and has a data repository that store the data for those business applications.  We also have Dynamics 365 for finance and operations that has the data repository that is unique to it as well. There are also connectors working with data from both of those business applications.

By adding the connector and identifying the instance that we want to connect to from Dynamics 365, we can then select the data entities that we want to expose the data to that PowerApps.  That data is then available for use in the galleries, lists of records or on individual forms or for interaction for things like creating records within the PowerApps and then storing it back into Dynamics 365.

Once we establish the connection, it’s available for both PowerApps and Flows to use that connection. There is a Dynamics 365 for finance and operations connector, also Dynamics 365 connector is for the customer engagement application data repository, sales, field service, customer service, and project service automation.  The Dynamics 365 for finance and operations connector is specific to the Operations Data Store, but it works in a similar way exposing ability to trigger and execute actions such as create queries against the data repository and the Operations Data Store.


I-Net Dynamics is a IT infrastructure and Microsoft Dynamics GP and 365 Specialist focusing on helping our customer improve their cyber security and business processes.

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Cloud Backup vs Cloud Storage

 

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In our previous article, we introduced you to the concept of cloud backup. Here, we will look at another popular service – cloud storage which is sometimes misunderstood and considered the same as cloud backup.

 

So what are they and how do they differ?

 

Cloud Backup

As explained in our previous article, cloud backup services offer you replicates/ backups of your business data. The main point of the backup exercise is that your primary data still lies in your own physical and on-premises servers or hardware. Only the backups are stored in the cloud of the service providers.

 

Whenever cloud backup is suitable for your situation, it is beneficial for all businesses to get their business data backed up since it offers security and data recovery in case of disasters. It is crucial to find a reliable cloud service provider who offers a clear data backup and recovery policy. If your data center or office experiences data loss due to any kind of disasters such as natural disasters, human mistakes or even security attacks, you can easily pull out your backup and run it to continue running your business. You can have a much better peace of mind since you know you have a replica of the data secured in the cloud, which can be accessed easily and quickly. Thus, your business is not interrupted for a long time.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage, as its name implies, means that your files and data are stored in the cloud. It’s not just a backup but your primary data is now in the cloud (a network of remotely distributed servers). The data are stored online and synchronized across users and devices.

 

The main benefit of cloud storage is that a large amount of data can be securely stored in the cloud without having to invest in equivalent hardware or physical servers. So for example, instead of buying new hardware and memory storages the old way to store some application files, your product information or employees details, your system now can utilize cloud storage to store and access them easily. Also, one general advantage of the cloud is its scalability. You can increase the space needed whenever you want.

 

If we take examples of cloud storage services for personal uses, I believe most of us have used at least one of them, like DropBox, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’ OneDrive, Google Drive and so on.

 

For enterprises solution, you will, of course, have to assess the cloud storage options with more caution in terms of security, retention policy, service-level agreements, and other factors. For example, Microsoft Azure Cloud Storage, they offer different options for encryption and data redundancy, so your data is also replicated.

However, we can also see that for many small businesses, utilizing Gmail and Google Drives helps them to store and access files remotely. Or many businesses with Microsoft Office 365 bundles will have OneDrive capacity per user.

 

Cloud storage can also be a suitable choice for new application development. These new applications now can utilize the latest cloud services. For instance, they can use Microsoft Azure SQL database while storing other types of files in Azure Blobs (one type of Azure Storage services).

 

Cloud storage is the basis for multiple beneficial services, you will need to know which one should you use and how to adopt it. Contact us to work with a reputable and certified provider so you can select a suitable service for your business’s growth journey.

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INET Dynamics

6 Benefits of Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

 

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Mistakes and failures can happen to everything in life. Due to different factors from costs to lack of expertise, companies sometimes forget the importance of fault tolerance and business continuity.

Companies without a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy can face much higher costs if an occurrence of failures leads to data loss, business down and essentially, revenue loss.

In our experiences, BCDR can be implemented to different extents with the support of different technologies. However, building a complete and effective disaster recovery plan (DRP) is complicated and costly. Then DRaaS comes in, disaster recovery as a service can be a hero for many businesses. In this article, I would like to introduce Azure Disaster Site Recovery service and its benefits.

What is Microsoft Azure Site Recovery?

Azure’s built-in disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) contributes to your BCDR plan by providing two main services:
● Site Recovery service: during an outage, it ensures business apps and workload running. With frequent replications and fail-over during primary site disruption, disaster damage is minimized and your business is up and running,
● Backup Service: Azure rich resources ensures your data safe and importantly recoverable.

With the increasing popularity and adoption of cloud, managing your own data centers for disaster recovery has become too costly for many businesses. DRaaS offers the perfect option to meet the much-needed level of security and business continuity for your business.

Why do we choose Microsoft Azure Site Recovery?

Cost-effectiveness: It is undeniable that Azure’s infrastructure is one of the best. You have access to various data centers in different regions without the huge costs of acquiring and maintaining these infrastructures on your own. The whole cost of planning, deploying, monitoring and maintaining a secondary site is also greatly reduced. Furthermore, Microsoft promises to charge only the computing resources of your applications in Azure, hence, no extra costs of infrastructure.

A huge benefit of Azure Site Recovery is that you do not have to invest in a huge IT team to run it. Your business is always ready to tackle, any and your staff is not under pressure to go through all back-end jobs to get the business up and running again. A minimal downtime.

Easy integration/ migration/ replication: far from the time of Microsoft being picky and only support MS products. Now Azure supports many replication scenarios, from Azure to Azure and from Hyper-V, VMWare, Window, Linux to Azure. You can replicate not just your VMs but also your physical servers.

You can also integrate new Azure Site Recovery with your existing different BCDR technologies. For example, you can use Site Recovery to protect the SQL Server backend of corporate workloads, with native support for SQL Server AlwaysOn, to manage the failover of availability groups. Some other popular services are Oracle Data Guard, SAP, DNS, Exchange.

Simplicity: Azure Site Recovery service is simple. It doesn’t require a huge learning curve. You can easily deploy and manage in the Azure portal.

Planned and unplanned failover: after creating a BCDR strategy, you need to ensure that it works the way you want and meet your business requirement. You can perform planned fail-over to test out different scenarios without harming your business. This offers tremendous flexibility for your company.

Customization: you can design your fail-over according to groups and sequence. You can create new groups, add virtual machines to a specific group and specify group recovery order. This also enhances testing flexibility as well. You can test out different groups and sequences up to your business scenarios.

Recovery plans can also use custom scripts and manual actions.

Automation replication & efficiency: You might have a disaster recovery plan but is it really good?  Azure Site Discovery helps you to minimize damages and downtime with two leading crucial parameters, recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).
○ RPO is your tolerance threshold of data loss. Some businesses might accept a data loss of 20 hours, whereas, this threshold might be unacceptable for other companies. With automated replication, Azure can have a frequency as low as 30 seconds for Hyper-V.
○ RTO is real time. How much downtime can your business endure after business disruption starts?


You cannot deny the inevitable advantages of a top company like Microsoft. Using Microsoft Azure also ensures you will meet security requirements including ISO 27001 and ISO 27018.

Overall, a well-prepared DR is crucial to business, along with I-Net Dynamics’ IT experts and timely support, Microsoft Azure is a top service with simplicity and flexibility that will give you peace of mind.

INET Dynamics

Leading Security Advantages of Cloud Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP)

 

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What is Cloud ERP

 

Cloud ERP is a type of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that is hosted on a cloud computing platform, rather than on-premise within a company’s own datacentre.

Being famous for its pay-per-use nature, hardware independence, flexibility and scalability, Cloud ERP has been the new investment focus of all top three ERP providers – Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle. One of the latest products in the Cloud ERP ecosystem is Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, which has helped Microsoft to bypass Oracle and became number two in ERP market share rankings.

Misconception of Cloud ERP Security

 

The number of adopters for Cloud ERP system has increased rapidly for the past half a decade and is expected to hit USD 29.84 billion of global market share by 2021. However, many enterprises remain skeptical about the concept, with one of the most common rejection statements that business developers encounter being “we would not want to have our finance information to be hosted outside of the company’s premise for security reasons”.

In addition, many believe that managing system security is a specialists’ work and will cost a lot of money to implement. For that reason, most small and mid-sized businesses prefer the traditional deployment mode of an ERP system.

Such misconception among others, are hindering the true advantages of Financial Management, Supply Chain Management, and Sales Process Management on the Cloud.

 

Leading Security Advantages of Cloud ERP

 

On the contrary to the skeptical perception, most Cloud ERP vendors boast world class security systems where crucial data protection can be assured. A survey from RapidScale resulted in 94 percent of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud.

Microsoft Azure, the cloud hosting platform of Microsoft’s ERP systems, is highly secure with data encryption, in both transit and on Azure. Microsoft Azure is also ISO 27001:2013, 27018, HIPAA, DPA certified. For the local Singapore market, the technology empire has also fulfilled the MAS’s compliance checklist for Cloud Hosted Applications.

Software updates are also done more effectively on the Cloud, which avoid system’s security vulnerabilities in the event of delays in installing updates. No one can forget the WannaCry incident in 2017 where a large number of machines were affected with Ransomware mainly because of lack of patch updates.

The Cloud ERP provider should provide different options for making software updates easier. For instance, i-Net Dynamics’s both software and IT infrastructure domain knowledge as well as experience enable customers to take advantage of the seamless operating system updates and security patching in the background.

All-in-all, using a Cloud ERP is beneficial in many ways for a business. While the most relevant one being the security advantages and reduced cost, there are many other ways in which this system proves beneficial to the companies. For more information on Microsoft Cloud ERP and its benefits, please contact i-Net Dynamics for a free consultation today!

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Why Microsoft Dynamics GP

 

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ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning system refers to an integrated solution between the core processes of a business, including inventory and order management, accounting, human resources, customer relationship management (CRM), and beyond.

Dynamics GP is one of the top ERP system that helps to streamline processes and information across the entire organization. It provides a single integrated software environment to help automate the business, increase sales, enhance collaboration, improve efficiency, and enable better business decision making.

Here are why Microsoft Dynamics GP is the ERP software, or accounting system that you should be considering:

  • Strong customer base: the accounting system is serving 47,000+ customers with more than 150,000 users and still growing.
  • Out-of-the-box system: with a standard implementation, Dynamics GP meets with 84% of business’ requirement.
  • High reporting capability: the Microsoft first ERP system has multiple reporting tools with more than 700 standard report available.
  • Seamlessly integrated: Microsoft Dynamics GP is built on the strength of Microsoft’s popular productivity tools and can be integrated with Microsoft Office and many other system software, such as CRM, HR Management, and Warehouse Management.
  • Flexible deployment options: The software is available as a licensed on-premise system with a cloud-hosted version. Companies can also purchase it via a Microsoft Perpetual Licensing or through SaaS subscription.
  • Full suite of business modules: the financial accounting system is inclusive but not limited to Financial Management, Supply Chain, Reporting, and Business Intelligence.

Voted as top 5 accounting software for enterprise , Microsoft Dynamics GP has the stability and scalability needed to support your business needs today and grow together with it in the future.

i-Net Dynamics is a certified silver partner of Microsoft in ERP system. We have been implementing the accounting software and supporting clients in Singapore as well as the region for more than 20 years.

For more information about Dynamics GP please click here

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15 Questions Checklist : Finding The Right Managed Services Partner

 

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Managed Service Partner

A Managed Services provider is an IT partner that will take care of the health, performance and planning of your organization’s infrastructure. As the capability of your potential managed services partner is directly related to your business’ uptime, which leads to the profits of your company, the process of choosing a trusted partner requires a lot of careful evaluations.

Although the process of on boarding a Managed Services partner can honestly be a bit of a hassle, shifting your IT operations to a Managed Services provider brings multiple benefits in the long term. With the support from a team of professional consultants bringing together a joint pool knowledge as well as experience, downtime will be significantly minimized and your value for money will be maximized.

The checklist below can be used as a guide when choosing a Managed Services partner (MSP).

No.

What You Should Be Looking For

Do They Have It?

1 Remote help desk ability to assure response time in the event of an incident.

2 Real-time incident monitoring and management to minimize resolving time.

3 24/7 systems and devices monitoring tools that are used to notify prior to certain incidents.

4 Long-term commitment to stay as your trusted partner.

5 A team of certified IT professionals so that your IT environment will be well taken care of.

6 Documentation and guide will be provided to make every process transparent.

7 Proactive IT support approach to minimize downtime.

8 Asset management ability to not only manage the current setup but also to plan for the future.

9 Industry standard SLA is provided.

10 All-in-One services to avoid contacting multiple vendors when an incident occurs.

11 Proven track record in providing IT supper services.

12 Disaster recovery and backup services are available to safeguard business data.

13 Cloud computing ability so companies do not have to look for another vendor when moving to the cloud.

14 Microsoft Gold Partner Status – a MSP that obtained this world-class standard has proven their ability and commitment.

15 MSP is also a hardware reseller who understands your IT needs well.

It is important to note that when evaluating the most ideal choice for a MSP, it is key to place importance and priority on suitability and not at pricing.  A competent MSP will be able to prevent incidents, not just to fix them. They can also work together with you on IT planning, based on your current IT setup as well as future business requirement.

i-Net Dynamics has over 10 years of experience in support clients in many aspects of IT. We provide not only an industry standard Manages Services, but also a long term commitment to grow business together with our customers.

Click for more information about i-Net Dynamics Managed Services offering.

Contact us today for a demo of our IT support approach.

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5 Reasons Why Microsoft Azure is the Go-To Platform for Cloud Computing

 

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Microsoft Azure Virtual machine Cloud Backup

5 Reasons why Microsoft Azure is the go-to platform for cloud computing

Microsoft Azure has been around since the very beginning of cloud computing and has become one of the biggest cloud platforms in the market. Microsoft Azure is the house of multiple business technologies that can be catered to all sizes and forms of business requirements.

Microsoft Azure for businesses is highly flexible, meaning you can choose (and pay for) only the services and capabilities you need. Here are 5 reasons why Azure is the platform to choose for cloud computing.

Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine

Windows Based

Since Azure is based on Windows, it is possible to write programs in familiar Windows technologies and especially programing languages that are used for Window applications. This also makes Azure an easier platform to equip yourself with and create a cloud version of an existing Windows application.

Cloud Backup Capability

For companies that are not yet ready with full cloud environment, they can adopt hybrid cloud model by using Microsoft Azure’s Cloud backup service. Important business data will be securely stored and replicated across Microsoft datacenters so it’s always there when you need it. It can also be catered for several years of data archiving requirement and is a great substitute for expensive tape backup.

Disaster Recovery Planning
Disaster Recovery Planning

Be Prepared for Disasters

Beside the simple but necessary cloud backup service, Azure also has in one of its many technologies, Azure Site Recovery. This service assists companies in preparing for the event of disasters and avoiding losing any data if such incidents happen. This cost-effective service can enable you to replicate your virtual and physical servers in Azure so they will always be ready when you need them.

Create Virtual Machines

Be it a file server, application server or database server, all can be created as virtual machines on Azure within minutes. This provides you with the power of a server without the time and monetary consuming task of purchasing and setting up server hardware. Whether you are looking to move an application to the cloud or set up a virtual software development and testing environment, Azure can make it easy, scalable, and affordable.

 

Hybrid solutions

Microsoft Azure also provides a consistent platform which facilitates easy mobility between on-premises and the public Cloud.

Hypris apps can be developed on Azure which allows you to take advantage of the resources available within datacenters, at the service provider’s end, or within Azure itself. Azure also provides a broader range of hybrid connections including virtual private networks (VPNs), caches, content delivery networks (CDNs), and ExpressRoute connections to improve usability and performance.

For more information on Microsoft Azure, please contact us here.

For more cloud computing services, please click here.

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Skyping in the new generation of Enterprise Solution

 

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Skype for Business – A Powerful Tool in Cloud Computing Era

The demand for mobile capability is increasing rapidly for businesses. According to Microsoft’s Lync Usage and Adoption Survey, 78% of employees collaborate with partners or colleagues located elsewhere on a daily basis, and 4 out of 5 use web conferencing for such purpose.

With the ability to cater to this demand and solve the existing issues that users might face in using web conference, Skype for Business is believed to be the enterprise trusted solution.

Winning with Skype for Business

Introduced in 2007, Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Lync) is an instant-messaging client used with Skype for Business or with Skype for Business Online (Microsoft Office 365). It is designed for business purposes, to differentiate itself with the Personal Skype Software.

Skype for Business has all-in-one service with instant-messaging, audio, video and web conferencing. Addressing large meeting demand, Skype for Business allows attendees to join meetings virtually from any browser and device. People can even join with a phone number, allowing others to conenct using a local dial-in number.

As with many other cloud computing solutions from Microsoft, such as Cloud ERP, Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Skype for Business brings across many advantages:

  • Increase employee productivity and collaboration
  • Enable mobility with minimum travel costs
  • Minimize IT support and cost
  • Reduce hardware dependence

Skype for Business in BMW

In moving forward with the trend of integration, Skype has partnered with BMW to integrate its system with BMW’s iDrive system. This whole new level of partnership allows users to connect to Skype meetings in the car in the safest and most convenient way. They can join meetings and conferences directly without having to dial manually and the system will also prompt upcoming meetings or meeting changes. Drivers can also use the car voice and navigation services in conjunction with exchange’s calendars, to-do list and contacts.

This integration opens up many other opportunities for in-car experiences that are related to information technology, servicing customers who demand for the ultimate mobile capability and connectivity while staying safe on the road.

Click here to understand more about Skype for Business and Office 365, or contact us.

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