Microsoft Dynamics NAV Administration

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By Amit Sachdev , Sharan Oberoi
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  1. Setting up the Environment for Dynamics NAV

About this book

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software product that integrates financial, manufacturing, supply chain management, sales and marketing, project management, human resources, and services management information from across your organization, into a centralized database. It can take hours to browse through documentation and references available online to learn how to install, configure, deploy and administer Dynamics NAV. This book aims to offer quick-start information in one place.

You will be amazed to find out how easily you can administer Dynamics NAV using this quick step-by-step guide. This book also has recommendations for software and hardware requirements including operating system considerations and hardware considerations for administering Dynamics NAV to your advantage. It covers some advanced functions to set up periodic activities, common batch jobs, and create object files. It will also guide you to secure your database by creating backups and improving performance with practical examples.

First you will look at the considerations for deploying Dynamics NAV and best practices and the most important aspects of every ERP installation. Then you will install Dynamics NAV—client and server components and use Dynamics NAV with the Microsoft Stack.

We discuss the Dynamics NAV Security Architecture including security recommendations and best practices. You will then create and restore backups. This book covers some recommendations about performance tuning—using appropriate code syntax, proper hardware sizing, and considerations for writing customized C/AL code while using SQL Server database.

Finally, you will set up procedures for scheduling pre-defined reoccurring processes, error and exception handling procedures, and provide mechanisms for automatic data processing on the server. Also, you will learn different methods used in handling, promoting to the database, and creating object files—tables, reports, codeunits, forms, pages, dataports and XMLports.

Publication date:
September 2010
Publisher
Packt
Pages
208
ISBN
9781847198761

 

Chapter 1. Setting up the Environment for Dynamics NAV

Choosing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution in today's competitive landscape is not an easy task. A good ERP system is the one, which is rich, robust, and yet flexible to suit current and changing business needs.

Businesses have changed fundamentally in the past decade. Everything from processes to reliance on technology has changed the face of today's businesses. The use of information has become more crucial in fast-changing market trends. The genesis of ERP, CRM, and Business Intelligence systems have made it possible to have business data and information available when, where, and how we need it.

In general the ERP system is referred to as an application or a set of applications and tools that integrate various functions and processes of a company into a single IT system. However, the common perception holds that these systems are fairly expensive and complex. In fact, various studies indicate that more than 50 percent of users already licensed to use these systems never use them. This means a significant amount of a company's investment is wasted on the initial and recurring costs of these systems. The reasons can vary from the choice of a wrong or inherently complex system, highly customized and non-upgradable implementation, to a lack of training, and so on. However, the fundamental piece of an effective business system lies in an imperative synergy between people and processes. These are two significant pieces in every business. While most ERP applications are limited to electronically transforming processes, Microsoft's vision has been to provide a robust business platform by bringing these two worlds together—the world of people and the world of processes.

This can be achieved by combining various aspects. First is a seamless connectivity and integration among various technologies, embedding various pivotal points of personal productivity applications into process systems such as accounting applications or warehouse systems and vice versa. For example, a graphical cost analysis report that tells us about the increasing trend of raw material costs on our mobile device every day, can help us in restrategizing our purchases for the next few months, or creating orders in MS Excel, or simply getting business reports in MS Outlook.

The second aspect is empowering people by giving them the right tools and information they need and making tasks simpler by removing unnecessary and overwhelming information they never use. For example, the information and tools required by a CEO of a company are very different from that of a warehouse worker. However, each business is different and are the roles and responsibilities of people in a business. Therefore, the first and foremost consideration in an ERP deployment is a careful assessment of these roles, functions, and how the ERP system is aligned to them.

In Dynamics NAV, this is achieved by providing a RoleTailored experience to users. The first aspect of seamless connectivity is discussed in the later parts of the book. In this chapter we will focus on the second aspect, which is providing a RoleTailored experience to users and other considerations in deploying NAV.

Considerations for deploying Dynamics NAV

Every organization is different, and so are the deployment requirements of the ERP system. Hence, before deployment of Dynamics NAV, various aspects must be considered, such as the size of the organization, functions of teams and individuals, how they intend to use the system, single or multi-site structure, network requirements, hardware configurations, and so on. We'll start with the first aspect, which is business needs or how the teams and people in our company use the system.

Understanding the business needs of company

Business needs vary for every company and also in every department in a company. As Dynamics NAV is a highly scalable and flexible solution, the deployment requirements can vary extensively between smaller organizations with simple processes versus bigger and more complex operations.

The first and foremost consideration is to decide which areas of our organization will use Dynamics NAV and at what levels. The User Interface design of Dynamics NAV 2009 is centered on the RoleTailored principles. Therefore, before installation and deployment it's important to understand the role of each user or user group, functions they will perform using NAV, and the information they will need. Dynamics NAV comes with various standard user roles. These user roles can be configured, customized, and personalized based on the role group or individual's requirements.

RoleTailored functionality strips away functions that users don't need. This removes unnecessary distractions in their work and brings the information and features they need to the forefront of the system. This helps prioritize tasks and helps users to become more productive in their daily tasks.

Microsoft invested a large amount of resources into finding out what people did in their jobs and how they performed the tasks. The result was that they defined distinct job roles covering essential job functions in areas such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, IT, Manufacturing, and Customer Service. Each job role has a defined list of the functions and features that the individuals need in order to perform their tasks.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV comes with 21 Role Centers out of the box and these are designed to cover the main job roles within a company. However, each user is not restricted to one Role Center and any Role Center can be modified to suit a company's processes.

The following screenshot represents a typical Role Center in NAV. It shows the Role Center of a "Production planner". Put simply, a Role Center in NAV is a user's personal space in NAV. It shows the most tasks a user usually performs and analysis the user needs, along with the concise information the user needs for his/her role in the company.

Factors to be considered for configuring a role

The following factors must be considered when configuring a role:

  • Pages required for a role, for example, the Item Card page or a sales order page

  • Structure of the home page and critical or optional information required on the home page

  • Procedures and processes required by a role, for example, approval process and more

  • Structure of other important pages required for the role

The following screenshots describe how an Item Card page differs significantly for two different roles in a company:

Exporting the reporting and Business Intelligence requirements

Business Intelligence (BI) is a mechanism for collecting, analyzing, and providing data using various technologies and systems in order to help business have more visibility and faster access to their data, which will help them make better and faster decisions. As businesses continue to expand across different geographic boundaries, it becomes more important to have visibility and better control.

The Microsoft vision for Business Intelligence is to help drive businesses to improved performance by enabling all decision-makers, essentially empowering all employees throughout the organization to make strong decisions. Microsoft plans to achieve this vision by providing cross-product integration, delivering Business Intelligence capabilities within Microsoft Office, and making its Business Intelligence offerings scalable, therefore everyone in the organization is empowered with Business Intelligence tools. Whether they are working on the strategic, tactical, or operational level, Microsoft Business Intelligence applications can help make informed decisions a natural part of the everyday work experience for all employees.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a good example of this cross-product integration and offers a range of Business Intelligence capabilities. It spans from built-in reports and wizards to advanced tools that enable users to gain the insight required to optimize performance across the entire organization. This comprehensive and flexible solution meets the requirements of both small businesses that need easy-to-use yet effective tools, as well as the requirements of larger organizations that need the most technically advanced Business Intelligence capabilities.

Note

Microsoft Dynamics NAV provides flexible Business Intelligence capabilities and a growth path that enables us to capitalize on our existing investments.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers various levels of Business Intelligence depending on our business's needs.

Getting to know the Inherent BI capabilities in NAV

NAV offers strong inherent BI capabilities in the form of an advanced report writer tool; ad hoc filtering, sorting, searching, and charting capabilities throughout the system on any lists; financial reporting tools; MS Excel export, import, and update capabilities, Outlook integration; and personalization of Role Centers.

The previous screenshot shows an example of a filtered page with a relevant chart indicating the current status of demand and supply through various parameters such as Quantity on hand, Qty. on Sales Order, and Qty. on Purch. Order.

The previous screenshot shows an example of Role Center with various charts. Users can add to this to personalize various elements of information they need to see.

The previous screenshot shows examples of various reports that can be designed using the Dynamics NAV 2009 report writer.

Other BI tools—Business Analytics with NAV

Apart from the inherent BI capabilities in NAV, the users can use Business Analytics for more advanced BI requirements. Business Analytics is a dedicated and more advanced form of a Business Intelligence tool built to work seamlessly with Dynamics NAV.

Business Analytics in Microsoft Dynamics NAV delivers information in predefined or easy-to-customize information units called Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) cubes, directly to SQL Sever Analysis Services (SSAS).

Users can access and analyze data within a familiar "MS Excel" interface or another frontend solution, which is available with advanced versions of Business Analytics. This solution provides easy-to-use tools that enable straightforward analysis and provide a quick overview of business conditions. Super-users can save and reuse OLAP cubes.

The next screenshot is an example of analysis using the Business Analytics frontend solution:

Single or multisite deployment

Dynamics NAV is a very flexible solution to support the varied needs of single or multisite and international organizations. With support for various language packs, multicurrency, intercompany processes, and localizations, it is very easy to deploy NAV across various countries or company locations. However, deployments can be different for every scenario.

Choice of using a single versus multi-database for deployment

In general, a database (DB) is a simple collection of data. In Dynamics NAV, the data is stored in tables coherently tied to other objects like Forms and Pages. There are six types of objects, namely Forms, Pages, Tables, Codeunits, DataPorts, and XML ports.

The database is then divided into companies. NAV is structured to run various companies in a single database. All companies in a single database follow the structure of the whole DB, which means any design change in any object affects every company in the database. For example, if the developer adds the SalesTax Discount field in the sales line table, this field will be available to all companies in that DB.

Now let's see how localizations work with NAV. Dynamics NAV is first released as something called "Worldwide" version or commonly known as W1 version. This is considered the base version of NAV. As it releases across other countries, every region adds a localization layer on top of the W1 version. For example, in the US and Canada, sales tax is used instead of VAT, hence the fields and calculations of taxes will be different from other countries using VAT. This localization layer is added for every region NAV is released in.

Note

Country/Region country/region-specific documentation can be found through the following link in partnersource:

https://mbs.microsoft.com/partnersource/documentation/userguides/msdnavlocalfunct.htm

This implies that multiple countries will require an individual DB of their own, as the objects in a single DB will be the same for all companies in that database. This statement holds true to a large extent but there are some exceptions to the rule.

Let's say our company operates mostly in the US, but has a subsidiary in any other parts of the world where the operations are generally light or are not affected by the local statute changes. For example, this company is used as a warehouse location with simple and low transactions. In this case, the US localization does not affect the operations in this subsidiary nor does the local subsidiary have specific statutory requirements, which can affect the business; thus, using a single DB for this type of scenario might be a preferred choice.

Another example could be that a subsidiary does not have a major local taxation and is used primarily for the export of goods ,which is again not affected by taxes.

Another exception is when the localizations of two databases can be easily merged together in a single database, which should be discussed with our partner and should be carefully assessed. Documents containing details of every region's localizations can be obtained from a certified NAV partner who generally would have the knowledge and experience to recommend the best choice.

Other DB aspects to consider while deploying

The other aspects that we need to consider while deciding between single versus multiple DB are as follows:

  • Inter-company operability

  • Integration with other systems in headquarters

  • License costs

Inter-company operability

Inter-company in NAV is designed for organizations that can have more than one legal business entity and have set up multiple companies to separate functions of each of these entities. The customers and vendors can be set up as business partners in the system and can be assigned intercompany partner codes. It is then possible to exchange complete intercompany purchase and sales documents. The receivables and payables functionality includes the capability of handling multiple currencies, dimensions, automatic conversion of sales orders to purchase orders and vice versa, cross references of item codes, sales and purchase pricing, discounts, and so on.

Integration with other systems in headquarters

Many companies use Dynamics NAV in conjunction with other ERP systems in the company headquarters and Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the various distribution companies abroad. Orders from a distribution company can be transferred from Microsoft Dynamics NAV into the main system. The system receives data, checks its structure, and converts the individual fields into an acceptable format that the parent company can read. It can then be imported as an intercompany order.

Licensing costs

Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers a very flexible and competitive licensing model. The license costs of Microsoft Dynamics NAV depend on four main factors, as follows:

  • Number of users: Users in NAV are generally referred to as the number of individuals concurrently accessing the system at the same time. Therefore, in an organization of 100 employees only 40 might use the system concurrently, hence only a 40 concurrent users license is required. These are usually full-functional users or heavy users. There are also partial or casual users who are licensed separately as named users (explained in a later section). Therefore, the first step is to determine the maximum number of full functional users that will access the system concurrently.

  • Level of functionality and other requirements: The second aspect is to determine the functionality we will need for our business. The two basic levels of licensing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV are as follows:

    • Business Essentials licensing(BE): For customers who need core financial management and trade functionality, this edition includes the following:

      • Basic Financial Management (such as General Ledger, A/R, A/P, Fixed Assets)

      • Basic Supply Chain Management (such as sales order processing, purchase order processing, inventory)

      • Basic Business Intelligence and Reporting

      • Basic Configuration and Design tools

    • Advanced Management licensing(AM): For growing, midmarket, or high functional needs. Customers who want a broad set of functionality, this edition includes the following:

      • All functionality included in the Business Essentials Edition

      • Business Intelligence and Reporting

      • Manufacturing

      • Advanced Supply Chain Management (such as Bill of Materials, requisition management)

      • Advanced Financial Management (such as collection, cash management)

      • Project Management

      • Customer Relationship Management (such as Sales and Marketing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV)

      Other requirements: In addition to Business Essentials or Advanced Management, users can buy additional functionality separately, as required by the business. The additional functionality is available in the form of additional modules, which are bought one time, irrespective of the number of users.

  • Nature of usage (Full or partial users): In addition to full users, there is also an option of buying partial access for light users. These are users who typically do not use the system heavily but just access only limited parts of the system. Examples could include time entry users, sales people, or executives interested in analysis only. These types of users can be licensed as named users accessing the NAV system through other client options such as MS Excel, SharePoint, or any other external application.

  • Other costs: Based on our business requirements, there may be additional industry-specific add-ons required with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. For example, an automobile manufacturing company may require a respective add-on built specifically for the automobile industry. These add-ons are usually developed using a Dynamics NAV development environment, thus giving a user a seamless usage experience.

Note

This section provides a general guidance around licensing costs, but the latest licensing scenarios and costs must be checked with a certified Dynamics reseller.

Integration with external systems and third-party add-ons

NAV provides various integration methods to add-ons and third-party applications. Depending on the requirements, such as real time, online, and offline requirements various methods can be used.

Data ports and XML ports

Data ports and XML ports are objects used to export or import data from and to Microsoft Dynamics NAV through external text, XML, or other character delimited files. This type of integration is not real time and requires a manual trigger to initiate the process. This is the simplest form of integration for systems that do not require real-time integration, mostly used with the old versions of NAV when Web services was not introduced. Since the introduction of Web services, integration has become a lot more easier than with earlier methods.

Navision Application Server also known as "NAS"

Navision Application Server was the most common form of integration before Web services was introduced with NAV.

Lot of programmers still use NAS due to its simple design and ease of execution. It is designed to provide access to and from external systems to the NAV database.

Navision Application Server sends and retrieves messages to and from the Microsoft Message Queue also known as MSMQ. Applications send messages to queues and read messages from queues. It provides efficient routing, security, and priority-based messaging. MSMQ can be used to implement solutions for both asynchronous and synchronous scenarios requiring high performance. Navision Application Server uses API's such as MSMQBusAdapter.dll and NScomcom2.dll in order to communicate with MSMQ.

Integration using Web services

Web services was introduced with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 and provides the most easy and simplest form of integration to and from other systems. It is a widely known protocol for integration and if someone knows Web services, they can now integrate external systems with NAV without really having in depth knowledge of NAV.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV can expose pages and code units as Web services.

Pages can be exposed as a Web service for external systems to read/write data through Web Services Definition Language also known as WSDL. A default set of operations can be used by external systems to read, write, modify, and delete data in NAV using default system functions such as read, read multiple, create, create multiple, update, update multiple, and delete. Codeunit Web services are exposed as a Web service with no default set of operations, giving the developers the flexibility to decide which operations should be available.

Exploring hardware, operating systems, and networking requirements

This section explains the hardware, operating systems, and networking requirements of the NAV clients, server, and database server. Based on our decision of a centralized or decentralized environment, we will need one or more instances of database installations. We'll start with the requirements for a NAV client.

Dynamics NAV client

Although Dynamics NAV cannot be described as a thin client, in general it is a light application, which can be run on most Desktop PCs, Notebooks, and Net Books. The exact hardware requirements and performance also depend on the OS running on the client machine.

General hardware requirements for default cache settings are as follows:

  • 1 GB of RAM (32-bit)/2 GB of RAM (64-bit).

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) Intel or AMD processor.

  • Minimum 30 MB of free hard disk space for RTC (RoleTailored client) and about 110 MB for Classic client. Approximately 140 MB space required for each additional language module to be installed.

The OS requirements are as follows:

  • Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate

  • Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate with SP1 or SP2

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3

Dynamics NAV server

Microsoft Dynamics NAV server is a .NET-based Windows Service application that works exclusively with SQL Server databases. It uses the Windows Communication Framework as the communication protocol for RoleTailored clients and for Web services. It can execute multiple client requests in parallel and serve other clients by providing Web service access to authenticated clients.

The recommended Operating Systems for Dynamics NAV server are Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Standard or Premium, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2 or later, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 or later, and Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 with SP2.

Note

Microsoft Dynamics NAV runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating system editions. It uses Windows-on-Windows 64-bit emulation, also known as WOW64, on 64 editions, which is a component of the 64-bit Windows OS, capable of running 32-bit applications. Most versions of Windows OS, including Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, include WOW64 emulation.

Using NAV in WAN configurations

Although there have been various discussions around the use of NAV over WAN connections. the general rule for NAV 2009 is to run the NAV client on Windows RDS (Terminal Services) for WAN connections. The general guideline for the required bandwidth and latency for running the NAV client on RDS over a WAN connection are 24 Kbps per concurrent connection and latency of <= 150 milliseconds.

This, however, might change with the coming versions of NAV where WAN optimization might be included.

WAN options

Windows Terminal Services and Windows Terminal Service with Citrix are the supported solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV client running over a WAN connection. Following are the examples of hardware configurations, which can be used for both solutions.

Hardware configurations

10-15 Dynamics NAV users per processor core depending on workload, 64 MB of memory per Dynamics NAV user (assumes an object cache of 32 MB), 1 GB of memory for the Operating System Internal SCSI or SAS RAID, one 10-15K RPM with 500 MB of disk space available for each user, and 1 GB Ethernet connection.

For example, 100 Dynamics NAV users would require as follows:

CPU 100 users / 10 users per processor core = 10 cores or 100 users / 15 users per core = 6.67 cores which really equates to 8 cores.

For this example, a 4-way dual core or 2-way quad core server would be the recommended choice.

Dynamics NAV is utilizing client side cursors; therefore, we may consider smaller Terminal servers for better network bandwidth, such as two 2-way dual core or two 1-way quad core servers.

RAM (100 users X 64 MB per user) + 1 GB for the OS = 7400 MB, which equates to 8 GB of RAM.

For this example if we have deployed a 4-way dual core server all 8 GB of RAM would be installed on that server and the same holds true for the 2-way quad core machines. If we deploy multiple Terminal servers, the RAM calculation is a little different, as we must factor in the 1 GB of RAM for the OS on each server (50 users X 64 MB per user) + 1 GB for the OS = 4200 (4 GB or 6 GB of RAM).

In this example, we will need to take into account workload and activity to decide whether the 4 GB will be sufficient or if we will need to scale up to 6 GB disk. 100 users X 500 MB per user = 50000 MB or 50 GB. For this example, we would recommend two internal 146 GB 15K RPM SCSI or SAS drives in a RAID 1 configuration to hold the Dynamics NAV temp files, OS and program files, page file, and anything else installed on the Terminal server.

It is recommended that we use both calculations.

Networking

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV client requires a 100 MB switched (no hubs) connection to the server. Therefore, 56K modem or broadband connections are not supported with the standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV client. Alternative solutions such as Windows Terminal Services, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Employee Portal, or Terminal Services with Citrix are also available.

 

Considerations for deploying Dynamics NAV


Every organization is different, and so are the deployment requirements of the ERP system. Hence, before deployment of Dynamics NAV, various aspects must be considered, such as the size of the organization, functions of teams and individuals, how they intend to use the system, single or multi-site structure, network requirements, hardware configurations, and so on. We'll start with the first aspect, which is business needs or how the teams and people in our company use the system.

Understanding the business needs of company

Business needs vary for every company and also in every department in a company. As Dynamics NAV is a highly scalable and flexible solution, the deployment requirements can vary extensively between smaller organizations with simple processes versus bigger and more complex operations.

The first and foremost consideration is to decide which areas of our organization will use Dynamics NAV and at what levels. The User Interface design of Dynamics NAV 2009 is centered on the RoleTailored principles. Therefore, before installation and deployment it's important to understand the role of each user or user group, functions they will perform using NAV, and the information they will need. Dynamics NAV comes with various standard user roles. These user roles can be configured, customized, and personalized based on the role group or individual's requirements.

RoleTailored functionality strips away functions that users don't need. This removes unnecessary distractions in their work and brings the information and features they need to the forefront of the system. This helps prioritize tasks and helps users to become more productive in their daily tasks.

Microsoft invested a large amount of resources into finding out what people did in their jobs and how they performed the tasks. The result was that they defined distinct job roles covering essential job functions in areas such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, IT, Manufacturing, and Customer Service. Each job role has a defined list of the functions and features that the individuals need in order to perform their tasks.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV comes with 21 Role Centers out of the box and these are designed to cover the main job roles within a company. However, each user is not restricted to one Role Center and any Role Center can be modified to suit a company's processes.

The following screenshot represents a typical Role Center in NAV. It shows the Role Center of a "Production planner". Put simply, a Role Center in NAV is a user's personal space in NAV. It shows the most tasks a user usually performs and analysis the user needs, along with the concise information the user needs for his/her role in the company.

Factors to be considered for configuring a role

The following factors must be considered when configuring a role:

  • Pages required for a role, for example, the Item Card page or a sales order page

  • Structure of the home page and critical or optional information required on the home page

  • Procedures and processes required by a role, for example, approval process and more

  • Structure of other important pages required for the role

The following screenshots describe how an Item Card page differs significantly for two different roles in a company:

Exporting the reporting and Business Intelligence requirements

Business Intelligence (BI) is a mechanism for collecting, analyzing, and providing data using various technologies and systems in order to help business have more visibility and faster access to their data, which will help them make better and faster decisions. As businesses continue to expand across different geographic boundaries, it becomes more important to have visibility and better control.

The Microsoft vision for Business Intelligence is to help drive businesses to improved performance by enabling all decision-makers, essentially empowering all employees throughout the organization to make strong decisions. Microsoft plans to achieve this vision by providing cross-product integration, delivering Business Intelligence capabilities within Microsoft Office, and making its Business Intelligence offerings scalable, therefore everyone in the organization is empowered with Business Intelligence tools. Whether they are working on the strategic, tactical, or operational level, Microsoft Business Intelligence applications can help make informed decisions a natural part of the everyday work experience for all employees.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a good example of this cross-product integration and offers a range of Business Intelligence capabilities. It spans from built-in reports and wizards to advanced tools that enable users to gain the insight required to optimize performance across the entire organization. This comprehensive and flexible solution meets the requirements of both small businesses that need easy-to-use yet effective tools, as well as the requirements of larger organizations that need the most technically advanced Business Intelligence capabilities.

Note

Microsoft Dynamics NAV provides flexible Business Intelligence capabilities and a growth path that enables us to capitalize on our existing investments.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers various levels of Business Intelligence depending on our business's needs.

Getting to know the Inherent BI capabilities in NAV

NAV offers strong inherent BI capabilities in the form of an advanced report writer tool; ad hoc filtering, sorting, searching, and charting capabilities throughout the system on any lists; financial reporting tools; MS Excel export, import, and update capabilities, Outlook integration; and personalization of Role Centers.

The previous screenshot shows an example of a filtered page with a relevant chart indicating the current status of demand and supply through various parameters such as Quantity on hand, Qty. on Sales Order, and Qty. on Purch. Order.

The previous screenshot shows an example of Role Center with various charts. Users can add to this to personalize various elements of information they need to see.

The previous screenshot shows examples of various reports that can be designed using the Dynamics NAV 2009 report writer.

Other BI tools—Business Analytics with NAV

Apart from the inherent BI capabilities in NAV, the users can use Business Analytics for more advanced BI requirements. Business Analytics is a dedicated and more advanced form of a Business Intelligence tool built to work seamlessly with Dynamics NAV.

Business Analytics in Microsoft Dynamics NAV delivers information in predefined or easy-to-customize information units called Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) cubes, directly to SQL Sever Analysis Services (SSAS).

Users can access and analyze data within a familiar "MS Excel" interface or another frontend solution, which is available with advanced versions of Business Analytics. This solution provides easy-to-use tools that enable straightforward analysis and provide a quick overview of business conditions. Super-users can save and reuse OLAP cubes.

The next screenshot is an example of analysis using the Business Analytics frontend solution:

Single or multisite deployment

Dynamics NAV is a very flexible solution to support the varied needs of single or multisite and international organizations. With support for various language packs, multicurrency, intercompany processes, and localizations, it is very easy to deploy NAV across various countries or company locations. However, deployments can be different for every scenario.

Choice of using a single versus multi-database for deployment

In general, a database (DB) is a simple collection of data. In Dynamics NAV, the data is stored in tables coherently tied to other objects like Forms and Pages. There are six types of objects, namely Forms, Pages, Tables, Codeunits, DataPorts, and XML ports.

The database is then divided into companies. NAV is structured to run various companies in a single database. All companies in a single database follow the structure of the whole DB, which means any design change in any object affects every company in the database. For example, if the developer adds the SalesTax Discount field in the sales line table, this field will be available to all companies in that DB.

Now let's see how localizations work with NAV. Dynamics NAV is first released as something called "Worldwide" version or commonly known as W1 version. This is considered the base version of NAV. As it releases across other countries, every region adds a localization layer on top of the W1 version. For example, in the US and Canada, sales tax is used instead of VAT, hence the fields and calculations of taxes will be different from other countries using VAT. This localization layer is added for every region NAV is released in.

Note

Country/Region country/region-specific documentation can be found through the following link in partnersource:

https://mbs.microsoft.com/partnersource/documentation/userguides/msdnavlocalfunct.htm

This implies that multiple countries will require an individual DB of their own, as the objects in a single DB will be the same for all companies in that database. This statement holds true to a large extent but there are some exceptions to the rule.

Let's say our company operates mostly in the US, but has a subsidiary in any other parts of the world where the operations are generally light or are not affected by the local statute changes. For example, this company is used as a warehouse location with simple and low transactions. In this case, the US localization does not affect the operations in this subsidiary nor does the local subsidiary have specific statutory requirements, which can affect the business; thus, using a single DB for this type of scenario might be a preferred choice.

Another example could be that a subsidiary does not have a major local taxation and is used primarily for the export of goods ,which is again not affected by taxes.

Another exception is when the localizations of two databases can be easily merged together in a single database, which should be discussed with our partner and should be carefully assessed. Documents containing details of every region's localizations can be obtained from a certified NAV partner who generally would have the knowledge and experience to recommend the best choice.

Other DB aspects to consider while deploying

The other aspects that we need to consider while deciding between single versus multiple DB are as follows:

  • Inter-company operability

  • Integration with other systems in headquarters

  • License costs

Inter-company operability

Inter-company in NAV is designed for organizations that can have more than one legal business entity and have set up multiple companies to separate functions of each of these entities. The customers and vendors can be set up as business partners in the system and can be assigned intercompany partner codes. It is then possible to exchange complete intercompany purchase and sales documents. The receivables and payables functionality includes the capability of handling multiple currencies, dimensions, automatic conversion of sales orders to purchase orders and vice versa, cross references of item codes, sales and purchase pricing, discounts, and so on.

Integration with other systems in headquarters

Many companies use Dynamics NAV in conjunction with other ERP systems in the company headquarters and Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the various distribution companies abroad. Orders from a distribution company can be transferred from Microsoft Dynamics NAV into the main system. The system receives data, checks its structure, and converts the individual fields into an acceptable format that the parent company can read. It can then be imported as an intercompany order.

Licensing costs

Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers a very flexible and competitive licensing model. The license costs of Microsoft Dynamics NAV depend on four main factors, as follows:

  • Number of users: Users in NAV are generally referred to as the number of individuals concurrently accessing the system at the same time. Therefore, in an organization of 100 employees only 40 might use the system concurrently, hence only a 40 concurrent users license is required. These are usually full-functional users or heavy users. There are also partial or casual users who are licensed separately as named users (explained in a later section). Therefore, the first step is to determine the maximum number of full functional users that will access the system concurrently.

  • Level of functionality and other requirements: The second aspect is to determine the functionality we will need for our business. The two basic levels of licensing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV are as follows:

    • Business Essentials licensing(BE): For customers who need core financial management and trade functionality, this edition includes the following:

      • Basic Financial Management (such as General Ledger, A/R, A/P, Fixed Assets)

      • Basic Supply Chain Management (such as sales order processing, purchase order processing, inventory)

      • Basic Business Intelligence and Reporting

      • Basic Configuration and Design tools

    • Advanced Management licensing(AM): For growing, midmarket, or high functional needs. Customers who want a broad set of functionality, this edition includes the following:

      • All functionality included in the Business Essentials Edition

      • Business Intelligence and Reporting

      • Manufacturing

      • Advanced Supply Chain Management (such as Bill of Materials, requisition management)

      • Advanced Financial Management (such as collection, cash management)

      • Project Management

      • Customer Relationship Management (such as Sales and Marketing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV)

      Other requirements: In addition to Business Essentials or Advanced Management, users can buy additional functionality separately, as required by the business. The additional functionality is available in the form of additional modules, which are bought one time, irrespective of the number of users.

  • Nature of usage (Full or partial users): In addition to full users, there is also an option of buying partial access for light users. These are users who typically do not use the system heavily but just access only limited parts of the system. Examples could include time entry users, sales people, or executives interested in analysis only. These types of users can be licensed as named users accessing the NAV system through other client options such as MS Excel, SharePoint, or any other external application.

  • Other costs: Based on our business requirements, there may be additional industry-specific add-ons required with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. For example, an automobile manufacturing company may require a respective add-on built specifically for the automobile industry. These add-ons are usually developed using a Dynamics NAV development environment, thus giving a user a seamless usage experience.

Note

This section provides a general guidance around licensing costs, but the latest licensing scenarios and costs must be checked with a certified Dynamics reseller.

Integration with external systems and third-party add-ons

NAV provides various integration methods to add-ons and third-party applications. Depending on the requirements, such as real time, online, and offline requirements various methods can be used.

Data ports and XML ports

Data ports and XML ports are objects used to export or import data from and to Microsoft Dynamics NAV through external text, XML, or other character delimited files. This type of integration is not real time and requires a manual trigger to initiate the process. This is the simplest form of integration for systems that do not require real-time integration, mostly used with the old versions of NAV when Web services was not introduced. Since the introduction of Web services, integration has become a lot more easier than with earlier methods.

Navision Application Server also known as "NAS"

Navision Application Server was the most common form of integration before Web services was introduced with NAV.

Lot of programmers still use NAS due to its simple design and ease of execution. It is designed to provide access to and from external systems to the NAV database.

Navision Application Server sends and retrieves messages to and from the Microsoft Message Queue also known as MSMQ. Applications send messages to queues and read messages from queues. It provides efficient routing, security, and priority-based messaging. MSMQ can be used to implement solutions for both asynchronous and synchronous scenarios requiring high performance. Navision Application Server uses API's such as MSMQBusAdapter.dll and NScomcom2.dll in order to communicate with MSMQ.

Integration using Web services

Web services was introduced with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 and provides the most easy and simplest form of integration to and from other systems. It is a widely known protocol for integration and if someone knows Web services, they can now integrate external systems with NAV without really having in depth knowledge of NAV.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV can expose pages and code units as Web services.

Pages can be exposed as a Web service for external systems to read/write data through Web Services Definition Language also known as WSDL. A default set of operations can be used by external systems to read, write, modify, and delete data in NAV using default system functions such as read, read multiple, create, create multiple, update, update multiple, and delete. Codeunit Web services are exposed as a Web service with no default set of operations, giving the developers the flexibility to decide which operations should be available.

Exploring hardware, operating systems, and networking requirements

This section explains the hardware, operating systems, and networking requirements of the NAV clients, server, and database server. Based on our decision of a centralized or decentralized environment, we will need one or more instances of database installations. We'll start with the requirements for a NAV client.

Dynamics NAV client

Although Dynamics NAV cannot be described as a thin client, in general it is a light application, which can be run on most Desktop PCs, Notebooks, and Net Books. The exact hardware requirements and performance also depend on the OS running on the client machine.

General hardware requirements for default cache settings are as follows:

  • 1 GB of RAM (32-bit)/2 GB of RAM (64-bit).

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) Intel or AMD processor.

  • Minimum 30 MB of free hard disk space for RTC (RoleTailored client) and about 110 MB for Classic client. Approximately 140 MB space required for each additional language module to be installed.

The OS requirements are as follows:

  • Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate

  • Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate with SP1 or SP2

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3

Dynamics NAV server

Microsoft Dynamics NAV server is a .NET-based Windows Service application that works exclusively with SQL Server databases. It uses the Windows Communication Framework as the communication protocol for RoleTailored clients and for Web services. It can execute multiple client requests in parallel and serve other clients by providing Web service access to authenticated clients.

The recommended Operating Systems for Dynamics NAV server are Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Standard or Premium, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2 or later, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 or later, and Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 with SP2.

Note

Microsoft Dynamics NAV runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating system editions. It uses Windows-on-Windows 64-bit emulation, also known as WOW64, on 64 editions, which is a component of the 64-bit Windows OS, capable of running 32-bit applications. Most versions of Windows OS, including Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, include WOW64 emulation.

Using NAV in WAN configurations

Although there have been various discussions around the use of NAV over WAN connections. the general rule for NAV 2009 is to run the NAV client on Windows RDS (Terminal Services) for WAN connections. The general guideline for the required bandwidth and latency for running the NAV client on RDS over a WAN connection are 24 Kbps per concurrent connection and latency of <= 150 milliseconds.

This, however, might change with the coming versions of NAV where WAN optimization might be included.

WAN options

Windows Terminal Services and Windows Terminal Service with Citrix are the supported solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV client running over a WAN connection. Following are the examples of hardware configurations, which can be used for both solutions.

Hardware configurations

10-15 Dynamics NAV users per processor core depending on workload, 64 MB of memory per Dynamics NAV user (assumes an object cache of 32 MB), 1 GB of memory for the Operating System Internal SCSI or SAS RAID, one 10-15K RPM with 500 MB of disk space available for each user, and 1 GB Ethernet connection.

For example, 100 Dynamics NAV users would require as follows:

CPU 100 users / 10 users per processor core = 10 cores or 100 users / 15 users per core = 6.67 cores which really equates to 8 cores.

For this example, a 4-way dual core or 2-way quad core server would be the recommended choice.

Dynamics NAV is utilizing client side cursors; therefore, we may consider smaller Terminal servers for better network bandwidth, such as two 2-way dual core or two 1-way quad core servers.

RAM (100 users X 64 MB per user) + 1 GB for the OS = 7400 MB, which equates to 8 GB of RAM.

For this example if we have deployed a 4-way dual core server all 8 GB of RAM would be installed on that server and the same holds true for the 2-way quad core machines. If we deploy multiple Terminal servers, the RAM calculation is a little different, as we must factor in the 1 GB of RAM for the OS on each server (50 users X 64 MB per user) + 1 GB for the OS = 4200 (4 GB or 6 GB of RAM).

In this example, we will need to take into account workload and activity to decide whether the 4 GB will be sufficient or if we will need to scale up to 6 GB disk. 100 users X 500 MB per user = 50000 MB or 50 GB. For this example, we would recommend two internal 146 GB 15K RPM SCSI or SAS drives in a RAID 1 configuration to hold the Dynamics NAV temp files, OS and program files, page file, and anything else installed on the Terminal server.

It is recommended that we use both calculations.

Networking

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV client requires a 100 MB switched (no hubs) connection to the server. Therefore, 56K modem or broadband connections are not supported with the standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV client. Alternative solutions such as Windows Terminal Services, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Employee Portal, or Terminal Services with Citrix are also available.

 

Summary


After considering all aspects in a deployment, we are now ready to start installing our ERP software. At this time we are aware of various user requirements such as how NAV will fit our business needs, factors for a decentralized or a centralized environment, Business Intelligence and reporting requirements, and so on. Once we are clear on these aspects, we are now ready to start installing the software for users and administrators. The next chapter explains in depth the various installation procedures and other related criteria.

About the Authors

  • Amit Sachdev

    Amit Sachdev works as a Technology Advisor for Dynamics products and the lead for SureStep methodology programs at Microsoft Canada. He is responsible for “Dynamics” product awareness, strategic engagement with Microsoft partners, building successful Dynamics practices, and ensuring use of best principles for partners around delivery and implementation methodologies.

    Amit has diverse professional experience and in the past has worked in various capacities including advisory consulting, management, designing and implementing business solutions in many countries, spanning across various industries and market segments.

    He holds an Engineering degree in Electronics, various awards and certifications in both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies. Apart from his eminence as a seasoned “Dynamics” professional, Amit has also been instrumental in providing strategic direction to various start-ups and sits on the board and advisory panels of various non IT and IT related companies.

    Browse publications by this author
  • Sharan Oberoi

    Sharan Oberoi is a seasoned Microsoft Dynamics professional and has more than 11 years of experience working as an architect, consultant, and business leader for Microsoft Dynamics products. He works for Tectura in an advisory role.

    He has helped various organizations with large scale, global, successful implementations of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Sharan has also built and grown high performing, culturally diversified, and geographically dispersed consulting teams. At the start of his Microsoft Dynamics career, Sharan was an instrumental startup team member for Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) in India. He led a small team to localize and release Microsoft Dynamics NAV in India and subsequently evangelize Microsoft Dynamics NAV across the newly established partner channel in India.

    Sharan worked as a consultant for a few US end clients before moving to New Zealand. He gained his big four consulting experience while working for Ernst & Young in New Zealand for a few years. In 2007, he moved to Vancouver, Canada with his family and started working as a team leader for Tectura. Whilst at Tectura, Sharan has handled diversified roles and has been involved in various product teams and global clients, with, complex, high-risk product implementations and application roll outs.

    Having worked for organizations like Tectura, Ernst & Young, and Navision (now Microsoft) Sharan has worked in a dozen or more countries, touching almost every continent. He has worked with clients from diversified industries including Ports, Financial services, Agri businesses, Energy and Power Generation, Shipping, and more.

    Browse publications by this author

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