Live vs Test Environments and Companies in Dynamics GP

If you’ve ever wondered about any of the following questions while configuring Dynamics GP companies in live or test environments, this blog will help identify the differences in managing your Dynamics GP systems effectively.

  • Can I set up and use multiple LIVE/Main company databases in Dynamics GP?
  • Can I set up and use multiple Test company databases in Dynamics GP?
  • Can I have a single Production GP environment that I can log into and use LIVE/Main or Test company databases?
  • Can I have several ‘DYNAMICS’ system DBs (databases), and related Company DBs all hosted on the same Instance of a single SQL Server installation?
  • Can I have an entirely separate TEST or QA (quality assurance) GP environment that I can log into and use LIVE/Main or Test company databases?
  • Can I move my entire Dynamics GP Environment to a new set of servers? (either on-premise or in the ‘cloud’ – i.e., Azure)

The answer to all the above is – Yes!

What is Dynamics GP?

Dynamics GP is a mid-market business accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package that uses Microsoft SQL Server to store data. It is written in the Dexterity programming language and is part of the Microsoft Dynamics suite of intelligent business applications.

Dynamics GP permits multiple companies/databases (DBs) to be set up – each with its own distinctive GL and sub-ledgers and functionality – to manage the capture and reporting of a company’s financial business data. Dynamics GP environments are typically made up of workstations which host the GP Application Software.

  • Note: You can host multiple ‘instances’ of a GP Client on a given workstation if you wish to operate several configurations of the GP Client.

These workstations (Dynamics GP Clients) communicate over the network via an ODBC Connection to a server (the Back-Office Server or SQL Server) either on-premise or in the ‘cloud’ that is running SQL Server Software that hosts the Dynamics Databases.

  • Note: If you require multiple SQL servers to connect to, but only have a single SQL Server, you can host multiple ‘instances’ of SQL Server on a given server.
  • Note: You can even implement Dynamics GP across several ‘DYNAMICS’ system databases on the same SQL Server Instance, achieving, in a sense, multiple Dynamics GP environments.

There are several Dynamics GP related databases running on any given SQL Server Instance. There will always be a system database – usually called ‘DYNAMICS’ – and one or more company DBs each reflecting a separate ‘Company’ that you could log into when using the Dynamics GP application.

Occasionally, clients may choose to host TEST copies of their main company databases, or even entirely separate Testing environments from their production environments. These TEST type companies or entirely separate TEST environments can be used for evaluating new products, features, customizations or even integrations, or for training, without risking any data changes to the primary main companies or production environments.

Live or Main Companies in Dynamics GP

Each ‘company’ that is set up in each Dynamics GP Production (or LIVE) Environment is configured with its own separate/unique company name and associated database name (in SQL).

Often clients will create companies that reflect their various lines of business or entities and will name the companies accordingly; these full names are what will appear in most financial reporting and statements. These companies might also be referred to as their Live or Main companies.

When a new company is created, it needs to be assigned a database name that the backend SQL Database Engine will reference. The database name is often constructed as an acronym that reflects the company name (database names can be 1 to 5 characters long and do not contain special characters, spaces, or start with a number).

Full Company Name
Type of Company
SQL Database Name
ABC Corp. Manufacturing
Main company
ABCCM
ABC Parts Distribution
Another main company
ABCPD
87654321
A numbered company
A8765
A&B Logistics
Another main company
ABLOG
Jones Building Maintenance
Another main company
JB1
Fabrikam, Inc.
A sample company database that comes with Dynamics GP
TWO

 

Test Companies in Dynamics GP

Occasionally, clients prefer to test out some procedures or new features, or provide additional training for new staff. To avoid risking damaging sensitive data in their existing company databases, it is best practise to create ‘copies’ of some of the LIVE (or Main) company databases and label these ‘copies’ appropriately such as ‘Test Company Inc.’ or ‘Test’.

These Test Copies can then be loaded and/or refreshed with recent backups of the LIVE or Main company databases that require additional testing to be performed. These Test type companies can live in the very same environment as their LIVE counterparts.

For example, if you wanted to test out some new Inventory features, Custom Integrations, or even provide some training to staff in the live ABC Corp. Manufacturing company database, it would be best practice to create a new database that will be a ‘TEST’ copy of the ABCCM database. You may prefer to call this company ‘TEST – ABC Corp. Manufacturing’ for convenient reference, and the database/acronym might be something that reflects the fact this is a TEST type database i.e. TEST1 or TABC1.

After creating additional TEST type databases, if required, and restoring data into the TEST type databases from their related LIVE company databases, and assigning appropriate user access and security, users can then log into their Dynamics GP application and choose to work with a TEST type company (or primary company) as desired.

Your companies may now include these company databases to choose from:

Full Company Name
Type of Company
SQL Database Name
ABC Corp. Manufacturing
Main company
ABCCM
TEST – ABC Corp. Manufacturing
A “TEST” copy of ABCCM company
TABC1
ABC Parts Distribution
Another main company
ABCPD
TEST – Parts
A “TEST” copy of ABCPD company
TEST
87654321
A numbered company
A8765
A&B Logistics
Another main company
ABLOG
Jones Building Maintenance Inc.
Another main company
JB1
TEST – JB
A “TEST” copy of JB1 company
TSTJB

 

TEST or QA or Staging Environments

Sometimes it is necessary to install and configure additional, entirely separate, servers/environments to function as Quality Assurance, Testing or Staging environments for their Dynamics GP set of databases.

These additional environments often host an entire replica of what might be found in their production environment. And, when users connect to such QA, Test, or Staging environments, they are using Dynamics GP databases that are separate and isolated from their normal production environment. As such, they will have no risk of accidently altering data in their production environment.

When users log into Dynamics GP in an entirely separate Testing or QA environment, they will be presented with a login screen that looks identical to what they may see in their Production environment. Depending on how this Testing or QA environment was configured, they may also see the same list of Main\LIVE and or TEST type company databases that they can log into and use.

If the QA, Test or Staging ‘environment’ is a replica of the production environment, your companies may include these company databases to choose from:

Full Company Name
Type of Company
SQL Database Name
ABC Corp. Manufacturing
Main company
ABCCM
TEST – ABC Corp. Manufacturing
A “TEST” copy of ABCCM company
TABC1
ABC Parts Distribution
Another main company
ABCPD
TEST – Parts
A “TEST” copy of ABCPD company
TEST
87654321
A numbered company
A8765
A&B Logistics
Another main company
ABLOG
Jones Building Maintenance Inc.
Another main company
JB1
TEST – JB
A “TEST” copy of JB1 company
TSTJB

 

Additional resources:

If you have any questions about your Microsoft Dynamics ERP, or would like more information or assistance in setting up new LIVE or TEST company DBs, or entirely separate Dynamics GP Environments, please get in touch with us.

Dynamics GP Coffee Break | Setting up ACH and EFT in Dynamics GP

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May 21
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Webinar - Setting up ACH and EFT in GP

May. 21
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