Tony: Good morning, everyone. I’d like to welcome all those attending this Encore webinar around administering the Business Central tenant. We recently published a blog posting to the Encore blog site and felt it would be beneficial and valuable to our clients if we would also follow that up with a webinar talking about the different features to administer your Business Central tenant. One of the reasons we see a lot of clients purchasing Business Central today is that it is perceived as a low or no-maintenance software. And that is true. However, there are a couple of things that Microsoft would like customers to administer within their tenant to really achieve the best value from it. This webinar will cover those main features. And we’ll show you how to set up and configure those particular features.
The first thing that you need to do is access the Admin Center. To do that, if you are in Business Central, and you are a global administrator for your tenant, you can access the Admin Center by hitting the cog. And you should have an option that says, “Admin Center.” Alternatively, we have found that sometimes users have the permission but they don’t see Admin Center in this drop down menu. And in those cases, you can just add Admin to the end of your Business Central URI. And as long as you have the appropriate rights, it will take you to the Admin Center. So there are two different ways for you to access the Business Central Admin Center.
Once you are in the Admin Center, this is the screen that Microsoft presents to you. Right in the middle, you’ll see the different environments that you are running in your tenant. On the left, you have some options. And at the top, you also have some actions that you can take, depending on what option you are in. For Microsoft, probably one of the most important things that they are looking for customers to do and administer within that Business Central tenant is to set up notifications. And that is done by accessing the Notification recipients menu option on the left hand side. And you’ll be presented with a screen where the currently configured notification recipients are. For our Encore customers, we try to set this up so that our team is getting notifications when they do come. However, we would also really like it if our customers came in here and set up a point of contact as well. And the reason is that those notifications can be very important. Those notifications are typically Microsoft advising that there is a major update coming to the software, letting you know that it has been scheduled and when it has been scheduled for, as well as if it was a success or a failure. So it’s really important information to know.
Those updates that Microsoft is talking about are the major updates. The release cycle for Business Central is that Microsoft releases a major update twice a year. They do that in the spring and in the fall. And in between that, they do five minor cumulative updates. For the most part, those cumulative updates are fixes to problems that may have been found in the core software, and occasionally maybe a small piece of functionality, but the big functionality updates typically come in, those major spring and fall updates. So, to be notified that that’s coming and to know when that’s been updated, you do have to set your notifications up to receive the email. And that’s gonna allow you to do things like push the update, if it’s at inappropriate time for you, or know that it’s been successful or been a failure. So, it’s really, really important from Encore, as well as from Microsoft’s standpoint, that there is a valid notification in here for customers to get that pertinent information.
To how I would add a recipient, while still in this notification recipients menu, it’s very simple. Just gonna say, “Add recipient.” I’m gonna give it a name. So in this case, I’m gonna say, “It’s gonna be Tony,” and then the email address that I want that to go to. So, email@example.com. And I’m gonna go ahead and just say Save. Now, whenever a notification is sent, it will go to Tony on the Encore Business Central team. If I want to remove a recipient no longer valid, I can simply highlight it, say Remove. It’s gonna want me to confirm and I can say Yes. And now, it’s gone. So, there’s no edit. It’s simply just add or remove recipients. And that’s how you would manipulate who is getting those notifications.
So, once you have those notifications set up, as I said, you’re gonna get the emails from Microsoft saying that updates are coming. The updates are applied individually to different environments and not applied to your production and potentially your sandboxes at the same time. It is on an environment by environment basis. Microsoft doesn’t just go ahead and update at any time. What they are looking for you to do is to provide a six-hour minimum window for them to apply the updates. And how you would do that is access the environment. So, I’ve gone to the main environment screen and clicked on production. And it’s taken me the information about production.
And in here, I can see the name of my environment, its application family, country and region, the data center that it’s in, the database size, state, active, meaning that it’s online, as well as the URL on how I would actually access that environment, and then the version management information down here. So, what is the current application version or platform version? Is there an update version currently available? And am I able to schedule it? And when is it, the earliest date, that it’s gonna be updated? And then in here, we have an update window and it says, “The update window has not been set.” So, at this point, I’m leaving it up to Microsoft to decide when they’re gonna try and apply that update. And so, for a production environment, that can be a little concerning because it may be midway through the day. They try to be cognizant of where the environment is based and so try not to do it during the middle of business hours. But the real way to make sure that you’re not gonna get interrupted is to actually set the update window for your environment.
So, the way that you would do that is you access this update button up here. You say, “Set an update window.” And it’s gonna allow me to specify a start and an end time in my local time zone. And so, what I need to do is be providing Microsoft a six-hour window. If Microsoft has an update that’s available, they will tell you that it’s available and they will either schedule it or let you know that it can be scheduled. Because I do not have a pending update here, I cannot set a date. But if I did, and there was an update pending or they had already been set, and it was inconvenient to me, I would be able to come in here again on a environment by environment basis, select the Update button and say, “Schedule the update.”
Because there’s no updates, I can’t. What that will provide you is a window that is a calendar view and you will be able to set the date that you would like this update to occur. And that update date, as well as the window of hours that you have provided, will attempt to be used. Microsoft can’t always get to it. For the most part, they do get it on the day that they say that they will. But occasionally, if there’s lots of updates to be applied, it may not make it in the window in time. And so, then it will get rescheduled again. But you will get notifications. When you set those dates, you do get the notifications to say that it has been scheduled. That is how you set the window for updates, as well as potentially set a specific date for an update.
Back to the environments, again. One of the features of Business Central is that you can have up to three sandboxes as well as unlimited number of production databases. And the way that you would create sandboxes or production environments is, again, in the environments window at the top, we have a New button. By pressing New button, it’s gonna bring a window up that gives me some different options. I can specify the environment name. It does have to be unique. And if you do wanna access the Sandbox from your production, if you’re in your production Business Central, and you type Sandbox in the search window, it will give you access to the Sandbox. That will only go to an environment that today is explicitly called Sandbox. So, if you have something called Sandbox2, it’s not gonna go to Sandbox2. So, that’s just one note to make. But they do have to be different names. They have to be unique names.
I have a type, so I can have a production, or I can have a Sandbox. If I wanted to make my Sandbox a copy of my production, I can do it by selecting Sandbox and say, “I wanna copy the environment.” It’ll then give me the environment that I wish to copy. At that point, I can’t specify the country or the version because I am copying an environment and those things have already been set. However, if I am not, I am able to choose the country code that I’m looking for, as well as if there are multiple versions or previews, I’m able to select what version I would like that to be.
Microsoft does provide previews of the new version of the software for you to create as a Sandbox a little before you have the update for production. So, it allows you to go in and check out some of the new features, which is, kind of, cool. But you can’t use a preview for production, for obvious reasons.
Man: Tony, I’m gonna [inaudible 00:11:02] Sandbox.
Tony: Let me go ahead and type Sandbox3. It’s a Sandbox. We’re based in Canada here. It’s the version that’s available to me. I’m gonna go ahead and say Create. And here, we can see I have this new environment now. The state is currently preparing, and I can keep refreshing…until it becomes active.
As I mentioned earlier, you can only have three sandboxes from Microsoft. So, there are times where you may want to remove all the sandboxes. So, in that case, we have that action at the top. I can actually go ahead and delete it. I was hoping to get this into active sooner so I could delete it. So, let’s try and do it while it’s preparing, might not let me. Yeah, so it’s not gonna let me do so. But if this was an active state or some of the other statuses that are available, and I no longer wanted it, I can come in here and click Delete. And that will remove the sandbox, freeing up the space for me to add another sandbox.
And that is the extent of the admin tools that we wanted to walk you through in this webinar. There are obviously a number of other options that you can see on the screen, such as telemetry and reported outages. There’s also the Application Insights key. We really wanted to just focus on what we thought were the core and most important features of the Admin Center that our customers should be aware of, and really should be using to maintain their system.
So, we covered setting up notifications so that you receive the notifications that Microsoft provides. Those notifications will be of pending updates, as well as when the update has been scheduled and if the update was a success or if it was a failure. We’ve talked about setting the update window, you have to set a six-hour window for Microsoft to provide updates, as well as if there is a major update that is available, so one of the spring or the fall releases. You can actually go in and schedule that date when it’s available. You cannot do that on the minor ones, only on the major ones.
And then lastly, we’ve shown you how to create different environments, including production and sandboxes, as well as copying a production as a sandbox environment so that you may do things like testing without affecting your production environment. And so, we believe those are the core and most important administration features that our clients should be using within Business Central.
So with that, I wanted to throw it open, see if there were any questions people may have that we can answer.
Melissa: Thanks, Tony. I’m having a look at the question pane here. I don’t see anything coming in. But of course, if anyone has questions later, they can always contact us. And we will be sending a recording to everybody who registered as well. That’s it for today, Tony?
Tony: Yep, I think that’s it. Pretty short and simple. I really wanted to focus, as I said, on the most important pieces, which I think we’ve done. And yeah, as you say, if anyone is watching this recording later and does have questions, please do feel free to reach out so that we can help.
Melissa: Absolutely. Thanks very much.
Tony: Thank you.
Melissa: Have a good afternoon.
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