Thursday, February 9, 2017
The option of deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV on the public cloud of Microsoft Azure is sweeping the Dynamics market. More and more customers are preferring solutions that are fast to set-up, easy-to-use and integrated with pay – as-you-go models. Another reason Microsoft Azure is becoming a more popular choice is the decreased prices for Microsoft Dynamics NAV subscription licenses offered by Microsoft. The only remaining question for a Partner is…how do we start?
Microsoft Dynamics NAV can be deployed in 2 ways:
- Own infrastructure. First, a Partner can offer NAV deployments on Microsoft Azure for their customers going directly with Microsoft Azure by building their own infrastructure for the NAV on Azure integration.
- Collaboration with hosting provider. Alternatively, a Partner can offer NAV deployments on Microsoft Azure through an experienced Microsoft Azure hosting partner. This option is most suitable if the Partner has a proven industry solution to deploy on Microsoft Azure, but prefers not to build the Azure infrastructure from the ground up.
In this series of blog posts, we will dive deeper into the certain features that ensures a customer’s efficient NAV solution on Microsoft Azure usage. This particular blog will analyze the Infrastructure Monitoring processes by comparing these two deployment alternatives.
Dynamics NAV on Azure Monitoring Processes
The primary goal of the monitoring process is to ensure stable performance, availability and security of the NAV solution. Usually, successful monitoring is defined as the ability to find out what is happening on the system at any given time; however, the correct meaning of monitoring is defined as a partner’s actions that should be taken when certain problems occur in the system. Constant monitoring procedures reduce the risk that a customer stays unsatisfied. The longer delay in solving the issue by the Partner, the greater the discontent grows on the customer’s end.
The monitoring itself can be done in 2 different ways:
- Manual monitoring. Within this type of monitoring, the assigned administrator is monitoring the system periodically. If an issue occurs, or the worse case scenario the client contacts Partner to report an issue, the assigned administrator checks the system and decides what action should be taken in order to resolve the issue.
- Automatic monitoring. All the monitoring processes are monitored constantly with built-in auto notifications and alerts. To monitor the system, specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are projected. KPIs measure and demonstrate how effectively the NAV system runs on Microsoft Azure. In accordance with each KPI, a detail plan of necessary steps to take in case of an issue is specified. This plan also involves a list of steps in case some unexpected error happens that the Partner had not identified earlier. One of the example KPIs that can be monitored is CPU consumption. For example, if CPU consumption on a given virtual machine is on average below than XX% during Y minute period, then no alerts should be raised. If the CPU consumption rises to more than XX% during Y minute period, then the monitoring team should be alerted and certain actions (for example virtual machine resources increase) should be taken in order to meet the desired KPI.
If a Partner chooses to go directly with Microsoft Azure to build its own infrastructure, the sufficient monitoring processes requires considerable investment, resources and knowledge by the Partner. There are several questions that a Partner should answer before planning monitoring processes for its own infrastructure:
- What risks would I like to avoid? Before building an effective monitoring processes for a NAV on Azure infrastructure, the Partner should define the list of avoidable risks that can be carefully planned for with monitoring procedures as well as measure each risk’s possible effect on the NAV solution performance and availability.
- What Service Level Agreement (SLA) am I seeking to offer? After defining the risks, the next task that is the most important for the Partner is defining the SLA to offer for their NAV on Azure customers. According to the defined SLA, a certain budget and required monitoring management processes are defined.
For 1Clickfactory’s Self-Provisioning for NAV on Azure service, 1ClickFactory provides 99.5% SLA.
- How much am I willing to invest? Since a Partner must start to monitor the infrastructure from the very first client, the initial investment is fairly high. Also since all the monitoring processes should be created prior to the first client is deployed,the monitoring costs only slightly increase, when the size of infrastructure grows.
- Who will monitor the infrastructure? For the constant infrastructure monitoring and prevention tasks, dedicated people should be assigned. An assigned person should be aware of the specific functionalities and attributes of Microsoft Azure. If a person does not have experience in hardware, infrastructure and network monitoring, then it is advisable the individual should spend at least 6 months to gather all the theoretical knowledge of monitoring features. If the person has already some experience in this type of business, the individual might gain technical knowledge of Microsoft Azure in as little as 3 months, depending upon their atitude and abilities.
- What KPIs shall I define? It is important to note that KPIs highly depend on the server type, server size and other attributes. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze all the KPIs separately for each server option and most importantly improve and update upon them consistently. To be sure that KPIs are set correctly, it should be guaranteed that an alert is not received when it shouldn’t be received and vice versa. When an alert is received, it should be within a specific time parameter to catch the issue before a customer would become aware and report the issue.
- How do I manage and define monitoring processes? After an administrator is assigned to monitor the infrastructure, over time theoretical knowledge is gained. With this knowledge, relevant KPIs and detail plan of necessary steps to take in order to solve any issue should be specified. Within the process, the Partner should think about creating or purchasing specific tools that will ensure the effectiveness and quality of monitoring processes. In addition, communication strategy with the customers is very important as well. Partners should think of the person who will be responsible for efficient interaction with their customers during the issue resolution time.
Collaboration with a hosting provider
If a Partner decides to collaborate with an experienced hosting provider, then that Partner does not need to worry about any of the questions above. For hosting providers whose businesses are based on providing Dynamics NAV on Microsoft Azure infrastructure their success depends on monitoring procedures and how well they are managing it. If they are not effective at monitoring, both Partners and customers will be dissatisfied and their business would have a high risk of failure.
Many Partners prefer collaborating with a hosting provider as it enables them to respond more quickly to customer demands and avoid the associated risks of building the infrastructure together with the monitoring processes.
1ClickFactory offers a Self-Provisioning for NAV on Azure service, which is an automated platform that offers a subscription, fixed per-user-per month pricing, and allows Microsoft Partners to quickly and securely implement any Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution, with any customizations, on Microsoft Azure, all while minimizing your risk associated with Azure’s utility billing.
The 1ClickFactory Cloud team is ready to support you with any questions you may have!
This is the first blog post from the series of posts on building own infrastructure versus collaboration with hosting provider. “Dynamics NAV on Azure Database Back Up Alternatives: Should You Build Own Infrastructure or Collaborate With Hosting Provider?” coming soon!