Azure is a cloud service from Microsoft that, in addition to cloud-based server/client systems, also provides a variety of services. “The NEW AX” as the latest AX version is called, is based on these services and other products from Microsoft are being provided via the cloud services.

In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, however, we can also use quite a bit via the Azure cloud in order to offer an added value for a company. Whether it is for internal processes or for information that is outwardly emitted. Let’s take a look at some services:

General Services

The general services, such as the provision of servers, i.e. virtual environments, is probably the best-known service of Azure. These are utilized, among other reasons, for the use of test/demo environments, which can be created in the LCS. The company saves resources and time here during a short-time use. The provision of websites or interfaces for mobile end devices is also part of the general services of Azure.

Data Services

The data services offer the ability to provide data through Azure in the form of files or databases (SQL server). A possible scenario here would be the automatic generation of product catalogs, which are provided as PDF files or databases for creditors/debtors.

Application Services

The services are registered in the area of application services, which are of great interest for AX 2012. In addition to the media services for the provision of multimedia content or BizTalk services and other enterprise service bus solutions, the services are primarily of interest to be able to communicate with AX via the cloud services.

I would like to mention the API management here, which is suitable for managing separate interface applications for third party providers. However, services such as push notification for mobile end devices are also useful tools.

In addition to the VPN service, the Azure network services also have the ExpressRoute service for creating/managing data connections between local servers and cloud servers.

In the following examples, I would like to describe the practical benefits of some of the aforementioned services:

Example 1: Workflow 2 Go

In most cases, workflows in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and earlier versions are handled through the client software. A release workflow for orders, for example, can be mentioned here. If an entry X is exceeded, the department head must approve this order. To do this, the department head has the ability in the AX client to go into the order after a notification and approve or reject this. Since AX 2012 R3 CU 8, it has been possible to process these workflows via e-mail as well in conjunction with Azure. The department head receives an e-mail here with the options for approving or rejecting the workflow. The advantage is that the department head can also do this on his or her mobile end device without having to go to the workplace specifically for this purpose.

Example 2: Ordering services

Another example is the provision of data via APIs, i.e. interfaces for third party providers. A provision of price lists for debtors is conceivable. It is also possible to manage this API via Azure.

These were just two examples, but you can see that they can be expanded as desired. It must also be mentioned here that only Microsoft’s own services were described in this article. There are still countless other third party provider services that can also be used.

By Jens Kröger

Senior Developer