Using Azure Storage Accounts with Dynamics GP!

Let me start off this post by asking the question of how much is your data worth to your company?  If the answer is anything other than priceless then you are doing it wrong.  In this post we’re going to take a look at using Microsoft Azure to host your Dynamics GP backups.  Now I’m not going to fully dive into the depths of Microsoft Azure as you can find that information by clicking here.  What we will be doing is fairly simple and cheap to accomplish in Microsoft Azure, fact if you want signup for a Microsoft Dev Essentials account and you will receive a $25.00 credit each month for Microsoft Azure for testing purposes.

My thoughts on backups are very straight forward and I wish more people would be diligent about them regardless of the importance. For me backups are absolutely useless however on the flip side the restore is absolutely priceless, and the cold hard fact is not if you will ever restore data but when.  Now I remain positive that everyone has a current backup process that involves some form of offsite retention be it via a hard drive you take home or some other form of backup.  What we are doing here is simply adding another layer of protection to our data by using Microsoft Azure Storage as the landing place for our Dynamics GP backup files.  Now if you have small database or small databases in the environment your cost point will be fairly cheap compared if you have a database with 50 – 100gb of data in it.  An example of this is I can get 15gb of storage and 1,000 data transactions for $4.86 a month, it would be even cheaper if I reduced the number of transactions down to say 50.

 

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Now lets get started.  The first thing we will do is login to Microsoft Azure and create our resource group.  This is what houses the various resources we can use inside of Azure.  You can have multiple resource groups if you wish.  I usually divide mine into groups specific to a project or demo which in this instance would be this blog post.

I’ve logged in selected the resource group option on the left and choose to add one as seen below.

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I provide a name, choose which subscription I want to use and which location I would like this group to reside in.  Since I live in the South I choose South Central US and click on create.  When the group is created you will get a small notification at the top right of the screen similar to that below.

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I click refresh and my resource group displays in my list.  It’s important to note that a resource group doesn’t cost anything to have.  It’s the items inside the resource group that cost you.

Next up we need to get some storage space for our backups.  Now it’s interesting to note that the file storage we use for this is BLOB storage not like what you would see with your other hosted storage solutions or local backups.

I click on New > Data & Storage > Storage Account.

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Just as with the resource group you must provide some basic information before continuing on.  I give it a name, specify the account type, choose my performance option and some other items which I’ll outline in a later blog post as that level of detail is a bit out of scope here.

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Click on create and as before I wait for my completion notification to let me know my account has been provisioned. When the account has completed provisioning the next thing we move onto is setting up a container which acts as nothing more than a bucket for your blob files.

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As before we specify some basic information like a name and access type and click on create and when it’s completed you should see something like the screen below. There are two things I want to point out here that you will need for this to work with GP.

1) The storage blob URL

2) The access key.

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Lets just back to GP and open up the backup window > Dynamics GP > Maintenance > Backup

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This is where you can specify local backup or Azure Storage.  You will want to copy this information from your Azure Storage Account window back on the Azure Portal.

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The name I have selected is dynbackup and then in the right hand column we see the Primary blob service endpoint that will be the URL you need to copy. You will find your security keys in the Access Keys option on the portal site as pictured below.

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Next click on Use compression and then click on Verify account button. Once that is completed click on OK to kick off your backup.  Depending on company size and internet connection will determine how long this process takes.

jcox@hexoma.com

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