Microsoft Dynamics AX


Number sequence consumption monitoring

Once a company has been live for a while and they are doing Business As Usual, they often forget about maintaining one critical area. The system is using Number Sequences as identifiers, for which we have fixed, allocated range of values. Typical example is a general financial journal with a format like JNL18-###### with values between 000001 and 999999. Number Sequence consumption monitoring is essential!

If the sequence reaches the maximum value, you are no longer able to create new financial journals. Sometimes it is obvious when a number is about to run out, but in many cases AX has it hidden on a transactional level that is not necessarily visible for the users. When the sequence runs out, it can cause serious issues:

  • database locking
  • error messages
  • rolled back transactions.

Proactive monitoring is key to a healthy ERP system on many levels. Number sequence consumption monitoring is no exception. We are running a Transact-SQL script that keeps tracking of the number sequence utilization, and sends out an e-mail with entries reaching a set threshold. We are running the job based on a weekly schedule. We include any sequences that have used up at least 70% of their available range.

Number sequence consumption email
By |2020-03-31T12:21:42+02:00March 31st, 2020|Categories: AX 2012|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Archiving SQL database backups using Azure blob storage

It is a good practice to keep multiple copies of our most precious data. By using on-premises SQL Server databases for AX 2012 or Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, archiving SQL database backups to offsite-locations are a must. I have built automation for archiving SQL database backups using Azure Blob Storage.

Overview of the processes

Maintenance regime

Our maintenance regime looks like the following:

  • 1x Weekly Full backup
  • 6x Daily Differential backup
  • 15 minute Transactional log backups

They are captured locally on the primary SQL instance, to keep the timestamps for last successful backups in our AlwaysOn cluster. Then we move the files to a shared network storage, which is visible to both High Availability sites, in case there is an outage and we need to a fail over and restore data.

In case of a natural disaster due to the close geographical proximity of the sites we needed an additional layer of safety.

Archiving offsite

Every night we are running a PowerShell script that uses the AzCopy utility. It is uploading our backup files on a Microsoft Azure cloud storage account.

You are paying for the network usage (IO) and the size occupied on the disks, so it is a good idea to have some sort of housekeeping. Our solution was to use an Azure RunBook to determine what to keep and what to delete. The current setup is to have 1 full backup file for a year available every quarter (4x 400 GB), and keep all full / differential / transactional files for the last month (4x 400 GB + 26x 10 GB).

This puts the total size occupied around 4 TB, and costs about 35 GBP a month using a cold storage. This price could go up if you also want to utilize a hot tier storage for the latest backup set. That is useful if you want to come back from the cloud on a short notice.


Trace database cleanup in an efficient way

The Trace parser is an excellent tool for troubleshooting business functionality within Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Your Trace database can quickly grow large and it does affect the tools’ performance adversely.

Removing the old trace collections one-by-one is time consuming. You could utilize a stored procedure for cleaning up your AX trace database efficiently in SQL:

-- Replace AXTrace with your database name
USE [AXTrace]
-- Truncate transaction log to reduce size
-- Iterate through the list of traces in the database
       SELECT [TraceId] FROM [dbo].[Traces]
OPEN cur;
FETCH NEXT FROM cur into @Id;
-- Remove all traces in the database with the DeleteTrace stored procedure
       EXEC [dbo].[DeleteTrace] @TraceId = @Id
       FETCH NEXT FROM cur into @Id;
CLOSE cur;
-- Truncate transaction log to reduce size
By |2020-03-23T13:21:53+01:00March 31st, 2019|Categories: AX 2012, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Checklist can change AX configuration keys

The other day we ran into a serious issue during our regular Production system maintenance. The Data dictionary synchronization step has started creating indexes with a DEL_ prefix on large tables such as InventTrans. We have quickly identified that AX configuration keys got changed by opening a checklist.

It turned out that some of the users had the System_Checklist security privilege assigned, and they have clicked it by accident. Standard code can add or update License configuration keys when you run the checklist.

In our case only a couple of new entries were activated, such as SysObsoleteObjects60. It has added a lot of DEL_ objects which could be easily rolled back. At another company it has done irreversible damage for inventory dimensions. You could imagine how bad the situation could get if important config keys are turned off. Synchronization would start dropping columns and entire tables.

SysConfig checklist

The quick fix was to use the Export functionality on the License configuration form from our Quality Assurance AX (daily copy of Production). Then we could import the correct configurations to Prod and revert changes by doing a Data dictionary synchronization.

Please ensure that your users only have access to security privileges they really need, to avoid unintentional damage. Remove the System_Checklist and similar features from everyone, except the administrators.