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Business Central environments communication channels

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As of December 2022, Microsoft offers a variety of communication channels to get notified when Business Central environments are affected.

What events are considered to affect an environment? We can have:

  • An environment change: copy operation, or an environment deletion, an environment scheduled update, a change in the security group, session cancelation.
  • AppSource or PTE extensions updates and notifications: Base Application update, extension install and updates.

For some time, Microsoft communicated changes to Business Central environments through emails, to emails defined in the Admin Center in the Notification Recipients blade.

Users with rights to log in the Admin Center could also investigate Operations performed on environments by visiting Operations area in the Business Central Admin Center.

In my previous blog post on Admin Center, I went over major changes to Admin Center as they were delivered by Microsoft in late 2021.

Since then, Microsoft announced the coalescing of different products related notifications into the Message Center and Service Health.

Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Message Center

To get to Message Center, open Microsoft 365 Admin Center (https://admin.microsoft.com/?auth_upn=admin%40%5Byour tenant id]#/homepage) and under Health blade look for Message Center:

You can also add email recipients in the same area, using the Email Tab:

Service Health

There is also the Service Health blade under Health, which gives an overview of all products and their current health, but also provides a list of previous incidents:

Another Business Central environment communication channel is Application Insights Logs emitted by Business Central internally via processes, job queues, page views, reports usage and externally by changes to existing environments.

Since late last year, Microsoft has improved telemetry logs around not only processes run within Business Central, but also operations affecting Business Central environments.

In fact, Application Insights is the most comprehensive location for everything related to Business Central.

Application Insights Logs

Application Insights telemetry includes the most complete list of Environment Lifecycle events and can better be used for automation and reporting purposes than the other communication channels.

Environment lifecycle telemetry gathers data about the success or failure of the following environment-related operations:

  • Update an environment
  • Start/stop/restart an environment
  • Copy an environment
  • Point-in-time restore an environment
  • Move an environment to a difference Azure Active Directory (AAD) tenant
  • Cancel a session from the Business Central admin center
  • Export the environment database
  • Change the environment configuration
  • Delete an environment
  • Rename an environment

Telemetry is also gathered on the following data update events:

  • Data upgrade started
  • Data upgrade succeeded
  • Data upgrade failed
  • Data upgrade recovery succeeded
  • Data upgrade recovery failed

More details in Microsoft documentation.

But how would we get the Application Insights in a more digestible format?

For querying the Applications Insights is not really the most user-friendly format:

One user friendly interface is the Business Central Usage – a Power BI app. This app has intuitive blocks into what is happening in your Business Central environment and is built on querying the Application Insights telemetry logs.

For example, the screenshot below shows a reporting on App Updates:

If you want to read more about this Power BI app, please visit my previous blog post.

The Power BI usage offers a delayed reporting. You can set up the app to refresh the dataset daily or weekly, that way the reporting controls are refreshed at regular intervals.

To help with the automatic delivery Microsoft has built Azure templates that send notification almost as they happen.

When set up in Azure portal, a set of Azure services (Logic App, App Insights connector, Teams connector) can be triggered and send notifications about BC environments to a Teams channel or to a Teams Chat with Power Automate or a group chat.

Conclusions

Microsoft has developed multiple ways of getting notified about changes in Business Central environments.

First, in the beginning of the blog I mentioned the Notification Recipients blade in the Business Central Admin Center. Additionally, in the same tool, Business Central Admin Center, I talked about the Operations blade where admins will identify environment operations (Copy, Delete) or application (extensions) operations (installs or updates).

Furthermore, we looked at the Message Center and the Service Health in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. We saw how we can see past and current incidents, how we can add email recipients to notifications and how we can check the current state of various Microsoft services.

Lastly, I looked at Application Insights logs created due to Business Central environment logs and ways to display these logs within a Power BI tool or sent almost in time to Teams.

For more information, please visit Microsoft document in which you’ll find a matrix of what operations within BC environments are available on various notification platforms. Give it a read!

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