Dynamics AX 2012 R2 and Microsoft Office (Office 365) Integration


I compiled this a little while back and wanted to share it more broadly to assist those trying to gain greater clarity around AX 2012 R2 integration with our productivity stack. Please note that some of this content is leveraged/reposted from Chris Garty's 'Dynamics AX 2012 R2: Key Office 365 scenarios' blog post back in July 2013. 

Dynamics AX 2012 (R2) and Office 365

Web-based editing of Word and Excel documents using Office 365 is achieved by saving them inside SharePoint Online and editing them there.

Document Generation

If Word and Excel documents generated by Dynamics AX 2012 are uploaded to SkyDrive, SharePoint Online, or SharePoint 2010, then the corresponding Office Web Apps for that storage mechanism can be used to view and edit that document. Document generation functionality is disabled if the appropriate Office application is not
detected. The Excel document generation scenario is Export to Excel.

Export to Excel

Export to Excel requires a local copy of Excel to be available. Export to Excel functionality is disabled if Excel is not detected. However, if a local copy of Excel is available, then the workbook can be saved and uploaded to SkyDrive or SharePoint Online for future collaboration and editing using the web version of Excel.

Document Management

Document attachments can located anywhere on the Internet or an intranet using the URL DocuType. If a URL attachment on a record is located on SharePoint Online then it will automatically open in the web version of Excel and the user can choose to save it for local editing as needed.

Office Add-ins Integration

The Office Add-ins cannot be installed on Office 365 so Office Add-in scenarios are obviously not supported.

Exchange Online

AX and Exchange Online is a supported scenario and user mailboxes can be on Exchange Online. The local Outlook client must be installed on the user PC to leverage Outlook client-side integration (using the Outlook object model) with Dynamics AX 2012. The Outlook client-side integration is traditional method of doing integration and it gives us the only out-of-the-box option at this point in time.

Lync Online

Lync can be deployed on-premise or online, and both can interoperate with Dynamics AX 2012.

Dynamics AX 2012 & Office 365 Summary (in a table)

The table below should also help summarise this information:

 Enterprise Portal in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 support with SharePoint 2013

The Microsoft Dynamics AX team released a hotfix that allows installation of Enterprise Portal in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 on SharePoint 2013. The detail is available in this article on TechNet: Enterprise Portal on Microsoft SharePoint 2013. Also please note, that for Enterprise Portal, system requirements have not changed in AX 2012 R2. However, SharePoint 2013 system requirements have changed. See: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262485.aspx for more details. The search architecture has also changed and SharePoint has multiple search processes running that consume memory.

Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Business Intelligence and SharePoint & SQL Editions

From a BI perspective, it comes down to what capability you want to leverage. The product team has provided this image to show what is required from both a SharePoint and SQL perspective for various BI capabilities with AX:


 
Although SharePoint Foundation isn’t showing in the image above, there is not much difference between installing Foundation vs. Server besides the search differences called out in the next section (below). Please note that the KPI list does not work on Foundation and only on the server editions of SharePoint.

Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Search and SharePoint Editions

For a general comparison on SharePoint editions, please see this site: http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/buy/Pages/Editions-Comparison.aspx. If you use Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2013 (free download) for Enterprise Portal, you must also install one of the search server applications (listed in the bullet points below) for Enterprise Search. This remains the same for SharePoint Foundation 2010 and 2013.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 uses both the SharePoint Business Data Connectivity Service (BCS) and SharePoint Search Server to provide a unified Enterprise Search experience for Enterprise Portal and the Microsoft Dynamics AX client. Many of the required components are missing in the “Foundation” version of SharePoint. All search administration is managed in SharePoint Search Server. All aspects of crawling, indexing, and retrieving Microsoft Dynamics AX data and metadata for search (i.e. all search administration) are performed by one of the following products (also outlined in the Dynamics AX System Requirements document):

  • Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft Search Server
  • Microsoft Search Server Express – this is a free download but cannot be independent of SharePoint, is limited to 1 server and has limitations on response times once needing to search over 10 million items)
  • Microsoft FAST Search Server – typically selected if organisations need to index >=500 million documents, incorporate custom ranking models, entity extraction and content-based search.

One of these products must be available in the computing environment before you can install Enterprise Search. With each version of SharePoint (Foundation, Standard and Enterprise) the capabilities around search expands (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj819267.aspx#bkmk_FeaturesOnPremise). Search Server and Search Server Express are additional components that can be purchased/downloaded and added to SharePoint to provide some level of Enterprise Searching.  Additional details around comparisons between the search products can be found online. Ultimately, we recommend that customers use SharePoint Server (Standard or Enterprise) if their organisation intends to deploy Enterprise Portal. Of all the products listed here, SharePoint Server is the only product that will natively host Enterprise Portal and Enterprise Search.

Other Considerations for SharePoint Editions

With regards to performance limitations, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262787.aspx provides details of the SharePoint capacity management: Software boundaries and limits (this article relates to each SharePoint 2013 edition).  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff678214.aspx also provides details on performance and capacity considerations for each SharePoint edition.

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Please feel more than welcome to add your comments or discuss additional scenarios below.

 

Comments (3)
  1. ChinookNOz says:

    Just an added note on this to clarify the table above pertaining to SharePoint:

    – Enterprise Portal (including Role Centres) cannot run on SharePoint Online and must be SharePoint on-premises (even if both licensed via O365).

    – AX document management can work with SharePoint Online OR SharePoint on-premises

  2. ChinookNOz says:

    An added update pertaining to AX 2012 R3 CU8 (Dec 2014):

    One of the features added as a part of Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU8 is integration with Microsoft Exchange Server. This is an alternative to the existing Microsoft Outlook client integration with AX. It allows a user to synchronize appointments, tasks, and contacts in Dynamics AX directly to Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft Exchange Online in Office 365. It will also allow employees who work in a remote desktop or terminal server environment to also efficiently leverage the integration feature. Please see this article for more information: community.dynamics.com/…/microsoft-exchange-server-integration-in-ax-r3-cu8.aspx.

  3. Jon r says:

    How does the AX plug-in for Excel work if you are using Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus?

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