Business Intelligence and Reporting has evolved in Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations since it’s launch. Entity store is the default relational database for dynamics 365 for finance and operations containing several aggregate measures and customers rely on it for near real time dashboarding on data from the Production database of D365 F&O. Entity store DB is included in the D365 F&O subscription and Microsoft ships quite a few embedded Power BI content packs that does direct query into the entity store to produce stunning dashboards and reports across various modules.
It is also possible to make the entity store available in Azure Data Lake (Gen2). This gives flexibility for customers to have the aggregate measures of entity store directly in their Azure data lake and allows them to do reporting and dashboarding by mashing up data from external sources also.
Another popular option used by many customers is BYOD. Customers can export out of the standard data entities and custom data entities and export them in a predefined schedule to their own Azure SQL DB and then use Power BI or other tools to create reports and dashboards and mash-up the data with external systems data as well if needed. While BYOD offers a good solution for reporting and dashboarding by mashing up data from systems other than just D365, F&O, it comes with it’s own limitations and often requires you to manage and maintain the recurring data exports. The Azure SQL storage is also comes at a cost, depending on what volume of data you want to export and store.
With the version 10.0.12 launch, Microsoft is now making it possible to replicate you D365 F&O production data into Azure Data Lake (Gen2) storage. This new feature and framework allows you chose the data tables and entities you want to export and will keep the F&O data up to date in Azure Data Lake in almost real time.
After you setup your Azure data lake storage account, application ID and authorization for D365 F&O to access the storage account you will first need to install the add-in within Lifecycle services(LCS). Then you can enable the new feature within the feature management area of D365 F&O and perform the remainder of the setup.
Why you should plan the transition to Azure Data Lake: In my view, customers who are invested in BYOD or the analytical workspaces of D365 F&O entity store today should look at taking advantage of Azure Data Lake and should plan the transition for the following reasons.
- BYOD requires continuous monitoring and troubleshooting. ADL maintains the data automatically and is always up to date with no intervention needed.
- You don’t need to create data entities to expose data in any table that you want. You can literally expose all data tables and fields with ADL integration.
- Azure SQL data storage is comparatively expensive than ADL.
- ADL cloud storage is more efficient, better for analytics and provides additional capabilities such as AI, and additional programming to transform large volume of data.
- Data lakes in Azure are designed for bug data and analytics and are capable of handeling big amount of data with less cost. It takes advantage of Azure blob storage behind the scenes.
- Data lakes not only allows you to do analytics on the data using Power BI, but also it allows you do additional things like apply machine learning, AI on the data to learn and take meaning and action out of your big data.