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Business Analyzer installation and configuration

I wanted to get a blog out here with a brief walk-through of setting up Business Analyzer for Microsoft Dynamics GP and SSRS. I’m also going to discuss some of the main issues we see coming in for cases.
I will also briefly discuss Excel and MR reports but in a limited fashion.
You can find some official documentation and a Q&A here:https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn508393.aspx

Certificate Requirement

You need to have a certificate available for the installation of Companion Application Services. Companion Application Services is required to use the Business Analyzer App. The requirements for this are similar to Web Client in that you can use a Self-Signed certificate, 3rd party certificate or a Certificate Authority.

Companion Application Services

The first thing you need to do for a deployment of Business Analyzer is install Companion Application Services. This can be found on the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 installation media in the AdProd folder. This is the windows service that will manage the incoming requests from Business Analyzer and route them accordingly. You can install this service on pretty much any server you want (2008 R2 and later) that you have available. You can also download the installer from the following location:
Once you’ve downloaded and run through the Setup.exe you will have a ‘GP Companion App Services’ program available. Clicking this will launch the ‘Companion Application Services Configurator’. When you first launch the configurator you will be presented with the following screen:
This will contain a non-functional, generic URL until you finish running through the setup. Click Next and you will be taken to this screen:
This is where you will specify your Azure Service Bus info if you are configuring this in Azure on a virtual private network. Our good friend Mariano Gomez has already written an excellent blog explaining how to set this up. His blog combined with the following Azure Service Bus information should be enough to get you up and running.
On the next screen you will pick your certificate:
If you’re planning on setting this up for people to use externally you will need to use a 3rd party certificate. If you’re using a self-signed certificate you will have to export it and import it onto every single user machine that will be using Business Analyzer.
On the Next Screen you’re basically just selecting to install the Business Analyzer piece:
Why is this screen here you ask? If they ever decide to push out another application that makes use of Companion Application Services, you’ll be able to choose which pieces you want to install.
On the above screen you’re going to select which type of reports you want to make available to the Business Analyzer users. There are several things here I would like to point out.
Excel Reports – If you decide to make the Excel reports available to the users based on a network share, they will not display within BA. What I mean by this is they will basically have a box with the report name that when clicked will simply link them to the report and open it in Excel. This means that they need to have access to the share where the reports are stored for it to even work.
A better way to do this is to use SharePoint online. When you set it up this way you can actually save the Excel charts to the document library\folder. If you do it this way, the charts will display in BA without the need for them to open the report in Excel. The catch here is that you can only pass 1 set of credentials through the BA App. So if you’re trying to set it up so that they can access both an on-premise SSRS reports server and Excel reports in SharePoint online you’re probably going to run into a problem. Most companies are going to be setup so that the users have separate internal credentials from their Office 365\SharePoint Online credentials. So you’re essentially going to have to choose one or the other or get ADFS setup in a way that it recognizes one set of credentials for everything.
Management Reporter – You can setup Management Reporter reports for viewing as well. This is also not going to show them a report in the Business Analyzer window. It will have a box with the name of the report that when clicked will open the MR Web Viewer in an IE window. This will work for internal deployments without a problem. If you want to set this up on Azure, you must also setup ADFS and the Azure Service Bus.
Depending on the types of reports you selected to make available to Business Analyzer, the next screens will ask you for the location of these reports. The above screenshot is showing you the SSRS setup screen. This is fairly self-explanatory and you simply need to put in the URL’s and select the options that align with your reports deployment.
When you click Next on these screens it will attempt to call out to the locations you specify to confirm that they are valid. So you can get an error on this screen if it is unable to communicate with the reports location that you are specifying.
When you’ve finished setting everything up you will be taken back to the original screen that you saw when you first opened the wizard. You should be seeing a new URL specified though. This is the URL that you will have the users specify in the Business Analyzer settings when attempting to connect.

Business Analyzer

The Business Analyzer app can be downloaded and installed from your respective app store. When you first open the app it will be in ‘Sample Report’ mode. You must go into Settings > Configuration to disable ‘Sample Report’ mode and enter your Companion Application Services URL and a username and password.
The username and password that you enter here will be the Domain\User and Password of the windows account that has access to the reports. Once you’ve connected you’ll be able to add the Charts and KPI’s that are important to you.
After you've taken Business Analyzer out of 'Sample Report' mode and loaded up some reports, they will not automatically refresh.  You will need to use the Refresh option to get the reports to refresh.  Even after you close and reopen the app you will be looking at cached data, the only time the data will attempt to refresh is when you hit the refresh button.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Here are the most common troubleshooting steps that I use to identify connection problems.
  1. Can you ping the ‘Fully Qualified Domain Name’ of the services URL you are using? If you can’t then there is a DNS or other problem preventing your machine from seeing that server properly.
  2. Verify that you can access the reports as the user you are attempting to use in Business Analyzer
  3. Have you opened the port that the Companion Application Services URL is using? By default this will usually be installed to 48650, but you can change it to any available port that you’d like.
  4. Is the certificate that you are using Trusted by the host machine? If you used a self-signed certificate you are going to have to export it from the server and import it on to every client machine that is going to use Business Analyzer. You need to import it into the Personal and Trusted Root stores. If you are trying to use Business Analyzer on an iPad or Android device you should be using a 3rd party certificate.
  5. Make sure the service is started. When you install Companion Application Services on a server you will have a new windows service called ‘GP Business Analyzer Service’. This service must be running for Business Analyzer to connect successfully.
  6. You cannot run the Business Analyzer app on the same machine that you are running the Companion Application service on.
I hope that you find the above information useful in planning your deployment of Business Analyzer.

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