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The Premier Field Engineering (PFE) team at Microsoft is a worldwide organization that provides proactive and reactive services to our customers. We provide technical leadership for Microsoft customers around the world, promoting health in their IT and business environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services. Our engineers come from a variety of services and external customer backgrounds. Each person's focus is delivering value through the customers' eyes. We deliver planned, proactive services to customers; to Microsoft authorized Partners; and with Microsoft authorized Partners. In addition our team can be engaged to provide a Dedicated Support Engineer (DSE) through a Microsoft Premier contract, providing deep technical expertise over a defined period of time.
These days it's so important that business decision makers have access to the correct data quickly. The data has to have the information needed and opportunities to drill down to find additional, supporting information. The Reporting Design Hands-On Lab is a service that enables a company to start or extend their reporting development with a dashboard or Business Intelligence Report from Microsoft. The customer's staff receives training on how to create these reports efficiently, which then allows that customer to become self-reliant for future reporting needs.
How it all works
When a company is interested going ahead with the Reporting Design Hands-On Lab, a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer contacts them to have a meeting to discuss what can be done within Microsoft SQL Server® Reporting Services and how to take advantage of best practices to establish requirements for their report.
After receiving the report requirements, a reviewer call is held for validation. Engineers then work with the client to create the report they requested with either a recommended template view or the template the client is currently using.
Once the report has been completed, a four-hour session is held with any of the client's Business Intelligence staff to examine the report in greater detail. During this session, the engineers and the client will review the important tables, how the SQL statement was created, the data source creation process, and the formatting for the report.
To close out the service, a final call is held to review the report and answer any questions about additional suggested trainings or formats on how to move forward.
Learning Best Practices
During the engagement, engineers review the requirements document and discuss the best ways to develop requirements for future reports. Other discussions during this time include how to highlight the columns needed on the reports, opportunities to do row and column groupings, and totals and subtotals needed for the report or dashboard.
Training the Staff
After the report is complete, a session is conducted to do a detailed review of the report creation process. During this interactive session, customers learn the whole design process, starting with the requirements to the testing and deployment of the report. The review includes creating the SQL statement and a review of the important tables for the module related to this report. Engineers then show the customer how to create a data source to connect to the database. They also show customers how to work through the design in Visual Studio Business Intelligence Studio and show them how to pull different components onto the report, how to create parameters, and how to incorporate design and expressions as needed. Finally, engineers show how to deploy the completed report into the Microsoft Dynamics application.
In order to increase the customer's understanding of the application, their Business Intelligence team is directly involved in the service and learns how to build reports to support their Dynamics implementation going forward.
There are two deliverables for this service. The first is a sample SQL Reporting Services report with built-in requirements the customer requested. The second component is a deliverable document providing a summary of the services and provides content on suggested requirements documents and readiness plans for Business Intelligence resources.
If you feel this is something you and your company may be interested in, feel free to email us at PFEDynamics@microsoft.com.
The Performance Hands On Lab is an in-depth training session for learning the tools and techniques used to help identify and eliminate performance bottlenecks on computers running Microsoft SQL Server and related applications. This proactive service can be scheduled any time during implementation to optimize performance, from user acceptance testing through operation.
Data collection is performed on the production system using proven tools. The Performance Hands On Lab provides fast and easy data collection with minimal impact on the production servers. The hands on lab method provides real-time troubleshooting of the actual production system. This way a customer's staff is able to learn not only theory and process but also how to resolve real production performance issues. The techniques can also be applied during the development and implementation of new modules, functionality, and customization. A Premier Field Engineer will spend a week onsite with the organization working with IT staff, database administrators, and developers of Dynamics applications.
The Hands on Lab is designed to be a flexible service where the Premier Field Engineer can focus on the most pressing performance needs. The engineer can also take additional time to focus on the learnings the customer staff needs to run their application more efficiently.
A typical week will include time spent on the following topics:
At the conclusion of the service, the engineer will provide a deliverable document that outlines the remediation steps and key recommendations along with resources that the customer can use to extend their knowledge on the maintenance of the system.
We've received great feedback from customers on the Hands on Lab services we've performed. Here are a few of the favorite:
If you feel this is something you and your company may be interested in, feel free to email us at PFEDynamics@microsoft.com.
A Health Check is a proactive service that delivers prescriptive problem identification and suggested resolution guidance for selected components of a Dynamics implementation. It's designed to uncover potential performance and application configuration risks as well as providing recommendations for any identified issues.
A Premier Field Engineer reviews the hardware, infrastructure, diagnostic tools, and product configuration of the Microsoft Dynamics application. The Health Check provides customers with a detailed analysis of the overall system performance, including the Microsoft Dynamics application servers and the Microsoft SQL Server® database configuration. In addition, the engineer reviews the application configuration within a business system for identification of potential challenges with recommendations on how to adjust. The Health Check gives recommendations in a scorecard deliverable that covers the reviewed components of the Dynamics implementation.
The best times to perform a Health Check are generally before an anticipated busy cycle in a company's business or anticipated growth in the volume of data going through the Dynamics system. It's also commonly used in the user acceptance phase to validate the configuration before go-live and on an annual basis to validate the state of the implementation.
There are several main advantages to a Health Check. One is to uncover potential performance and business processing or operational risks before they happen. Another is to prepare a business for an anticipated busy cycle, growth in the volume of data, or accurate processing of business needs. A Health Check also provides additional perspectives on the health of an organizations Dynamics implementation. In addition, clear recommendations in a scorecard format are delivered, detailing each reviewed component of a Microsoft Dynamics implementation.
The results of the Health Check are shared in a detailed deliverable document which has three sections. The first section is an executive summary which provides a component scorecard, detailing the health of each component reviewed, including a rating of Good, Fair, or Poor that helps determine the next steps in resolution. Next the engineer lays out his/her recommendations and conclusions are given that provide an analysis of performance and preferred practices with Microsoft recommendations. Additionally the document contains many pages of detailed diagnostic information and application configuration settings. It offers significant detail about a customer's implementation and its underlying infrastructure. The engineer will send the deliverable out and schedule a meeting to go through it in as much detail as the customer requires.
If you feel this is something you and your company may be interested in, feel free to email us at PFEDynamics@microsoft.com. For more information, you can see the Microsoft Premier datasheet on the Dynamics Health Check here: http://download.microsoft.com/download/0/9/2/092e42e0-5665-4707-9571-419846126d9f/Sure%20Step%20Health%20Check-Final%20PDF.pdf.
One option available with a Microsoft Premier services plan is the ability to add on a Dedicated Support Engineer (DSE), an expert in a particular Microsoft technology or solution. A DSE for Microsoft Dynamics has extensive experience in helping companies implement their Microsoft Dynamics products. The DSE works in concert with the customer's trusted technical solution providers and partners to complement the IT expertise customers receive with Premier Support by providing domain knowledge in Dynamics. Some of the processes they focus on include:
The main services provided by a DSE include:
Customers form a trusted relationship with their engineer, who can recommend specific services for Microsoft Dynamics, including Health Checks, Reporting Services, Workshops and Performance Hands-On Labs. DSEs collaborate with ISVs and partners to help ensure the Premier Support solution and the solution of the customer's partner(s) work in harmony. The engineer can facilitate customization, integration, and support for issues and questions related to Dynamics products, helping the customer gain more value from their technology investment.
When a customer's employees receive effective training in Dynamics business management technology, they can get the maximum return on their technology investment. A DSE is able to recommend the right training course for a company's IT staff based on their infrastructure, business environment, and support staff skills mix. By doing this, an organization is much better prepared for rapid growth and better aligns their technology investments with their business objectives. An engineer also provides an organization with deep insights into business processes. These services, such as facilitating the deployment of new service packs, help to ensure minimal business disruption.
If this sounds like something your company would be interested in, or would like more information, feel free to shoot us an email at PFEDynamics@microsoft.com.
The purpose of an Infrastructure Design is to ensure the environment is set up according to the customer's needs and Microsoft's best practices. This is an infrastructure design service for Microsoft Dynamics customers which is best performed during three different deployment phases: (1) before implementation in the analysis or design phase; (2) to evaluate a newly-proposed architecture during an upgrade; and (3) before an anticipated increase in user adoption.
The engineers on the Premier Field Engineering team can evaluate software architecture solutions and server hardware based on a customer's projected number of users and transaction volume in order to determine what specifications best meet their needs. The deliverables provide the customer with the knowledge necessary to make much more educated business decisions about their Microsoft software, server hardware, and stack technologies. They also show the respective customer how to set up the Microsoft Dynamics application on the recommended technologies and hardware to help them meet their strategic objectives.
There are three objectives the Infrastructure Design service is designed to accomplish. The first is guidance during implementation planning. This is accomplished by evaluating the implementation design on a customer's Dynamics product and then giving guidance on specific environmental considerations. The second objective is to give the customer confidence in their infrastructure by providing them confirmation that their infrastructure and hardware can support the required implementation design or projected growth. Finally, the Infrastructure Design service will provide recommendations about their product architecture that correlate with the anticipated strategy for using Microsoft Dynamics.
Along with three objectives there are three components of the deliverable that accompany the Infrastructure Design service. The first is server requirements and infrastructure considerations. This lays out the hardware specifications and infrastructure needed to support the Dynamics business requirements. The second deliverable is system optimization. This includes detailed recommendations on how to create an optimal configuration of the Dynamics system. And the third deliverable is best practices for high availability and disaster recovery analysis.
The way an Infrastructure Design service generally gets started is to complete a questionnaire and participate in an introductory meeting to explore the issues. If you feel this is something you and your company may be interested in, feel free to email us at PFEDynamics@microsoft.com. You can read our datasheet on the service from the Microsoft Premier website: http://download.microsoft.com/download/E/A/A/EAAAB03F-D393-4FD2-BF74-1186D1D5836E/sure_step_arch_assess.pdf.
With the Performance Review for Microsoft Dynamics, Premier Field Engineers perform a detailed review of a company's system performance in order to optimize the performance of the application. This service is done anytime during the implementation to ensure performance optimization. The service can be performed onsite or remotely and is available for Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics SL.
The Performance Review can be either a proactive service or a reactive service. If a company is anticipating a busy season, a Performance Review is a great proactive way to ensure a company's application is optimized and able to handle the extra stress. If a company is experiencing poor performance and need to alleviate bottlenecks, the Performance Review is a great reactive service to get those issues taken care.
Three Ways a Performance Review Can Help
The first step in the Performance Review is to understand and pinpoint the exact problems a customer is having. Engineers review the customer's hardware infrastructure and server layout, looking at the performance of those server components to make sure the performance issues are not hardware related or due to a poorly configured system.
Next, the Premier Field Engineer installs tools to help monitor the performance of the system. This toolset will gather information about the customer's system, searching for bottlenecks and other issues that could be hindering their system from performing at its optimal level. The toolset will monitor the system during normal business operations in order to gather usage information under a typical load.
After the data has been collected from the system, the Premier Field Engineer will review and highlight those issues that pose the biggest risk to the system. Engineers then provide suggested resolutions for issues in order of importance. The resolution will consist of changes to the system configuration, SQL queries or SQL indexes that may need to be changed. Additionally, there may be functionality versus performance trade-offs that need to be discussed.
The deliverables for this service consist of two elements - the first will be queries which can be used to improve performance right away. These will be queries that create additional indexes or modify existing indexes or suggested changes to existing queries. The second component will be a deliverable document which outlines the recommended changes to the system to achieve optimal performance.