What is the Microsoft Intelligent Edge?

April 4, 2019 Ryan Pollyniak

Microsoft launched the intelligent edge in the October 2018 release of Dynamics 365 Business Central. Its purpose? To provide on-premise Dynamics ERP customers a way to connect to the Azure Cloud without actually migrating their systems to the cloud.

How does the intelligent edge benefit businesses?

There are many reasons companies opt to host their ERP systems on premises rather than in the cloud. The intelligent edge bridges the gap so these companies can still take advantage of the cloud (some of the top benefits are highlighted below), without compromising their reasons for choosing an on-premise infrastructure in the first place. Your data still resides on on-premise servers, but it is securely backed up to the Azure cloud.

How does the intelligent edge work?

Microsoft has already developed intelligent edge connectors for Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics GP 2018 R2. We should see a connector for Dynamics SL with the April 2019 release and a connector for legacy Dynamics NAV shortly thereafter.

To establish the intelligent edge connection, Western Computer will:

  1. Create a Dynamics 365 Business Central cloud tenant
  2. Install the intelligent edge base extension
  3. Create a data replication connection between your SQL databases using Azure Data Factory (ADF)

Nothing changes in your on-premise Dynamics ERP solution, but now users can also access your data through D365BC in the cloud. Note that you cannot perform transactions in the cloud instance (see Important Considerations below for more on that), but you can view data, download it, print it, use it with your Azure cloud applications, etc.

Watch our OnDemand webinar to learn more about Intelligent Edge:

Connect Your On-Premise D365 Business Central to the Cloud with Intelligent Edge

Advantages of the Intelligent Edge

The intelligent edge gives select on-premise Dynamics customers access to several benefits, including:

24x7x365 access to your data, anywhere in the world:

For companies with a remote workforce, the intelligent edge provides improved mobile accessibility to data no matter where they are working. For example, your sales or field service teams can quickly view customer details, order information and more while at the customer’s location—whether that’s local or in a different country.

Seamless connection to Azure Cloud applications:

With the intelligent edge, companies can connect to powerful Azure Cloud applications like Power BI, Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow), Power Apps and Cortana machine learning. These tools unlock new opportunities and empower you to do things like create your own applications, extend your insight, automate processes, boost productivity, and a lot more – the possibilities are almost limitless.

Faster, easier transition to the cloud:

Many companies who are on-premise now have a long-term goal of transitioning to the cloud at some point. The intelligent edge helps lay the groundwork for cloud readiness. It provides a faster, smoother transition to a cloud-based instance of Dynamics 365 Business Central in the future. The instance is already established, and your data is already migrated, so you won’t have the time and expense of starting from scratch when you’re ready to make the move.

Bonus data replication

Because the intelligent edge replicates your on-premise data, you gain an added layer of security and business continuity built in. You also get these bonus benefits:

  • Should something happen to the data on your servers, your data is still readily available in the cloud and protected by Microsoft’s unmatched commitment to privacy and security.
  • The intelligent edge can be turned off and on, giving you the ability to retain historical data or leave it on for continued data replication.
  • You can also use the intelligent edge as a test (not development) system when you don’t want to risk changing or disrupting your live production instance.

While you likely wouldn’t choose the intelligent edge for these benefits alone, they are definitely worth mentioning. However, if you don’t want your data in the cloud at all, then the intelligent edge is not for you.

Important Considerations: Before Implementing the Intelligent Edge

Like any decision about your business and technology, the intelligent edge has some important considerations to think about.

  1. With the intelligent edge connection, you are only viewing your replicated data online. It is a one-way sync from your on-premise servers to your cloud instance of D365BC, not a two-way sync. Users can see the data, but they cannot perform transactions online.
  2. You can choose to replicate your data from your on-premise server to your cloud instance daily, weekly, monthly—when it works for your schedule. It’s best to replicate after hours so as not to affect performance but understand users will not be viewing real-time data online.  
  3. Only core on-premise data and extension data will replicate. On-premise data in tables built with in-line (non-extension) development will not replicate to the intelligent edge. However, if you are running Business Central On-premise or NAV 2018 and your modification are developed in extensions, that data will sync up to the intelligent edge.

Want to learn more about the intelligent edge?

If you are a Western Computer customer, just reach out to your account manager. If you are a future Western Computer customer, contact our experts any time with questions and to discuss your options.

Watch our Dynamics 365 Business Central resource portal for an upcoming webinar about the intelligent edge. 

About the Author

Ryan Pollyniak

As Cloud Transformation Executive, Ryan evaluates client needs to strategize approach and demonstrate Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform solutions.

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