AIF Error: Activity not found & Service Re-Deployment fails

A customer recently reported a problem with AIF services. The AIF log at System Administration > Periodic > AIF > Exceptions shows failed AIF calls from an external system resulting in an exception “Activity … not found”. However, the service seems to be active and online.

Default Voodoo here is to deactivate and reactive the service. However, it turned out that the service could not be reactivated. Dynamics AX reported an error that no activities were found. A detailed look revealed that all activities for this service somehow disappeared

Missing activities in Dynamics AX AIF service

The solution is to open a development workspace, navigate to the service node in the AOT and (re-) register the service.

Re-register AIF service

After re-register the service from the AOT, all missing activities were available again within the service configuration. The service could be activated without any problems.

Activities in Dynamcis AX AIF service

Be aware that other services may also be affected by the same problem. Check if your reports are working, and if not check the BI Service. In case the BIService can not be activated, navigate in the AOT to the service node and re-register the SRSFrameworkService and SSASFrameworkService.

WPA2-AUTO DHCP Problem with Windows 8

I recently faced a WLAN problem using Windows 8 devices. The WLAN was configured to use WPA with a pre-shared key. The network was working fine with Windows 7 devices. However, devices running Windows 8 only had limited connection with a auto configured IP address 169.254.0.0/16 and did not use the DHCP configured IP range. The problem was solved by changing WPA2-AUTO to WPA2.

WPA2-AUTO DHCP Problem with Windows 8

Upgrade HP nx7010 from XP to Windows 7

The end is near! XP support ends in April and still many devices out there run XP, like my good old HP nx7010 notebook. It was originally delivered with XP, and its performance not good enough to run Vista. However, Windows 7 and 8 are less hardware intensive therefore I decided to upgrade. The CPU does not fulfill the minimum hardware requirements, therefore I’ve chosen Windows 7. These are the original specs:

  • Intel Pentium M 1.7 GHz (single core)
  • 1.5 GB RAM
  • 120 GB HDD 5400 rpm (PATA no SATA!)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9600, 1680×1050 display
  • Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 with actual updates

Upgrade

The good news are, stuff comes cheap for such old devices. I’ve bought a new battery, a docking station and a hard disk upgrade bay that has SATA intern and PATA extern. Moreover, I found an old 60 GB PATA disk with 7200 rpms from an old IBM ThinkPad and an old 60 GB SSD from another Lenovo x121e which is also dead now.

HP nx7010 Upgade Hardware

The estimated costs for this upgrade project were about 300€, but could be reduced to 136€ by reusing old hardware from other devices.

Device Estimated Costs Project incl. delivery Where to get
Upgrade Bay ~ 45€ 61€ Hantz.com
60 GB SSD ~ 50€ – (old one) Amazon, etc.
60 GB HDD 7200 rpm ~ 55€ – (old one) eBay ?
Battery ~ 40€ 40 € Amazon
Docking ~ 20€ 35 € eBay
Windows ~ 80€ – (Dreamspark) Amazon, etc.
  290 € 136 €  

The upgrade bay holds an OCZ SSD and replaces the DVD drive. The original front from the DVD drive is removed and will cover the upgrade bay.

SATA - PATA Upgrade Bay

Drivers for XP are still available for Download from HP. Most of the drivers are found by Windows Update. However, it was useful to download the original drivers, extract the sp*.exe files with WinRAR and let the device manager search for drivers on the local computer. The ATI Mobility Radeon was not identified automatically, but Windows installed a Basic VGA Adapter. To get the full screen resolution of 1680×1050 it was necessary to update the VGA driver manually and again let the driver wizard search in the folder where the ATI driver was extracted.

Benchmark

The processor is still the bottleneck in this device. However, since the HDDs have been replaced and an actual OS is installed the question is does the combination of a new OS and improved hardware make a difference and if so is it faster? Therefore I’ve conducted 4 Benchmarks on the original XP machine, on the improved Windows 7 machine an on a reference computer (HP Envy Spectre 14, Core i5-3317U + Intel SSD)

Boot: The time required from pressing the Power Button to boot to Desktop. The password dialog was disabled for this benchmark.

Print XPS: Printing a 75 pages Word Document in Office 2003 as XPS file. On the Windows 7 machine the benchmark was run using Office 2010.

Compress Video: Compressing a 700 MB video file using WinRAR and “Normal” compression ratio.

Convert Audio: Converting 20 MP3 files with Freemake Audio Converter into WMA

  nx7010 Windows XP nx7010 Windows 7 Envy14 Windows 7
Boot 00:44.03 00:57.05 00:21.16
Print XPS 00:27.35 00:48.85 00:21.43
Compress Video 15:25.00 08:21.00 00:44.87
Convert Audio 03:59.00 03:30.00 00:31.29

The benchmark shows that booting windows 7, and loading all what is coming with it, takes longer than booting XP. Converting a document from Word to XPS takes much more time in Windows 7 and Office 2010 than XP and Office 2003. However, the other two application benchmarks are faster on Windows 7.

The results in line 2 indicate that newer software like Office 2010 requires more resources and therefore is slower on old hardware. But old software like office 2003 on old hardware behaves like actual software on actual hardware. However, converting audio and compressing video took long on XP and still takes long compared to modern hardware. All in all, no surprise here. BTW: Does it run Dynamics AX 2012 R2? Yes it does Smiley and the client performance is ok.

Windows 7 and Dynamics Ax 2012 R2 on old HP nx7010

Enterprise Portal Installation fails due not enough memory

A typical Dynamics AX 2012 (R2) installation requires lot of RAM to work properly. Especially SharePoint, the basis for Role Center and Enterprise Portal want’s lot of it. I came across an issue where EP installation failed. The DynamicsSetupLog.txt revealed the issue; an exception at the SecurityTokenService.

The service ‘/SecurityTokenServiceApplication/securitytoken.svc’ cannot be activated due to an exception during compilation.The exception message is: Memory gates checking failed because the free memory (723009536 bytes) is less than 5% of total memory

There are some blogs regarding this issue: Restart NodeRunner, Set the App Domain, Configure minFreeMemoryPercentageToActivateService . The simplest solution however is to provide more memory Smiley

Surface RT Business Use Case

Since Microsoft has reduced the price for Surface and Surface RT I’ve bought a 32GB RT device. I was wondering if it would be useful in a business environment. Here are the specs: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad Core CPU, 2 GB RAM, 32GB storage / 16GB free, 1366 x 768 at 10.6", wifi, usb 2.0. Surface is a good tablet, however to make it useable in business you need at least a touch cover that gives you a keyboard and touchpad. I also utilized the usb port for a wireless mouse.

Surface RT

The touchcover is a great idea, an almost perfect solution to equip a tablet with a keyboard. It is thin, light, precise and protects the Screen during Transport. However, I’m missing some keys compared to a full featured Keyboard e.g. the print button to make screenshots. As the touchcover has no regular keys, it is hard to type in a dark environment. Of course the touchcover has no back light and you don’t "feel" the keys you’re aiming for. By design it is a tablet with a Keyboard, and you can’t put it on our keys like a laptop.

Office

Here are the good news. Surface RT has a Windows Desktop as you know it from your Laptop or Desktop. It has taskbar, you can pin shortcuts on the Desktop like documents and Computer. Surface RT comes with Office 2013 Home&Student (Preview), which looks like a regular Office 2013 application on a PC. Right now, as I’m writing this post there is no final Outlook RT.

Office 2013 RT

Update: Office Home&Student must not be used for commercial use. Therefore you need to own a seperate office license, e.g. via Office 365

Network Connectivity

The Surface RT tablet has wifi built in, but no WWAN card. If your on the road without WLAN you will have to use your mobile phone instead. Since almost every modern mobile phone can be used as WLAN access point nowadays, I don’t see it as limitation. The tablet has no LAN port, this might be an issue if you’re at a very old school cable based customers. You can configure windows VPN like you know it from your desktop and laptop devices. Surface RT is running the Remote Desktop Service Client that implements RDP 8 protocol. So you get all the cool features like WAN optimization via UDP (if there is server 2012 on the other side of the line). You also get PowerShell v3, but without ISE or –ShowWindow option.

PPTP VPN and RDP Connection

Applications

The platform limits the native execution of applications on the device. You can’t install a Dynamics AX client or other applications on the machine . However, since there is Remote App technology around for a while you can provide applications running on a RDS server (aka. Terminalserver). The RemoteApp Manager has a simple wizard that guides your through the process. Select an application, provide optional parameters e.g. a .axc config file, export the RemoteApp as RDP file and place it on a windows share. Open the RDP file from the Surface RT, authenticate yourself and voila here is Dynamics AX 2012 on a Surface RT:

 Dynamics AX 2012 Remote App on Surface RT

Business Apps

There are many apps available for windows 8 tablets, and some of them are business relevant. There isn’t hardly any useful Dynamics AX app available at the moment. However, here is summary what I’ve installed on my device: ÖBB Scotty for Austrian national railways, Skyscanner to query cheap flights, Holiday Inn IHG hotel reservation app, connect.8 for Xing, Photoshop Express to pimp my photos, Skype, Technet News and Windows Blog Feed Reader, a Facebook app, WordPress app, IBM Presales Advisor, Network Speed Test and Amazon Kindle App.

IBM Presales Advisor App for Windows 8

On Vacation: Paris

Eiffeltower Paris

Greetings from Paris

Reduce Storage with Windows Server 2012 Deduplication

Deduplication is a new feature for File Services Role in Windows Server 2012 that helps to reduce the required storage space. This is done by inspecting the stored data. Identical parts are replaced by only a reference to a single stored part. Deduplication works great for data that has similar parts and is rarely modified, e.g. Archives. However, Deduplication works only for volumes. Migration to an iSCSI connected LUN is an option to get a deduplicatable volume.

  • Select a Windows Server 2012 machine to serve as Deduplicator
  • Open your storage system configuration interface and create a new iSCSI target and LUN
  • Start the Windows builtin iSCSI Initiator, connect the LUN, init and format the volume
  • Copy all files from the traditional share to the connected iSCSI LUN
    Here is an example for an iSCSI connected LUN. Drive S: is our Software Archive with installation files, MSDN Downloads, Trial Versions, etc. All these files require about 480 GB storage.

Windows Server 2012 Volumes before Deduplication

  • Open Server Manager and select the File Service Roles
  • Navigate to the volume to deduplicate, open the context menu to configure the Deduplication schedule
  • In the schedule dialog configure if and when the Deduplication should run in background
    If you’ve just moved files from a file share to a connected LUN be aware that the modified timestamp was updated and Deduplication might not immediately start Deduplication. However, this can be configured in the Deduplication schedule dialog.
    Here is the Deduplication result applied to the software archive. Windows came up with a Deduplication rate about 58% and required storage was reduced by 285 GB.

Deduplication saves 58% storage space 

  • Finally create new file share on the Windows Server Machine in order to grant access over the network

Update 28.4: Deduplication Applied to HyperV Image Template Archive achieved 79% deduplication

image