When you are narrowing down a software solution, several questions come to mind that might not be answered on product pages or downloadable material published on the solution provider’s website. While we understand that no enterprise-ready software is the same, and every ISV solution provider might claim theirs is the top-rated solution in the field or industry, we believe that our prospects prefer honest answers to their questions instead of tall claims before they engage with our experts.
Therefore, in this blog, we will tackle the most frequently asked questions crucial to evaluating our application integration solution – Connectivity Studio for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations/Supply Chain Management (D365 F&O/SCM). At To-Increase, we understand the challenges our customers face while trying to manage Microsoft’s data entities and map those with other systems while transferring data between the ERP and other systems. Therefore, to simplify integrations, we launched Connectivity Studio 15+ years ago and have 500+ customers across industries that are using our solution to configure lean integrations.
In the conversations we have with our prospects, we get asked questions about the cost, support for implementation, and monitoring integrations post-implementation. Below we share the responses that will help you make an informed decision about whether this solution would work for your organization.
The top 7 frequently asked questions about Connectivity Studio
Q1. Can you share a comparison between Connectivity Studio and DMF?
Connectivity Studio is an application integration, data mapping, and data migration platform. Simply by configuration and without any coding, you can use the solution to set up and manage integrations between Microsoft Dynamics, your business systems, and other applications.
The Data Management Framework (DMF) within the Microsoft Dynamics ERP offers the functionality to validate the data coming in and carry out the mapping between the file and the database. However, since Microsoft delivers around 1500 data entities, finding the right data entity corresponding to the data entity in other systems you need to transfer to, can become difficult and sometimes even impossible with the standard entities in DMF.
If you need to customize data entities in DMF, you need to hire developers. On the other hand, Connectivity Studio is an enterprise-ready solution that allows you to add data selections (tables, views, entities) simply by configuration. You can integrate any application using any fields and tables with Dynamics 365 using our solution. Using our integration engine, you can pick data fields within forms and simplify your integration.
We see our customers across industries changing data entities or using completely new data entities. With Connectivity Studio, without any development, just by configuration, you can map data during integrations to ensure the correct tables are mapped to the corresponding tables in the other system that you are integrating with. In DMF, you need to migrate the entire data entity and you cannot map it to the corresponding table in another system if the data entity is different.
Connectivity Studio uses tables and views to import and export data. Connectivity studio is a flexible solution that allows you to use a mix of tables, views, and entities for the same integration. Additionally, you might have multiple data scenarios to manage during an integration. With Connectivity Studio, you can set up constants, defaults, conversions, and transformations to ensure smooth integration and data synchronization between business systems. This kind of advanced data manipulation cannot be done using the current Data Management Framework within Microsoft Dynamics 365.
|Related reading: Microsoft’s Data Management Framework Versus To-Increase’s Application Integration solution for D365|
Q2. Can you elaborate on the technology behind the connectors?
Using Connectivity Studio, you can send and receive synchronous and asynchronous messages. You can also set up connectors, documents, messages, and troubleshoot. Connectors include ODBC, staging journal, Windows folder, web services, Blob storage, SharePoint, and Azure Service Bus queue.
Technically integrations can be implemented using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for operations database, file system (folders), web services, email, or database connection with ODBC. For file integrations, we support formats including XML, fixed text, EDI, Excel, and more.
You can carry out synchronous integrations that would be sent through the oData module, which works like web services, and JSON/XML/HTTPs are technologies to do that using DMF. The major downside of using oData is that you cannot send large amounts of data using oData since there are limitations on the number of messages going in and out. At To-Increase, we use custom services that have lesser limitations on the amount of data to send web services in and out of F&O.
Q3. What is the cost of the Connectivity Studio solution?
The good news is that our solution is priced not on the number of integrations or users but on the number of companies or legal entities used for operations/production within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations/Supply Chain Management. So, you can have multiple integrations for each company without worrying about the cost. Additionally, if we upgrade our solution or add new features, the licensing cost includes those updates.
The total licensing fee (base+1 company) for our solution is €/$1650* per month for the first legal entity. And since we follow a tiered pricing model, it is an additional €350* per company for 2-10 companies per month and €/$150* for 11-20 companies per month. So, the base licensing fee is €/$1350* per month and then you add the cost for the number of companies per month that you would be implementing the solution for. As part of our annual licensing fees, we also offer upgrades and maintenance of our solutions and Essential support to all our customers.
Additionally, as part of our Connectivity Studio solution, we offer our integration monitoring application Connectivity Monitor that can help you monitor and track the health of your integrations at no additional charges.
There are additional costs that you would need to factor in for training and implementation chargeable at an hourly rate. We offer training packages, that include installation services, training sessions, hands-on workshops, and a question-and-answer session, and we factor some time for project coordination.
For extended full-time support, however, we offer additional plans based on the customer’s business requirements and extra support tickets at an additional cost. Please reach out to our experts for more details.
For customers who need guidance for implementation, we offer services depending on customer requests. Additionally, we offer analysis and diagnostic services and project governance, but this is on a case-by-case basis and depends on the business requirements of the customers.
* Please note that for dollar pricing, the cost is the conversion of the euro cost.
Q4. Do I need to hire a developer to set up an integration using Connectivity Studio?
Our solution has been designed for technical and business users; therefore, post some training, your team can get started simply by configuration and not development. We have templates within the solution to help you get started quickly and smoothly.
Connectivity Studio also offers form mapping to bridge the gap between functional and technical users. Since the solution is built inside Dynamics ERP and has the same user experience, if you are familiar with D365, it will be a short learning curve for you and your team.
While our team can help you with implementation, if you need support, we can also help you after your solution is implemented. If you are facing any issues, you can either reach out to us for the free Essential support plan or then opt for 1 of the packages for extended support offered by To-Increase.
Q5. Does your solution support Microsoft upgrades, and how often do you update Connectivity Studio?
Prior to releasing any updates, Microsoft shares those with To-Increase 3 weeks prior to the release. This gives us enough time to test our solutions against the Microsoft upgrades and work on any development if needed.
And since Connectivity Studio is an embedded solution, every time Microsoft upgrades, our solution works without any glitches. This means that our application integration engine is built within the ERP, and we have built the solution using the same logic and code as Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Q6. Is the solution suitable for large data imports and exports? Can you elaborate?
Connectivity Studio can help you migrate your data from any legacy system - including Microsoft Dynamics 2009, and 2012 - to Dynamics 365 for Operations.
Our solution does offer multi-company import and export of data from multiple data sources (tables, entities, services, views). The solution also offers form mapping for importing and exporting messages. Connectivity Studio can help you import data into multiple companies simultaneously using a mapping specific to each company.
Having said that, while Connectivity Studio can be used for data migration, we cannot import and export large data volumes using the solution. But we offer a solution to help you with very large data exports to a data warehouse – Data Modeling Studio (DMS). For example, an export of 100,000 inventory transactions daily.
Q7. Is it possible to configure reports for individual integrations?
Using our Connectivity Monitor solution, you can track and monitor the health of all your integrations in a user-friendly way. Built on the Dataverse and powered by Power BI and Power Apps, the app is accessible on the go over tablets and mobile devices. The app allows you to track all your integrations in one place across your Microsoft Dynamics landscape, including Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Logic Apps, Data Management Logs, and more.
The Power Apps dashboard shows you the impacted companies, applications, and records when there is an integration failure. You can set up alerts that can be sent out in Teams when an integration fails and then quickly check the message log details on the Connectivity Monitor app and track the failure URL to ensure minimal downtime and losses due to mean time to repair.
Based on the performance of the integration over the course of time, you can check the message logs and then work on reports based on the metrics displayed on the dashboard.
|Related reading: Top 5 Application Integration Challenges Connectivity Monitor Can Help You Solve|
Is Connectivity Studio for D365 the right fit for your organization?
While we try our best to be transparent and share as much information as possible regarding the most frequently asked questions, we recommend you read our honest review, which shares the benefits, features, and limitations of Connectivity Studio. Alternatively, you can download our factsheet to learn more about the solution.
If you are ready to connect your application ecosystem and are keen on exploring Connectivity Studio, reach out to our experts with your business case. They can make recommendations based on your requirements and help you streamline and transform your processes.