Managing Environments

The Environments tab of the Business Central administration center provides you with an overview of the Business Central production and sandbox environments for the tenant, and you can manage updates for each environment.

Business Central Admin Center

Viewing details for an environment

In the list of environments, you can open a page with more details for an environment by choosing the link in the Name column of the list for the environment.

View details about an environment

Types of environments

You can create environments of different types. Which type of environment to choose depends on what you need it for.

Production environments

Production environments are meant to be precisely that: Environments that a business can run their daily business in Business Central in, deployed on performance tiers in Azure with a guaranteed high level of availability and support.

Production environments are backed up automatically and frequently to help protect business data. For more information, see How often are production databases backed up?.

You can create additional production environments for training or performance testing, for example. However, for training purposes, in many cases organizations will prefer to create a sandbox environment with production data. You can also create additional production environments to support offices in different countries.

You can have a maximum of three production environments for each Business Central tenant.

Sandbox environments

Sandbox environments are meant to be precisely that: Environments that you can play around with, use as a testbed for development, and delete at will. You can deploy apps straight from Visual Studio Code to a sandbox environment, and you can attach a debugging session to a sandbox.

You can also safely use sandboxes for training, such as for following a learning path from Microsoft Learn, because it's a safe environment to experiment with. If anything goes wrong, you just delete the sandbox and start over.

Important

The automatic backup that applies to production environments does not apply to sandbox environments. If you want to export data from a sandbox environment, you can use Excel or RapidStart, but you cannot request a database export.

You can create a sandbox environment that includes data from your production environment for debugging purposes, for example. But if you want to run performance tests, or similar benchmarking, the sandbox is not reliable enough for that purpose. This is because sandboxes run in a different performance tier on Azure than production environments. Instead, create a dedicated environment based on the Production environment type - this gives you the exact experience and performance that users will experience in the actual production environment.

Sandbox environments are handy for certain types of development scenarios because the debugging endpoint is open by default. This means that you can attach Visual Studio Code to a running system and debug through running code. It also allows you to publish directly to the environment from Code.

You can have a maximum of three sandbox environments for each Business Central tenant.

Pre-sales performance evaluation

If you want to provide a prospect with an online environment where you want to demonstrate the performance and reliability of Business Central online in addition to demonstrating functionality, you must take a few extra steps.

To demonstrate the functionality of the default version of Business Central, without focusing on performance, you can quite simply ask them to sign up for a free trial. Optionally, if you want to show the full functionality of the default version, you must switch their tenant to the 30 day trial and the associated My Company. You can then enable the Premium user experience in the new My Company's Company Information page, populate the new company with the data required for their evaluation scenarios, and present the environment to the prospect.

To demonstrate the functionality of the service, with a focus on performance, you can take the same step as outlined above, but then also sign up the prospect for the Business Central Premium Trial offer that is available through your CSP access in the Partner Center, wait 24 hours, and then run your performance evaluation. For more information, see Preparing Test Environments of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

That 30 day trial is as close to an actual production environment performance as you can get. You only have those 29 days to run your tests and convince the prospect, of course, but provided that you have prepared everything in advance, it should give you time enough.

If the prospect is convinced and decides to buy Business Central, you can then either let them keep the environment that they are currently using, or create a new production environment for them. If the tenant is yours rather than the prospect's, then a new tenant will be provided to them.

Create a new production environment

The Business Central administration center provides an easy method for creating environments for the tenant. For example, if you have been using a production environment for training purposes, and you have decided to start using Business Central to run the business, you can delete the original production environment and then create a new production environment.

Note

Each Business Central tenant is limited to three production environments.

To create a production environment:

  1. On the Environments tab of the Business Central administration center, choose the New action on the action ribbon.
  2. In the Create Environment pane, in the Environment Type list, choose Production.
  3. In the Country list, select the country for the environment. The specified country determines the localization for the environment, as well as the Azure region in which the environment is created and stored.
  4. Select Create.

When the new production environment is created, it will be based on the latest production version of Business Central.

Create a new sandbox environment

A sandbox environment is a non-production instance of Business Central. Isolated from production, a sandbox environment is the place to safely explore, learn, demo, develop, and test the service without the risk of affecting the data and settings of your production environment.

Important

Make sure that you understand the limitations of a sandbox before you create a new sandbox environment. For more information, see the Sandbox environments section.

Note

Each Business Central tenant is limited to three sandbox environments.

To create a sandbox environment:

  1. On the Environments tab of the Business Central administration center, choose the New action on the action ribbon.
  2. In the Create Environment pane, specify a name for the new environment.
  3. In the Create Environment pane, in the Environment Type list, choose Sandbox.
  4. Specify if you want the sandbox environment to contain a copy of another environment. If you choose this option, you must specify which environment to copy.

    Note

    When you create a sandbox environment as a copy of another environment, the new environment is created on the same application version as the environment that you are copying. The new environment will also contain all per-tenant extensions and AppSource extensions that are installed and published in the original environment that is being copied.

  5. In the Country list, select the country for the environment. The specified country determines the localization for the environment, as well as the Azure region in which the environment is created and stored.
  6. Choose the relevant application version for the new sandbox environment from the Version list if more than one version is available.
  7. Select Create.

    Note

    The sandbox environment will not be accessible until the State shows Active.

A single, default sandbox environment can also be created in the Business Central application. For more information, see How to: Create a Sandbox Environment.

To delete a sandbox environment, choose the environment on the Environments tab of the Business Central administration center, and then choose Delete on the action ribbon.

Precautions for sandbox environments with production data

If a sandbox is created with a copy of a production environment, a number of precautions are taken for that sandbox:

  • The job queue is automatically stopped
  • Any base application integration settings are cleared
  • Outbound HTTP calls from extensions are blocked by default and must be approved for each extension
  • Any General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) action must be handled separately and repeated for the sandbox. There is no synchronization with the production environment after the sandbox has been created

To enable outbound HTTP calls, go to the Extension Management page in Business Central, and choose Configure. Then, on the Extension Settings page, make sure that Allow HttpClient Requests is selected. This setting must be enabled for each extension.

Selecting a version for a new sandbox environment

If you choose to create a sandbox that is not a copy of an existing environment, you must specify an application version for the new environment. The version list will show the latest production version, which is the version used for new production environments.

The version list may also have one or more preview versions. Preview versions are early release candidates of upcoming releases of Business Central that are made available specifically for sandbox environments. This gives you access to review new functionality, validate extension compatibility, and other general testing of the upcoming release.

When you create a sandbox environment on a preview version, the environment will automatically be updated to new preview versions when they become available. However, the environment will not be updated to the production version. Once a sandbox environment is on a preview version, it must stay on a preview version until it is deleted. The environment can also be deleted if an update between preview versions fails. We recommend that preview versions are used only for temporary testing of an upcoming release.

See also

Working with Administration Tools
The Business Central Administration Center
Managing Environments
Updating Environments
Managing Tenant Notifications
Introduction to automation APIs