Understanding the Infrastructure of Business Central Online

When someone wants to buy Business Central online, a couple of questions must be answered because Business Central can be configured along several different axes. In this section, we describe the topology of Business Central online so that you can make qualified decisions for how a Business Central tenant will be deployed and configured.

Tip

Business Central is available in a limited number of markets. For more information, see Country/regional availability and supported languages. For a visual overview of where Business Central online is deployed, see the Geographical availability site.

Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory

The first decision to make is related to the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenant that is required to use for Business Central online. To sign up for a trial, use a work or school account. For more information, see Try or buy a Microsoft 365 for business subscription.

This account is an important step because it is tied to a region of the world. Users are defined in the Azure AD account and then assigned the relevant licenses in the Microsoft 365 admin center. It is also important for the reseller's Azure AD. For more information, see the Enroll in the CSP program section.

Tip

For some customers, the right approach is to have multiple Azure AD tenants due to their own organizational structure. However, in Business Central, all users of an environment must belong to the same Azure AD tenant.

If an organization's structure changes over time, admins can transfer environments from one Azure AD tenant to another. For more information, see Move an Environment to another Azure Active Directory organization.

Environments and companies

Each Azure AD tenant that buys a Business Central online license automatically gets some environments. Each environment is tied to a specific country and localization.

Note

The Premium and Essential subscription types give each Business Central customer one production environment and three sandbox environment free of extra charge. If the customer requires more production environments, they can buy additional environments through their CSP partner. Each additional production environment comes with three additional sandbox environments and 4 GB additional, tenant-wide database capacity.

Administrators can create the additional environments in the Business Central administration center. The environments can be created and used in any country or region where Business Central is available, including the countries or regions where the customer's existing environments are running. The environments quota is applied when you try to create a new environment, or copy an existing environment, in the Business Central administration center.

Each environment can be divided into multiple companies, where each company defines a legal entity or a business unit that has separate accounting requirements. All users who have a Business Central license for a specific Azure AD tenant can access all companies in each Business Central environment that the Azure AD tenant has. You can define different permissions inside Business Central. For more information, see Create Users According to Licenses in the business functionality content.

Example

Let's review a scenario for an organization that is based in Denmark but has a subsidiary in Germany. They have three business units in Denmark and two in Germany. The following diagram illustrates how this fictitious company has set up their Business Central:

Chart that shows one Azure AD tenant using two Business Central production environments and one sandbox with three and two companies, respectively.

In this example, the production environment that is based on the Danish localization of Business Central is part of the default assignment as described earlier. This production environment has three companies to represent the following business units, all located in central Jutland:

  • The administrative headquarters
  • The production facilities
  • The Danish sales office

Contoso has chosen to add a sandbox environment with two companies so that their users can train new employees in a safe environment. The sandbox started out as a copy of the Danish production environment. Over time, it has become a proper training ground with some sample data that Contoso's reselling partner came up with for them.

Because Contoso has a German subsidiary that has separate accounting requirements, they decided to buy another production environment. This extra environment has two companies, one for the sales offices in Munich, and one for the warehouse near Stuttgart.

The users in all three environments are defined in the same Azure AD tenant. This way, all licensed users can work in all environments. Individual access to various capabilities is controlled through permissions.

Alternatively, the organization could have chosen to use a separate Azure AD tenant for the German subsidiary so that the German environment could use the Essentials license type rather than the Premium license type.

The following diagram illustrates how things would look for Contoso if they wanted to use two different license types:

Chart that shows two Azure AD tenants with each one production environment and one sandbox.

In this type of configuration, users from the Danish Azure AD tenant cannot access the German environments. However, Business Central supports consolidation of financial data from different companies so that Contoso's HQ can still get a complete overview of the business.

Important

As the examples illustrate, the Azure AD tenant plays an important role in how users can access Business Central. Users from one Azure AD tenant cannot access environments that belong to another Azure AD tenant.

Contoso is just an example to illustrate how the Azure AD tenant both affects and reflects the organizational structure. In some cases, this example is overly simplistic; in other cases, the example is too complicated. We recommend that customers work closely with their Microsoft reselling partner to understand how to configure their Business Central online.

Tip

For information about how to find out which Azure region a Business Central environment is deployed to, see the overview at Country/regional availability and supported languages.

See Also

Administration of Business Central Online
Production and Sandbox Environments
The Business Central Administration Center
The Business Central Administration Center API
Version numbers in Business Central
Monitoring and Analyzing General Data Protection Regulation
Get Started as a Reseller of Business Central Online
Deliver consulting services as a VAR: aka.ms/BusinessCentralConsultingServices