Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Why Business Central Is Amazing #2 - No More VPNs!

By Steve Endow

I have an ERP joke for you...

Find a consultant who supports an on premises ERP application for dozens or hundreds of customers.

Ask them which of the 7 different VPN clients on their laptop is their favorite.

(rim shot)  

Just say no

The credit for this post comes from my friend Shannon Mullins.  Two years ago we were at the Directions NA conference.

During a break, Shannon was on the phone helping a Dynamics GP customer.  "Have you setup a VPN login for me so that I can take a look?", she asked.  After a few more minutes, her call ended.

She looked at me, let out a big sigh, and said, "I'll be so glad when I get them on Business Central. No more VPN to deal with."

My jaw dropped.  I was in disbelief that I hadn't thought of it before.  I was so new to Business Central at the time that it hadn't occurred to me that consultants supporting Business Central customers wouldn't need to deal with a VPN.

You might think that's no big deal, but to me, that's amazing.

It might be hard to believe, but the last thing I want is a VPN login to a customer's network.  I do not want a login, I do not want remote access, and I don't want any permissions to any customer servers.  Nope.  

You know what happens when a customer gives me a VPN login and access to one of their servers?

The obvious one is that I have to deal with yet another annoying VPN client, store yet another set of login credentials, and more notes on connection information for that customer.  And if you need admin rights or the sa login to perform certain tasks, the level of responsibility ratchets up.

But there's a less obvious thing that happens when I have a login to a customer network.

"Steve, did you login to our server recently?  We're getting some weird errors."

"Steve, did you reboot our server?"

"Our integration worked yesterday but stopped working today. Did you change any settings?"

Or the worst case:  "We've been infected with ransomware and we're interviewing everyone who had access to our network."

Whenever anything happens, customers email me asking if I did something on their network.  I then have to explain that I haven't connected to their network in months, and hope they believe me.

A fine reader of this blog might have once said, "But I'm a customer, not a consultant. I don't need a VPN to use my on-prem ERP system."

COVID 2019 Virus:  "Hold my beer"

Yes, there are probably lots of ways to host an ERP system without a VPN, whether it's through a hosting provider or a different SaaS ERP system, but I've spent the last 13 years supporting an on-prem ERP application, so for me, being able to access Business Central from my desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone without a VPN?  

Well, that's just amazing.

Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He works with Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Power Automate, Power Apps, Azure, .NET, Dynamics GP, and SQL Server.

You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube



  1. Great point Steve! I use an on-premise ERP but I never thought about how a cloud-based solution might eliminate my VPN headaches :)

  2. Steve, I never thought about that aspect. I switched to being a Coupa consultant and everything is in the cloud. Most of our clients use 365 or Netsuite so even their ERP is in the cloud. It’s so much easier. I don’t miss the VPN at all!!


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