Managing Production and Sandbox Environments in the Admin Center

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.

Viewing details for an environment

In the environments list, you can view more details by choosing the link in the Name column.

View details about an environment.

Types of environments

You can create environments of different types. Choose the type of environment based on what you need it for. For more information, see Production and Sandbox Environments.

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.

A production environment can have a state of suspended if the subscription has been suspended, or if the environment has not been accessed for a long time. In those cases, you can only publish extensions to such an environment if it only has evaluation companies. If the suspended environment has been used for actual production so that it contains companies that are not evaluation companies, then you cannot publish extensions to it.

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.

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.

Important

Apps that are published to a sandbox from the development environment or created using Designer are published within the scope of the service node that hosts the environment. When the sandbox is upgraded, these apps are removed because the environment is moved to another node that is running the new version. However, the data of the app is not removed, so you only have to re-publish and install the app to make it available.

Apps that are uploaded to the environments of both types (production and sandbox) using the Upload Extension action from the Extension Management page are published within a global scope. When the environment is upgraded or moved, these apps are downloaded to the service node and installed, which means that they will not disappear.

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.

If your organization has more than one sandbox environment, you can switch between environments by opening the App Launcher, choosing the Dynamics 365 tile, then choose the Business Central Sandbox tile. The sandbox environment picker shows the available sandboxes, so choose the one that you want to switch to.

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.

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 use your own trial experience based on a Microsoft 365 demo account. We recommend that you show the full functionality of the default version by switching the 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.

For more information about performance and Business Central, see Performance Overview.

Create a new environment

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

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.

You can create new environments that are either production environments or sandboxes. You can also copy an existing environment. For more information, see Copy a Production or Sandbox Environment.

To create a new environment that isn't a copy of an existing 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 Environment Type list, choose Production or Sandbox.

  4. In the Application family field, specify the type of solution that this environment is based on if it isn't Business Central.

  5. In the Country list, select the country for the environment. The specified country determines the localization for the environment and the Azure region in which the environment is created and stored.

    Note

    The new environment will be created with a default update window that guarantees future updates won't run between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM local time for the environment country. This update window can be changed after the environment has been created. For more information, see Managing Updates in the Business Central Admin Center.

  6. In the Version list, specify the relevant application version for the new environment if more than one version is available.

  7. Choose the Create action.

Note

The new environment won't be accessible until the State shows Active.

New production environments are based on the latest production version of Business Central. New sandboxes are based on the specified version.

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.

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

Selecting a version for a new sandbox environment

If you create a sandbox that isn't 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 list 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 won't be updated to the production version. Once a sandbox environment is on a preview version, it must stay on a preview version until it's 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.

Manage access using Azure Active Directory groups

To manage access at the environment level, you can assign an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) group to the environment. By assigning an Azure AD group to an environment, only direct and indirect members of the group are granted access to the environment. Indirect members are users in another group, which itself is a member of the group assigned to the environment. Although all licensed users in Azure AD will be added to the environment when it's synchronized with Microsoft 365, only group members can sign in.

From the Environments page, you'll see the currently assigned group in the Security Group column. Not set indicates that no group has been assigned. Not available indicates that the group that was assigned is no longer available in the Azure AD.

Note

The restrictions imposed by a security group don't apply to administrators. Local and delegated admins can freely sign in to all environments, regardless of the assigned group.

Assign, change, or remove a group

Before you can assign an Azure AD group to an environment, the group must be created in your Azure AD tenant. For more information, see Create a basic group and add members using Azure Active Directory in the Azure documentation.

  1. Select Environments, then select the environment on which you want to assign, change, or remove the group.

  2. On the Environment Details page, the currently assigned group is shown under Security Group.

    • To assign a group, select (Define).
    • To change or remove the currently assigned group, select Modify.
  3. The Edit Security Group pane shows the current security group, if any, followed by all the available groups in Azure AD.

    • To assign or change a group, search for and select the group from the list.
    • To remove a group, select Unassign a group. under Current Security Group.

    Note

    If there are more than 10,000 groups in Azure AD, they can't all be retrieved and displayed in the admin center. Instead, you'll see the message You have too many groups to display them all. In this case, you'll have to enter the object ID of the group that you want to assign. You get the object ID from the Azure portal.

  4. Select Save when done.

Note

If you change or remove a group, it can take a while before the changes to take effect or access is revoked from users.

Delete an environment

You can delete environments in the admin center, such as when a sandbox environment isn't longer needed.

Important

Make sure no user is using the environment before you delete it.

Also, be very careful before you choose the Delete action for the environment. The action is irreversible.

Log of administrative operations

The Operations section of Business Central administration center provides a log of operations that internal administrators and delegated administrators from the partner have made in the Business Central administration center or through the admin center API. Use this log to see which operations were created and when. You can also access detailed error messages in this log, should any operation fail.

Operations

Currently, the log includes the following operations:

Type Description Admin center API Extension Management Page
Copy environment An environment was created from a copy of another environment. See... See...
Create environment A new environment was created See... See...
Delete environment An environment was deleted. See... See...
Modify environment One of the following operations was done on an environment:
  • Set update window
  • Set Application Insights connection string
  • Set security group
  • Clear security group
  • Reschedule update
See update management...

See telemetry...
See...
Move environment An environment was moved to another Azure Active Directory organization. See...
Rename environment Environment was renamed. See... See...
Restart environment Environment was restarted See...
Update environment An environment is updated to a newer version. See... See...
Environment app hotfix A hotfix was applied to the app by using the App Management API. See...
Environment app install App was installed by using the tenant's Extension Management page or the API install endpoint. See... See...
Environment app uninstall App was uninstalled by using the tenant's Extension Management page or the API uninstall endpoint. See... See...
Environment app update App was updated either by the Admin Center or API update endpoint. See... See...

Retention period

The operations are kept for 180 days, after which they're deleted.

See also

Managing Tenant Notifications
Managing Apps
Updating Environments
Managing Sessions
Copy a Production or Sandbox Environment
Rename Environments
Restoring an Environment
Move an Environment to another Azure Active Directory organization
Introduction to automation APIs The Business Central Administration Center