Production and Sandbox Environments

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

Tip

If you're new to environments, get an overview of how Azure Active Directory, environments, and companies work in Business Central online at Understanding the infrastructure of Business Central online.

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.

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. In addition, starting in 2023 release wave 2, there's a limit on how many companies you can have on a single tenant (see Operational limits).

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.

Note

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.

Manage production environments

Use the Business Central administration center to manage the environments manually. For more information, see Managing Production and Sandbox Environments.

Instead, use the Administration Center API.

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. In addition, starting in 2023 release wave 2, there's a limit on how many companies you can have on a single tenant (see Operational limits).

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.

Partner sandboxes

As a partner, you can buy the Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner Sandbox license. You'll need a valid Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) ID. You must also have at least five employees who will use the partner sandboxes that you create using this license. This offer was made available in February 2022 to support partners that need non-production environments to learn, test, and deliver end-to-end customer demos with their solutions. The Partner Sandbox license gives access to Business Central Premium functionality.

Important

The environments that you acquire through the Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner Sandbox license are strictly meant for use only on the partner’s tenant. You are not allowed to use this license in a customer tenant, nor in a production environment.

Use the Partner Sandbox license for an Microsoft 365 account that does not currently have a Business Central license. This gets you 1 production environment + 3 sandboxes. Alternatively, use the Partner Sandbox license to replace existing Business Central licenses in an existing environment; however, the license will not give you any additional environments on top of the environments you already had.

Partners can purchase the unique, partner-only license via Web Direct to create flexible, cost-effective solutions that do not expire. Accessing the SKUs and pricing is simple: Go to experience.dynamics.com and submit a request for the Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner Sandbox license. Use a valid MPN ID. Once your request is approved, you receive a token to purchase the SKUs directly. Pay by credit card. If the total billing is over $500/month for your company, then you can pay by invoice.

Precautions for sandbox environments with production data

When an environment is created as a copy of another environment, a number of precautions are taken for that copy:

  • Tasks in the job queue are automatically stopped

    To see which scheduled jobs are stopped, and to decide which jobs to restart in the new environment, go to the Scheduled Tasks page in Business Central. There, you can set tasks to be ready to run in the job queue. However, only tasks that are marked as belonging to the current environment can run. For more information, see View Scheduled Tasks in the business functionality content.

  • Any base application integration settings are cleared

  • Any irreversible features that were enabled in the original environment will also be turned on in the copy. For more information, see Features that can't be turned off.

  • Development extensions that are published from AL-Go for GitHub or Azure DevOps and any extensions that depend on them are uninstalled when the source environment is a sandbox. Any data that was created in the original environment by the extensions that are now uninstalled in the copy will not be deleted. Any updates to per-tenant extensions that are slotted to be upgraded with the next minor or major upgrade will be retained.

  • Outbound HTTP calls from extensions are blocked by default and must be approved for each extension, otherwise instead of an external call, the system will display the following error message: The request was blocked by the runtime to prevent accidental use of production services.

    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, including libraries.

  • Any General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) action must be handled separately and repeated for the environment. There is no synchronization with the original environment after the copy has been created.

    The internal administrator has the same tools and responsibilities for the copy as they do for the original environment. As a data processor, Business Central offers the same level of data protection and data handling restrictions to all types of environments, both sandboxes and production environments.

  • The following setups are set to status disabled
    • Doc. Exch. Service Setup
    • Curr. Exch. Rate Update Setup
    • VAT Reg. No. Srv Config
    • Graph Mail Setup
    • CRM Connection Setup
    • CDS Connection Setup
    • All records in the Service Connection table
    • All records in the Exchange Sync table
  • The following data is cleared
    • Password in the OCR Service Setup table
    • SMTP Server in SMTP Mail Setup
    • Exchange Service URL in the Marketing Setup table
  • The following changes are made for first-party extensions
    • AMC Banking 365 Fundamentals
      • The Service URL in AMC Banking Setup is reset to default for Sandbox environments
    • Email - Outlook REST API
      • All email accounts of types "Microsoft 365" and "Current User" are deleted. Deleting these records turns any existing field monitoring setup non-valid.
    • Email - SMTP Connector
      • SMTP Server details are deleted
  • The following changes are made for specific localizations
    • Spain
      • SII Setup is set to disabled
    • United Kingdom
      • Password in GovTalk Setup table is deleted
    • Netherlands
      • All Digipoort related fields in the Elec. Tax Declaration Setup table are cleared

Manage sandbox environments

Use the Business Central administration center to manage the environments manually. For more information, see Managing Production and Sandbox Environments.

Alternatively, use the Administration Center API.

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.

Advanced user experience

It is possible to enable and try the full functionality of the standard version of Business Central in a sandbox environment by setting the Experience field on the Company Information page to Premium. Find the Company Information page in the menu in Business Central. However, we recommend that you as the admin set up dedicated demonstration environments instead. For more information, see Preparing Demonstration Environments.

Complete sample data

The standard demonstration company in Business Central includes sample data for a limited number of scenarios. You can also create a new company with the Advanced Evaluation - Complete Sample Data option. In this type of company, users can take training or step through walkthroughs that require more sample data, such as Walkthrough: Receiving and Putting Away in Basic Warehouse Configurations. This sample data is different from the standard sample data, and we advise that you do not capture and share screenshots with this advanced sample data.

For more information, see Creating New Companies in Business Central in the business functionality content.

See also

Managing Environments in the Administration Center
Preparing Demonstration Environments
Preparing Test Environments
Steps to set up a sandbox environment and Visual Studio Code
Get started with the Container Sandbox Development Environment