Data Export Service Connection Issues

This is a slightly different post from the usually stuff that I talk about. It’s much more ‘techy/developer’ focused, but I thought it would be quite useful still for people to keep in mind.

The background to this comes from a project that I’ve been working on with some colleagues. Part of the project involves setting up an Azure SQL database, and replicating CDS data to it. Why, I hear you ask? Well, there are some downstream systems that may be heavy users of the data, and as we well know, CDS isn’t specifically build to handle a large number of queries against it. In fact, if you start hammering the CDS layer, Microsoft is likely to reach out to ask what exactly you’re trying to do!

Therefore (as most people would do), we’re putting in database layer/s within Azure to handle the volume of data requests that we’re expecting to occur.

So with setting up things like databases, we need to create the name for them, along with access credentials. All regular ‘run of the mill’ stuff – no surprises there. In order for adequate security, we usually use one of a handful of password generators that we keep to hand. These have many advantages to them, such as ensuring that it’s not something we (as humans) are dreaming up, that might be easier to be guessed at. I’ve used password generators over the years for many different professional & personal projects, and they really are quite good overall.

Sordum Random Password Generator Creates Random Passwords with Ease -  MajorGeeks
Example of a password generation tool

Once we had the credentials & everything set up, we then logged in (using SQL Server Management Studio), and all was good. Everything that we needed was in place, and it was looking superb (from the front end, at least).

OK – on to getting the data actually loaded in. To do this, we’re using the Data Export Service (see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/replicate-data-microsoft-azure-sql-database for further information around this). The reason for using this is that the Data Export Service intelligently synchronises the entire database initially, and thereafter synchronises on a continuous basis as changes occur (delta changes) in the system. This is really good, and means we don’t need to build anything custom to handle it. Wonderful!

Setting up the Data Export Service takes a little bit of time. I’m not going to go into the details of how to set it up – instead there’s a wonderful walkthrough by the AMAZING Scott Durow at http://develop1.net/public/post/2016/12/09/Dynamic365-Data-Export-Service. Go take a look at it if you’re needing to find out how to do it.

So we were going through the process. Part of this is needing to copy the Azure connection string into into a script that you run. When you do this, you need to re-insert the password (as Azure doesn’t include it in the string). For our purposes (as we had generated this), we copied/pasted the password, and ran things.

However all we were getting was a red star, and the error message ‘Unable to validate profile’.

As you’d expect, this was HIGHLY frustrating. We started to dig down to see what actual error log/s were available (with hopefully more information on them), but didn’t make much progress there. We logged in through the front end again – yes, no problems there, all was working fine. Back to the Export Service & scripts, but again the error. As you can imagine, we weren’t very positive about this, and were really trying to find out what could possibly be causing this. Was it a system error? Was there something that we had forgotten to do, somewhere, during the initial setup process?

It’s at these sorts of times that self-doubt can start to creep in. Did we miss something small & minor, but that was actually really important? We went over the deployment steps again & again. Each time, we couldn’t find anything that we had missed out. It was getting absolutely exasperating!

Finally, after much trial & error, we narrowed the issue down to one source. It’s something we hadn’t really expected, but had indeed caused all of this to happen!

What happened was that the password that we had auto-generated had a semi-colon (‘;’) in it. In & of itself, that’s not an issue (usually). As we had seen, we were able to log into SSMS (the ‘front-end’) successfully, with no issues at all.

However when put into code, Azure treats the semi-colon as a special character (a command separator). It was therefore not recognising the entire password, which was causing the entire thing to fail! To resolve this was simple – we regenerated the password to ensure that it didn’t include a semi-colon character within it!

Now, this is indeed something that’s quite simple, and should be at the core of programming knowledge. Most password generators will have an option to avoid this happening, but not all password generators have this. Unfortunately we had fallen subject to this, but thankfully all was resolved in the end.

The setup then carried on successfully, and we were able (after all of the effort above) to achieve what we had set out to do initially.

Have you ever had a similar issue? Either with passwords, or where something worked through a front-end system, but not in code? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear!

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