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What's up with the NEW Microsoft Dynamics AX?
So, the currently available version of the new AX is a Public Cloud version, using shared infrastructure on Microsoft Azure.
According to analysts, Public Cloud deployments represent 2% of the ERP market and approximately 30% or more of the overall ERP market will deploy on Private Cloud/Dedicated Resources. The rest of the market is to be shared between on-premise deployments and Remote Access deployments.
Private Cloud deployments dominate the picture because, typically, ERP systems need to customise (for example with industry specific solutions) and integrate with other business systems.
With a Private Cloud / SIngle Tenant / Dedicated Resources deployment there are no restrictions on customisations and integrations.
Compare this to most Public Cloud / Multi-Tenant / Shared Resources deployments, where your options for integrating and customising your ERP are limited.
Public Cloud AX provides a solution that distributes the new AX software, and is suitable for basic environments, with limited customisation and integration requirements. This is due to the upgrade requirements of Public Cloud AX. For example, the enforced 3 monthly upgrade cycle may affect some customer customisations and integrations.
Public Cloud deployments of AX, after approval by Microsoft, will be handled by Microsoft LCS deployment services and support will be managed by Microsoft (similar to the CRM Online support model). It's worth looking closely at the current Microsoft support options and costs if you are considering Public Cloud AX.
Furthermore, the new AX currently offers limited monitoring options and support compared to the options available today, for example with AX 2012.
Another option with Public Cloud AX is to develop test and development environments, to later move on to a more customised production environment on Private Cloud or using dedicated resources on Microsoft Azure (a Private Cloud on Public Cloud).
The Private Cloud compatible version of the product will be released during H2 2016. It will provide the new AX software but with a lot more choice. Private Cloud can be configured on Azure with SaaSplaza. It will have the full customisation, integration and support options as you are used to today, with our competitive per user pricing.
This is the market that SaaSplaza has traditionally focussed on, and allows partners to fully exercise their unique expertise. Our expertise is in architecting, deploying, supporting and managing complex enterprise AX implementations – to make it easy for partners and customers.
Minimum user requirements and Licensing options are also important considerations with the initial release of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX.
As a result, until the release of the Private Cloud version, SaaSplaza currently advises our customers and partners to deploy test and/or development environments of the new AX if required. Before moving to a production scenario, customers can compare deployment options of the new AX with full knowledge of the capabilities of all versions of the product, and know when they are available.
If you have more questions about the different options of Public and Private Cloud for the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, please contact SaaSplaza for a confidential discussion
A new AX a new name!
The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics AX has been called AX7 and was also previously code named “Dynamics AX Rainier”, “AX 2015” and “AX 2016”, but Microsoft has recently announced that the product will simply be known as “Microsoft Dynamics AX.”
That’s AX with NO Version number or Microsoft financial year identifier. Why? Because as a Cloud first-application AX will be regularly updated and maintained, without the need for large, disruptive “Cumulative Updates” or long names – such as “Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3”.
However the name "AX7" has stuck with the market, with both Partners and Customers calling it AX7 to make it clear what they are talking about.
What we can still be sure of is that Microsoft Dynamics AX will remain the premiere enterprise resource planning (ERP) package included in the Dynamics suite from Microsoft.
We know that AX is highly flexible and powerful across the broad range of its “core” industries (manufacturing, professional services, public sector & health, retail and manufacturing), with a large range of mature customisations available for most industries and business requirements. For example, we have implemented AX in the Cloud with extensive ISV customisations for the travel, warehousing and food production industries.
Microsoft released more information about the new product after presenting the first live preview at Convergence 2015 (the event now known as Envision). There are 4 main areas where Microsoft highlights the differences in the new Microsoft Dynamics AX:
1) Pricing and licensing for Microsoft Dynamics AX
As we expected, a subscription licensing option has been confirmed by Microsoft for the initial Cloud deployments. Purchasing Subscription Licensing will still be done through Partners, with three levels of User Subscription Licences (USLs) and a single Device USL catering to different business requirements. Microsoft call it "Predictable Pricing". Above that, users can expect "add-on" pricing for other services that business consume, for example Azure Site Recovery (ASR) or Power BI from Microsoft Azure. This model delivers businesses greater flexibility with the ability to “license-as-they go” and respond to organisational demand, but we are still waiting for the final details of pricing and how the new AX fits into the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) ecosystem.
2) UX (User Experience)
Highly visual and intuitive, and tablet/touch screen friendly. Seamless integration with other Microsoft applications such as Dynamics CRM, Office 365, Power BI and more. AX also has new features such as “Workspaces” that allow users to complete role-based tasks without complicated navigation away from a main page, through the ability to customise individual workspaces and the use of extensive preview functions.
The use of HTML5 delivers complete flexibility in this department, and any Windows, Android or iOS device can be used to consume and work with the new AX. It’s the “new” friendly, platform-agnostic Microsoft!
3) Microsoft Azure
The new Microsoft Dynamics AX will be released on Azure first, as previously announced, deployed by Microsoft LCS deployment services and supported by the Microsoft DSE team (similar to the CRM Online support model). The Private Cloud vesion of the product will be released during "H2 2016".
4) Integration, integration, integration!
AX + Office 365: as with NAV, expect a seamless integration between AX and Office 365.
Want to know more? Contact SaaSplaza for more information on Microsoft Dynamics AX Cloud
Information from 15 June 2015 continues below:
Microsoft Dynamics AX is the premiere enterprise resource planning (ERP) package included in the Dynamics suite from Microsoft. The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 (code named “Dynamics AX 7 Rainier”) has an expected release of early 2016 - originally late 2015 was the schedule but this has been updated recently.
Microsoft has been slowly leaking information about the new product, presenting the first live preview at Convergence 2015. While it is not yet known exactly the extent to which new features will be included in this upgrade, we can expect a big upgrade with exciting changes that will affect deployment, interfaces and possibly even licensing.
Here is a preview of "7 for 7" - 7 key features that are expected to appear in Dynamics AX 7:
1) Delivery through the Cloud
Microsoft has announced that Dynamics AX 7 is going to be a cloud-first application. This follows a trend that we have seen amongst other Microsoft flagship products. The latest update take full advantage of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Windows Server and the Microsoft Cloud OS. In fact, Microsoft has said that AX 7 2015 will initially launch on Azure only and won’t appear for on-premise deployments until 6 months later.
Moving Dynamics onto Azure and into the cloud provides a wider range of benefits. It will be easier to integrate the system with other cloud-based Microsoft products like Office 365. It also makes it easier to use Dynamics globally across multiple devices. Cloud deployment can also make Dynamics more accessible to businesses who want the power of the software without an extensive information technology infrastructure. Larger businesses can leverage Cloud to further drive business collaboration, agility and innovation.
For more information on Microsoft Dynamics in the Cloud vs On-premise, you can download this SaaSplaza Whitepaper.
2) A Focus on Mobile Access
It is also expected that Dynamics AX 7 is going to be available across a wide range of mobile devices, making it operational on nearly any modern smartphone or tablet. This becomes increasingly necessary as the business world becomes hooked on cloud and wants all operations and business data to be available at any time and from any location. Having access to real-time data from Dynamics through a mobile device will provide employees and business owners with better information to make informed decisions on the go, without having to get back to an office or a main workstation.
3) Lifecycle Services Management
Expect to see upgraded lifecycle services (LCS) management with Dynamics AX 7. It is predicted that Microsoft is going to maintain and expand on the LCS that are already in place for Microsoft Dynamics. This type of management is available to anyone using the latest upgrade of Dynamics whether it is deployed on local systems or across the cloud. LCS management means improving the reliability and quality of the Dynamics implementation used by any business and will simplify deployment. It will also make rolling out new custom features less of a hassle. SaaSplaza is a member of the Microsoft LCS TAP program for AX7 and is providing technical input to match our AX on Azure services with Microsoft LCS for the new AX version.
LCS certainly makes deployment easier but it is the ongoing management and maintenance of Microsoft Dynamics SaaS implementations that will guarantee the performance of AX7. This is the current gap with LCS that we see.
4) New Web-Based Client
Another change coming is that Dynamics AX 7 is will be accessible through a web-based client instead of a Windows desktop client. This means any shared in user will be able to access the Dynamics database through a basic web browser instead of needing to install customised applications on every system and device. Thus Web-based clients allow anyone in any location to access the different Dynamics modules. Having common web-based clients can improve productivity and facilitate business-wide collaboration on projects online regardless of location.
5) Streamlined HTML5 User Experience
The user experience in Dynamics AX 7 is based on the same framework used in Windows 10. This interface uses the hypertext markup language version 5 (HTML5) as a base. The HTML5 interface is designed to be lightweight and intuitive. It is context sensitive and the AX redesign is a dramatic departure from the more bland windows and menus that have been found in previous versions of Dynamics AX, but will still feel familiar. The new environment brings Dynamics in line with many other current Microsoft products. It will also make it easier to use Dynamics on mobile devices without a mouse or keyboard.
6) Incremental Updates Instead Of Versioned Releases
Following the pattern that has been adopted by many other cloud-first software developers, Microsoft will end version-based releases of Dynamics similar to what was done with Office 365. Replacing the strict versioning system will be an approach based on the deployment platform. Each Dynamics platform will receive updates whenever necessary instead of re-releasing the entire software suite. This will make it easier to stay current since compatibility problems will no longer be an issue with incremental upgrades.
7) Subscription-Based Licensing
Another feature that is in Dynamics AX 7 is a more flexible licensing scheme based on subscriptions. The traditional Microsoft licensing model was sometimes cumbersome especially for businesses that had seasonal fluctuations in volume. Buying extra licenses that might never be used is impractical. The new model is more flexible allowing businesses to buy subscriptions to use Dynamics as needed and then cancel them later. Check out the current Microsoft Dynamics Subscription Licensing (which ends June 2016)
More to Come!
The new features expected for Dynamics AX 7 is a look at the roadmap into the future of Cloud-based ERP software. We are experiencing an explosion in changing technologies that take advantage of the cloud and mobile devices. It will be interesting to see how other companies stay-up-to date in their newest software releases. For now, stay tuned for more updates!
Contact SaaSplaza for more information on AX