Hesam Seyed Mousavi, July 31, 2016
In developing Dynamics AX solutions, an ERP solution for large enterprises, Microsoft is delivering on its “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy – all Microsoft’s solutions that are being released from 2015 on, are based in the cloud and have mobile support. The same applies to Microsoft Dynamics AX in the cloud, which was introduced to the broader public in March 2016 with a refreshed image and enhanced functionalities.
And what new features does the Microsoft Dynamics AX in the Cloud bring?
The Solution in the Cloud
From this year on, Microsoft Dynamics AX will be called »only« Microsoft Dynamics AX, without any additional markings of versions and upgrades – simply AX with no version number or release year. The reason behind it is that as a cloud-first solution, AX will be updated and maintained regularly, without the need for large and disruptive cumulative updates. At the same time, AX in the cloud will enable easier integration with other cloud-based solutions (i.e. Office 365, SharePoint, CRM Online).
AX in the cloud is more accessible to companies, which cannot or do not want to make large investments in their IT infrastructure, which usually goes hand in hand with the implementation of a core system like AX.
With an enterprise system in the cloud, larger business and enterprises can further leverage AX in the cloud to drive collaboration, agility and innovation.
Availability on mobile devices, tablets and smart phones will ensure all operations and business data are available on any advice, anytime and anyplace. Mobile access is increasingly important to companies with operations in several different locations, international operations and mobile users, who need access to important documents on the go.
Dynamics AX in the cloud brings many upgrades and new functionalities: mobile support, cloud features and flexible licensing being the 3 most important
»Lifecycle Service Management« (LCS)
Improved LCS functionality will bring improved reliability and higher quality of the AX deployment. At the same time, the improved LCS functionality will enable easier integration of additionally developed features or custom-made features (e.g. rolling-out new features).
Another key change coming with Dynamics AX in the cloud is accessibility through a web-based client instead of a Windows desktop client like in the past. There will be no more need for a custom installation on every system or device for new or additional users, since they will be able to access the Dynamics database through a web browser. At the same time, a web-based client allows users to access different Dynamics modules from different locations, which is important to companies that want to provide their workers with access to AX modules from home or remote office.
Streamlined User Experience
Windows 8 and Windows 10 user interface is being used for Dynamics AX in the cloud, which brings a well-known familiar and intuitive Microsoft interface to the ERP solution. The unification of the user interface and experience across all Microsoft solutions is a path Microsoft has followed for the past couple of years. For B2B solutions this means a design that represents a dramatic shift away from bland windows and menus. We believe all AX users will be happy to see a better-looking and more intuitive AX.
Following the pattern used by other cloud-based solutions, Dynamics AX in the cloud will be upgraded continuously and whenever necessary. For companies, this means it will be easier to stay up to date with new and improved features and they will not have to wait for product upgrade releases, which come in batches.
If you have a business that has seasonal fluctuations in volume or your company needs an additional user on the system, the more flexible subscription-based licensing will make it easier to respond. Buying extra licenses that will never be used is a thing of the past. The new and more flexible subscription licenses will enable your company to easily cancel or buy additional licenses according to your actual needs.
AX and Visual Studio Expand Developer Capabilities
So what makes Visual Studio and Dynamics AX such an effective pairing? The integration makes code testing easier and development faster, more powerful, and more standard.
Visual Studio tools in Dynamics AX maximize efficiency by allowing developers to design user interfaces, tables, data models, data entities and more within a single platform. The compiler for the new X++ language has been rewritten from scratch to allow it to scale to large workloads, and the language itself has been augmented in a number of ways that streamline it against other managed languages, better meeting the expectations of modern developers.
Even with these changes, existing code continues to run in the new environment, with no or few modifications. The debugging experience is equally seamless, achieving parity with the experience from C#, including conditional breakpoints.
Developers additionally benefit from Dynamics AX’s automated end-to-end application lifecycle management (ALM) processes. Specifically, developers can expect:
- An agile process and quick pace
- Incremental development
- Predictable implementation
- Increased productivity
- High quality solutions
But it’s not just developers who benefit from Visual Studio within Dynamics AX.
Time and Money Savings for Partners, Customers and ISVs
AX and Visual Studio’s automation and cloud capabilities also allow partners and ISVs to do more with less time, and save money while they’re at it. By automating the entire ALM process from definition to development to deployment, Dynamics AX and Visual Studio open up time for new business prospects. This is really the goal of automating the end-to end ALM process—you can do more without being limited by concerns about maximum capacity.
Cloud availability also presents new cost-saving opportunities and circumvents the need to plan for worst case scenarios. Simply put, partners can use machines when they need them and shut them down to save money. This eliminates the need to plan for years of hardware purchases and planning for worst-case capacity, saving a lot of time and money.
In addition, the complete development process is backed by cloud based infrastructure called Life cycle services, LCS. This supports the organization in every aspect of the process from gathering requirements, through coding, and to delivery to selling the solution in the Azure Marketplace.
Benefits for the Whole Ecosystem
The true value of the Dynamics AX/Visual Studio solution is that it makes it easier for partners and ISVs to hire better talent. The capabilities I have detailed will increase the developer ecosystem of AX. As more people enter the pool, partners and ISVs will be able to hire more qualified team members. These increasingly skilled hires will spur organizations on to accomplish more, one solution at a time.
To learn more about t the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, register today to attend its virtual launch and learn how this latest cloud release of Microsoft enterprise ERP solution can help take your business to the next level.