By: Greg Pierce
For cloud, the “train has left the station” and in the Microsoft ERP & CRM world, that means the next generation of enterprise software from Microsoft is here: Dynamics 365. “D365,” as it’s increasingly abbreviated, is Microsoft’s new integrated business solution that unifies CRM and ERP functionality into a common data platform. Dynamics 365 also offers extended functionality by integrating with Office 365, existing versions of Dynamics AX/NAV & CRM and the new Microsoft AppSource, an application marketplace and management platform.
Dynamics 365 is a game changer and the culmination of years of strategy for one of the largest software companies in the world as it moves towards cloud. All of the benefits of Microsoft + Microsoft integration (think Outlook + CRM connector or Excel + Outlook), as well as the web-enablement that many users have come to expect, are rolled in to one.
So what does it look like?
Dynamics 365 Business Edition (formerly “Project Madeira”) is primarily aimed at businesses in the SMB space that have outgrown QuickBooks or Peachtree. The financials component of this edition finds heritage in Microsoft Dynamics NAV code.
Dynamics 365 for Enterprise consolidates the new Dynamics AX (aka AX7) and CRM Online. It is a robust offering that includes components like Operations, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Field Service and Project Service Automation.
- Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 becomes Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition for Operations
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online becomes Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition for Sales
- Office 365, PowerBI and SharePoint Online are natively embedded in the product
Following in the footsteps of app stores that we’ve become accustomed to on our phones, Dynamics 365 now integrates with Microsoft Appsource – a single destination for business users to discover, try and purchase various lines-of-business applications. And AppSource is positioned to become an even more important element of the Dynamics 365 story as it gains enterprise management capabilities like organization-specific deployment of custom applications (like those built with PowerApps and Flow). It’s an exciting ecosystem that can be leveraged by business users and the IT teams responsible for overseeing larger vision.
The D365 platform is a big benefit for Dynamics customers moving forward – but the biggest question remains: “How do I get there from here?” That depends on multiple factors that focus on your business, security, and compliance requirements. We believe the first step requires an evaluation of all the workloads in your IT infrastructure. In this increasingly cloud-powered world, it makes less and less sense to be in the datacenter business, managing infrastructure instead of modernizing your applications.
To help you assess your next move, here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions on Dynamics 365:
We want to transition to D365. How do we ensure it’s a smooth process?
Consult with your Microsoft partner and complete a readiness assessment that will compare your business requirements with the currently available functionality in Dynamics 365 and the future roadmap. We also recommend bringing your current workloads into the cloud as soon as possible. This will provide assurance that your environment, processes and data are optimized for a seamless move in the future.
What is the role of a Microsoft CSP (cloud services provider) versus Microsoft in this subscription scenario?
Many Dynamics customers will still need the expertise of both a Dynamics partner and a Cloud Services Provider (Microsoft CSP) to help provision and deploy Dynamics 365. The partner and CSP work together to make the application experience seamless. The services provided by the CSP include:
- billing and subscription support
- provisioning/deployment help
- software configuration
- resolving performance issues, service availability issues, client connectivity problems, client desktop problems due to missing or misconfigured settings, incomplete software integration, permission problems or other deployment issues;
- managing updates for services and software
- management of development environments
- usage questions and 24/7 support.
Can we have a local/on-prem version?
Dynamics 365 doesn’t have a future road map that has an on-premise component per se, but you will hear about on-prem implementations of the Operations app (formerly AX7) for a few different reasons. One would be a global deployment where a business is headquartered in America but needs a localized copy, say in Germany.
A second scenario would be if you have a retail establishment and can’t afford to have the public cloud access down, so you have an on-prem piece at the brick and mortar store for the point of sales system. Or it could be for a shop floor, where you need a localized connection to the printer. So you’ll have a localized copy of Dynamics 365, but the system of record, or the “master” with the actual database and where the truth lies, is going to still be in Azure. The Dynamics 365 component within Azure will be where you do your main updates, business and code deployments.
Is Microsoft adding compliance to security? What does it mean?
The security within Dynamics 365 is a work in process, so they will continue to add compliances going forward. If you currently have a PCI or HIPPA compliant requirement for your ERP system, you will need to wait before you move to Dynamics 365. You should begin to see compliance pieces added however, not in years, but in months.
Will code modifications be supported in Dynamics 365?
Yes, but only to a certain level. The common data model is set up in a similar way to the app store for an iPhone. The iPhone is connected to a QA process that creates an application for the customer that works. However, there are some limits around customization – which is what Microsoft is trying to accomplish.
What about ISV solutions that aren’t on Appsource?
You can still utilize your chosen ISV solutions. Concerto Cloud Services and other capable cloud providers provide support for ISVs that are not available on AppSource or applications that require a separate database and cloud space.
Begin Your Journey to D365 Today
The move to the cloud is a journey for all organizations as it impacts all facets of the application infrastructure. However, it’s a journey that delivers numerous benefits when executed well. For Dynamics 365 and all workloads in your server room or data center, it is important to start assessing your move today. Begin by documenting the uptime requirements, security requirements, and connected applications that may also need to be cloud-enabled. Most of all, the journey can’t be taken alone. Utilize your Microsoft CSP as a resource and partner in the process.