Dynamics AX 2012 Doesn't Require Azure Costs - So Should We Stick or Move?

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Dynamics AX - SBS Group

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 is working well for your company and you have already invested a lot of time and money to get it just the way you like it.  System performance is fine and you already own all of the servers and related hardware necessary.  Should you move to the new Dynamics AX now?  Later?

Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t.  This all depends on whether or not you believe the enhancements provided by Dynamics AX in the cloud are significant enough to warrant the fuss. Each company is unique and this article should provide you with some of the facts you’ll need to make an informed decision.

What’s so different about the New Dynamics AX?

The New Dynamics AX and Dynamics AX 2012 R3 are very similar in most ways, with little change to the actual feature set. Training investments should be minimal and 3rd party solutions should cooperate nicely.  Some improvements to budget planning and retail were made to the New Dynamics AX.  Microsoft Project integration to project accounting was deprecated.  All in all, your user community will enjoy the same bells, whistles, reports and functionality.

That doesn’t mean that the user experience is the same. Based on extensive usability analysis, the new touch-enabled, modern user interface represents a significant change.  The New Dynamics AX takes advantage of the principles of highly visual applications as is expected by today’s users in consumer applications. It offers an improved user experience that looks and works like a modern website and delivers deep integration that seamlessly shares information between Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM and Office 365.

In fact, Dynamics AX is now a fully browser-based HTML5 client which gives people access to Dynamics AX across platforms and devices and enables organizations to extend and build business-specific mobile applications. The new HTML/JavaScript client replaces both the former Windows client and Enterprise Portal.  That means everything is available through the browser.  No more clients to install or manage and no more terminal services or Citrix required.

Power BI Integration

The New Dynamics AX provides near-real-time analytics powered by Azure Machine Learning with the ability to visualize data through Power BI embedded right within the application. This gives users not only the information they need, but also predictive capabilities built right in the application.

New Enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services

The new release also introduces enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services, an Azure-based service that allows for turnkey deployment with pre-built, industry-specific solutions available in the Azure Marketplace (see AXIO Professional Services in Azure Marketplace) and automated setup on Azure, empowering customers to deploy faster with higher quality. The new Dynamics AX delivers a more flexible solution architecture that enables incremental implementations, changes and updates, giving businesses more agility and faster time to value.

Visual Studio for Development

All of the development work in the new release of Dynamics AX is done in Visual Studio (VS), but has deep integration with the Dynamics AX Application Object Tree (AOT). The AOT is still there and even the data model is essentially the same as AX2012-R3. The native X++ language is still the primary development language for AX but is now considered the same as any other .Net language such as VB and C#. Microsoft now considers X++ a “first class citizen” .Net language. Developers still need to have extensive knowledge of X++ in order to perform base customizations in AX.

Azure Cloud Power

Building on the global Microsoft Azure platform, with its strong commitment and capability to meet diverse data locality and data sovereignty requirements, Dynamics AX is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of global customers. The new release brings with it the benefits of the cloud that are most important for business — from simple signup, immediate provisioning, and built-in high availability and disaster recovery to elastic capacity to add resources but only pay for them when they are being used.

In fact, the New Dynamics AX database runs on Azure SQL and can be replicated across data centers within seconds when deployed in a production setting.  Microsoft geo-replicates the production database across multiple Azure Data Centers when deploying AX in the public cloud.  This means that AX customers automatically get high availability and disaster recovery services automatically just by running the database in Azure SQL.

How to Know if You’re Ready for Cloud ERP

Surface-Dynamics-AXThe business case for the New Microsoft Dynamics AX is powerful and most of our customers are either in the process or planning on moving to the new platform.  For many, it will be their first opportunity to step into a truly cloud-based ERP environment as the New Dynamics AX is only available in Microsoft’s Azure Cloud today.  True, customers may choose between a Microsoft-managed environment vs a partner-managed environment, but at the end of the day all roads lead to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud.  For most, the cloud and mobile experience, enhanced LCS, improved BI, improved security and other new features provide all the justification necessary to make the switch.

Some Dynamics AX 2012 Customers are reluctant to make the transition for fear of increased costs related to Microsoft Azure.

“The New Dynamics AX is Great.  Microsoft Azure is great.  But what if I want to stay on AX 2012 R3 and save money by keeping our solution on-premise?”

Fair enough.  For some customers, an on-premise solution may cost less and the functionality provided in AX 2012 may be sufficient to meet their business needs, but we would caution those who assume their Total Cost of Ownership over time is actually less.

In the end, the business benefits of leveraging a cloud solution like the New Dynamics AX tend to outweigh the perceived cost savings of implementing and managing in-house.  A quick Google or Bing search will turn up dozens of “cloud calculators” that compare costs associated with self-managed environments vs cloud environments.  And, with the performance, new development and user-experience enhancements provided by the New Dynamics AX, the better question might be “how soon can we make this happen?”

Also, read up on Dynamics 365, which is likely to change the cost impact of moving to Microsoft Dynamics AX – especially for customers currently or planning to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

We’re here to help

SBS Group consultants are here to help our customers review their business goals and make the best decisions for technology investments.  Reach out today and we’ll help you analyze potential ROI and cost of ownership across the different products and platforms.

Robbie Morrison
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group

Want to learn more about AXIO Professional Services for Dynamics AX? Register for our webcast on September 13th at 2 PM EDT.

Dynamics AX and AXIO for professional services webcast

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