Is it time to run your Dynamics ERP in Azure?

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 4 Tips to run Dynamics ERP in Azure  

An analysis of the benefits and costs of running your Dynamics ERP in Azure

A lot of companies are considering how they can support report work with their ERP.  For those using Microsoft products, this often means considering running Dynamics ERP in Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS).  The various versions of Dynamics have different degrees of support for the cloud. Products like AX and NAV have been more or less cloud-ready for some time.  The Great Plains and Solomon products are designed for more of an on-premise workload. Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems have been around a long time, and there are 100,000's of companies using it around the world. 

This means there are going to be a lot of businesses that need to consider this change.  If we focus on the Dynamics GP and SL products, and of course NAV, Business Central is the cloud based ERP they probably need to look at.  There are some customers who need to look at Finance and Operations, especially if they are outgrowing the other 3.  I want to focus on the small and medium customer, as that is my specific area of expertise. The challenge is that it might not be an easy path!

Isn't Azure too Expensive?

I want to start with a question that comes up a lot, which is: Isn't Azure too expensive compared to buying a server. The answer is: Azure pricing has a lot of flexibility, and the right company who already operates the servers and hosts software can keep the costs very low. Sabre has been running Azure server infrastructure for years now, and we've learned the nuances of Azure pricing.  Microsoft Azure looks pretty expensive to the average IT professional that is investigating it. 

The "list" price of the product is a bit high.  What most IT professionals don't realize is that the "list" price is meant for very short term, small infrastructure implementations.  If you want to dig in and find out all the nuances of how to save money with Azure, and take on the long term commitment to run the system, the costs can be much, much lower than the price you calculate. There are a lot of risks of doing it yourself. 

I've personally had "accidental" Azure overages that were over $2000 in one year, with shut down servers that continued to accumulate costs I didn't notice.  We recommend outsourcing your Azure to a 3rd party who us responsible for it, and has the buying power to get the price down to something more affordable.  This article cost benefits of an IT Cloud Migration shows some comparisons in Canadian dollars, but the idea is the same anywhere

Why Move Dynamics ERP to Azure?

Here are 4 reasons we think you might want to run your Dynamics ERP in Azure, even if you have a plan to eventually move to the cloud with a product like Business Central.

  1. Easy: Dynamics runs well in Azure, and partners like Sabre are particularly good at hosting this infrastructure.  The move to the cloud often reduces the inhouse effort of your own IT department and gives you a more stable platform to run your ERP. The Azure partner handles the setup and ongoing maintenance of the servers. Ideally they also handle the billing by giving you a "fixed" price you can rely on (which only varies typically by the size of the database).
  2. Scalable Azure is amazing scalable.  That means it can grow or shrink as you need it.  It can be very expensive to have to move your ERP from a smaller / lower power server to a larger / high powered server.  Same it true when servers are upgraded.  On Azure you can resize servers with a few clicks.
  3. Costs: As discussed above, Azure is price effective with a data center model like Sabre uses. Our Dynamics hosting is affordable and fully managed by our team, and our ability to "buy in bulk" really helps keep the costs down to almost the same as buying your own hardware.  The difference is availability!
  4. Availability: Azure is up 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Microsoft has it's reputation on the line, and they have oodles (oodles is a technical term meaning lots and lots) of engineers monitoring the system all the time.  It is always going to be on-line.  When your remote workers need access, there's a tiny chance it will be offline.

Run your Dynamics ERP in Azure in a Hybrid Cloud model for improved remote work

Dynamics ERP as a Hybrid Cloud Solution

I have argued that just running an ERP in the cloud does not make it a cloud ERP.

Dynamics running in Azure isn't really the cloud. That's what I've said elsewhere, and it's just as true here.  Native cloud ERP does more than just run in the cloud. 

  • It has phone, tablet and web client support
  • Can print to cloud enabled printers from those devices
  • Supports modern UI elements like using your fingers to pinch or scroll on a touch screen.

Adding the ERP into an Azure infrastructure does not do that.

There are a lot of benefits however.  A business that moves their Dynamics ERP to Azure will benefit from the ease of management and remote work that is possible with the cloud.  It is not the same as running in a true cloud ERP system like Business Central. It is often much easier to work as a diverse workforce when the infrastructure is in the cloud.

A word about Windows Virtual Desktop

The last thing I want to mention is Windows Virtual Desktop.  I usually pride myself on being on top of technology trends, but this is one that I believe I've missed.  You may not have heard of WVD, but you will.  Microsoft is now moving heavily into the virtual desktop computing space.  It is super logical that Microsoft would be focused on this technology.  After all, they more or less own the desktop operating system in the enterprise business sphere. 

If you were concerned about performance issues moving to Azure, this addresses them.  Need to run on-premise addons for a product like GP and feel you can't address that with Azure?  The Windows Virtual Desktop product is revolutionary and designed to address those kinds of issues.  Frankly it takes away a lot of the reasons businesses have tried the cloud and reverted back to on-premise.  It essentially eliminates all the network performance issues, and is NOT the Remote Desktop solutions that IT staff love to hate.  

If you have not looked into this, I suggest you do.

 

Conclusion

There is a growing trend to move Dynamics ERP on to Azure. With the realization by so many businesses that remote work is a both reasonable and beneficial new model for employees, it is logical to look at Azure as a choice to help with this.  

We have been working with customers' Dynamics systems in our Sabre Dynamics Azure datacenter for over 7 years now. If you are interested in our help upgrading your systems to Business Central or you need help hosting an older Dynamics in Azure, give us a call at: (519) 585-7524 x.45 or contact our team!

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