Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dynamics AX

Just as a "ping" to my Readers - I'm still around. Busy times as usual and especially one AX 2012 R3 Project has kept me busy for some time. And when we just got the grips on AX 2012 R3, we have to prepare for a new version... This post gave me an opportunity to share some general information related to my work and some initial thoughts about Dynamics AX...

Besides working in the Project mentioned above, I have also worked with a customer running AX 2012 R2 CU7 on replacing older physical servers running Windows Server 2008 R2, with New Virtual Servers running under vSphere 5.x and Windows Server 2012 R2. The most interesting part of this delivery, is the fact that they are running on the Nutanix platform. Compared to a traditional vSphere implementation with classic servers (hosts) and a SAN, this is my first experience with Converged Infrastructure. Not at the Hypervisor or Hardware level, but with Virtual Machines specified by us (me) and provisioned by the Customer regarding to the specification. Without going into all details, Nutanix is a player within the Converged Infrastructure area where one of the main differences from the classic approach, is that the Storage Layer is hosted within the same Physical Unit (appliance) as the other key System Resources (CPU, Memory, networking etc.) and still presentad as a SAN when deploying multiple Nutanix Appliances. The goal is basically to reduce the distance between the Storage consumer and the Storage Devices compared to the classic approach where the data has to travel through a Host Bus Adapter, a Fiber Channel which again goes through a/several Fiber Switch(es) before arriving at the SAN Controller and finally the Physical Storage Device(s). Over simplified, but you probably see the difference. It will be interesting to see how AX performs on this platform.

In between this, I was also lucky enough to attend the AX 7 Technical Preview in Redmond. The content was valuable for most of the sessions I attended with BRK 101 Better together: How Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 leverages SQL Azure and SQL Server 2016 as the single most interesting one for me. A lot of stuff going on in this area after Microsoft decided to move the Dynamics Team into the Cloud and Enterprise (C+E) team. I recommend attending the Technical Conference in 2016 based on what I saw in the Preview Conference and the fact that Dynamics AX is a technical release.

I have looked a little bit at AX 7 from CTP4 to CTP7, but I will not conclude on anything before working more with what is now officially named Dynamics AX to be released in February 2016. The main reason is of course the fact that Dynamics AX represents an architectural change to leverage Azure Public Cloud as the only platform in the initial release (let's call it Dynamics AX R1) and the number of changes this implies especially for the Technical Roles. Seen from Our part of the world (North Europe) with the current regulations, the lack of an Azure Data Center in the Nordics, might imply a challenge to get customers to run AX in the Cloud. And I know that we are operating in a small market compared to the US, but the lack of a Nordic Azure Data Center, will probably limit the adoption of AX R1 in the Nordics. But Test, Demo and Development deployments in Azure is still the only way to run AX R1 until the OnPremise (R2) version is released. In the meantime Microsoft has to release Windows Server 2016 with the Azure Pack and SQL Server 2016 since these are three Key Enablers for AX OnPremise deployments. And finally customers have the possibility to migrate from Azure Public Cloud to an Azure Private Cloud for their Production Deployments... At least this is how I read the current Road Map.

The only thing I'm absolutely sure about, is that the future of AX in many ways will be different with a set of new challenges for everyone involved. I have seen the product evolve from the early days (Damgard Axapta 1.5) through the transition since Microsoft bought Navision, and if I used the term Microsoft product when describing AX 2012 (back then the Microsoft Stack was Central), Dynamics AX is indeed a Microsoft Product underpinned by Microsoft Strategic positioning as a Public Cloud provider. It's worth reflecting more around  the fact that Microsoft is getting closer to the Customers and maybe I'll write a post on this later.