The Directions NAV conference in Orlando, Florida finished with those of us from the great white north headed back to a winter of snow and frigid temperatures, something like what was experienced by Microsoft’s representatives when they proposed a new branding adjustment for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

The latest version, code-named “Tenerife”, was not going to be released until the second quarter of 2018 and would bring Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Edition back to a common development platform. To their credit, by the end of the conference, the senior Microsoft people had committed to reviewing the details on their “trial balloon” to see what would make sense based on the feedback received during the conference. Alysa Taylor from Microsoft provided some clarity to the release schedule and branding questions raised by partners.

Microsoft will offer a single collection of Dynamics 365 applications for all customers of all sizes and complexity. Instead of offering different editions, which were previously based on Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX, the user will be able to select whichever level they need, based on price and complexity, regardless of whether they choose a different base for another requirement within their business. For example, a business with heavy field service requirements but relatively simple financial structure could use the AX-based service capability and the cheaper financial system based on Dynamics NAV. Smaller organizations wanting one solution for everything will now be able to choose a version of Dynamics 365 with the full capability of Dynamics NAV.  It will be delivered as two distinct offerings, available through the partner channel.

  1. A Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud application offering a single business management cloud solution across a number of areas including sales, financial management, project management, and operations.
  2. A business application platform for development partners who want to build and offer vertical cloud solutions to customers.  This would allow partners to “white label” their vertical offerings, if they so choose.

Customers wanting to install a business management solution on-premise, will be able to do so with Dynamics NAV.  Dynamics NAV 2018 will be available December 1, 2017.

Dynamics NAV more robust than ever

For many years Microsoft appeared to be distracted by updating Dynamics AX so it could compete more effectively with Oracle and SAP but now significant development resources have been added to the Dynamics NAV team. And it shows! The continued refinement of the role-tailored interface, improvements to the toolkit to allow users to develop their own code extensions, integration to Microsoft productivity tools, and simplification of workflow processes may not sound like much when looked at individually but they really improve usability and automation.

Tenerife is now available for partners to look at, which gives lots of lead time to prepare for the final release and develop exciting new add-on products. Microsoft continues to push the verticalization message and many partners have jumped on the bandwagon. I was privileged to lead a small session for partners considering a move to vertical markets during the conference but most partners have already developed some form of verticalization strategy.  A number are considering moving Dynamics NAV vertical solutions over to code extensions, which provides a much easier upgrade path compared to add-on products relaying on customization of Dynamics NAV objects.

NAV code extensions offer smoother upgrades

Customers wishing to customize their on-premise or hosted Dynamics NAV database will still be able to but those starting from scratch would be wise to consider the code extension route. For those not familiar with code extensions, they are used to add additional functionality to Dynamics NAV without affecting the underlying base code, making it easier to manage and update customizations and enhancements, and making upgrades much simpler. Along with any app’s downloaded from the Microsoft App Store, they are compiled on top of the base Dynamics NAV code to create a unique user experience. They can be easily installed or uninstalled at any time. The Tenerife toolkit allows users to add capability such as custom fields, which will create a new extension so that underlying database is not modified. Exciting stuff, even for end users.

You don’t even have to be a geek to appreciate being able to track additional information that would have been impossible before or required a bill from a support partner. Or, worse yet, affected your upgrade path.

The future is bright for Microsoft

This is only the beginning as it seems Microsoft has finally got the cloud figured out and has suitable applications for it. For many years NetSuite and Acumatica provided competition for Microsoft resellers trying to sell users on cloud solutions. Based on Microsoft’s plans over the next year, Tenerife will prove an even more formidable opponent for these and other competitors than was presented by the current version of Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365.

For more information on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition, or Tenereife please contact Open Door Technology at 877.777.7764 ext 105.