Microsoft officially launches the next generation of Dynamics AX, a cloud-first service built for Azure.
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Microsoft is announcing the global availability of its upgraded Dynamics AX. The flagship ERP software, which enables businesses to run operations from the Azure cloud, is now available in 137 markets and 40 languages.
Today's rollout marks the end of a public preview period, which started in November 2015. The preview began with ISVs one year prior and went on to expand to Microsoft customers.
This version of Dynamics AX reflects the cloud-first strategy Microsoft has adopted since CEO Satya Nadella took the helm. Prior to the public preview, the Dynamics team was folded into Microsoft's new Cloud and Enterprise (C+E) division to accelerate development of ERP and CRM projects.
The latest version of Dynamics AX integrates Microsoft cloud offerings including Office 365, Azure SQL, Power BI, and Dynamics CRM Online. It's fully run in the Azure cloud. Microsoft has completely transformed Dynamics AX to be a cloud-based service.
Its UX is in HTML5. It has been redesigned for better usability, and resembles the design of Office 365. The service can be used on any browser and on any device, from smartphones to desktop PCs.
Data analytics is core to the service. "We have all this data in our systems," said Mike Ehrenberg, Dynamics ERP manager and Microsoft technical fellow. "The value is not in entering the data, it's being able to turn that data into insight for business users."
Power BI is embedded directly into the software. Users have the option to explore data in Power BI, create visualizations, then transfer data to Dynamics AX to power the dashboard.
This release also improves on the capabilities of Lifecycle Services (LCS), which lets businesses combine best practices for applications with the flexibility of cloud updates. Businesses can test new integrations before rolling them out to employees so that improvements are easier to deploy and manage.
Productivity and efficiency are core to the cloud-based service. One new capability in Dynamics AX, the "workspace," is designed to keep users focused on the work they need to do by bringing together key information like KPIs, critical data, and business intelligence.
As an example, Ehrenberg alludes to the end of a financial period, which is usually a hectic time for finance employees. A workspace could be constructed to streamline their processes so they can work more efficiently.
Task Guides is another addition to Dynamics AX. Customers can use the "task recorder" feature to document a simple set of steps for the purpose of teaching users new to the system. It can also be used to make note of areas where problems occurred so they're easier to find and fix.
The newest release of Dynamics AX is now available to customers as a monthly subscription.
With the launch of Dynamics AX, Microsoft has a broader collection of enterprise tools to draw businesses to cloud-based operations. Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and Power BI are already in its lineup of cloud services.
While the cloud is top-of-mind for Microsoft, the company is also planning to release an on-premises version of Dynamics AX. However, this version of the software will require Azure Stack.
Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio
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