Microsoft Officially Moves Toward Semi-Annual Dynamics 365 Updates
In early July, Microsoft announced that they are officially moving toward a semi-annual update cadence with their Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM solutions. This new cadence was designed to optimize how Microsoft delivers Dynamics 365 updates, while also lowering upgrade costs, providing access to the latest capabilities, and offering a better support experience. This also means that Microsoft is moving toward more of a continuous update model where all clients are on the same (most recent) version of the service.
For more details on this new development, please read Microsoft’s official blog: www.cloudblogs.microsoft.com
What exactly does this mean for Dynamics 365 clients?
Customers should get ready to move into a more frequent update cycle in the near future. Many customers on the legacy Dynamics AX solution and early adopters of Dynamics 365 were used to having a choice as to whether or not to upgrade their system. In the new world, once a client is on the Spring 2018 Release (v8.0) and beyond, this will become more of a mandatory continuous update cycle.
On the flip side, this also means that your organization will always be on the latest and greatest version of the service and have access to easily adopt all of the innovations that are being introduced. This includes new features, BI and reporting enhancements, mobility enhancements, access to extensibility tools like Power Apps and Flow, and other innovations. In the old world, clients that were locked into an older version could not easily take advantage of these new innovations. In the new world, since you’ll always be on the latest version, you’ll always have access to these advancements.
How disruptive will it be to stay up to date on the latest version?
Microsoft is working hard to deliver tools and services to help make this process as painless and cost effective as possible. This includes a test automation suite that can help you record and re-run tests every time to keep costs down. You’ll always want to sufficiently test any new versions in your sandbox environment prior to agreeing to have Microsoft move the new version into production.
With the new extension-based development model, Microsoft can essentially promise that if you upgrade the application, any ISV and custom code will still run and compile without any changes. But while nothing will be officially “broken”, you still may also want to evaluate and optimize how any Microsoft enhancements impacted any ISV or custom code that you have in your environment.
What role should your Dynamics 365 partner play in this process?
Microsoft most likely won’t be able to make this so seamless that customers don’t need any help managing this process. Most customers will still want value-added assistance with things like:
- Understanding what relevant functionality has changed or been added in the latest version
- Determine how to best adopt these new capabilities (assistance with configuration, training, etc.)
- Writing automated test scripts
- Helping re-work any ISV or custom functionality that Microsoft’s enhancements touch
- Managing ISV code and external integrations
- Updating and enhancing their BI and reporting solution
To respond to this new strategy and the impact that it will have on customers, SAGlobal will be rolling out a managed update service this Fall that is designed to help clients stay on top of these updates. By letting SAGlobal help with some of the heavy lifting, we can ensure that these updates have a minimal disruptive effect on our clients’ businesses, and that they are positioned to drive their business forward by leveraging the latest innovations that Microsoft has to offer.