Behind the Latest Microsoft Dynamics AX Statement of Direction: Insights Into Strategy, Support, and Commitment

January 19 2010

In any ERP selection, apart from product functionality and technical capabilities customers need to be able to plan for the future development--thus, they need to know about the product strategy, support roadmap, environmental interoperability flexibilities and commitment from the product vendor. The latest Microsoft Dynamics AX Statement of Direction (SOD), which I originally discussed on my blog (http://bit.ly/5ZLkIX) earlier provides precise answers to these critical issues. The SOD also reaffirms Microsoft's long-term schedule for release of future versions of Dynamics AX.

The Product Vision is organized according to three key elements that are the R&D focus areas in the current and future releases on AX. These are people, process, and technology, as shown in the accompanying illustration:

Microsoft Dynamics AX SOD

The AX SOD provides us an overview from these three key perspectives on the future of ‘Dynamics AX'

People Perspective

  • User Centric Model -One of the main success factors in any ERP is the end user acceptability and usability of the system. Keeping this in mind, Microsoft has focused on the three themes of people productivity, efficiency and usability. AX provides users an intuitive UI, Personalized Role Centre, enhanced Web functionalities and a set of feature-rich tools to enable users to be more productive and efficient, enabling them to focus on the core areas. In other words, AX is ‘people ready'.

Process Perspective

  • Regulatory Compliance - Stringent Security & Compliance regulations (SOX, COSO); financial controls and reporting (IFRS) have made companies realize the importance of audit, controls, security and compliance, and many of these controls and regulations have been incorporated inside Dynamics AX, enabling companies to comply with these regulatory frameworks.
  • Vertical Strategy -Horizontal to vertical functionality focus has been observed in AX 2009 with inclusion of industry-specific functionality in the following sectors: Manufacturing, Wholesales/Distribution, Retail & Professional Service Industries. More industry-specific functionality like Public Sector is expected in future releases on AX.
  • Enhanced functionality - New modules, enhanced features, depth of processes, technology changes, advanced BI & Reporting capabilities have been incorporated in AX 2009 and will continue in future releases. Localization packs, and language features like Arabic support, have been incorporated in the current version, and more features are in the pipeline.
  • Adaptability - Enabling rapid changes to be incorporated in the product allowing customers to be more agile in understanding market needs.
  • Implementation Methodology - The Sure Step Methodology Toolkit has been enhanced in AX 2009 enabling partners to deliver a predictable, on-time, and on-budget Microsoft Dynamics implementation.
  • Roadmap - Considering the product roadmap, the SOD clearly depicts the AX roadmap till 2018. This will help customers plan properly for their ERP solutions regarding upgrade, support and enhancements. Specifically, the AX 2009 roadmap has been depicted in detail with features that have already found their place in the AOT, and features which are upcoming, like the IDM.

Technology Perspective

  • Developer Productivity - "From an object oriented philosophy to a service oriented philosophy." Tighter integration with .NET platform and use of WCF and WF, ease of Interoperability with other MS technologies like Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, SQL 2008, Office Systems, Communications platform (Exchange, Outlook, LCS), TFS Support have provided developers added advantage build feature rich applications thereby providing users to fully maximize the benefits of the X-technology integration in terms of performance, manageability, deployment, development and scalability.
  • Hardware Compatibility - Virtualization, 64-bit computing have brought in a new perspective of reducing TCO, optimum utilization & superior performance. Dynamics AX 2009 has considered these technological breakthroughs and fully support virtualization and X64 architecture, enabling customers to fully realize the benefits of the changes in hardware landscape.
  • Technology - SaaS, Web 2.0, and RFID technologies have been incorporated into the Dynamics AX architecture, enabling clients to fully leverage these latest technological changes and maximize the benefits.
  • Data Management - The IDM (Intelligent Data Management Framework) which will assist customers optimize DB performance and costs have been highlighted, along with planned release. The IDM will also contain Data Archival and purging capabilities, something which has been very high in the feature wish list.
  • Support Policy - Multiple choices for support has been described in the SOD. Users will now have multiple choices for support. These include Mainstream Support, extended support, Connect Feedback, Community support. The Hotfix deployment strategy in AX 2009 has also undergone a significant change, which will help customers to properly manage hotfixes, rollups and SP upgrades.

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About Arijit Basu

Arijit Basu is an MVP in Dynamics AX presently working as a Principal Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).  He is involved in complete implementation lifecycles, product development, technical due diligence, and advising clients on AX solution approaches.

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Comments

ishaq ojibara's picture

This is a great piece and a great unique selling point for AX . Arijit, thanks for the write-up/summary