Microsoft launches new micro-services, delivers hybrid for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management: Community Summit 2020

October 9 2020

A Dynamics 365 SCM topology options diagram

With 2020 release wave 2, launching this month, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management product team has delivered on the long-awaited hybrid architecture for warehousing and manufacturing. They are also providing two new external cloud services designed to work with the core system.

Microsoft "has been planning and working on" the cloud and edge scale unit model for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management for "a number of years," said Lachlan Cash, principal program manager for D365 in a presentation to attendees at the Community Summit North America virtual event.

While cloud remains the primary deployment mode for D365 SCM systems, he said, the hybrid model provides the ability to run manufacturing and warehousing workloads on hardware locally, with a connection back to D365 SCM in the cloud. This model allows customer locations to keep some activities and processes running even when connectivity is lost to the cloud. Edge computing can also serve to meet regulatory or security policy requirements in some countries or regions, Cash noted.

Offline processing by an edge scale unit is designed to sync with the cloud when connection is re-established. The intent of the model is that edge scale units are offline for no more than a few hours so they can resume unified production planning cycles and release waves.

Microsoft now advises that customers have four D365 SCM architecture models to choose from:

  • The single cloud deployment is the simplest, fully managed by Microsoft.

  • A hub with cloud scale units provides an all-cloud solution that is fully Microsoft-managed

  • A hub with edge scale units provides the added benefit of protection from network latency and management of other core business processes. While Microsoft manages the cloud hub, the customer is responsible for the cost and maintenance of hardware on the edges.

  • Local Business Data – a solution fully hosted on the customer premises, offering offline execution and isolation from network latency. As with the edge scale units, customers are responsible for both the Dynamics 365 licenses and the local hardware costs.

  • Mix & match – From the four options above, customers can create more complex topologies that include both cloud and edge scale units as needed across the organization.

Planning optimization, a new micro-service for D365 SCM, replaces the "classic" batch-run planning capabilities. Microsoft shared examples of the difference in performance compared to the classic master planning that runs as a batch process. For example, a 540-minute planning batch run was reduced to 12 minutes with planning optimization and a 100-minute run in the batch model took only 3 minutes with the micro-service.

The speed of the new service will remove planning constraints and generally improve how organizations operate, stated Dana Borque, principal program manager for D365 SCM. Businesses that have created a single planning run per day due to the wait times of the batch process can now get new planning results multiple times a day, during regular working hours. When a team needs a change in planning parameter, they can now get new results in minutes, Borque explained. Better planning means the ability to run what-if scenarios quickly, improving inventory management and giving customers better insight into their lead times.

Microsoft is also offering guidance for companies transitioning to the new planning optimization model from the classic master planning. Customers are finding it "very simple to turn on and get going with," said Borque. She added that one element of the service, route support, is still in preview but is coming in an upcoming monthly update.

Microsoft is also launching its Inventory Visibility standalone micro-service alongside D365 SCM. It aims to be a "single source of truth of inventory information [that] eliminates allocation of already used inventory," according to slides shown at Summit. The service provides API support to allow customers to connect with custom or third party solutions.

Cash and Borque pointed to the added reliability that Inventory Visibility offers to any team outside of the back office, from retail locations to customers to partners, that need inventory data quickly, regardless of the availabity of the core ERP, to prevent stock outs and other inventory-related problems.

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