In August of 2019, Microsoft announced that Dynamics 365 for Sales would be gaining a number of new features, to be released
How to upgrade Microsoft Dynamics AX2009, AX2012 to D365 for Finance and Operation is one of the hottest topics in the AX community right now. If you are considering how to upgrade your ERP solution or planning a move from Microsoft Dynamics AX2009, AX2012 to the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation you are at the right place. One of our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Technical Architect, Michael Oakes takes you through the different upgrade paths you have to be aware of when migrating or upgrading. This blog post provides you with a great understanding of what to be aware of, what to avoid and the key benefits of upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations including a sneak peak into some of the new improved functionalities.
How to upgrade Microsoft Dynamics AX2009, AX2012 to D365 for Finance & Operation comes with a lot of benefits such as greater accessibility, cost reduction, more functionalities, improved flexibility, built-in analytics to drive greater efficiencies (Power BI), increased security, adaptability etc. We will take a deep dive into these benefits.
In this blog, various upgrade paths will be discussed so you understand how to get your Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment up and running, no matter if you are using a current AX version or starting fresh. As you know, not all versions of Microsoft Dynamics AX are created equal and if you are planning to move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, the processes for migrating code and data will also vary. Review the below terms, definitions and concepts you need to be familiarized with before jumping into this blog that will help you gain a high-level understanding of how code and data is integrated in compliance with Microsoft’s direction. Furthermore you will learn how to subsequently move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in a strategic manner.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is based on the AX product line and includes both AX and CRM functionalities. The database schema is closely based on Dynamics AX 2012 and includes Financial dimensions, address framework, and surrogate keys.
Common Data Service is the model used by Microsoft to allow for integrated flow of data and automatic workflows. For example, when a new account is created in Dynamics for Sales, a customer will be created in Dynamics 365 for Operations.
Life Cycle Services (LCS) is the Microsoft collaboration portal that allows customers, partners and Microsoft service representatives to collectively work together to manage the application lifecycle, the deployment of environments, training, development and User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for an organization. LCS is essential for upgrading your code/data from AX 2012 and converting the AX 2012 model store to Dynamics 365 XML files. Other functionality includes applying code/data updates to environments, requesting support, performance monitoring, and viewing Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) work items.
Migration to Dynamics 365 is supported using the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Data Migration Tool (DMT).
A Full Upgrade path to Dynamics 365 is currently only available from AX 2012 R2/R3. The code still needs to be refactored, but it brings the AOT code and data forward.
For a full description of all relevant upgrading paths, benefits, functionalities etc. for your specific Microsoft Dynamics AX version, please contact our Microsoft Support Team and Microsoft Upgrading specialists at DynamicsSupport@Avantiico.com
Reimplementation is the process of standing up a new D365 environment and implementing code/data using export/import methods from a legacy environment whether it be AX 2009 or Sage. This migration process requires manual set ups/configurations and code and data structures need to be created in the target environment.
Overlayering was the original method for customization source code and metadata provided by Microsoft or third-party Microsoft partners. In order to customize metadata and source code of a model, the developer must create a new model that overlays the model they want to customize. In layman’s terms, overlayering iswhen you write some code in a file, and I go in and write my code in that same file. With the introduction of the extension model, overlayering should be avoided as Microsoft is committed to the concept of extensions.
Extending was once an optional method for customizing applications but is now required by Microsoft to add functionality to existing model elements and source code. By allowing code to be compiled into separate assemblies, extension models simplify and improve the performance of deployments, builds, test automation and delivery to customers. Extensions allow you to be responsible for only your code and not the base code and building your model or project will no longer require that you recompile the entire application. In the cloud, Microsoft can install, patch, upgrade, and change internal APIs without affecting your customizations. Simply put, extensions are like code written in isolated files that hooked into your code through various methods that were oblivious to your code. (For those of you that were used to the client-server world or certain legacy ERP systems, extensions correlate to user exits.)
You can think of over layering as if you wrote some code in a file, and I go in and write my code in that same file.Whereas Extensions would be if I wrote my code in isolated files that hooked into your code through various methods that were oblivious to your code. This allows you to develop unimpeded while I can do what I want with my customizations.
Extensions essentially allow Microsoft to develop the core product at the same time you develop your customizations without impacting each other. This makes things like layers, even today, much less important. It’s can be like you have a team of Microsoft Engineers working all the time to improve the product working in your organization.
After you’ve gone through the above terms, definitions and concepts, let’s jump into this background discussion to moving to Microsoft Dynamics 365 regarding Microsoft’s direction for integrating code and data in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Microsoft wants customers that are planning to move (upgrade, migrate or reimplement) to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations to use the extension model, which allow continuous support for organizations to the platform indefinitely. The extensibility concept was recently introduced alongside overlayering in order to grow and scale the software while still supporting customers with further diverging code bases. The extension model allows underlying objects to be strategically changed/refactored without impacting extensions, meaning upgrades, changes and hotfixes can be installed with low or no impact. Extensions essentially allow Microsoft to develop the core product at the same time you develop your customizations without impacting each other, making layers much less important. This unimpeded development allows you to make necessary customizations while having a team of Microsoft Engineers working around the clock to improve the Microsoft Dynamics 365 product within your organization. Unlike overlayering, extensions reduce the cost of upgrading to a new version, as this approach eliminates costly code and metadata conflicts. Now that you have a basic understanding of Microsoft’s new extension model and why it’s important, continue reading to learn more about the different paths you can take in order to upgrade, migrate or reimplement from your current version of Microsoft Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.
If you are currently running Dynamics AX 2012 R2 or AX 2012 R3, you can use LCS to bring over your full transactional history through reimplementing or upgrading your code and data when moving to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations but deprecated codes features such as enterprise portals, partitions, database storage, file storage of file attachments, direct database connection and virtual company accounts will not be included. The path that you decide to pursue depends on various factors such as customizations, ISV solutions and requirements unique to your business for your new Dynamics 365 environment. Ideally, performing a Full Upgrade is preferred when you don’t have many customizations, your ISVs are easily supported through Dynamics AX/365, or you need all your data in tables. If your current AX environment has many customizations that you don’t want to bring forward (because functionality is available in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, has unsupported ISV solutions/features or you will change a business process) and you want a “clean start”, reimplementing your code and data could to be the simpler solution.
If you are currently running Dynamics AX 2009 or earlier versions, only the base data can be brought over to Dynamics 365 as migrating the full transaction history is currently not supported. Regardless of your level of customization, the path recommended by Microsoft is to use the Microsoft AX 2009 DMT to migrate your select data such as:
Another available, but higher risk method to move to Dynamics 365 from Dynamics AX 2009 or earlier versions is by performing a double upgrade, allowing your new Dynamics 365 environment to be more complete by first upgrading your Dynamics AX 2009 or earlier AX version environment to Dynamics AX 2012 and then upgrading again to Dynamics 365. You might prefer this method over using the DMT if your current AX environment has a smaller database and isn’t highly customized. Since this method is of higher risk, you might want to perform double testing when upgrading to validate your data in Dynamics AX 2012 and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. You can imagine that upgrade scripts might not be perfect as running everything through two sets of scripts might result in some unpredictable behavior. For organizations that don’t have the option to migrate or upgrade to Dynamics 365 due to unique business reasons, simply reimplement the data by starting over with a clean slate.
This diagram is a visualization of the different paths currently available to move from Dynamics AX 2009 and earlier versions to Dynamics 365
This blog is a high-level overview of how you can integrate data and move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. To further reinforce your understanding of this topic, please view this technical video from Avantiico’s Director of Development who has developed expertise on the AX product since the product’s initial release of AX 1.0:
IF you prefer video, then the below Microsoft Dynamics 365 upgrading tutorial will guide you through the 3 upgrading paths
Given the many Microsoft upgrading paths available, the Avantiico Microsoft Upgrading Team will guide your team through a detailed assessment and help you evaluate Microsoft Upgrading paths as well as how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can be optimized for your organization.
Avantiico has delivered many presentations at Dynamics user group events and webinars. If you want to learn more about how you can move from your current Microsoft Dynamics AX version to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operation or if your have ideas for Microsoft Dynamics blogs feel free to suggest topics of interests. please contact our Upgrading team DynamicsSupport@Avantiico.com
For more Microsoft Dynamics AX/365 video content you are welcome to visit the Avantiico’s YouTube page where new videos are uploaded every month. Stay updated on upcoming Microsoft Dynamics webinars, Microsoft ERP events, Microsoft Dynamics 365 white papers etc. by following Avantiico on LinkedIn
Hope you liked the “How to upgrade Microsoft Dynamics AX2009, AX2012 to D365 for Finance & Operation” blog post and YouTube video. For more information see our ERP Evaluation guide here
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