The new version of AX (code name ‘AX 7’) is now called Dynamics AX. Dynamics AX represents the next generation ERP offering from Microsoft and is designed to enable the entire ERP application suite as a cloud-based solution, for both public and private clouds, as well as on-premises. This release aligns Dynamics AX with Microsoft’s mobile first, cloud first strategy.
Some of the exciting changes that we are going to see with this latest release of Dynamic AX are:
Dynamics AX represents the next-generation ERP offering from Microsoft and is designed to enable the entire ERP application suite as a cloud-based solution, for both public and private clouds, as well as on-premises.
Dynamics AX uses many features of the Windows Azure platform including Azure Storage, Networking, Monitoring, and SQL Azure to name a few. Shared services operationalize and orchestrate the Application Lifecycle of the Dynamics AX environments for participants. Together, Azure functionality and Lifecycle Services built for Dynamics AX will offer a robust cloud service.
Dynamics AX 2012 R3 runs on Azure using IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) model and the VM’s can be deployed directly using Lifecycle services.
Client User Interface Changes:
- Dashboard – new concept in Dynamics AX
- Navigation Pane – updated in Dynamics AX
- Workspaces – updated in Dynamics AX
- Tiles – new with exception of modern POS client
- Navigation Search – new concept in Dynamics AX
The client in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is a Win32 application with extensions that used ActiveX, WinForm, or WPF controls. The X++ application logic ran on the client for the Form and Table methods with some logic occurring on the server. Controls had both the X++ logic API and the physical Win32 control tightly connected on the client. The “thick client” would typically be installed locally on workstations or deployed via Remote Desktop or Citrix. Some AX 2012 capabilities were made available through the web based Enterprise Portal or through mobile applications.
User Interface – Dashboard
The dashboard is the first page that a user sees when they access the application. The dashboard contains tiles that show important details from the system. The Cue content previously displayed in the role center pages for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will be available on the dashboard.
The dashboard consists of a large section of workspace tiles. In addition, there can also be a Getting Started control (not pictured above).
The dashboard’s workspace tile section is built from a menu structure that has its root in the menu named NavPaneMenu. The menu is modified by a set of menu extensions, and those extensions contain one or more tile references corresponding with the tiles the user will see in that section.
User Interface – Navigation Pane
The navigation pane provides access to workspaces, main menu elements, recently opened forms, and user defined favorites. The graphic on the side shows an example of the navigation pane with the All workspaces list expanded. Note that Channel management is marked as a favorite, and will appear in the Favorites list.
Similar to the dashboard, the elements listed in the navigation pane are generated at runtime based on a menu structure.
User Interface – Workspaces
Workspaces are activity-oriented pages that allow users to initiate common tasks. Users will have access to workspaces based on the roles that they have in the organization. Much of the list and BI content from the role center pages will be exposed on workspace pages. To navigate to a workspace, users will typically click a tile on the dashboard page or a link in the navigation pane.
The panorama contains a series of sections (modeled as tab pages) containing content relevant to the task for which the workspace is intended. In general, the first section will be a set of tiles the user can click to begin new tasks or access lists of items. Subsequent sections might contain charts, graphs, lists, etc.
User Interface – Tiles
Microsoft Windows 8 introduced the concept of tiles. You will see tiles used in Dynamics AX. A tile is a rectangular button that behaves like a menu item button, and is used to navigate to, or open forms. In addition, tiles can display relevant data, such as counts or Key Performance Indicators A tile can include images that provide the user with additional visual context.
User Interface – Navigation Search
The Dynamics AX Web client also provides the ability to quickly search for navigation elements that appear in the navigation pane and the dashboard.
For example, searching by using the keywords “all customers receivable” will show a list of navigable elements that match those keywords.
So what does this mean for current users of AX 2012 or those contemplating the purchase of AX 2012 R3?
- The Microsoft Roadmap has both releases in the market until full parity in functionality is achieved between the two releases.
- License mapping will be available for existing Dynamics AX 2012 clients that wish to move to the perpetual or subscription license of Dynamics AX.
- The code base for Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU9 is the same as that of Dynamics AX so the migration path will be straightforward. The changes in the user interface of Dynamics AX will require some training of end users although Microsoft has preserved the look and feel of many of the screens users are already using.
Dynamics AX – Simplified Licensing
- Available for purchase in Perpetual or Subscription license models.
- Simplified user types (Enterprise, Task, Self Service and Device). More functionality is now included in the Task and Self Service licenses.
- Encourage broad adoption by increasing value of the self-service license to include read only access and all time and expense entry functions.
- Cloud subscription pricing will include a production instance with 10 GB of storage + an additional 2.5 GB per 20 users. Dev / Test environment can be licensed for a reasonable incremental fee.
- With the initial cloud release there will be a minimum requirement of 50 enterprise user licenses.
So when can you expect to see Dynamics AX available in the market?
- Public Preview in 2015.
- Availability for new clients in cloud only Q1 2016. Availability in 40+ languages at launch.
- Update made available in second have of 2016 for on premise or private cloud deployment. This release will include data upgrade tools for existing AX 2012 users.