Since the announcement of Dynamics 365 in July 2016, Microsoft has made new announcements that will have an impact on Dynamics NAV as a part of the collection of Dynamics 365 business applications.
Microsoft will offer a single collection of Dynamics 365 applications for customers of all sizes and complexity. Organizations will be able to choose from different price points for each line of business application.
The full Dynamics NAV capabilities will be offered as a new end-to-end business management cloud solution. It will be delivered as two distinct offerings:
- A Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud application
- A business application platform for ISVs
Microsoft Solutions Branding
Microsoft is in the process of establishing "Microsoft Dynamics 365" as a new brand name for its applications, and it is also simplifying its offerings.
According to a blog post by Alysa Taylor, General Manager, Business Apps & Strategy at Microsoft, this means that Microsoft will offer a single collection of Dynamics 365 applications for customers of all sizes and complexity.
Instead of offering separate editions (e.g. "Business edition and "Enterprise edition"), the company will let organizations choose from different price points for each line of business application.
End Of Business & Enterprise Edition
In 2016, Microsoft originally introduced two versions of Dynamics 365: Business edition and Enterprise edition. These were based on Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX, respectively.
Now, at the end of 2017, Microsoft has announced that it will offer one single solution of applications from which customers can select what they need.
This new announcement from Microsoft means that from spring 2018, you can e.g. run the app Dynamics 365 for Sales at an Enterprise level and Dynamics 365 for Marketing at a Business level.
Microsoft calls the six app areas: Marketing, Sales, Service, Finance, Operations, and Talent.
From Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365
At Microsoft Directions this year, Microsoft announced that it will advance "Dynamics NAV" and the cloud version, "Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business edition", as a single solution. These two business solutions are actually already the same solution since the codebase is the same. They just have two names - one for the cloud and one for the on-premises solution.
The new single solution is being prepared under the code name Dynamics 365 "Tenerife" and it will result in both a new cloud release and a new on-premises release.
1 December 2017, the next version of Dynamics NAV called "Dynamics NAV 2018" will be released.
In spring 2018 "Dynamics 365 for something" (cloud) will be released. It will be available in 14 countries: U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, and Finland.
Dynamics NAV 2018 R2 will also be released in spring 2018. After that release, the NAV name will be phased out and replaced by "Dynamics 365 for something".
Independent Solutions = Apps
What used to be independent solutions are now called apps. This means that Microsoft will no longer consider ERP to be an independent solution. The Microsoft apps are meant to be put together by you, the customer, into a solution that covers your company's daily IT needs.
To get the apps to work together (for instance ERP, BI, CRM, and Office), Microsoft has defined a "Common Data Service" model. It is a common data foundation that can be used by all apps.
Previously, the Dynamics NAV solution could be customized by partners, value added resellers (VARs), and even some customers. This is a strength of the product that historically has been supported through overlayering of the application code.
The move to the cloud with more agile servicing and frequent updates requires a less intrusive customization model, which makes updates less likely to impact custom solutions. This new model is called extensibility and will ultimately replace customization by overlayering.
With the extensions, we can add functionality without changing the standard solution from Microsoft. It has the obvious advantage that upgrade projects are no longer necessary.
You can still have customizations tailored to your needs. They just have to be made as extensions. Once you are using extensions, the customizations no longer hinder you in upgrading to the latest version of the solution.
If you want to prepare for this, you should start to work with extensions today even if it is a Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018 you buy.
Standard Solution & Industry Solution
Like TRIMIT, many Microsoft partners have developed industry-specific solutions built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and Microsoft continues to support this. This is why Dynamics 365 has been divided into two solutions: a standard solution and an industry solution (business application platform for ISVs).
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the standard business edition. It is updated regularly by Microsoft and you can add apps developed by Microsoft or its partners from AppSource.
In Dynamics 365 you can see which apps are available on AppSource and you can choose to install or remove apps depending on your needs.
These apps are developed as extension which means that they do not change the source code in Dynamics 365.
Industry solutions, such as the TRIMIT solution for fashion, furniture and manufacturing, are developed by Microsoft partners.
Microsoft wants partners to continue the development of industry solutions. It can be challenging for a partner to move its old industry solution to extensions in Dynamics 365. Microsoft recognizes that it will take some time and therefore gives the partners the opportunity to move their industry solutions to Dynamics 365 without using extensions. This way, the partners will get a separate area in Dynamics 365 where they can add their code.
As a customer, you get a proven industry solution and the benefits from the new Microsoft Dynamics 365. But the solution cannot automatically be updated by Microsoft. The partner is responsible for the updates. And you cannot install apps from AppSource until the partner has tested that they work with your industry solution.
Impact On Customers
If you use Dynamics NAV for your business today, you should consider if you want to move your business solution to the cloud. You can take this step from spring 2018 but if you have many customizations, the transition will be more extensive.
If you need to upgrade you Dynamics NAV solution, you should consider if an upgrade of your customizations is advisable. If you know that you want to move to the cloud at a later point, your old customizations should be added as extensions. In the short term, you can upgrade for Dynamics NAV 2018 and use extensions. This will make the transition to the cloud easier since Dynamics NAV 2018 and Dynamics 365 is the same system.
In that case you can start by using Dynamics NAV 2018 with your customizations added as extensions, and later on, you can move to the cloud with Dynamics 365 and your extensions.
Blog post by Alysa Taylor:
Microsoft Dynamics Learning Portal (for Microsoft partners):
Customize with extensions and overlayering: