Dynamics 365 Roadmap, Readiness and License Renewal – What You Need to Know
Are you wondering about the Dynamics 365 roadmap, licensing and what your future transition plan might look like? There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365, and Dynamics CRM. At Stoneridge Software, we've been inundated with questions from clients who already have Dynamics AX and are looking to get answers on what upgrade paths look like and what options are available for them with the release of the new products.
Rebranding - The Terminology of Microsoft Dynamics Products:
Much like Microsoft Word and Excel are components of the Microsoft Office suite of products, Dynamics AX is now part of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 umbrella of products. "Dynamics AX 7" has been rebranded and is being called something new. As of November 1, 2016, Dynamics AX was rebranded with the name of Dynamics 365 for Operations - (“Operations” = “AX”).
Microsoft CRM has also been rebranded under the Dynamics 365 umbrella. The full range of Microsoft’s CRM solution is now delivered through 5 applications: Sales, Customer Service, Field Service; Project Automation and Marketing. These applications can be consolidated or separated for purchase. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials is based on the NAV product line, so (“Financials” ≈ “NAV”).
Microsoft’s overall goal was to consolidate the business solution applications into a brand (Dynamics 365) that encompasses ERP, CRM, Power Apps, and many new components Microsoft is bringing to the table to broaden the capability of business solutions.
Dynamics 365 Licensing and your Roadmap
As we've walked through strategic planning with our clients, there have been many questions surrounding licensing options – particularly, what are the options when your Software Assurance and Enhancement renewal anniversary approaches? Should your license renewal timeframe be used to take advantage of the latest cloud solutions and platform integrations?
Whether you’ve just upgraded your Dynamics AX Software or you’ve waited to upgrade because you wanted to see what “AX7” had to offer, there is some important information every Dynamics ERP client should know and consider as you make decisions about your technology roadmap for the next 1-5 years.
There are important dates that impact the choices your organization will make. I’ve found that lending some basic context to the evolving changes in the licensing models and coupling that knowledge with the product support model has really helped clients start planning their next steps.
What are the next important dates for you?
License Renewal & Anniversary Date:
Your license anniversary or enhancement renewal date is significant because if you are considering an upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, this is your opportunity to do a full platform and license transition. There are specific incentives and license credits available to make this transition if you are on a supported product version.
The Mainstream Support End Date of your Current Dynamics AX Software Version:
If you do not opt to move to a cloud-based license model at your license anniversary, the next important date you need to consider is the mainstream support end date for the current product you are using:
Support Dates for Existing Dynamics AX On-premise products:
- AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2 - Mainstream support ends in April 10, 2018; Extended support is available until October 12, 2021
- AX 2012 R3 - Mainstream support ends on October 12, 2021; Extended support is available until January 10, 2023
Why is it important to be on a Mainstream Supported Product?
There are two main reasons you want to be on a supported product:
- You have the option to receive support updates and hotfixes – this is the forum in which Microsoft collects bugs and issues and systematically releases fixes, making the platform up-to-date and reliable.
- Regulatory Compliance ends with Mainstream Support – this means that if your organization is legally obligated to follow regulatory compliance standards, this process will need to be manually completed.
During Extended support, Microsoft provides support for the product and will provide security-related hotfixes.
Your Dynamics Roadmap – Converting the Information to an Action Plan
So, what does all of this information and all of these dates mean? The answer to this question depends on which version you’re currently on.
For those on AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2:
It’s ideal to be on a mainstream supported product, but extended support is available through October of 2021. In either scenario, you need to put together an action plan to:
- Decide whether you want to stay on premise or go cloud
- Decide what product you’ll upgrade to - AX 2012 R3 or Dynamics 365
- Identify requirements for path chosen (Data migration, customizations, process change, etc.)
- Budget [time and money] for the requirements gathering [can last several months] and the actual upgrade
- Identify internal/external resources to execute the project
- Perform the upgrade [6 – 18 months in duration]
Most companies want to have the decision and plan in place before mainstream support ends – which is just over a year away – April of 2018. There are other advantages to upgrading sooner rather than later, which I’ll discuss below under incentives.
For those on AX 2012 R3:
Like the clients on AX 2009, 2012 R1, & R2 (above), the same decisions must be made. Do you want to upgrade to Dynamics 365? While your mainstream support lasts longer, there are benefits and incentives you’ll want to consider when deciding on a timeline for your changes.
On-premise vs. Cloud Options:
Until February 2017, existing on-premise clients only had 3 Options:
- Stay with your Perpetual License on AX 2012 or earlier (keep paying Enhancement or Software Assurance)
- Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations and move to Subscription Only [Cloud] Model (available at license anniversary/renewal)
- Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations in a Hybrid Model (Perpetual License + Cloud Add-On)
Due to feedback from some customers who weren’t ready to store their data in the cloud, on February 23rd, Microsoft announced another option:
- Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, but keep a Perpetual License model and stay on premise
Investment Credit and Incentives:
Since most clients do their budgeting annually, that means planning your roadmap should start in 2017. At the Summit Conference in Tampa last October, Microsoft announced a 40% discount to existing on-premise clients who want to transition to the new Dynamics 365 Cloud Platform. This incentive is active for 3 years. If you transition in 2017, you’ll be able to leverage 2 years of discounts, if you transition in 2018, you’ll be able to leverage 1 year of discounts and if you transition in 2019, you may not get a discount (depending on transition month).
Under Dynamics 365, licensing SKU's, functionality and license names have changed also, so there is an additional consideration you’ll need to make in how your organization is licensed. Like previous license models, Dynamics 365 for Operations has different user license types – all with different use rights. The more prescriptive you can be for what your users need access to the more accurate your license transition is and the more money you can save.
Strategic Planning with Your Partner
Based on the strategic planning sessions, we've walked through scenarios with many of our clients already. Stoneridge Software has developed a license and environment audit to help you understand your high- level options and costs associated with those options. If you feel that cloud has exciting new functionality and integration that you’ve been looking for, use the time you have between now and your next license anniversary/renewal to look at Dynamics 365 for Operations with your partner and decide if it’s right for you.
If you’re on Dynamics AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 or R2, use the time between now and April 2018 to decide how to best leverage your existing investment in your ERP system in the next supported step in your Dynamics roadmap journey.
If you’d like help understanding your options reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-354-4966 for more information.