With on-premise systems such as Dynamics NAV or Dynamics GP, upgrades were released on an unpredictable cadence and were expensive to complete due to the hours needed to test customizations and upgrade each module in the system. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, updates are predictable and can be implemented in a shorter amount of time than a tradition on-premise update would take.
With Dynamics 365 ‘One Version’, Microsoft envisions all Business Central clients on the same version with consistent, predicable updates. When new updates become available, information on the features are posted online. Administrators of Business Central accounts will also receive notification of updates. They are then able to schedule their update directly with Microsoft. If the update isn’t scheduled, it will be automatically pushed into production by Microsoft on the date communicated with the admin.
Prior to updating production environments, it is recommended to test the new version in a sandbox environment. You now have the option to create a new sandbox to preview the next release. The preview is usually made available two weeks prior to the beginning of upgrades being released to production. Up to three sandbox environments can be created per tenant for any instance that has been upgraded to the April 2019 version or beyond.
According to Microsoft’s website, there are several enhancements to sandbox environments related to the management of extensions.
- When creating a sandbox environment as a copy of your production environment, per-tenant and AppSource extensions are also copied to the new sandbox environment.
- When sandbox environments are upgraded, both per-tenant and AppSource extensions are upgraded with the sandbox environment. There is no longer a need to re-install the extensions following the upgrade.
- You can now upload per-tenant extensions using Extension Management in a sandbox environment, with the option to target the current version, the next minor version, or the next major version.
By using the automated extension validation service from Microsoft, you’ll receive notifications letting you know if any of your extensions are incompatible and what needs to be changed in order for that extension to become compatible.
Keep up with updates and changes coming to Business Central by logging in to the Business Central Admin Center and ensuring that your primary contact name and email address is correct. Stoneridge clients can reach out to their account manager for assistance with finding this information.
As you prepare for how these ongoing updates will affect your company, here are some things you should be thinking through:
- Who will be responsible for managing the updates getting applied to your Dynamics 365 Business Central system? This individual should also work with your ISVs to determine if a new version of the ISV is required.
- What will your schedule be for applying the updates? Will you take each monthly update or defer one (or two) months?
- Will you have Microsoft automatically update your system or will you manually apply all patches?
- Who will create and manage your test plan and execution? This should involve reading the monthly release notes to ensure your test plan covers any updates, ensuring that you get automated testing setup and that you have end-user testing as well as integration testing (if needed) for each release. This individual or team should also ensure that the testing did occur and sign off before the update can be applied to production.
Feel free to reach out to the team at Stoneridge Software if you need help with your Dynamics 365 updates or if you have any questions.