Dynamics 365 Questions & Answers, Part II

In April, I published a post answering some of the more common Dynamics 365 questions asked by SBS Group customers and other partners.  I have received over 30 responses to that post in as many days so I think it is safe to assume that this is a worthwhile topic.

In this post, I will focus on questions related to Microsoft’s announcement that Dynamics 365 for Operations will be available as an on-premise solution in the second half of 2017, most likely June.  Although I believe that the advantages of a cloud-only ERP deployment almost always outweigh any disadvantages, I recognize that for some companies this just isn’t the right option.

In keeping with the question/answer format, I’ll expand on this below.

What does an On-Premise deployment of Dynamics 365 for Operations mean?

On-Premise is typically defined as software that is installed and runs on computers that are physically on the premises (in the building) of the person or organization using the software, rather than at a remote facility such as a server farm or cloud. Because the software runs on computers locally, the related data does as well. In the last 10 or so years, I have heard the on-premise term used for any deployment that is fully managed by the person or organization using the software. This means that “on-premise” deployments could also be referring to installations in a company owned or rented data center.

When Dynamics 365 for Operations was released, it was basically the next step for AX7 which was designed exclusively for a cloud-only deployment.  In November 2016 and again in February 2017, Microsoft indicated that they would be releasing on-premise options as well. In fact, they are expected to offer two more options for deploying Dynamics 365 for Operations as follows:

Cloud and Edge (Hybrid)

In this deployment scenario, the business process and transactions will be allowed to run “at the edges” with data being stored locally (on-premise).  The edges, referred to as “My Workplaces” will be managed by the customer while the cloud components will be managed by Microsoft.  This helps the customer to scale and take advantage of cloud-related services while keeping components like master data management private.  In some instances, this will help with integration to applications that can’t or shouldn’t be managed in the cloud.

The central cloud node can provide a singular view of operations across multiple “My Workplace” instances and still leverage the cloud for better business intelligence.  Cortana Intelligence will most likely not be accessible to full potential in this model if at all, but other BI tools can still be leveraged.

Local Business Data (LBD)

An LBD, local business data, deployment allows a customer to run all business processes on-premise, to support local transactions and store business data without replicating to the public cloud (Azure).

Replication of business data into the cloud no longer occurs so while data and processes are more private, the customer will lose access to many of the bells and whistles that come with Dynamics 365.  Cortana Intelligence, PowerBI and Azure Machine Learning services are all included in the list of items missing from the action in an LBD deployment.

Ultimately, customers will be able to leverage a federation of My Workplace instances under a single My Workplace to take provide better visibility and intelligence throughout the company.

Should I Implement Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud or On-Premise?

The answer … at least if going live today … is quite simple.  In the cloud.  Microsoft has not released an on-premise version of Dynamics 365 for Operations yet.  They have indicated their intention to do so in the latter half of 2017, but have not provided an exact date to the public.

When they do release an on-premise version, it will be up to you and your partner to weigh the options around each and determine which is the best fit for your environment.  We can speculate on this today, but some of the details are still private and will continue to evolve right up to the public release expected in June/July of 2017.

Is there a clear comparison of these options?

It is almost impossible to compare them at this time as they have not been formally released and new information is coming available regularly.  Detail shared along the way through formal posts and reseller meetings provide enough information to facilitate good conversation, but I would caution anyone not to wrap up their due diligence until after general release.  The table below has some help information that I’ve seen shared by others from various partner conferences hosted by Microsoft:

Table-D365-OnPremise

Why would a Dynamics 365 Customer Choose to Implement On-Premise?

When looking from the outside, it isn’t obvious why any company would choose to take on the responsibility of directly managing the hardware, connectivity, security and administration of their own ERP data center.  Most companies are thrilled with the idea of avoiding upfront costs for infrastructure and related IT support services, not to mention traditional license software costs.  Most companies find the security, speed, and dependability of modern cloud providers is nearly impossible to duplicate in an in-house environment. But, many do … so why?

  • Existing Data Center Investments:  Quite often, companies have already sunk considerable investments into their hardware, physical location and IT support personnel.  Walking away from that investment can be difficult to do emotionally and financially.  Many companies compare the costs of maintaining existing data centers, or even riding it out for a few years, to the cost of moving to the cloud and find it more cost-effective to continue in-house.  This is a decision that each company needs to make based on their unique situation.
  • Not Cost-Effective Due to Other On-Premise Requirements: I’ve spoken with customers that would prefer to move their ERP to the cloud, but feel that the ROI expectations can’t be met unless they are able to move a more significant portion of their applications to the cloud.  Just moving ERP doesn’t allow them to significantly trim support staff or reduce costs associated with their physical data center.  When they are able to move the lion’s share to the cloud, they plan to switch (and many do).
  • Regulatory Requirements:  Some companies prefer to keep data and processing local to avoid the possibility of not being compliant with regulatory requirements related to their business.  Whether looking at a SaaS application (like ERP in the cloud) or data storage, your company must be confident that their customer and other information is protected.  Your cloud provider should be compliant with your industry’s privacy and security compliance needs, like HIPPA and PCI.  There are standards for companies with financial data and government, government contractors and a variety of industries where data integrity is considered hyper-critical.
  • We’ve always done it this way: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?  One might argue that the very nature of technology is smart, measured change for cost and efficiency gains, but I often speak with clients that just can’t get comfortable with having applications and data move outside their walls.  Sometimes it isn’t as a result of due diligence, but more of a gut reaction.  Personally, I believe that the cloud offers far more value than on-premise deployments, but I would never pressure a company to operate in a way that they aren’t comfortable with.  Not everything is a math problem.
  • Heavy Customizations: Many SaaS ERP solutions do not provide an architecture that allows for heavy customizations.  In many cases, like with Microsoft Dynamics 365, a company can customize their solution and integrate other products with little issue.  However, if a customer has made substantial customizations over time, it may be that some of those customizations or integrations will not survive a move to the cloud.  We’ve become very adept at making this work for our customers, but in some cases, they opt to stick with their current solution until some of the more difficult customizations can be migrated to their satisfaction.

As more information comes to light regarding Dynamics 365 for Operations on-premise deployments, I’ll share it with you here.  We are excited to see Microsoft making this option available and helping our customers determine the best option for their business.

If you would like to discuss this in person, please feel free to reach out to me directly at rmorrison@sbsgroupusa.com.

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Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem and products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

Say Hello to Microsoft Dynamics 365

It’s November 1st and for all those in the Microsoft Dynamics community, it feels like Christmas morning. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is finally here.

So without further ado, it’s time you get to know our beloved Dynamics 365!

name is dynamics 365

What is Dynamics 365?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s next generation of business apps in the cloud – a new approach to end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 unifies ERP and CRM into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to manage all your core business functions, including Sales, Customer Service, Finance, Field Service, Operations, Marketing and Project Service Automation.

Dynamics 365 uses a common data model with deep integrations to Office 365 to seamlessly connect business apps with collaboration and productivity tools like email, spreadsheets and word processing documents. With built-in intelligence tools and a flexible, extensible platform, Dynamics 365 enables companies to stay nimble, adapt and innovate in real time.

Dynamics 365 applications are:

  1. Purpose Built: tailored for businesses and its users.
  2. Productive: directly integrated with familiar Office 365 applications such as Excel and Outlook.
  3. Intelligent: allow users better insight into their processes and customer data so they can make better decisions.
  4. Adaptable: start off with what you need and as your business grows, so can Dynamics 365.

dynamics 365

The Basics of Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 for Financials

Dynamics 365 for Financials helps small and midsized businesses manage their financials, sales, service, and operations with a business management solution that’s connecting people and processes like never before. Previously known as Project Madeira, Dynamics 365 for Financials is a perfect ERP solution for those small-to-medium sized businesses looking for a comprehensive and powerful business solution.

Visit our Dynamics 365 for Financials page to learn all it has to offer.

What’s the Price?

Dynamics 365 for Financials offers a competitive pricing structure. Visit the Dynamics 365 Business Edition Pricing and Implementation Costs page to see exact numbers!

Want to see Dynamics 365 for Financials in action?

Watch these Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials demos!

Dynamics 365 for Operations

Dynamics 365 for Operations enables businesses to make smarter decisions, redesign business processes faster and fuel business growth. Designed for enterprise-sized firms looking for an enterprise-ERP to help them keep pace with today’s market demands, Dynamics 365 for Operations delivers features and services no other competitor can offer.

Built with an intelligent user interface that connects with other Dynamics 365 applications as well as with Office 365 to deliver the best experience possible, Dynamics 365 for Operations is a SaaS solution that brings together a complete set of ERP functionality including financials, demand planning, procurement, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, services industries, public sector and retail. Additionally, embedded Power BI capabilities allow users to see real-time business insights right in their dashboard.

The name is a bit confusing, but do not mix this up: Dynamics 365 for Operations has full core financial functionalities. Enterprise firms buying Dynamics 365 for Operations do not need to buy Dynamics 365 for Financials as well.

Visit our Dynamics 365 for Operations web page to learn more about the enterprise level business solution!

What Else Does Dynamics 365 Entail?

business apps dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Dynamics 365 for Field Service empowers companies to deliver predictive and proactive service to improve customer satisfaction, first-time fix rates and resource productivity through advanced scheduling, resource optimization, and mobile enablement. That’s right – finally, a solution to handle all your, and your field workers, service needs!

Offered as a SaaS solution, Dynamics 365 for Field Service integrates with all other Dynamics 365 applications (Financials, Operations, Sales, etc.) as well as Office 365 to boost productivity, eliminate context switching, and enable successful end-to-end customer engagement.

Visit our Dynamics 365 for Field Service page to read how you can improve your customer satisfaction!

Dynamics 365 for Sales

Microsoft has announced the release of Dynamics 365 for Sales will be coming this spring! This will incorporate the sales modules of Dynamics CRM Online. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see the powerful sales capabilities of LinkedIn make an entrance in this module.

Visit our Dynamics 365 for Sales page to learn more!

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Just like Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Marketing will be released this upcoming spring. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing will no longer be sold to new customers starting today. Dynamics 365 for Marketing will include functionality to model and manage customer journeys across marketing and sales, lead management across marketing and sales, and sharing the same Dynamics 365 platform as the Sales app. Additionally, the spring release of Dynamics 365 for Marketing will have powerful capabilities for email marketing, event management, landing pages and lead management.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service helps companies deliver amazing experiences, and build trust, loyalty and insight. This application empowers agents within the organization with the right tools and information to meet customer demands.

As service organizations work to meet customers’ expectations, they are met with new and increasing challenges. Dynamics 365 for Customer Service seeks to empower agents with the right tools and information to meet evolving demands and deliver amazing customer experiences.

Visit our Dynamics 365 for Customer Service page to learn more!

Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights

Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights will be built on top of core Azure Cloud and Cortana Intelligent data services. It will connect directly to your Dynamics 365 data and can also be connected to any other data source. This will help your business build a 360 view of your customer to better understand and engage with your customers in real-time.

Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Automation

This will be the professional services capability that was available on Dynamics CRM Online. Visit our Professional Services Automation Page to learn more.

common data model dynamics 365

How Can We Help?

Professional Services Automation

SBS Group employs a full suite of solutions for professional services firms searching for a professional services automation solution.

For small-to-medium sized firms, Progressus Software, architected by Plumbline Consulting, is a next-generation professional services automation and ERP software, mobile-enabled and architected for the intelligent cloud. Users can access Progressus wherever they are with complete mobile capability through the web or a native mobile app. Progressus is rapidly deployed and built on an agile development platform which supports unlimited personalization and integration.

For enterprise-sized firms, AXIO for Professional Services is a global ERP solution designed specifically for enterprise-level, project-based professional services companies. AXIO for Professional Services, available on AppSource, spans all the important processes in your firm – resource management, project management, marketing, human capital management, and financial management – giving unparalleled insight and control of all of your critical business functions. It is optimized for cloud and provides proven global scalability and enterprise-class extensibility. AXIO is compliant with all GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley, and DCAA requirements.

Distribution

AXIO for Distribution is an end-to-end advanced supply chain management software for distributors. Enabled for Dynamics 365, it includes industry-specific functionalities that cover all the important processes a modern distributor needs: sales and operations planning, demand planning, revenue management, order management, inventory management, business intelligence, procurement management and more.

Built by industry experts, AXIO for Distribution goes beyond traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to tackle the complex needs of today’s distributors and enable business gains.


We are so excited to help our clients with this new innovative solution. Want to learn more about Dynamics 365?

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