Keeping its promise to release its cloud-first Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in early 2016, Microsoft announced on March 9 that the offering is now available to customers around the globe—in 137 markets in 40 languages, in fact.
"Today's release is an exciting milestone extending Microsoft's business cloud offerings," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise, in a statement "It's now possible for organizations to run their entire business in the cloud with Microsoft—from productivity with Office 365, to business analytics with Power BI and Cortana Analytics Suite, customer engagement with Dynamics CRM and business operations with Dynamics AX."
Working to float a portfolio of intelligent cloud services and software offerings for enterprises, Microsoft is increasingly weaving advanced analytics and machine-learning technologies into its various software suites, including Office and Dynamics ERP and CRM (customer relationship management). Power BI, for example, visualizes big data for rank-and-file workers, enabling them to explore business data and glean business insights.
Dynamics AX combines ERP software, database capabilities, infrastructure services and business intelligence into an extensible platform, allowing customers to implement industry-specific business processes based on the new product. Already, select independent software vendors (ISVs) have made over 50 preconfigured, Microsoft-curated solutions available on the Dynamics Azure Marketplace in support of the new ERP software.
The offering also enables businesses to balance global data availability with their privacy and security needs.
A mobile-friendly, HTML5-based user interface allows far-flung workers to access Dynamics AX using practically any Internet-connected device. Mimicking the familiar Office interface, the software also features integrations with Dynamics CRM, Office 365 and Power BI for seamless sharing and employee collaboration.
On-screen Task Guides help users navigate the software with some help from Cortana, Microsoft's answer to digital assistants like Siri and Google Now. Job-specific workspaces tailor the UI to a user's role, providing a focused, context-aware experience.
While Dynamics AX may make it easier for users to work with ERP data, Microsoft is making it tougher for businesses to lose control over their sensitive information. Despite its global footprint, the Azure-backed software-as-a-service offering respects the data sovereignty requirements of customers that conduct business across borders, Microsoft assured.
Time will tell if Dynamics AX can solve the challenges enterprises face when they decide to shift their ERP workloads to the cloud.
Earlier this month, IT analyst firm Gartner warned that 90 percent of business will lack a cloud-friendly "postmodern ERP" application integration strategy through 2018, adding complexity and cost and generally causing chaos. "Postmodern ERP represents a fundamental shift away from a single vendor megasuite toward a more loosely coupled and federated ERP environment," said Carol Hardcastle, research vice president at Gartner, in a media advisory. "This new environment promises more business agility, but only if the increased complexity is recognized and addressed."
Over the next few years, the majority of businesses will struggle with the move from monolithic on-premises systems to more agile, cloud-enabled ERP platforms. Gartner said that until 2018, 80 percent of enterprises will lack the capability to successfully make the shift.