After years of promises, Microsoft has finally released a new version of its Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning suite that integrates what were diverse application components into a seamless package.
Dynamics AX 2009, a suite of accounting, financial, customer relationship and supply chain management applications, was released June 2. The package is designed to enable small to midsize companies to build single, integrated views of financial and supply chain data from branch offices around the world.
It's a significant advance from the previous version, AX 4.0, released in mid-2006, which was still an amalgamation of separate ERP products acquired over the previous five years, including Great Plains Software, Navision, Solomon Software and Axapta, and its own Microsoft CRM.
"They have done a really good job of integrating the Microsoft technologies," said Ray Wang, principal analyst with Forrester Research. "I think this is probably the first release there they have really put together everything they have had internally and put it to use," he said. "In the previous releases you could tell that there were parts [from] different companies that were acquired" over the years.
Back in 2003, Microsoft announced "Project Green," a massive programming effort to integrate these diverse components into a single code base. However, that project faltered and it took until this year to produce an integrated ERP suite running under a seamless interface.
With the new version Microsoft has "actually done a good job of optimizing with SQL Server," Wang said. SQL Server transaction response times have improved two or three times over or earlier versions, he said.
The role-based user experience presents a user interface application functionality that is optimized for more than 70 business "personas," such as "April the accounting clerk or Vince the shipping or operations manager," Wang said. This makes it easier for information workers to get right to work with the application components that are optimized for their business role.