When it's released in the first quarter of 2016, the next version of Microsoft Dynamics AX will ditch the car-like model-year branding, reflecting the ERP software's new cloud-inspired capabilities. A public beta is set to kick off in early December
Backed by Azure, Microsoft's globe-spanning cloud computing platform, Dynamics AX will inherit many of the features the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant has been steadily incorporating into its cloud software ecosystem. They include immediate provisioning, elastic capacity, along with high availability and disaster recovery, according to Mike Ehrenberg, technical fellow, Microsoft Dynamics ERP.
The offering will also employ Microsoft Life Cycle Services (LCS), allowing organizations to balance the comparatively rapid pace of cloud software innovation with the predictability of structured application lifecycle management practices. "We are formalizing the concepts of development, test and production and delivering the tools that will let enterprises combine the agility of cloud software upgrade models with the enterprise best practice discipline of managed release promotion and deployment—meaning the customer can have more control over when they get and implement updates that fits their business needs," stated Ehrenberg in a Nov. 19 announcement.
To users, the most obvious change will be a revamped HTML5-based user interface that mimics Office and features integrations with Dynamics CRM, Office 365 and Power BI. New on-screen Task Guides help steer users in the right direction with a little help from Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled virtual assistant. Microsoft has also worked to streamline workflows, reducing clicks and the steps necessary to complete tasks
Also new are job-specific user experiences. "The new solution also introduces a powerful new concept called 'Workspaces,' where users in various roles not only get a different lens on the data, tasks and activities tailored to their role in the organization, but also an even more focused experience in the application with additional context taking together all the data, all the processes and everything they need to get a task done," Ehrenberg said.
Real-time analytics are built-in, courtesy of Power BI and Azure SQL. "Users don't need to leave their work to use a separate analytics tool—the business intelligence they need is right in the application. Dynamics AX uses in-memory BI to give people real-time operational insights so they can make informed decisions," added Ehrenberg.
"Our ambition to build the intelligent cloud comes to life with apps optimized for modern business, like Dynamics AX," said Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie in a statement issued today. "When you combine the hyper-scale, enterprise-grade and hybrid cloud capabilities of Microsoft Azure with the real-time insights and intuitive user experience of Dynamics AX, organizations and individuals are empowered to transform their business operations."
Although compatible with all modern Web browsers, including Edge, Internet Explorer's successor, Dynamics AX will be available via apps for iOS, Android and Windows 10.