Dynamics AX
  RSS Feed  LinkedIn  Twitter
Want to turn you're data into a true asset? Ready to break free from the report factory?
Ready to gain true insights that are action focused for truly data informed decisions?
Want to do all of this across mutliple companies, instances of Dynamics and your other investments?
Hillstar Business Intelligence is the answer then! (www.HillstarBI.com)

Hillstar Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV on Mobile, Desktop, Tablet

Let us prove to you how we can take the complexity out of the schema and truly enable users to answer the needed questions to run your business! Visit Hillstar Business Solutions at: www.HillstarBI.com

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dynamics ERP and the 4th Patadigm of Science

While at Convergence 2010 this year, which took place last month, as part of the closing keynote, Microsoft Reseach was a heavy focus.

One of the key terms that we saw in this, for the future of Dynamics ERP, and beyond Dynamics, is it's a: "Data Centric World"

In this data driven, data centric review of the future, all the Convergence attendees were pointed to the "Fourth Paradigm in Science" free ebook.

Microsoft research is really into this data centric approach, and how we are entering into the fourth paradigm of science, which is all about data.

From a Dynamics ERP point of view, this applies directly. Taking the closing keynote, and looking back and what all was learned from Convergence, with Context Aware UI and BI, push into self service BI, and increased productivity, the underlying theme behind all of this is the 'data centric world'.

Look at models for example. We see models being used in SQL Server Modeling, WF with Business Process Modeling, in AX 6, with it's layers containing models for working with objects, in Master Data Services, part of SQL Server 2008 R2, and even with the new focus being put on by Microsoft with the "Modeling the world" site, recently launched.

This also plays right into the NUI, or natural user interface we see with Microsoft Surface, Apple's iPad / iPhone, with taking NUI and helping those interfaces make a data centric world become more modeled on the actual workflows and natural usage of applications and devices.

Now that's a very high level statement, but with Dynamics ERP this is very much a guiding design princple of Microsoft. Therefore it's important, I believe, to understand this fourth paradigm, in order to prepare for the future, and also to help get inline with the vision of Dynamics ERP for the future.

The Fourth Paradigm of Science is a free ebook, and Microsoft has a Research home page for the book, with extra information, that can be found here.: The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery

From the page.:
"In The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, the collection of essays expands on the vision of pioneering computer scientist Jim Gray for a new, fourth paradigm of discovery based on data-intensive science and offers insights into how it can be fully realized."

For me, this is just not some geeky pdf, that is cool and all theory. It's about taking this insight, understanding Microsoft's focus with it, and helping to build out how Dynamics ERP will be influenced by this, as well as how Business Domain issues can be solved better, faster and cheaper because of this understanding.

So, I would recommend reading it, and then ask you to step out into a bigger world, and tie what's taking place at Microsoft research into Dynamics ERP, and business software in general.

I also believe this helps show how Microsoft research is really leveraged across all the great Microsoft products.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interview with Microsoft's Kees Hertogh

While at Convergence 2010 this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Kees Hertogh, Director, Product Management, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and talk about a lot of different topics around AX that are important to the Customer and Partner level.

The following is the result of that interview.:

Q: In your position Kees, how is Microsoft research and innovation across the rest of the stack evaluated for use to help solve business domain issues in the Dynamics AX product?

Kees: “When we look at the innovation and research being done across the Microsoft stack, as a whole, we look at technologies, to see what makes sense for solving business issues.

Take unified communications for example. If you look at UC separately, the parts that make up UC, like IM, presence, social aspects, etc. These are all interesting technologies, but when some businesses look at these separately they could be considered, or have been considered distractions.

If we bring these technologies, this unified communications umbrella, into the realm of Dynamics AX, then we can start to see how these separate technologies form a valid use for increasing productivity, they become productive elements, for the context of a given users work.

We can see how these technologies then enable true collaboration, in the context of work, and help drive context aware business software.

Moving on to the stack level, let’s look at the SQL Team for example. We, the Dynamics AX team at Microsoft, are an internal customer to the SQL Team. They treat us as such, and therefore we work closely with them to help make SQL Server tuned specifically for the needs of the Dynamics ERP line, including Dynamics AX. Because of this close relationship we have, the leveraged research done on SQL Server is used to help push Dynamics AX to a better product overall.

This is true, as well for the rest of the stack, including .NET Teams, Office Teams., etc. Since we can work this close, all the research that goes into these other stack products, can be leveraged, down to the Windows OS level, and all the way back up the stack.

Something that helps enable this, are people like Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, Mike Ehrenberg. In his role, he helps facilitate and ensure products like Dynamics AX are leveraging and making use of the other Microsoft products, so that customers get the full benefits of what all those other technologies can do to help Dynamics AX continue to be a market leader in the ERP space.”

Q: Continuing on this topic, how does your team stay focused on current AX Technology, while also focusing on the need for ramp up of skills sets for upcoming technology? Also what you recommend for customers and partners to help balance this need as well? For execution, planning and vision?

Kees: “The way our team stays focused is by investing in readiness and documentation for customers and partners. The output of this, is how our team trains, and also will be how customers and partners alike will gain needed information. The medium for delivery of content targeted at the Developer community is the AX Developers center on MSDN. We are investing a lot of time on documentation.

We saw this effort really starting in Dynamics AX 4.0, and now in Dynamics AX 2009, a wealth of information exists on MSDN. With Dynamics AX ‘6’, and beyond, documentation, along with video’s, walk-through’s, etc. will exist and be delivered on a timely manner, targeted in a role specific way.

For example ISV’s need specific access to early documentation that is different than other types of Microsoft Partners. Also, on the role specific focus of training and documentation, there were no longer be a sense of second and first class citizens. Product Information, both functional and technical, will be published to MSDN and CustomerSource. Now, still there will be specific marketing information targeted to Partner Roles that will only be available on PartnerSoruce, that do not apply to customer roles. Again role specific being the focus and target of information, delivered in a timely fashion.

Moving forward with this, and looking at vision, the statement of direction (SOD) for Dynamics AX is the best place to keep current on soon to be released technical aspects, as well as future looking vision. This is not a marketing tool, but a true guideline that we follow. It’s updated every six months, and the six months timeline is the most concrete set of times and delivery around technology, functionality and use. The further out you look with the SOD, the higher the level of focus gets. As time passes, those area’s that were listed with general information, start to get filled in with more and more specifics.”

Q: For Dynamics AX vNext, and beyond what are some important skill sets that customers and partners should be investing in, to best align themselves with Microsoft’s vision for Dynamics AX ?

Kees: “As talked about at Convergence, ‘The Cloud’ is going to be a big focus now and in the not to distant future. Look at the example for product compliance, where our partner Atrion will offer content for global product compliancy in regulated environments through ‘the cloud’ and integrate directly with a customer MS Dynamics AX implementation. In this we show off how the cloud is solving a problem that is hard to solve otherwise, providing compliancy information which is subject to frequent change aggregated through the cloud and delivered in a more timely manner, directly integrated in the customers’ business processes. That’s the point of how the cloud has focus for a skill set that should be invested in by both customers and partners.

The idea of the cloud is not just about the technology, but the business case of why? What business domain problem does it solve, or can it solve? That’s the driving factors for what the current cloud offerings are, and the driving force for the cloud offerings in the future.

For Partners, along with staying up on the latest technology trends, the focus should actually be to have industry focus. Be experts in specific verticals, and do not try to be a generalist. Focusing in on, for example Retail, which is a very vertically focused area. Doing such investments will be of great benefit for partners, and help the Dynamics AX partners fit with the Vision Microsoft has of the future with Dynamics AX.”

Q: How much of an impact will model driven development, with SQL Server Modeling and WF Designer, have on future releases of Microsoft Dynamics AX?

Kees: “ When we speak in terms of models, for Dynamics AX there will be two focuses. One the aspect of Model Driven Development, in which SQL Server Modeling will serve a key role in enabling. This is focused around the development of custom code, and modules, and therefore focused more at the technical side of things.

The second area of model development, is business process models. This is driven with WF, and the WF designer within Dynamics AX of the future. This is a quest a lot of people have been at for years. For business software, like Dynamics AX, it’s never really been successfully deployed. The way we are going about model driven development, we realize that you can’t ever get rid of the need for code creation.

The idea is going to be, for empowering businesses, partners and users to map the workflows of their business process, and in the creation of those maps, actually build out the execution of the processes themselves.

Therefore, model driven development and business process modeling, are not an end points we are trying to reach. It is a continuum that will grow and grow as more and more releases of Dynamics AX take place. Also, this is not going to be a big flip of the switch either. The next versions of Dynamics AX will be planned steps into enabling model driven development & business process modeling, for allowing businesses to speak in their own domain specific languages, to address their business domain problems.

The focus for the upcoming versions of AX, in the business process modeling area will be around putting methodology into business workflows, and mapping workflows to actual business processes. For sure I want to make it should be clearly understood that this is a gradual move, with the idea of enabling flexibility, to increase the speed of go lives, to decrease upgrade headaches, and to help enable our customers to be truly dynamic.”

Q: If you could talk with customers and partners about one trend with technology that will offer a vast improvement in AX of the future, what would that be?

Kees: “There are many great things taking place for the future of Dynamics AX, but one area I think will help really improve productivity, therefore offer a vast improvement in the sense of the question, will be around context aware BI.

When you think about traditional BI, what we have seen is a handful of people at a given company having access to BI base data and reporting. With context aware BI, we will enable the software to become more task aware, in the context of the user and their role in the system. That means, for the purchaser, or shop floor manager, the information that they need, will start coming to them, instead of them having to find it.

You can take the example done during the keynote speech for Convergence this year, showing off how UC, works with Dynamics ERP. In that demo, we saw a quality control issue. A company purchaser was made aware of the quality issue, saw through presence that the vendor for that given issue was online. He then started a video chat session from within Dynamics, to find out more information. While looking at the options for that vendor the most common functions done typically for that vendor, by the given user showed up. The top function, or creating a return order was highlighted and used."

This is a good example of context aware being used to help productivity, and context aware data, or BI focuses for the future.”

Closing Statement from Kees Hertogh.:
"Microsoft will continue to invest in delivering innovation for our customers and partners through the execution of our roadmap. However, since the launch of MS Dynamics AX 2009, I’ve seen a slew of examples where customers implementing this release where able to achieve concrete business benefit by increasing their ERP footprint in their organization and dramatic growth in productivity. I would urge our customers to continue to look at opportunities available today with MS Dynamics AX2009 to help them achieve their business goals."

I would like to thank Mr. Kees Hertogh for taking the time to sit down and talk about Dynamics AX, including Dynamics AX of the future. I look forward to future interviews with Kees, and the rest of his team at Microsoft!

That's all for now, and I will leave you with Kees' bio.:

Kees Hertogh is a director for Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS). He leads the Microsoft Dynamics AX Global Product Management team. In his current role, Hertogh is responsible for developing and driving global product strategy for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

In 1999, Hertogh joined Navision a/s, which was later acquired by Microsoft Corp. Before leading the product management for Microsoft Dynamics AX, he worked in the Microsoft Business Solutions marketing strategy group as director of the group’s competitive strategy, and before that he was a group product manager on Project Green. Before joining Microsoft, he held the position of product director on the MBS management team at Microsoft Netherlands, and was responsible for local product strategy and the local product management and development teams.

Hertogh has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on management accounting from Haarlem Business School in the Netherlands. He also achieved Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) status from the Association for Operations Management (APICS).

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 24, 2010

DynamicsWorld Top 100 List for 2010 has been released

DynamicsWorld, www.DynamicsWorld.co.uk, has released it's annual Dynamics Top 100 list today, and I have to say I am most honored to be included in this list for a 2nd year.

This year I move from 84th, to 24th position. Again I am honored to be included with all the professionals who made this year list.

From the release.:
"This year we received over 350 nominations and recommendations.

Almost 10,000 votes were cast for the candidates on the shortlist.

More people than ever before took part in nominating, voting, and judging the list for 2010 so we would like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved

We limit our list to 100 names, and as the Microsoft Dynamics channel matures and grows the competition for inclusion is becoming more evident and the judging becomes more difficult. But, the Top 100 is not focused on the best coders or the best consultants this event is about recognizing the people who are responsible for leading the Microsoft Dynamics channel, industry leaders, thought leaders, innovators, and bloggers."

I think it's very important to understand the fact that this list is not about the best coders, consultants, etc. Because there are thousands of great people that work hard at building the Dynamics community each day, with deliverying great projects to Dynamics customers.

I would like to thank the DynamicsWorld team, and also anyone who voted for me. This year was the first year that DynamicsWorld allowed voting, as part of a 12 point process. The voting aspect counted as one of the 12 aspects that they used for creating and ranking this years list.

I would also like to give a big congrats to all those that made it. You are on this list because of your deep involvement with the Dynamics Ecosystem, helping build out a great Dynamics Community.

That's all for now, but more post to come, inclduing a recent interview with Microsoft's Kees Hertogh.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics Community site set for major improvements

If you are involved with Microsoft Dynamics, in any shape form or fashion, then you have more than likely been to the Microsoft Community site. The site, already, has a wealth of information, forums, blogs and syndicated blogs, links to videos, which is targeted at helping customers, prospects, and partners with information sharing, answering questions, getting help and understanding Microsoft vision for the future of Microsoft Dynamics Product line.

The site, already is a valuable tool in the Dynamics ecosystem, and now the team behind the site will be launching some vast improvements that will help all of us in answering or questions, sharing information, and networking in a more unified and intuitive nature.

I was able to get a glimpse at the new features the site will be boasting, from the Microsoft team behind the community, and may I say I'm impressed with the thought, and effort that is going into making this a better experience for the different types of users that access and use this resource on a daily basis.

Some of the first things you will notice in the site’s design will be around the menu navigation. Right now, the navigation is focused around the left hand side of the site. This is moving to the top, similar to a office ribbon feel, that will help give more space to offer content in throughout the site, and sub-sites, that you might use.

From there the improvements focus on specific improvements around improving a users experience and productivity for finding help. For example the forums are changing, to ‘Ask the community’, in which instead of searching through forums the way we are all use to, a new design will exists where as you type similar asked topics will appear for you, and give you visual aid into the state of that given topic. If it has been answered, what type of resource is it that will be helping you etc. If you don’t find what your looking for, what you have already typed can quickly become a new question to the community.

This is a huge improvement, and really helps the community site actually be in line with what Microsoft is doing with the Dynamics brand, around context aware, role tailored experiences.

Another improvement, is that the User Groups, like AXUG for example, well live as part of the new site. For this there will be public resources for forums, blog post, etc. and for those paying members of AXUG, targeted resources and content that only paying members have access to.

With this move, the robustness of the site itself will increase, and the searching of needed resources and content will include the User Group elements, and is smart enough, based on your ‘Live Id’ to determine if you have the correct rights for the paid for access, or just public access.

While on this topic, the intuitive design of the site will not change, so even if you are a paying UG member or a just public access member to UG content, your overall experience will not be affected, but stay the same in a more unified fashion.

Another great new feature with the new site release, will be around video resources. Now, you have to click on a link, leave the site, and watch a video about a topic your interested in. The site will allow the video content created by Microsoft, to be played embedded within the site, while still maintaining the use and benefits of YouTube.

Also, the video based content can have playlist imported, and therefore partner created videos will be able to exists on the, embedded in the same nature.

Another section, for bloggers like myself, is the improvements being done for sharing content like video’s, editing information, and the management of blog post. This will all become much, much simpler in the site release.

All in all, the Microsoft team behind the community site is really listening to its user base, and will be delivering an experience that will help customer, prospects, new customers and partners alike be more productive and better informed through the innovative and intuitive design the team is bringing with the site release.

I will be doing a future post with further details as the new site launch date gets closer! Till next time.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Decisions 2010 in Full Swing!

The Virtual Conference, Decisions 2010, hosted by MSDynamicsWorld.com, is in full swing this morning!

There is a great lineup for presentations going on today, and tomorrow, including the ability to catch sessions on demand afterwards, if you miss some you wanted to attend.

Also, there is a great networking lounge, and you can visit every booth, and do all the great things, from the comfort of your computer!

Also, Sunrise Technologies, Inc. (www.sunriseconsult.com) has a booth in the East Hall of the conference.

To show off how neat this how event is, I have choose Sunrise, to highlight what a booth looks like, how the inside of the booth looks and feels, and also the staff section for connecting with. The following are screen shots of the event.:

First off, we have what a booth looks like, here is the Sunrise booth.:

Next, when you click on a booth, you would see something similar, as you do here with the inside look at the Sunrise booth.:

Finally, at the bottom, while inside a booth, you will see a staff section. Here we see Amber, Heather, Susan, Barbara and Bob all listed for Sunrise employees who will be helping with the booth throughout this event.

I encourage you to check things out!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Someone Agrees about the Dynamics AX Connector for SAP

Yesterday, I wrote about my take on the SAP moves for the bid on Sybase, and also the other moves going on, that basically points to SAP giving in on the mid market to the Leader: Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Link: Looking into SAP's bid for Sybase, and what this means for Dynamics AX

I also go on to point out that the Two Tier move by Microsoft with the Dynamics AX connector for SAP is a move into the SAP client base, with a focus on the Divisons and moving into the Larger Enterprise.

Lee Pender, of RCPMag.com, a couple of hours after posting what I did about all of this, he posted on his blog similar thought lines, in the following post.: Microsoft Seeks To Infiltrate SAP as Sapphire Begins

From the post.:
"[F]irms can implement the cheaper, simpler AX at satellite locations and let workers get used to it. And when it comes time for an SAP customer to reevaluate ERP, maybe Dynamics makes its way into the picture based on the performance and simplicity of AX in the sticks."

Now one section Lee says AX is not designed for Larger Enterprise, however Lee does not implement AX, and I believe his sources are incorrect in giving him this statement. Dynamics AX can be any companies full scale ERP package.

With that aside, it seems that Mr. Pender agrees with what I was saying, or at least is thinking along the same lines.

So here we go, Dynamics AX pushing deeper and deeper into the bread & butter of SAP's larger enterprise, where for some reason the norm for a long time was "If it's complicated and takes a legion of consultants to implement, then it must be right for larger enterprise."

And, as I stated yesterday, I believe Sybase move - while gaining some form a of mobile and cloud platform - actually is about trying to 'buy-a-stack', in order to focus in on shoring up against Microsoft threating the SAP core.

And now, lets look at the cloud offerings that come with Sybase. It's not a platform, in which Windows Azure, or even Google's AppEngine is. It's built on Amazon's EC2, which is really IaaS. Pure cloud services can't be built with this. Not the way pure cloud services can be developed on Azure and Google's AppEngine.

Therefore, though it is a move into the cloud, it's targeted more at the Infrastructe level, which turns into hosted versions of the following.:

  • Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) mission-critical data management system

  • SQL Anywhere embedded and mobile database

  • Sybase IQ column-based analytics server

  • Replication Server for data movement and synchronization

Interesting yes, but a true cloud offering? A cloud platform? No!

This is going to be something to watch for sure, and again I could be wrong in what all this means. Just reading the tea leaves, and connecting the dots, this post and the one from yesterday sum up about what I think this all really boils down too.

I will ask as Lee Pender did on his blog, what's your thoughts? Do you agree? Do you disagree? All comments are welcomed!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking into SAP's bid for Sybase, and what this means for Dynamics AX

Like some of you, I am sure you had your interest peaked with last weeks news about SAP's bid to purhcase Sybase for some $6 billion dollars. This is a premium bid, well above Sybase's closing share price, the day before the bid was announced.

Some have speculated that the higher bid premium was actually to try and wave off a swoop in by HP possibly to take and get Sybase for it's own Enterprise Software offerings.

With that talk aside, lets focus back on the SAP bid, and assume it's going to move forward. With that, there is plenty of coverage about this on the blogsphere, and lets start with R. Wang's coverage here.: News Analysis: SAP Bets On Innovation With $5.8B Sybase Acquisition

In this Wang covers the highlights of what SAP is getting with the purchase of Sybase, which focus around.:

  • Sybase is a leader in mobile platforms

  • Massive data volumes require in-memory databases for rapid access (IMDB)

  • Cloud technologies bring SAP into the future (Focused around Amazon EC2)

Now let's move forward, and read a blog post pointing out by PartnerCompete, found here.: SAP and Sybase: A Waste of Time for Everyone Involved

In this, the final end that Dennis Byron points out is that such a move by SAP is setting themselves up, once the Democrats are out of office, to be purchased by Microsoft. (Among some other good points, and history lessons to be found in his post.)

So now lets get into focus Microsoft Dynamics ERP line, and specifically Dynamics AX. In a recent blog post, from Panoroma Consulting Group, they performed a survey and found that in the survey results Microsoft Dynamics leads the SMB ERP marketspace. Microsoft Dynamics: Preferred ERP Software Vendor for SMBs? (Currently leader in the Small Enterprise as well).

Now lets talk about what the speculation is around SAP and Sybase. It seems as if SAP is focusing big money, and effort into the larger Enterprise, with complex software. To directly compete with Oracle, with it's complex software. It also seems, as pointed out by PartnerCompete, that SAP is not focusing on the Mid Market space, which is tauted Business ByDesign is suppose to be addressing.

Check out ZDnet's, Dennis Howlett's, post about SAP SAPPHIRE conference that is starting soon.: SAPPHIRE 2010: SAP's last chance?

In this Dennis points out.:
"Being a fan of conspiracy theories I’m starting to think that last week’s Sybase acquisition is a clever ruse to deflect talk away from what many of us thought was going to be the ‘front and center’ mega launch of Business ByDesign. BYD seems to have been relegated to a luncheon engagement towards the end of the conference."

Now lets pull all of this together, we have all the turmoil that has been taking place with SAP and it's countless CEO's, and revolving management door. Now we see this move, which has really nothing to do with the Mid Market, and the mobile platform that Sybase has? It's not worth 6 billion dollars!

The bottom line, SAP is trying to have a bigger stack offering, and that means it will be competing with Microsoft and Oracle, in a deeper offering than just the Enterprise Software, and BI offerings. It also means that it's focused on heavy, complex software, for super large Enterprises, and is not focusing on the Mid Market as promised. (Bye-Bye BYD, before you even get started!)

So for Microsoft Dynamics AX, this means that being the Flagship ERP product of the Dynamics ERP line, it is the market leader in the Mid Market space, and going for larger and larger Enterprise customers. Feeling pressure from Microsoft and Oracle, SAP seems to be doing a back move to try and have a more true stack offering to it's larger Enterprise, but the Sybase database offerings just don't seem to match, other than they do have a good IMDB offering.

And for the larger Enterprise customers remark above, lets look at the Microsoft TwoTier offering.: Connect your local entities to headquarters with Microsoft Dynamics for your two-tier ERP solution

This new offering, is ready for Dynamics AX, which is well covered by MSDynamicsWorld.com, found here.: Microsoft Allows Integration of Dynamics AX with SAP Via New Connector

Now take the above move by Microsoft into consideration for the remark I made about Larger Enteprises. The Two-Tier pitch, and focus for having Microsoft Dynamics AX the second Tier ERP package for larger Enterprises with many divisons is a two pronged attack at a high level.

Not only does it allow to Dynamics AX to continue to push gains of being the Mid Martker leader, which most Divisons of Larger Enterprise fit under, it also setups Dynamics AX for the future of when the Larger Enterprise see the Lower TCO, what can be done with Dynamics AX, and how fast things can be done, that it becomes easier for the larger Enterprise to switch it's HQ package out for Dynamics AX, getting in line with all it's Divisons that are ahead of it.

For Microsoft Dynamics AX, what the Sybase purchase by SAP most likely means then, is that SAP is giving in the mid market to the leader, and trying to shore up it's death grip on the Enterprise as Dynamics AX continues it climb into that space as well.

Maybe that's being a little over confident, and time will tell, lets see what comes out of SAPPHIRE 2010. However, this is my take, and yes I am a Microsoft Partner, and therefore believe this as is. Still I believe we will start to see BYD continue to loose steam, before it really has taking off, and SAP wondering what to do, in order to continue to grow it's customer base.

The other side of this is the cloud, and we will leave that for the next time around on this topic!

That's all for now, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dilips AIF Resource blog post

I thought I would pass this along. Dilip, from Dilip's blog about Dynamics AX, posted a nice entry covering different AIF handy web resources.

A direct link to that post, can be found here.: Dilip's AIF Links post

This goes right into the technical dive of working with AIF, which I talked about in my last post, covering when and where AIF should be used vs. the .Net BC.: AIF Services and the .Net BC - Where and When?

Thanks Dilip for a nice post there! Keep them coming!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

AIF Services and the .Net BC - Where and When?

One of the sessions I attended at Convergence 2010, was the AXUG Software Architect SIG. The initial coverage post for that session, can be found at the following link.: Coverage of AXUG Software Architect SIG at Convergence 2010

In this, a good bit of topics were on the minds of the people who attended. One of them was around AIF Services and the .Net BC. What a good bit of discussion for this surrounded, was where and when to use either?

As promised in the above post, this is a start into digging deeper into the topics covered during that session. So for this When and Where should AIF Services or .Net BC be used, when connecting into a Dynamics AX instance?

This is a valid question actually, as both offer the ability to interact with Dynamics AX. Both offer different pro's and con's as well.

Lets look at the nature of these two different paths for interacting with Dynamics AX from an outside application, service or other LOB application.

First AIF Services. AIF Services are targeted specific end points for document exchange in and out of Dynamics AX, on a transactional, one off level. These services are generated from an AOT Query element, and make use of Axd* Classes, which in turn AX uses to generate the WCF Services that end up being hosted in IIS.

These are WCF services, and so when consumed by a .Net Application, BizTalk, or other LOB Application, will interact as such. These services represent Dynamics AX "Documents". Which could be reading a customer, a sales order, creating a purchase req, or any custom AIF Service you create.

From looking at past use, and desgined nature of AIF Services, these best serve the one-off, transactional calls. Meaning, if the nature of your integration is calling to create a Sales Order, or lookup a customer, then AIF Services are best suited for this type of interaction. Notice the key on "a" meaning singular interactions, with distinct returned result sets.

Moving on to the .Net BC, it offers a different type of access than the AIF Services. With the .Net BC, you get direct access to AOT objects. So you could in theory, access the Query object that a given AIF Service is created from, directly. Not sure why though, other than to look up information. :-)

With this direct access, that means you have direct access to X++ classes, tables, and business logic directly.

So the nature of the .Net BC, is meant to expose to .Net based code / assemblies, the AOT, for working with the AX AOT objects and business logic, directly from .Net.

AIF Services, there is a layer of Abstraction, and therefore a layer of possible extra validation, and context control over data, that would not actually exists through the .Net BC.

Looking at these two options for working with Dynamics AX, still we have the question of Where and when? Since we have a base understanding of the nature of these two choices, lets move forward in answering this question.

Since AIF Services are meant to act in the "a", singluar transactional nature, consuming a AIF Service is best for when you have calls in the nature and context of creating, reading, updating or deleting (CRUD) data, in the form of "Document" based information. This could include creating a sales order, a purhcase req, looking up information on a item, or a customer.

Comparing AIF Services, to the .Net BC for achieving this same need, I have seen the AIF performs better, and is best suited for this. Also using the AIF for these needs, you end up having that layer of abstraction that enables control of the how data is accessed, and the shaping possibly of that data in a uniformed control fashion.

The other benefit for using AIF Services, is was generated, enables the creation of composite applications, that include AX with an SOA type of architecture in mind.

Moving to the where and when for the .Net BC, lets say you have a need for pushing in a massive amount of data? Or you want direct access to maybe having a complex LOB application workflow, that is deeply tied to the business logic in Dynamics AX, that might actually live in X++, and want to expose and reuse that.

Then .Net BC is best suited for this type of integration, and performs better. It performs best with larger amounts of bulk data, or the need for exposing possibly complex workflows, or deep X++ business logic, or custom X++ business logic, and having that tie in with other LOB applications or Enterprise needs.

I hope the above helps answer some of this, and I welcome any comments from anyone on their own thoughts for this topic.

If we look forward with Dynamics AX, take a look at some of my past post. AX internally even will be making use of AIF Services for "document" level integration and data flow needs. Also AX moving forward is turning into a true Managed Code, at the kernel ERP package. This means tighter integration for the AOT into .Net, in a more native fashion will exists.

That's all for now, but check back soon, and again feel free to leave comments on this topic!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dynamics AX - Thread Development vs. Batch runtime task

Recently, in the past months, I talked about in a few post using Threads in your X++ code, to help with adding parrellel processing to long running processes.

Dynamics AX 2009 - X++ Thread Development
Dynamics AX Threads - More details

There is for sure, a specific time and place to use Threads, however what about in Batch? What if I want to take the work I am doing with threads, and actually run that now in a batch processing mode?

Bottom line.: It will not work!

Threads, currently, can't be spawned from within a batch executing task. The design behind batch framework is geared around taking and using the BatchHeader class, and the runtime task framework, to create batch task.

If you do this, you will see these task execute under the same context as threads, being that of a "worker" user type.

So as I said, Thread development has it's time and place, and that does not include Batch related execution. Threads are best for user processes, where the process always involves a user kicking off that said process. If batch based execution is needed, then taking the example of found in the Journal Batch Processing whitepaper, you can take and allow for parrellel execution of code, with batch task being created, vs. threads being spawned.

There are other good examples of this actually, including the Inside Dynamics AX 2009 book, which covers this topic as well.

So with this, we have two ways to achieve parrellel processing, and depending on the desired nature of the process, will drive you to which method. To batch, or not to batch? For this, that is the driving question!

That's all for now, but check back soon, as more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Decisions 2010 - MSDynamicsWorld Virtual Conference coming up

Coming up on May 19th and 20th is the MSDynamicsWorld.com's Virtual conference, called Decisions 2010.

This is similar to Converegence, in how you can meet with Partners, ISV's and network, however you can do it all from the joys of your on computer, at no cost! This is a great chance to take and expand upon the points and information learned while at Convergence this year, and if you happened to miss Convergence this year, then use this event to network and get new information from all the people, partners and isv's that will be attending.

There are going to be a lot of great sessions to attend, and focus in on, and times to network, and talk with others.

Sunrise Technologies, Inc. (www.sunriseconsult.com) will be sponsoring this event, and showcasing the www.Sunrise-AX.com virtual office, among other things. The full Press Release from Sunrise can be found here.: Sunrise Technologies to Participate in the Decisions 2010, the MSDynamicsWorld.com Virtual Tradeshow

The great thing about this event is that so many sessions, partners and information will be ready for your access, by simply logging on. You can login for an hour, go do some work, login again at lunch and mingle and listen to another session, do work and login again afterwards.

That's the wonderful thing about this event. Also, just because it's not a live event does not mean there is no door prizes, stop by the different booths, and check out what the different Partners have to showcase, and sign up to win their respective prizes for visiting!

That's all for now, I have more post coming, and I hope to virtually bump into you at the event!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dynamics AX, Windows Server AppFabric and Private Clouds

Convergence 2010 covered a lot of topics, from the functional to the technical, and spanning all Dynamics ERP brands.

One of the hot topics that was talked about was Cloud Computing. I talked about this year, early on being the year, and later the decade of the Cloud. (2010, Year of the Cloud.)

Since that post, I have had varing topics and post covered about cloud computing with Microsoft, and most of these talks have been around the public cloud services, with Windows Azure, SQL Azure and the like.

While at Convergence, I talked with current customers, and others about what the cloud means. There was some great examples, already, about how the Cloud services are set to enable and achieve what people can't in their own data centers.

Still when talking to customers, they are still trying to see what does the cloud solve for me? Also what does it do for my Dynamics AX investment? How do I get there?

These again, are all focused on the cloud computing power delivered by Windows Azure. This post however, I want to spend a little time talking about private clouds, that are hosted internally within a company.

This brings us to Microsoft's focus on empowering this, because the bottomline Hybrid clouds will be the norm for a along time. And for a while, that means that private clouds, and internal, on-premise software and applications will still remain the major focus for companies for sometime.

In an interview with Mike Ehrenberg from Microsoft, who I also interview here.: Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg, was done by MSDynamicsWorld.com, 'In the Dynamics Future: Microsoft’s Mike Ehrenberg Discusses Progress on Master Data Management, Workflow, Upgrade Quality'

The interview done by MSDynamicsWorld talks about aspects I have covered, and been covering, with MDM, Upgrades, etc. But what I want you to focus on is the section about workflows, and WCF services, with the Windows Server AppFabric.

From the interview.:
"Workflow Foundation has always needed a home - a SharePoint server or IIS for example, that could run the application. AppFabric is "the evolution of an app server", in Ehrenberg's words, allowing the workflow processes to be offloaded to on-premise servers or to the cloud where AppFabric is integrated into the Windows Azure platform.

"It's a scale-out environment...more of a scale and performance story," Ehrenberg explained."

So Windows Server AppFabric is the application server that will host WF and WCF Services.

Why is this important for us to understand with Dynamics AX? With the concept of Private clouds?

The reason this is important is for Dynamics AX 6 and beyond. Windows Server AppFabric is currently in Beta2 refresh release, and is schedule to be RTM this summer.

Dynamics AX has AIF Services, and workflow ability, and even more in Dynamics AX 6. Just reference back to my recent post.: Dynamics AX 6, DotNet 4 and the WF Designer

Right now, in Dynamics AX 2009, .Net 3.5 is used. With this, when you create Services to consume within AX, or if you publish services from AX AIF as WCF end points for other LOB to consume, that is hosted in IIS.

This also means, a lot of config file editing, custom reporting on errors possibly, needs for states of workflow services, etc. it's all a real manual process.

However with AppFabric, all of that changes. With the introduction of AppFabric, we will start to see the ability to use PowerShell Commandlets (Cmdlets) to automate some of this manaual task. We will also be able to have insight into the services that are running, have much better control over WF Services states, be able to quickly move, start, stop and disable services, deal with version issues, etc. etc.

So instead of just having our AIF published services on some IIS box, or our custom WCF / WF Services that we developed and consume within AX just sitting on some IIS box, having to go through the different manual processing of deploying, moving, config files, etc. we will get a more automated ability, deeper insight, and faster develop and deploy cycles than can currently exists with .Net 3.5.

Now what does this mean for private clouds? Lets go back to Mike E's statement.:
"[AppFabric will allow] the workflow processes to be offloaded to on-premise servers or to the cloud where AppFabric is integrated into the Windows Azure platform."

Right now, Microsoft is still putting together all the different aspects of what a private cloud will exists and look like, but at the heart of enabling this will be Windows Server AppFabric.

So Windows Server AppFabric will also be at the heart of having the ability to offload services, depending on need, and through PowerShell (Very powerful stuff here!) and AppFrabic, offload and push services to the cloud, and back down to on-premise.

Giving us the true ability to have hyrbid clouds, and also private clouds. AppFabric will be the enabling peice that will allow true private clouds to start existing, where compsite applications can be created, monitored, provisioned, versioned, all of these things that we face today, and handle will manual moves, config files, manual processes, in a more controlled, faster, better, cheaper fashion.

So with Dynamics AX, AppFabric becomes and important peice for hosting AIF Services in the future, and also for consuming services that live in the AppFabric Server, which is part of IIS and enabling WPAS (Windows Process Activation Service). WPAS enables TCP, MSMQ, and other forms of service activation and messages to be enabled.

So private clouds with Dynamics AX being a part of that cloud offering for enterprises to create composite applications that span not just Dynamics AX, but also any of their other LOB applications. And with this private cloud approach, and abilities offered with AppFabric, .Net 4.0, and more private and hyrbid clouds will become easier and easier to create, form, monitor, publish, deploy, and beyond!

So can you see why AppFabric is important to understand? What it will enable? How it will help? Why it's important to a company invested or investing in Dynamics AX?

That's all for now, but I have a whole lot of topics to cover. I will leave you with the following MSDN resources, that will help you dive into Windows Server AppFabric, and also Windows Azure AppFabric. There is to much to cover in one post, just about AppFabric. Expect more post on this topic in the future!

MSDN: Windows Server AppFabric
MSDN: Microsoft Windows Azure platform AppFabric

See you next time!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dynamics AX 6, DotNet 4 and the WF Designer

A fellow blogger, Anass, over at AX4All.blogspot.com sent me a recent blog post he did, covering the Channel 9 video of Josh Honeyman (Principle Development lead for Dynamics AX workflow), that walks through the use of .Net 4.0, the Workflow Designer, and how it will be used in Dynamics AX 6.

Anass write up about this video can be found here.: Dynamics AX 6.0 and WF4

The video, can be seen here:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

In this video we get to see Dynamics AX 6 in action with the .Net 4.0 Workflow designer being used to help create and manage business process workflows. This is highlighted to help reduce the need for code, and the transition into a more model drive development approach.

I first covered this in the following post.:
Dynamics AX, SOA and Oslo on the mind

" In the very near future, [Dynamics AX] will be improved with .Net 4.0 and WF, along with a new designer for the workflow that will be Visio like. The workflows will be easier to manage and offer more flexibility, with less code."

That was over a year ago that I first wrote about .Net 4.0, WF and the Designer, and how it will change the way Dynamics AX processes are created and controlled, with the goal of less code. That same post also talked about Olso, now SQL Server Modeling.

So we can see all these technologies coming together, and how Microsoft leverages research in other products groups, to help Dynamics AX.

This was actually a big topic at Convergence 2010, how Microsoft Dynamics AX team gets to leverage the research in .Net, Office, SharePoint, SQL Server, and beyond.

The idea, as pointed out, is to make Dynamics AX deployments, use, modifications, upgrades, the entire ownership lifecycle of a Dynamics AX investment, for agile, and bottom line being.: Better, Faster, Cheaper

I would like to thank Anass for the post, and his insight, coverage of this video. This is also a topic well covered in the interview I held with Microsoft's Mike Ehrenberg.: Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg

The above is from the video, that is the Business User interface. That is not the developers interface. And it's the out of the box DSL, or Domain Specific Langauge (Ref: SQL Server Modeling).

This is some powerful stuff, and can't wait to see how this speeds up deployments of Dynamics AX 6 and beyond!

That's all for this post, however this still part of the coverage from Convergence, in which I have a lot more to post about, including another interview, focused on Dynamics AX team that I did while at Convergence.

Check back tommorrow, as more great post are coming!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Copyright 2005-2011, J. Brandon George - All rights Reserved