Announcing NAV 2018

Real quick one today – James Phillips announced General Availability of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018.

Marko announced it on TwItter:

Which was retweeted by just about everyone I know. Promise made at the closing keynote at Directions in Orlando is hereby delivered!

Can’t wait to see when they announce “Tenerife”.

Directions 2017 EMEA Recap

After a supremely busy week, with lots of last minute session and workshop work, I’m getting ready to go sightseeing in Madrid with my wife and some dear friends. This week has been frustrating, as well as satisfying, as well as educational, although not as educational as I would have wanted because I was too busy doing sessions and workshops to have any time to attend any myself.

One of the key takeaways is that Microsoft is going to release NAV 2018 in December this year, so 4-5 months ahead of the spring release of “Tenerife”. The whole white label thing seems to be gone altogether, so partners can continue to use the Microsoft name in their marketing for their Dynamice 365 products. Still, there is some need for clarity about licensing, and about the long term future.

What everybody needs to acknowledge is that we now live in a world that is being disrupted continuously. Today, Microsoft is heavily investing in their current roadmap, one that they feel very strongly will succeed in the long run. You must understand that this world is moving at the speed of light, and if something happens to our ecosystem, Microsoft WILL react. When they do, they will focus on what they feel is their best chance to survive in this changed world, so it is up to US to make that happen.

This slide was shown at one of the presentations, and it shows where Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” fits into our world. As you can see, it is just one of many boxes. If the surrounding boxes change, there may be a completely different role for “Tenerife”. It might very well happen that the market shifts in such a way that there won’t be a need for it at all. Given everything that I’ve seen this week, I think the “Tenerife” story is awesome, and we are going to absolutely crush it in terms of features and capabilities. What I don’t know is whether we can grow this cloud business enough to remain strong over the long term. The key though, is to fully embrace the entire picture, not just the ‘NAV’ part of it. The days of just ‘NAV’ are over, and they’re not coming back.

If anything, what I get out of this week is that we all must play a crucial part in the success of our entire market. WE the partner channel WITH Microsoft, NOT Microsoft alone, will determine the success of this market. If you want to be a part of this ecosystem, you better adapt and embrace what is here to stay. Fighting it is a losing cause, and you will be left behind.

I say we take a deep breath, a chill pill, we take a good look at what we have to do, and we roll up our sleeves and make it happen.

Directions NA 2017 Recap

It’s been quite a week at Directions in Orlando. I’ve written about the confusion in the halls of the JW Marriott Grande Lakes resort, and I wanted to follow up about the closing keynote, and share an article by Microsoft’s General Manager for Business Apps & Strategy.

First the closing keynote, which was a very impressive thing to behold. This week has given me even more respect for Marko Perisic than I already had, because of the way that he owned what he said during the opening keynote, the way he listened to the event attendees during a few Q&A sessions, and how he has taken responsibility to do something with the feedback that he’s received this week. I already knew how much he cares and how much his team cares. Over the past decade I’ve gotten to know many of them quite closely, and they are really a great group of people that have their hearts in the right place. We are in good hands with them.

So, there are 4 items on the todo list:

  1. The ‘white label thing’ is not going to work. We are Microsoft partners, and we need the Microsoft brand.
    • I think the white label thing got taken out of context a little bit. I know someone said “once you change 1 line of code you own the product” but of course it’s more complex than that.
    • The point is that this is a Microsoft product, and we create things to extend it. We add to it, but it is still a Microsoft ecosystem, and we need to be able to leverage that
  2. Delaying the release until spring is creating confusion, and the delay in decision is going to cost many partners a LOT of money. Marko has committed to see if he can fix that
  3. Non-NAV Partners have nothing to sell at the moment. Microsoft needs to be more clear about how non-NAV partners can move into Dynamics 365
  4. Microsoft needs to be crystal clear toward the user group, and there is a firm commitment to be more involved with the user groups

Now toward the end, Marko shared a picture of a word cloud. This was the result of an internal survey, where everyone in the NAV team expressed their feelings toward the product and the greater community. I don’t know about you, but this gets me going every time. If I may speak for myself: the feeling is mutual.

One other thing that was posted a couple of days after Directions was this:

I think that the whole “NAV is dead” thing was totally misunderstood. Maybe someone was talking about the name NAV, but I really don’t think it actually is dead, or even that there are plans to kill it. I do think Microsoft at the corporate level doesn’t always have a clue (which is a polite way of saying that it seems like sometimes they have no clue whatsoever), and I also think that one way or another there is going to be just one “ERP” in Dynamics 365.

Personally I think that the NAV flavor has a really good chance of being that one flavor. For sure we are NOT dead, and there is a LOT of really good and exciting stuff ahead of us.

 

Directions EMEA 2017 – Madrid

For Directions EMEA, we are going back to Madrid. I am really looking forward to this one, because I have some business to take care of on Mallorca. While I am there I will spend some quality time with some great friends there, and in the planning stages my wife and I decided that it is of utmost importance for her to come with me. So my business trip now has a personal flavor as well.

My company Cloud Ready Software is going to host a record number of sessions (13) and workshops (10), of which I will be hosting 3 workshops and 3 sessions. We also have a booth, but I am worried that we will not have much time to actually BE at the booth since we are all very busy with sessions. My contributions are:

  • Build your 1st extension in VSCode – This is a 2 hour workshop in which we will introduce you to Visual Studio Code, and you will build your first real extension using this development tool. This is the same workshop that we did in Orlando at Directions NA this year.
  • Migrate your IP to VSCode – in this 2 hour workshop I will present what you need to look at when you want to move your IP into Dynamics 365, we’ll take a look at how you can assess your current IP and do a feasibility study. In addition, you will get your hands on some PowerShell scripts to convert your C/AL objects into AL objects.
  • SCM Simplified – this session covers an introduction to Source Code Management, and why it is important for you to start using it today
  • ISV Development Center (session) – At the Inspire conference in Washington DC, my company Cloud Ready Software was announced as one of only a handful of ISV Development Centers. At Directions we will host a session to explain what this means and what we can do for you.
  • Technical partner panel (Q&A session) – a bunch of Microsoft people and some MVP’s will answer any technical and non-technical questions you may have about the upcoming version of NAV and the new technologies that are used to develop extensions and apps for Dynamics 365.

Some of these sessions are a repeat of the ones that we did in Orlando, and some of them will be converted from mere sessions to workshops, since we had gotten some feedback that it would be great to get some hands on material in addition to the presentations. We are always happy to oblige such requests.

Come look us up at our booth, and leave us a message if we are not there, we really want to talk to you!

What’s Going On Out There?

In case you missed it, there were some unexpected announcement this week at Directions North America in Orlando, and as a result there’s some growing trepidation among my people of the NAV partner channel.

Over the past few years, Directions North America has become the time when Microsoft announces the new version of Dynamics NAV. All year long, the partner channel goes out and tries to time sales around this time, and they make promises like “just wait for Directions, the new version will come out, and we can get your project started right away”. Usually, partners go to the conference, attend all the sessions they can catch, and on their way back home, they put in their license orders.

This year, however, the announcement was that there would be NO new version right at Directions. Microsoft is working on the next greatest cloud product, and they have not yet decided what to call it, how licensing will work. We are told that the code is ready to go, but they’re not yet ready to pull the trigger, mostly because of marketing reasons. Since Microsoft wants to go big bang with this new product (identical “full NAV” on premise as well as in the cloud).

This announcement was made by Marko Perisic during the opening keynote, and that afternoon there was a Q&A session that got quite heated. I was not present at the first one, but because it was so “popular” they decided to do a repeat, and of course I did go to the repeat.

At the same time, some event was taking place with some big shots from Microsoft and some inner circle partners, where someone said that someone else high up in Microsoft said that “NAV is dead”. When I heard this, I was immediately skeptical about the accuracy of the quote, and even if it was accurate, that it was probably (likely) taken out of context.

I listened to Marko do some damage control, and to a number of people put forward their points of view, which were made with varying degrees of validity. My takeaways of this session were these:

  • In My Humble Opinion – Marko made a big mistake by using the product codename in the official announcement. Granted, it was in quotation marks, but still, that was not a good thing. Now we have ‘NAV’, and we have “Tenerife” and we also have this unknown product name. Lots of lobbying by the way for ‘Dynamics 365 Navision’ which I actually like, but is probably too retro.
  • No new NAV version is a BAD BAD BAD thing. Postponing the release until spring 2018 is an even worse thing. Many people have been postponing sales for the new version, and not having this new product will defer revenue until spring of next year, and that is going to cost a LOT of people a LOT of money.
  • What I thought was an excellent suggestion was for Microsoft to release the product as it is today (after all, they DID say the code was ready to go), only for on premise, and use current licensing. That way we can start implementing the new product, and we can just call it NAV 2018 as everyone was expecting anyway
  • This rumor that “NAV is dead” must be dispelled at once. Nuff said.

This Q&A session was brutal, there was a LOT of anger in the room. But one thing that I also took away from that session is that we are SUPER lucky to have someone like Marko at the helm of this great team at Microsoft. I observed this guy talk to everybody at Directions, and he always had a smile while he was being chewed out. He’s a very direct person (which I actually appreciate a lot) and that can sometimes be misunderstood. I’m in a fortunate position to be one of the MVP’s, and we had a private meeting with Marko this evening. Because of NDA I can’t share what we discussed, but I can assure you that this guy cares deeply for this community of ours. I for one have gained a TON of respect for how he stood up and listened to everyone that wanted to talk to him. He has heard everyone, and has taken everything to heart.

It’s still the middle of the conference. I have lots of session/workshop stuff to work on, so I gotta get going. Can’t wait for the closing keynote.

Directions NA 2017 – Orlando, Florida

This year’s Directions North America conference will be held in Orlando, Florida at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes resort. There will be product anouncements, and lots of really good sessions and workshops. My company Cloud Ready Software will be hosting a total of 8 sessions and 5 workshops (at the time that I am writing this post).

My contribution will be:

  • Migrate your IP to extensions (session) – in this session we’ll go over the things you need to look at when you want to move your IP into an app for Dynamics 365. We’ll cover assessing your current IP and doing a feasibility study. We will also go over SaaSified Techniques that are used to execute on the customer journey.
  • Build your 1st VSCode extension (workshop) – in this two hour workshop Waldo and I will introduce you to Visual Studio Code, and you will build your first extension yourself.
  • Technical partner panel (Q&A session) – a bunch of Microsoft people and some MVP’s will answer any technical and non-technical questions you may have about the upcoming version of NAV and the new technologies that are used to develop extensions and apps for Dynamics 365.
  • ISV Development Center (session) – At the Inspire conference in Washington DC, my company Cloud Ready Software was announced as one of only a handful of ISV Development Centers. At Directions we will host a session to explain what this means and what we can do for you.

It is going to be a very busy conference for us, because CRS is also sponsoring the conference. We hope to see you in Orlando, and talk about how we can work together.

NAV codebase for Dynamics 365

Something that was kind of a big deal happened this week. During the keynote at Directions ASIA in Bangkok, Marko Perisic (General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics SMB) announced that Dynamics 365 for Financials and Dynamics NAV will operate on the same codebase.

There are two reasons why this is a big deal. First it falls right in line with Microsoft’s “AND strategy” when it comes to cloud ERP and on premise ERP. BOTH are essential to Microsoft, and BOTH will have a place in their product line. Second, and this is where NAV is kind of unique, it will allow Dynamics 365 for Financials to be “Full NAV” in the cloud. Let that sink in: Microsoft is committing to having full Dynamics NAV functionality in Dynamics 365. Whether you implement in the cloud or on premise, your ERP will operate on the same codebase. As far as I can tell, there are not many ERP products that provide this. I have a feeling that it is a trend that many will follow though.

The Dynamics 365 codebase has always been the same as NAV, but only parts of its functionality was exposed. The assumption was that the Dynamics 365 codebase could potentially diverge from the on prem version of the product, although how that would happen was not always very clear. Now that there is a firm commitment to keeping a single codebase, the next step is that Dynamics 365 will at some point provide “Full NAV” capabilities, which was in fact also part of the same keynote.

The nuts and bolts are still in progress. Dynamics 365 is updated constantly and NAV only gets monthly cumulative updates and annual version updates. There is also a lot of movement in how add-ons and customizations will be implemented, although the magic word there is “Extensions”.

For Microsoft to come out and announce the equal codebase though….. that is a Very Big Deal.

What’s New – NAV 2017

Directions EMEA was this past week, and I was not there, which makes me sad. I wish I were there, not in the least because it was in Prague, and I’ve never been to Prague, and I REALLY want to visit Prague…

Anyway, ever since Directions US in Chandler, AZ, I was planning to write about what’s new in NAV 2017. Then, right before the weekend that I was going to work on that, my fellow MVP and good friend Eric ‘Waldo’ Wauters beat me to it. So, please go to his website and read this post.

Most important:

  • Office 365 integration
  • Flow and Power Apps integration
  • Power BI right on the Role Center
  • Some extensions out of the box (PayPal, Ceridian, Quickbooks Migration). By the way, there are mane more capabilities with Extensions, HUGE improvement over NAV 2016
  • Cortana Intelligence

Lift and Shift – Directions US 2016 Recap

Directions US 2016, which was held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, AZ, was another very successful event in my opinion. Beside the fact that the resort is just a couple of hours down the mountain from my hometown of Flagstaff (so that is an awesome drive with the top down), this year’s program provided a wealth of great content.

Since Microsoft restructured their event rotation, it’s become more difficult for partners to get good content. Envision (which was supposed to be the replacement for Convergence) did not provide any Dynamics-specific content at all (read my thoughts on that here), and the Directions committee has done a fantastic job to step up their game this year. Whether you were looking for marketing content, project management, functionality, or deep technical information, there was an extremely rich variety of sessions to choose from.

The most important message this year was Dynamics NAV 2017 AND Dynamics 365 (notice the emphasis on the word “and”). Ever since Microsoft started their ‘Cloud first, Mobile first’ campaign, there has been a fear that this would come at a cost to the on premise business, which is the bread and butter of the majority of the NAV channel. Paul White came on stage and announced their commitment to the “AND strategy”. Yes, Dynamics 365 is the next big thing. Yes, on prem is still essential to Microsoft’s NAV strategy. If you follow my Twitter feed from the one above here, you’ll see pictures that I took from the keynote. It was good to get Microsoft’s commitment to making sure that cloud and on prem will BOTH be served.

What was very interesting to me was the presentation on how they look at taking NAV functionality into the cloud, in what was called “Lift and Shift”. The “Lift” part was the move into cloud infrastructure, where you can deploy virtual servers in the cloud, and essentially deploy the system in the same way you’ve always done with physical servers. The “Shift” part was where these pieces will be deployed in the cloud directly. Think about the managed services, where you don’t have to worry about any infrastructure. You select the pieces that you want, and it gets deployed directly in the cloud.

About Dynamics NAV versus Dynamics 365 – they make it sound like these are two completely different systems, but you have to remember that Dynamics 365 Business Edition is based on NAV. Although they have not ruled out a divergence of the codebase, when you run Dynamics 365 Business, you are literally running actual NAV code. The technology allows for only certain parts of the functionality to be visible in Dynamics 365.

This year I did two sessions:

  • Basic Development Best Practices – with Dynamics 365 Business being based on NAV, there will be a significant influx of new NAV partners that will develop their IP, and my session was intended to show them around the available tools. You can get the slides here, although I spent most of the session showing them around the tools. It was nice to have some experienced NAV people in the room who were nice enough to share their expertise
  • Partner Technical Panel – this session was a round table type discussion, where we talked about current developments in NAV technology. It was a lively discussion between pretty geeky people

I think this year’s Directions was one of the best I have attended. The organization was terrific, great content, and it was well attended. Next year’s event will be in Orlando at the Grande Lakes JW Marriot, September 17-20, 2017. Hopefully I’ll be there again, and I’ll see you there.

Presenting at Directions US 2016

Just today I got word that I will be presenting at Directions US in Phoenix. Neither session has an official name yet but with this information you should be able to find them on the schedule once dates and times are finalized.

First, I’ll present a session about basic best practices for development in Dynamics NAV. Dynamics 365 comes in two flavors. The first is Enterprise Edition, which is based on Dynamics AX. The other flavor is the Business Edition,which is based on Dynamics NAV. Because there are the only two flavors, there is going to be a big influx of Microsoft partners that will need to do development in Dynamics NAV.

Eventually, the goal is to educate partners in how to set up their development practice, and the first step is to learn about some best practices of how to do the actual development itself. This is where my session comes in. Not very exciting stuff for seasoned NAV pros, but if you are a Microsoft partner that wants an introduction into NAV development, this is for you.

The other session will be a panel discussion about the current and future state of the technology for Dynamics NAV. Me and some other MVP’s will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and hopefully have a lively discussion. In my experience, there will be plenty of people in the audience who will have a lot of add to the discussion. These types of sessions are always fun to attend.

This is the view from my office in Flagstaff, AZ. I can’t wait to drive down the mountain in September and meet you at Directions in Phoenix.