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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Get in the Cloud with Dynamics AX

I openned this year up with a focus on calling 2010 'The Year of the Cloud.'

I truly believe, and have already seen that 2010 is more than just the year of the cloud, but it's a kick off point really to a decade of cloud computing. Check out the following article from ZDNet.: Will economic conditions trigger a cloud computing avalanche?

In this, ZDNet author, Joe McKendrick, points out that after major economic downturns, a new wave of technology advances take place. And since we are just now coming out of a deep recession, does that mean a Cloud Revolution is upon us?

Well I stick with what I have been saying all along, my answer to this is yes. Not only does the technology exists, now, but also the times are right for projects to start getting kicked off from an economic stand point.

So what does this mean for Dynamics AX? After all Dynamics AX is an ERP platform, so how can the cloud help Dynamics AX?

In my recent, Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg, I asked Mike about the cloud, and what Microsoft's vision is for Dynamics and Dynamics AX. His was response was this.:

"In Dynamics, and across Microsoft, we are focused on the ability to combine software plus services – on-premise assets with the cloud – using each to their maximum advantage to deliver the best capabilities to our customers. We are doing that today, extending our on-premise and on-line products with cloud-based services – in some cases developed by us, and increasingly working with others developed by partners."

He goes on.:
We are really focused on three types of solutions where the cloud simply is better.: Connection of the business system to the public internet, Large volumes of shared data that is frequently changing, Connected supply chains.
(To View the full details, please use the link above.)

So with these three major areas for the cloud and Dynamics AX, we get an idea of what Microsoft's vision the cloud can and will play with Dynamics AX ERP implementations for customers.

So what about how? Well with Dynamics AX 2009, you can now working with .Net 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010. (ie: Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0 Passed Compatibility Testing with Dynamics AX) This means that creating and working with Cloud projects is really easy.

All you need is Visual Studio 2010, and the VSCloud Service Project / Windows Azure installed. Once you have that, without having an Azure account even, you can develop, and debug cloud based services, ASP.NET Web roles, and Worker Processes that all can be deployed and access via the cloud. This also means you can make use of SQL Azure, for cloud based SQL Server Data Services as a Service.

So with this, you can develop services, and use WCF communications, to allow AX 2009 to make service references, in which X++ code could call Azure based services.

Right there, you have a hybrid cloud, in which on-premise AX is running, and connecting to Cloud based services to enable a given process, processes or solutions.

Now I have not even talked about what might could be done with IaaS, or Infastructure as a Service offered by Amazon EC2. With this, you can have a cloud based VM, that is not pure cloud services, offered by Azure, but can target SQL Server and Windows Server images, and therefore (I have not tested this yet!) Dynamics AX running in the cloud, on Amazon EC2 hosted images.

So the cloud for that possibility is the Infastructure needs, Network, RAM, CPU, Power, etc. This would be more like a Hosted version of AX in a colocation, except it's a lost easier to quickly bring up images and servers, using Amazons EC2 services, without having to order servers, etc.

Alright, so this is all now. In the not to distant future, ProISV and it's AX.NET Server offering, (ProISV talks about AX.NET offering compared to Future DAX .Net offerings), will help bridge the gap even further with Dynamics AX 2009, allowing for Cloud facing applications like a SilverLight application, to consume services exposed via AX.NET, on presmise, and through the firewall over HTTPS / TCP.NET, Cloud services and Cloud Facing Front Ends could actually work directly with Dynamics AX X++ code and data.

Therefore you could move entire processes to the cloud, and still have on-premise control over your ERP, Data, Business logic and processes.

Hopefully, in this post, the point is clear... there are many, many options for what can exist now in the cloud. We see Microsoft's vision for the cloud, and it's beyond cost savings and operational based thinking.

If we take the vision, and the technologies then we can take customers real business problems, there problem domains, and use this to help create a better, faster, cheaper -- and cloud connected solutions that enable customers to be more dynamic and more agile than ever before.

So here to a new Decade of cloud computing, in which we are just now embarking on!

That's all for now, I hope to use this post though as a starting point to get into some real life Solution Designs with Dynamics AX + The Cloud. To show how things can connect, how this all works together, and the biggest reason of --- why! Check back soon and often!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dynamics CRM is already on Cloud, Next release of Dynamics NAV announced native supporte for running on Cloud.

What about AX 2012?

9:12 PM  

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