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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dynamics AX and .Net - A new technology offering from ProISV

Recently I had someone contact me from ProISV, a Mr. Kaspar Bomholtz. With this, Kaspar asked me to check out a new technology that ProISV was developing for Dynamics AX and .Net. I was amazed at what I saw, and actually had thought about doing something similar in the past.

I am sure others have thought as doing such as well, but ProISV has taken working with Dynamics AX business logic and objects from .Net to a new level.

Because I was really impressed with Kaspar and his team's work at ProISV, I asked if he would do an interview with me about what ProISV is offering. The following is that interview.:

1.) With ProISV offering, what all will a customer get with making the choice of going with the new AX.NET from ProISV?

For many years it has been possible to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics AX through the .NET Business Connector and earlier the COM client, but it is time consuming and inefficient. Now with AX.NET, a seamless integration to the business logic and data model in Microsoft Dynamics AX exists. So how does this benefit the customer?

By using AX.NET ISVs can now build richer and more flexible applications for their customers utilizing the power of Microsoft Dynamics AX and the rich user interface of .NET Win Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation (.NET WPF) and ASP.NET (including SharePoint).

AX.NET will also enable ISVs to ship custom .NET dll library together with their Microsoft Dynamics AX ISV solution. By building using the AX.NET technology it will enable full .NET integration to their Microsoft Dynamics AX application. Just by adding a reference to their project in Visual Studio, customers and 3rd party will be able to build custom solutions easily, which fit the specific local business needs.

With the coming introduction of the AX.NET Proxy technology, it will no longer be needed to install the Business Connector on clients. All that is needed is the standard .NET Framework which is also available on mobile devices running Windows Mobile. For years, connectivity has been a problem when integrating with Microsoft Dynamics AX, but with the AX.NET Proxy all you need is a single web service delivering access to the entire Microsoft Dynamics AX out of the box. The AX.NET technology therefore enables Microsoft Dynamics AX to run as a real Cloud service.

2.) How flexible is AX.NET really going to be?

AX.NET is extremely flexible because the AX.NET "AOT" is generated by the AX.NET Framework to the exact configuration of any Microsoft Dynamics AX Application. By using the .NET assembly generation tool, a .NET assembly representing any Microsoft Dynamics AX application can be built in minutes. It all happens automatically and includes the possibility to mirror the entire AOT, a specified area or layer.

Because your Microsoft Dynamics AX classes, tables and enums now become .NET objects, you can utilize the power of the entire .NET Framework to build your application. The AX.NET even includes support for retrieving and manipulating data in AX using .NET LINQ, which is very similar to the embedded SQL statements in X++.

Easy generation of the .NET "AOT" with AX.NET to fit a specific application. With a few clicks the Assembly Generator automatically generates a .NET Assembly containing your custom .NET "AOT".

Here are a few code examples of the applicability:

Selecting customer of type Person.

Creating, updating and deleting a customer.

Browsing the "AOT" in AX.NET using Intellicense in Visual Studio.

Methods are also available on tables and classes.

You can even use AX.NET to create Unit Tests in Visual Studio for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Here is an example:

As you can see the Microsoft Dynamics AX classes Map, Set, SetEnumerator have been automatically generated by AX.NET into the .NET interface IMap, ISet, ISetEnumerator. Even the Types enum in Microsoft Dynamics AX have been converted into a .NET Enum.

The possibilities for application of AX.NET are endless.

3.) So if a Partner was tasked at doing a good bit of .Net development for a customer, what will drive the Partner to use AX.NET, vs. building the same features out themselves?

One of the major benefits with using AX.NET is that ability to use standard .NET technologies known by most .NET developers to create rich applications that integrate with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Many .NET developers already know technologies like LINQ and Data Binding in .NET from working with data sources like Microsoft SQL Server. Now they can use the same technologies with Microsoft Dynamics AX using AX.NET out of the box, which makes it easier to find development resources.

AX.NET also improves development efficiency by support Intellicense for classes, tables and enums in Visual Studio. AX.NET also provides compile time validation of the integration towards Microsoft Dynamics AX. This can drastically reduce the amount of development and QA time used, because errors found during compilation by the developer can easily be detected and corrected during development.
If the Partner is using Team Foundation Server from Microsoft, they can use Continuous Integration to build and verify the .NET solution including the integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX on every check-in of code.

Having a development background I personally know, that all the mentioned improvements of the development experience not only make it more interesting to be a developer, but also saves a significant amount of time and thereby money.
Maintenance of a .NET solution integrating with Microsoft Dynamics AX is also greatly improved by using AX.NET. If changes are made to the Microsoft Dynamics AX application, compile errors are generated in the .NET solution instead of runtime errors that are much more difficult to diagnose.

In the next version of AX.NET the communication between AX.NET and Microsoft Dynamics AX can be tunneled through a single web service interface that we call AX.NET Proxy. Hereby the need to install the Business Connector on the local client is removed, as well as the requirement for being on the same domain. This will make implementations of .NET solutions that integrate with Microsoft Dynamics AX much easier and far more flexible.

4.) What is the planned Road Map for AX.NET, when will v1.0 be ready to go?

We are planning to release AX.NET v1.0beta in Q1 of this year. After that we are planning to validate and optimize AX.NET using feedback from pilot customers in Q2, and then release AX.NET v1.0 hereafter. We plan to license AX.NET based on a license per Microsoft Dynamics AX license and one per user. Since we plan for AX.NET to become a defacto technology, we anticipate to also price accordingly.

Where v1.0 uses the Business Connector directly to access Microsoft Dynamics AX, we are planning to include the AX.NET Proxy feature in v2.0 towards the end of 2010. The AX.NET Proxy technology will provide the same seamless integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX as AX.NET, but it will use web service technology as the link between AX.NET and Microsoft Dynamics AX instead of using the Business Connector directly as in v1.0. This will greatly increase the connectivity of AX.NET by proving integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX over the internet and across networks separated by firewalls, thus taking Microsoft Dynamics AX all the way to be truly Cloud enabled.

5.) What kind of support will exist for Partners who sell AX.NET as part of their implementations?

We are planning to provide training and support through online webinars and training sessions and will have a support channel available on proisv.com to handle the support process. It is our ambition to establish a community, which both AX and .NET developers will be able to use and provide content to as well, such as code examples, Q&A’s and other ideas to inspire the AX.NET community.

6.) What kind of training program is being developed, and what kind of certification will be required for Partners to sale and implement AX.NET?

Online training sessions will be available through the upcoming partner section of our website, proisv.com, from which our AX.NET users can learn about the technology. As such the fundamental prerequisite is to be a solid .NET developer as well as to know the business logic and objects in Microsoft Dynamics AX. So, if you know how to develop in .NET you can also use AX.NET, assisted by our online training material as well as the upcoming developer community on our website.

7.) Will you be present at Convergence, and be able to show off AX.NET there?

We are not currently planning to be present at Convergence. In the first haft of this year, we will be focusing all our energy on product development and to get pilot projects up and running. Sadly I don't think they are going to postpone Convergence for our sake. More likely though, we will participate at the Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference in July.

8.) Finally, what is the coolest feature about AX.NET that you think will really wow Partners and Customers?

The coolest feature must be the seamless integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX. The fact that elements from the AOT in Microsoft Dynamics AX now can automatically be accessed as real .NET objects without any custom code. With AX.NET it is now possible to browse through the generated "AOT" object in AX.NET seeing all the tables, classes and methods automatically available for easy access. We know this is something Microsoft really wanted to do, but we figured out how to get it done.

I would like to thank Kaspar and ProISV for the time with doing this interview. I am very excited about getting my hands on this new offering, and wanting to see how performance is with this new offering. How well it scales, etc.

Feel free to check out ProISV at thier website, located here.: ProISV Website

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

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunrise Releases new Virtual Office

Last week Sunrise Technologies, Inc., the Microsoft Gold Certified VAR I have the honor of being a part of, released a new Virtaul Office.

This virtual office offers a new way for people to connect with needed information about Dynamics AX, Specific verticals, case studies, and also learn about Sunrise Technologies, and connect with us!

The offical press release for this virtaul office, can be found here.:
Sunrise Technologies Launches Virtual Office - Meet Sunrise employees face-to-face, hear from customers, and learn about Microsoft DynamicsT AX for your industry without leaving your office.

As part of this release I interviewed Sunrise CEO John Pence about this new offering, below is that interview.:

1.) What are some of the key goals Sunrise is hoping to achieve with the newly released Sunrise-AX.com, Sunrise Technologies, Inc. Virtual Office?

"We are trying to create a more interesting, personalized experience for our potential customers. We really want to give people a feel for our company and people, not just a static website."

2.) When designing the content, and the content delivery, what was the inspiration and guiding principles for guiding the development of each? How does the Virtual Office relate to the Sunrise office and the employees?

"The driving philosophy was it should feel like Sunrise. We wanted to create an experience similar to walking into our real office and being shown around by Mike or Cem. I think we came close to accomplishing that goal."

3.) Being a former CIO what do you think is the most exciting aspect of the virtual environment that will appeal to a CIO that is looking for an ERP solution?

"As a CIO, I was always frustrated by the expensive, time consuming aspect of researching software solutions. Our virtual office let’s a CIO efficiently and cost effectively research Microsoft Dynamics AX in a manner that suits his interests."

4.) What industries are featured in the Virtual office and what should companies in these industries look for when they visit the Virtual Office?

"Each of the core verticals Sunrise specializes in are featured: Apparel and Footwear, Furniture, and Consumer Package Goods. Extremely informative overviews and demos of what Microsoft Dynamics AX can do for each vertical are available in the virtual office."

5.) What new features are planned for the next release, and what goals exist for releasing new content for the virtual office?

"We plan to add features to the next release that make sense based on the feedback we receive from our visitors and customers."

The following is a closing statement from John.:
"I am really excited to see how our new virtual office is accepted by the market. I feel that on-line marketing is the primary vehicle we will use in the future to acquire new leads and customers. This is step one in a long journey to move the on-line sales experience closer to the experience you get in person."

This is a very exciting new offering, and one that I hope you check out. There will be a "badge" on the left hand side of my blog from here on out, that will look similar to what you see below.:

This badge will always take you to the new Sunrise Virtual office. I recommend you go and click the above badge and check out what is already being offered. Also check back often as more and more content will be added, that I will of course make sure and highlight for you.

That's all for now, but check back as I have more post, with another book review, another interview, and more focus on core AX, and the fridge of the enterprise with Cloud and Mobile comptuing focuses. See you soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

An interview with DynamicsAnywhere - Joop van Voorthuijsen

Back in Nov. of last year, I posted breaking news about DynamicsAnywhere, a new ISV focused on the delivery of Mobile solutions for the Dynamics ERP line.

The full link to that post can be viewed here.: Dynamics Anywhere - A new mobile focus for Dynamics AX

After doing this, their VP of Business Development, and someone that has been involved with AX and NAV for a long time, Joop van Voorthuijsen contacted me about reviewing what they are offering for Dynamics AX, and possibly doing an interview.

After taking a look at their published documentation, I decided to take Joop up on the interview. The following is that interview.:

Joop's LinkedIn Profile

1.) Joop, recently DynamicsAnywhere was formed, can you give in your words the goals and focus of what DynamicsAnywhere is trying to achieve, and what all they offer?

Dynamics Anywhere enables companies to reduce costs and increase user productivity by using state of the art Mobile Business Solutions. The team of Dynamics Anywhere has a long history in mobile business solutions and is focused on creating and distributing powerful mobile business solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV.

Our mobile solutions are available wordwide via the global network of Microsoft Dynamics partners. Our goal is to become one of the leading ISV’s for Mobile Business Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics.

Dynamics Anywhere’s Mobile Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX have several properties that make those solutions really unique:

1) Fully integrated in Dynamics NAV and AX. This assures that our Mobile Solutions will work perfectly within a existing Microsoft Dynamics environment.

2) Completely based on Microsoft technology. Our mobile solutions are based on familiar Microsoft products like Windows Server and IIS and do not use any (3rd party) middleware. This makes implementation and support very easy.

3) Extremely flexible. Each solution can be tailored to specific customer needs with a range of available settings in Dynamics. And if necessary, it is also possible to enhance or modify our solutions in the same way as you can modify Dynamics
processes; simply by adding or changing the business logic of Dynamics.

4) Our software is fully device independent, the client (device) only needs a browser!

2.) With Dynamics Anywhere Framework, DAW, from a technical perspective what all does this offer a customer / partner?

With help of the Dynamics Anywhere Framework basically every (customized) role or function could be supported by a mobile solution. On top of our Dynamics Anywhere Framework we deliver also pre-configured role’s of functions like for example Order Picking. With mainly only configuring and when needed small pieces of coding partners are able to make all kinds of role’s and functions ready for mobile use! See our Whitepaper on our download-page for more info.

3.) What all phone platforms are supported with DAW?

As I mentioned earlier the only requirement for the device is a browser! So, almost any Windows Mobile/CE device with a browser is supported. Also other platforms with a browser like Android and iPhone will work. We also support keyboards, function-keys, barcode scanning and RFID reading!

4.) Is there a full version 1.0 for Dynamics AX?

We started with our AX Anywhere solutions last year and we just started also with our NAV Anywhere solutions. The architecture of both solutions are similar.

On our website you’ll find a factsheet about the Dynamics Anywhere Framework which is ready for the market and already implemented a couple of times. On top of this Dynamics Anywhere Framework we also deliver predefined and preconfigured functions like AX Anywhere Logistics I which is available now and supports already processes like Goods Receipt and Order Picking. We also have already a first version of AX Anywhere Field Sales available end of this month.

5.) What is the roadmap for DAW, for Dynamics AX, and do you plan on publishing it?

During the coming months we’ll launch more pre-configured roles and functions but don’t forget that partners are already able to make almost every process ready for mobile use themselves with help of our Dynamics Anywhere Framework. We’ll publish this roadmap roughly on our website and with our partners we’ll define priorities about the roadmap as well.

6.) Does the DAW offer full flexibility for custom code in AX, and also offering technical consultants and their customers ability to customize and work with the DAW other than standard offerings?

Yes that is one of the important elements we already defined in the beginning. The Dynamics partners are able to add customer specific functions or change our standard functions. That’s one of the disadvantages of many other solutions using middleware, for their partners it is very difficult and expensive to make customizations.

7.) What is the current install base for DAW, and what all industries is this already in use, or planned for use?

Dalosy, one of the mother companies from Dynamics Anywhere, is already active with mobile solutions since 1976! They were one of the first companies starting with barcode solutions. Their installed base is huge and in many lines of business you find their customers. Last year the middleware solution has been replaced by the Dynamics Anywhere Framework. The first customers are implemented already and are already live. Of course there is a focus on trade, retail, manufacturing and distribution, but we expect a strong growth in lines of business where mobile business solutions will be introduced. That’s also the prediction of many analysts around the world.

8.) Is the DAW and the total DynamicsAnywhere solution offered through the Microsoft Partner channel? Do you train partners, and allow them to control their customers, or do you require partners to allow DynamicsAnywhere and your consultants to run and control DAW part of a given implentation?

Our solutions are indeed offered through the Microsoft Partner channel! We’ll train our partners in a couple of days and they are able to implement the solution for their customers. In order to guarantee good projects we will be assisting the partners in their first implementations. We also offer our partners a sales training focusing on making customers aware of the possibilities. On our website you will find the upcoming trainings under Events!

9.) Does the DAW offer any disconnected state ability? Meaning, does the device have to have internet or network connectivity in order to make use of the DAW, or is there any local store that takes place so devices can go offline for a while, and to use DAW based solutions?

More than 90% of our prospects need a online solution. In order to ensure a stable solution we have developed ‘state persistence’ which means that the status in kept in the Dynamics database. When a device is temporary out of range, empty or damaged, you can continue the job as soon as the device is ready again from the point where the job stopped. End of 2010 we’ll come up with several options for offline possibilities.

I also asked that Joop provide a closing statement and few paragraphs, below is his closing statement.:

Why companies invest in Mobile Business Solutions?

The 4 main reasons why companies invest in a Mobile Business Solution are:

1. The most important reason is cost reduction. By deploying a mobile solution, significant cost reductions can easily be achieved as data is directly entered into Microsoft Dynamics. This makes a range of activities obsolete and reduces errors which immediately results in savings.

2. The second reason is a higher user productivity of the employees on the shop floor and in the field. As those employees get real-time access to Microsoft Dynamics, they can respond much quicker and more adequate to actual developments.

3. The third reason is increased admin staff productivity. Thank to the mobile solution, they always have access to real-time information about the status of the business processes. This enables them to take quicker and better decisions.

4. The final reason is additional revenue. In fact, this is a result of the first three reasons. Thanks to the deployment of a mobile business solution, companies
are able to react quicker and better to the customer’s demands, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and higher revenues.

Return On Investment

On average, deployment of a mobile business solution yields has a very high Return On Investment. In most of the cases the investments are earned back in less than one year!

What Analysts are saying about the mobile market worldwide

Well known analysts are predicting that 75% of all companies will invest in Mobile Solutions (Forrester) and 70% of those Mobile Solutions will be in combination with ERP and CRM (IDC).

Dynamics Anywhere well received by customers and partners!

Since our press-release last October, many partners and also customers are approaching us to get more information about our solution. They’re all very enthusiastic about our solutions and recognize the advantages. On this moment we’re building our channel. Because of the network I have from the time being CEO of To-Increase we’re in touch with many partners already. In a short term we’ll also have a distributor in the US. We’re a Bronze Sponsor for Convergence Atlanta 2010 and are expecting a lot of interest in April! Meet us over there!

I would like to thank Joop, and DynamicsAnywhere Solution team for taking the time to have this interview with me. Since Microsoft left the space of offering a platform based solution for Mobile Dynamics ERP brands, DynamicsAnywhere is stepping in and trying to offer Microsoft Partners and Customers a Framwork, in which they can build upon to offer mobile solution to their clients.

This is a build vs. buy, like all software, and so like all software the needs of the given project at hand will drive if the DynamicsAnywhere Framework (DAW), is a good fit.

I do recommend checking them out though, and keeping the information handy. It would also most likely be well worth the Sales Training, in order for Sales teams to be able to understand what customers would get with going with the DAW, from DynamicsAnywhere.

To find out more, please visit the DynamicsAnywhere website, located here.: DynamicswAnywhere Website.

Also Sunrise Technologies, Inc. the VAR I am a part of will be at Convergence along with DynamicsAnywhere. Feel free to stop by and talk to us, and see how Sunrise and DynamicsAnywhere might be able to help you with your Dynamics Investments.

That's all for now, but check back soon as I have more great post coming out, with more interviews, Sunrise News, Book reviews, and much much more!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MSDW: Behind the Latest Microsoft Dynamics AX Statement of Direction

Over at MSDynamicsworld.com, Arijit Basu, has posted a very good article about the recent Microsoft Dynamics AX Statement of Direction, or SOD.

I talked about this myself, in a post from Dec., talking about Microsoft's Next Wave of releases.: Microsoft's next wave of releases

Arijit cover in detail, and puts good meaning into what the thinking behind the SOD means. This helps, then shape for us how to read and therefore how to apply for planning, the Dynamics AX SOD.

The direct link to Arijit's post on MSDynamicsWorld.com, can be found here.:
MSDW: Behind the Latest Microsoft Dynamics AX Statement of Direction: Insights Into Strategy, Support, and Commitment

From the article.:
"In any ERP selection, apart from product functionality and technical capabilities customers need to be able to plan for the future development--thus, they need to know about the product strategy, support roadmap, environmental interoperability flexibilities and commitment from the product vendor."

"The Product Vision is organized according to three key elements that are the R&D focus areas in the current and future releases on AX. These are people, process, and technology. ...The AX SOD provides us an overview from these three key perspectives on the future of ‘Dynamics AX'"

The is a very good article, and I would like to thank Arijit for taking the time to post this. It's most helpful, and I believe shows Microsoft focus and drive for Dynamics AX now, and through the next decade.

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

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Dynamics AX Disaster Recovery - DPM 2010

Alright, so one of the topics that everyone should have conversations about when implementing Dynamics AX, is DR, or disaster recovery.

This is something, that I find sometimes, clients and customers do not pay enough attention to. This is a very critical point, and a customer needs to check and test their DR plans to make sure they actual do what they are suppose to do.

Now enter System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, due out in RC form early Feb. This is a true Data Protection Solution, vs. a bloated backup solution.

Check out the following great post.:
System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 Beta Webcast

That is from the System Center Data Protection Manager Blog, from Microsoft. In this post, we learn that DPM 2010 will offer native workload support, for protection for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009!

That's right, and that's not all that comes with such an investment, with DPM offering now protection per DPM server, of up to 1000 databases.

From the post.:
"System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 delivers unified data protection for Windows servers and clients as a best-of-breed backup & recovery solution from Microsoft, for Windows environments. DPM 2010 provides the best protection and most supportable restore scenarios from disk, tape and cloud – in a scalable, reliable, manageable and cost-effective way."

And Finally.:
"DPM 2010 is called enterprise ready, and here’s why.

  • DPM 2010 will be able to protect 100 servers, 1000 Laptops and up to 2000 databases per server.

  • It is tested with sharepoint farms of 25 TB and over 1 million items

  • There is a significantly increased fan-in of data sources per DPM server

  • It can handle 80 TB per DPM server

  • Automatic rerunning of jobs and improved self-healing is implemented

  • Automatic protection of new data sources for SQL and MOSS

  • Decreased Inconsistent Replicas errors

  • Reduced Alert Noise

  • Optimized tape logic for tape reservations and usage

  • Library Sharing more resilient

  • Better resilience to physical errors in drives and changers

  • Task controller for tape jobs for higher throughput

  • More flexibility in scheduling short- and long-term tape

I think that for any Dynamics AX customer, this is a must to look at and invest time into seeing how System Center, and specifically DPM 2010 can help protect your investment, and ensure uptime, and disaster recovery.

Also, with DPM, you get a lot more than just native workload protection for Dynamics AX 2009.

That's all for now, but check back soon, and thanks Microsoft SCDPM Team!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Convergence 2010: Hot-lanta here we come!

This year, Microsoft will be holding Convergence 2010 in Atlanta. Also this year, I am planning on attending convergence.

Here is the link, to the Convergence 2010 home page.: Microsoft Convergence 2010 - Atlanta.

You can start signing up now for the event, and lock in the Early Bird Special price.

I will be attending with Sunrise Technologies, Inc. (www.SunriseConsult.com), and will be at the booth, as well as attending technical based sessions. I will also be covering convergence for my blog, and looking to network with others, including you if you plan on attending as well!

That's all for now, but in the future I will be going into details of what is being offered at Convergence: Speakers, Sessions, and much more!

Check back soon, as I have some great post coming out this week as well. See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti needs our help

It is the call of those who can, to stand up for those that can not. Right now Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western part of the world is down and out.

They need our help, and I would recommend either given to the Red Cross, or the Yele Haiti Foundation, the non-profit my wife and myself support.:

100% of what is given goes directly to helping those hit by this natural disaster. And those that are surviving will be hit by another way of disease and medical issues, due to lack of infastructure and ability to get basic needs treated.

To find out more about the Yele Haiti Foundation, you may go to www.yele.org.

Also, prayers, as many as you can, are just as important.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dynamics AX Add-on Spotlight: Doktool from Cimbax

I wanted to take the time, to point out a really awesome add-in for Microsoft Dynamics AX. What I am speaking about is called Doktool, From Cimbax.

This tool offers all kinds of great features for documentation of Code, Tables, Structures in AX. Generating documents for custom modules, documenting for compilance needs, etc.

From the site.:
"Doktool is a structured authoring tool that integrates Dynamics AX into MS Word and Visio. Doktool sends the contents of any Project or Table in AX to MS Word or Visio

in any font style, with a full table of contents creating a document that is 80% finished automatically in minutes. All the consultants then need to do is annotate the document adding their own descriptions of the business logic and the document is finished."

So this makes use of Microsoft Office 2007 Word and Visio to help with your pojects, given you the ability to document your custom code and work, and increasing your productivity.

The listed benefits.:

  • Automatically creates & updates technical documentation up to 80% faster

  • Allows your developers to concentrate on writing code not documents

  • Instant upgrade analysis & quotation

  • Compliance and Audit

  • Automatic help text generation

  • Doucment parameters and base data setup instantly

There is for sure plenty of resources as well for digging deeper into Doktool for Dynamics AX. Check out the following resources.:

Doktool AX Product Sheet
Doktool AX Sample Documents
Doktool AX Case Study

I recommend checking this out for new implementations, and also something that current clients would have benefit from as well. This works with all current version of Dynamics AX, from 3.0 to 2009.

If your interested in finding out more if Doktool could be a good fit for your needs, feel free to contact me or Sunrise Technologies, Inc.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Executive Blog: Putting the Dynamic in Microsoft Dynamics

Kirill Tatarinov, one of the top Microsoft Executives for the Dynamics Line of Business at Microsoft, posted a very nice article on The Executive Blog, at Microsoft.

The full link to that post can be found here.: Microsoft's The Executive Blog: Putting the Dynamic in Microsoft Dynamics

From the post.:
"It’s no secret that business applications are an integral part of running an organization and, when used to their full potential, can enable us to exist in this desirable Dynamic state – a state where we can achieve breakthrough success."

"I want to take a moment to briefly describe the three pillars of the Dynamic Business:

1. People – the lifeblood of an organization. People will always be at the heart of everything that we do, it is through their individual unique qualities and strengths that success emerges. Whether it’s the back office order processor, the field service agent, the factory shop floor worker, or even the CEO, hidden pockets of productivity can be unlocked via intuitive and familiar designs that provide a great user experience through the business solution.

2. Process – the backbone of business. Every unit of execution in a business can be distilled into some kind of process. It could be an order approval, an expense report submission, a workflow, the fact of the matter is that process is everywhere! When it comes down to it, getting process right is a tough thing to do. It’s a complex world that we live in and as businesses grow and change, things like agility and flexibility are highly important. Processes need to be structured enough to enforce efficiency, while at the same time flexible enough to provide adaptability. Again – effective usage of a business solution can truly enable the kind of agility that today’s businesses require.

3. Ecosystem – in today’s world we simply cannot exist on islands. With the advent of the cloud especially, it’s increasingly becoming, to use a common phrase, a “small world”! We are all connected to each other, whether it’s suppliers, distributors, vendors, manufacturers, partners, customers or anything in between, today’s business environment is one that that is highly interdependent. Those connections are vital – and they require us to break free of an isolated inward focus and become “business extroverts”, seeking ways to improve these dependencies and relationships. It’s about recognizing the connections that exist in the ecosystems that surround us and using technology to strengthen and maximize the value that those connections provide us. A modern business solution taking full advantage of the three Cs of Cloud, Collaboration techniques and Communities can help business reach the fourth C of ultimate Connectivity."

Now this is a very good post by Kirill, getting everyone ready for this new year ahead of us. What I wanted to point out, is on the mention of ecosystem.

He talks about we can not be on isolated islands anymore. And the fact that there are the three C's or Cloud, Collaboration techniques and Communities.

This is for sure a focus for Microsoft, and as I point out in my last post, What can the Cloud offer you in 2010?, 2010 is for sure the year of the cloud. We have been prepping for years for the cloud, and I have been writing about it since 2007. Now the cloud is here, with real possibilities, and solutions ready for use with Dynamics AX.

I agree with Kirill, in that we have to be 'business extroverts', and can no longer live in isolated pockets of technology.

So there is a lot coming out this year, and a lot to focus on. I think this year is going to be one of the best years for Dynamics AX, and the Microsoft Business Platform.

That's all for now, but check back soon as I have more post coming, including another book review as well that should be out at the end of this month. See you next time!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, January 08, 2010

What can the Cloud offer you in 2010?

Now that we are in 2010, a big wave of Microsoft technologies, updates, etc. is coming.

2010 for sure will be the year of the Cloud. And though it's not on any offical calendar, those born under the year of the cloud are sure to be free thinkers, operational vs. captial based, have abilities to get projects going on their feet --- and into the cloud quickly.

Ok, so getting more serious, 2010 will for sure mark a year that the cloud, and what is offers becomes more and more in focus.

Most all businesses, in some form or fashion, have an interest level in the Cloud. When I talk to clients about Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, the biggest thing I see as an issue is what the cloud offers.

So armed with the latest knowledge, I thought this article on 'Getting Technical', should be spent talking about what the cloud offers now, soon, and the future.

As of now, there are actually several different services, that live in the cloud, built on Azure, that Dynamics AX clients can make use of.

- DAX ROI and Azure Dynamics ERP Services
- Microsoft Payment Service and Discussion with Red Maple

So if the go through the above post, you will see what the Cloud offers now for Dynamics AX, and also how one of the services compares to an ISV offered solution for Credit Card Processing.

These, as I am sure you have guessed, are the very tip of the iceberg. These are just the first offerings from Microsoft themselve, for services built on the Azure Cloud Platform.

So what does that mean? To be built on top of the Azure Cloud platform. Well to get into this, and understand a little better, first we must know there will be two ways services and whole applications, including legacy, can live in the cloud.

First, you have the true cloud based Software+Services, 'Three Screens and a Cloud' marketing tag lined approach. This is, services that are built using SQL Azure, .Net AppFabric, Windows Azure etc. that are multi-tenant based. This means they can scale up or down, without need of system administration, depending on the load of the given service or services at hand.

This first approach is what makes such cloud based services, different from a typical hosting environment, like having a server co-located somewhere and users hitting it. This is also different than having a service hosted on some web server, and users consuming it.

Once created, and setup, then the need of the service, truly governs the resources used to serve that need.

Enter the second option for Azure platform based softare or services. This is where, for example, a legacy app could be used. Here, what you have is a provisoned virtaul image, that sits on top of the Azure platform. This is very similar to having a co-located box somewhere. This is not dynamically scalable, and so has a set of finite resources... unless an admin type increases those resources.

The second option is a pay for use as well, and it's spread out over the CPU, Disk I/O, etc.

So, now we have a better idea of what it means to be built on the Azure platform. The current service offerings from Microsoft, are of option one. Truly dynamic scalable services, depending on the need. Built using Windows Azure, .Net AppFabric, SQL Azure, etc.

Coming back around, what can be done then with Dynamics AX and the Cloud? Well we have the services being offered, and also you can create you own custom services. I did a post that took an example, of making use of SQL Azure, and Dynamics AX for a field service custom application. That post can be found below here.

- A Possible Dynamics AX Solution - with the Cloud

So, the above shows an example application, making use of Dynamics AX and SQL Azure. Not even touching the .Net AppFabric or Windows Azure.

Now, what's coming? Well as I mentioned above, next year is for sure going to be marked as the year of the cloud. Check out the follow, recent post I did, about the next wave of technologies, and how they will enable Dynamics AX + the cloud, or a Hybrid Cloud approach that will become the norm for sometime.

- Microsoft's next wave of releases

In that post you can see that the coming technologies, mixed with the Dynamics AX road map, show the Cloud is very much a part of Dynamics AX's future.

These technologies, will allow Active Directory to manage security for on-premise and cloud based objects. Meaning, you control the security of your Hyrbid cloud, through federated services. The next release of BizTalk will be a key enabling technology, with the ability to connect and manage service paths, acting as your enterprise service bus, for flow of data through your enterprise, including those parts that live in the cloud.

Then you have the road map of Dynamics AX, showing each time 'Software+Services' offerings being increased.

So, for the cloud and Dynamics AX, you will have the ability to consume and work with services developed by Microsoft. Be able to create your own, custom, true cloud services with Dynamics AX, and also make use and consume third party cloud based services.

Next year, truly is going to be the year of the cloud. If you want to find out more, feel free to contact Sunrise, and ask how we can help you plan for the cloud, it's use, and what it can do for you and your Dynamics AX investment.

To find out more about Microsoft Azure platform, please go to the following link, where there is plenty of information about Azure, Windows Azure, SQL Azure, AppFabric (.Net Services), etc.
Microsoft.com - Windows Azure Platform - Home Page.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

Dynamics AX for Retail: Connected Experiences for Retail at the NRF 99th Annual Convention and EXPO

Microsoft will be presenting a slew of technologies that will showcase it's push and focus on retail at the NRF 99th Annual Convention and EXPO in New York on Jan 10th-13th.

This will show case a bunch of technologies, including Windows 7 embedded technologies, Microsoft Surface for touch interface, Dynamics AX for Retail, BI, and much more.

The press release from Microsoft can be found here.:
MS Event: Connected Experiences for Retail at the NRF 99th Annual Convention and EXPO - Retail's Big Show 2010

From the article.:
"Connecting Microsoft Dynamics: The Microsoft Dynamics vision for retail is focused on simplifying the user experience, bringing forth new innovations, and offering choices to retailers in how they use business management solutions to help their people be more productive, get better insight and control of key business processes, and create lasting connections with customers and suppliers. We deliver this vision for the Retail industry by connecting consumer retail experiences with stores, the retail enterprise and e-commerce enabling the retailers' employees to gain insight into customer behavior and apply it to optimize the whole chain of operations - from sales to supply. This creates what we call the 'Connected Retail Experience'. In this part of the booth, the Microsoft Dynamics team will showcase the Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail end-to-end capabilities that can help retailers achieve this 'Connected Retail Experience'."

For 2010, Dynamics AX for Retail will really be taking shape, and is part of the major goal and vision for Microsoft and retail companies.

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

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started

Recently I was asked by Richard Dias, of PackT Publishing to review their latest book Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started.

This book's target's developers that are familiar with the Microsoft platform, and need to dive into Dynamics AX development and customization. This book also targets Dynamics AX functional consultants that would like some technical abilities to get some task completed.

Let me say, after reading this book, going over the details, and what the target for this book is I give it 4.5 stars out of 5. This book really is put together very well. It's has an easy flow, it covers a good bit of technical ground for Dynamics AX, and it's well thought out.

For someone that has worked with Microsoft products like Office, of done any .Net Development with Visual Studio, and needs to start developing Dynamics AX, this book is a great resource.

If you have already been on at least one Dynamics AX project of some size, most likely you have touched everything that is in this book, and you will be best served making use of MSDN resources.

Still this book does cover a wealth of topics, including.:

  • MorphX IDE

  • Version Control

  • Working with Data inside and outside of AX

  • Basics of Reports

  • Integating with Dynamics AX

  • Much more!

A example chapter can be downloaded from the publishers website, located here.: Searching Data Chapter

This book also has two nice sections, that go over integrating with Standard AX. In that chapter, the Inventory, Ledger, AR and AP are covered in very good detail. These are some of the most common functional area's touched. This was a very good chapter for someone new to AX. Because being able to write X++ code, and not knowing the functional area your in, can really mean some bad mojo.

Then, as an example of how the book flows well, this chapter is placed, before the chapter on creating a new module inside Dynamics AX. The creating a new module chapter is also pretty good, covering most things needed for creating a custom module inside Dynamics AX. The example in this book being a car rental module.

I also liked how the book does touch on the latest technologies and how-to for working with .Net, including working with service references, how these work from a basic understanding, and good examples of making use of these. It does lack in the AIF, or Application Integration Framework area of integration. Making use of AIF, however I would consider AIF a more advanced topic, that most likely would not be suited for a getting started book. Still AIF is not even mentioned in this book, and the basics of AIF is at least worth a mention for sure.

Now, why do I not give this a 5 out of 5 stars? Three main reasons. One, I believe the reports section does not go over enough detail, for even a getting started section. Maybe that arguement can be made about other topics as well. But it seems, for example the EP section has more coverage, and with SSRS as an option, including Ad-hoc reports, SSAS, OLAP, etc. not enough is covered. Plus I don't agree that MorphX Reports should be the default used, or they are easier to create, if a report is going out to a customer. There is nothing wrong with these reports being created as SSRS based Dynamics AX - Visual Studio reports.

Also I would say, that the total lack of AIF from the book, is a minus. There should be some basic understanding of AIF, when and where it's typically used, etc. Espically since in the next version of Dynamics AX, AIF will be used even more.

Third, the price is a little higher than I expected. I believe Amazon has this at $44.00 dollars. Though, could be that I always expect a little lower on this. I would expect more of a $35.00 range book. But that's my take on the price.

Those are my three real complaints with the book. Other than that, the code and examples seem correct, the details are for sure enough to give someone and once complete, that person have confidence to move forward with Developing and learning more complex details about Dynamics AX.

The only other thing I will mention, and this is more of a vain thing to say on my part, but I noticed the links section did not have my blog here. :-( Oh well, I guess I can't be inlcuded on every Dynamics AX list.

So, as a re-cap, 4.5 out of 5 stars, really an overall great book and for the target, worth investing even though it's a little higher priced than I expected.

To find out more details about the book, including where to purchase it, visit PackT publishing page for this book here.: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started

Well that's all for now, check back soon as more post are coming!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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New Exam - MB5-858: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations

Microsoft recently posted that for a Partner to maintain their SPA, all Dynamics Partners will be required to have someone pass a new exam, the MB5-858: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations.

There are not a lot of details as of yet on this exam, but it is suppose to be released on April 15th, 2010.

There is a little more information about what all is changed for the new SPA, which can be found on the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), here.: MPN - SPA Post

As I get more information, I will make sure and post about this exam. There should be courseware coming out in March-April timeframe, from what I udnerstand as well about this new requirement.

That's all for now, check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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A Microsoft Dynamics AX Apparel Solution that is CFMD

As you may already know, Microsoft has announced the removal of the Apparel and Textile Industry Solution, developed by Porini for Microsoft Dynamics AX, from the Microsoft Dynamics AX pricelist.

However, textile, apparel and footwear companies need not worry, Sunrise Technologies has a Certified for Microsoft Dynamics Apparel and Footwear template built for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The Sunrise Technologies' Apparel & Footwear Template for Microsoft Dynamics AX is an integrated and comprehensive solution for companies in the apparel and footwear industries. Available on both Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 and Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009.

The Apparel & Footwear Template enhances standard Microsoft Dynamics AX by adding apparel and footwear specific functionality in the areas of inventory management, order processing, season management, and production. The template enables users to more easily manage seasonality, UPC codes, item attributes such as brand/gender/country of origin, and size/color scales such as women's, men's, and children's sizes.

The solution adheres to the Microsoft Dynamics AX best practices and the solution is completely embedded in the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform.

Read more about the companies that are using the apparel and footwear template such as Camp David as well as the press release about Sunrise’s apparel and footwear template on the Sunrise Web site.

That's all for now, check back soon as I have more post coming!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Dynamics AX 6.0 - aka 2011 - X++ Editor

I saw on twitter today, a link to a blog post done in October of last year now, about some screen shots of the Dynamics AX 6.0, aka Dynamics AX 2011, X++ editor.

Here is the direct link to that blog post.:
Vincent's Blog - Dynamics AX6 – The new X++ editor

From the post.:
"This editor is based on the same framework than the Visual Studio editor... ...The line numbering and the gradient marking are the first visible signs of a new UI. The rendering is WPF based, so that gives some opportunities for cool graphics."

"Things to notice, that are new relatively to the existing editor are:

-Support for multiple fonts and styles (comments are in a different font in italic).
-Differentiated coloring of strings and numbers.
-Operators coloring (in pink here, but don’t worry I’ll most likely change it before we release !).
-Change tacking margin."

So it looks like we have some good updates coming to the X++ editor, including being based on WPF rendering. This means, a move more and more to Visual Studio?? Possibly having X++ editor, be a part of Visual Studio in the next couple of releases?

I thought this was a good post, and though it's from October, I have not seen these anywhere else yet, so good stuff to note.

It also seems that the following.: multiple methods in the same window, outlining, screen split, comment away multiple lines, snippets, Ctrl+Space to complete partly written code.. etc.

Are in the works as well, which makes X++ editor more and more like Visual Studio.

That's all for now, thanks Vincent for sharing!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Another Sunrise Award and customer win

Sunrise Technologies, Inc, the Microsoft Gold Partner I am a part of, recently had two press releases.

One if for a new award that was given at the very end of 2009.:
Sunrise Technologies named to the Accounting Technology 2009 Pacesetters

From the Press Release.:
"The Technology Pacesetters are leaders in the field of reselling accounting and related software, chosen for their innovation, their cutting-edge technical expertise and their success in helping their clients build better businesses. A spot on the list indicates a VAR that is operating at the top of its game," states Daniel Hood, Managing Editor, Accounting Today.

"We are very pleased to be recognized as one of the Technology Pacesetters for 2009," states John Pence, President of Sunrise Technologies. "Our continued commitment to Microsoft Dynamics AX, customer service, and technical excellence is proving to be a winning combination in the marketplace."

Congrats to all my fellow Sunrisers on yet another award that shows how hard we all work!

Now, Sunrise also had another press release, this time for a new customer in the apparel vertical.:
Camp David chooses an apparel business solution that fits: Microsoft Dynamics™ AX and Sunrise Technologies

From the press release.:
"With the economy changing as it is, we didn't want to react like most of our competition by cutting quality and service; we wanted to step up and serve our customers better." states David Willson, President of Camp David, Inc. "With Microsoft Dynamics AX, we can accept and process orders quicker with a much higher degree of accuracy; this translates to faster more accurate customer deliveries. In addition, our forecasting is better; enabling us to ensure product is on hand when our customers need it." "Through the Microsoft Dynamics AX e-portal, our sales representatives are further empowered to sell and service their customers with up-to-date product information, inventory, purchase history and promotions." adds Mark Willson, Vice President - Sales and Marketing. "The bottom line for Camp David is that with Microsoft Dynamics AX, our customers are receiving even better products and services during a time when their other suppliers are cutting back."

"We are very pleased and proud to add Camp David to our strong list of customers, particularly in the apparel industry", states Mike Pereira, General Manager of Sunrise Technologies. "Microsoft Dynamics AX will serve as a great compliment to the superior product and service offered by Camp David. The team at Camp David recognizes the power and flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics AX to model their business the way they need to and offer better visibility to inventory, order status, and continued customer service. We look forward to working with them on improving their business systems overall."

The Apparel and Footwear industry is just one of the main verticals Sunrise Technologies is known for, and I am excited for both Camp David and Sunrise in this new Dynamics AX implementation!

Thanks all for now, but check back later as I have more post coming soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

MSDW: The AX User Group Sees Big Benefits in Year Ahead

Over at MSDynamicsWorld.com, a new article has been posted about the upcoming year and AXUG.

Here is the direct link to that article.: MSDW - The AX User Group Sees Big Benefits in Year Ahead from New Web Site, Use of Dynamics CRM

From the article.:
"[The upcoming year] will bring significant expansions for the Dynamics user communities," said Dynamic Communities CEO Andy Hafer in a later interview. "The key leadership among the members has expanded to have a great cross-section of each community, including users from companies across industries, sizes, geographies, etc. This has allowed us to really hone the programming for each constituent. You will see expanded training courses, deeper content, more special interest groups and stronger collaboration with other communities, including Microsoft's Online Dynamics Community."

"One of the biggest surprises within the membership was the interest and adoption of AX 2009," he said. "The AX 2009 Upgrade and Data Migration special interest groups were filled by webinar attendees with lots of good stories to share. Compared to the launch of AX 4.0, there seems to be a greater push from the membership to move to AX 2009."

Its a really good article. It also highlights that AXUG has implemented Dynamics CRM to manage the behind the scenes LOB needs for AXUG, inlcuding membership that will allow users to make use of their windows live id for login.

Also there will be plenty of focus on webinars this year, getting ready ofr AX 6.0, aka Dynamics AX 2011.

That's all for now, but check back soon, as next week brings a how host of new post, including my review of a recently released Dynamics AX development book from PackT publishing! See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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