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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interview with Microsoft's Lachlan Cash about Dynamics AX Technical Conference

I hope this blog post finds everyone having a good day! This is the start of a series of blog post, where Microsoft's own Lachlan Cash and I talk about the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics AX 2011 Technical conference.

This series of post will be monthly, building up to the Technical Conference, being held start of 2011, at the Redmond campus.

So give a warm welcome to Lachlan, as we kick off this series.:

1. Lachlan, with the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference, being held on the Redmond campus in January., can you give us an idea of what people can expect when attending?

"With the new version on its way next year, we looked at what we could do to get partners and customers ready to adopt this latest version. We decided that we would provide broader pre-release access to the product. So that is how the Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2011 came about.

That gives you some background to why we are hosting the event. What can attendees expect? We are working on a great lineup of content focused on the next release. There will be over 65 sessions that will completely cover the product. We'll have time set aside to collaborate with the development team in Chalk and Talk and Ask the Experts sessions and also we are teaming up with Microsoft Dynamics AX Certified Trainers to host instructor-led labs.

We are hosting this on the Microsoft campus so that our partners and customers can network with the development team, not only from Microsoft Dynamics AX, but with others that work on the core technologies that AX builds on. We are making sure you get the full picture."

2. For the different sessions, will there be set tracks for say Architects, vs. Developers, vs. Admins, etc? And also will people have the ability to cross track if desired?

"Because this event is pre-release and dedicated to the next release we decided to focus the content for a few key roles what would typically need this information to plan to upgrade solutions. The roles we focused on are architects, developers, IT Infrastructure consultants and functional consultants working with developers on solutions.

We have simplified the deployment footprint of the application so IT consultants will be impressed with less management and expansion of new integrations to the Microsoft Office suite of products. Developers will get to see the innovation in the developer tools and programming experience. More importantly they will get to experience the work that we have been driving in the area of model-driven development. These technology innovations flow across to the application foundation For the functional consultant, there are some important application modeling concepts that we have been working on to help a broader range of customers that are adopting Microsoft Dynamics AX.

In short they will see topics on developer tools, database modeling, application component design, business intelligences tools, office integration around Microsoft SharePoint and the core office products, services integration, IT management, performance, and application lifecycle management.

People can pick and choose what they go and listen to. They don't have to stay in the same track. We know a lot of the people in the channel wear multiple hats so we want to provide great content that can get people inspired.

There is a lot of great innovation to see."

3. Can you pick two sessions, for this first interview, that you can highlight and give a little detail about? Give a sneak peak of sorts?

"Well, we are posting a draft of some of the sessions to the conference Web site soon so that will give you a better perspective of the type of content. But to give you two examples: The sessions on models will be interesting for pretty much everyone. We have simplified how the application is stored, managed, and the approach to storing the application code in the DB has changed and will help simplify the management of an AX implementation.

If you have been working with Microsoft Dynamics AX for a while, then you know we have been working on the implementation of the SSRS reporting engine. SSRS becomes the primary engine in the next release and so developers have some great tools to provide reporting solutions for customers. Likewise customers will benefit from this work because of the integration with Office. So there will be a number of sessions covering not only the SSRS work but across the board from a BI point of view."

4. In regards to the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, what kind of architectural changes will be taking place that you are at liberty to discuss at this time?

"Yes, there are things we want to keep under wraps until the conference. There are two areas of architectural change that you will see. The first is related to the simplification of the IT Architecture and the second to the application and the model-driven architecture.

I'll be a little vague here, :-) but for the IT infrastructure consultant what this means is simplification. Less components to deploy, fewer infrastructures needed to do more, less components to manage. For example, the way we do services integration and where we host the Windows Workflow runtime will change. The AOS is the end point and the workflow runtime is hosted under the AOS. Just less pieces to deploy and manage, which is important for customers small and large because there is just one piece of software to manage."

5. What new development for Microsoft Dynamics AX are you most excited about?

"Yeah, it’s hard one to pin down to just one as there is so much innovation across the board. While this is not a specific feature, I'll have to point to more of a theme across the release, and that’s simplification. The footprint of the functionality is growing because of our industry focus. Even the core horizontal functionally expands significantly. So at the same time as this expansion the software is getting smaller, there are fewer pieces to manage.

Along the same theme for developers, there is simplification in the MorphX development tools and programming as well as choice. If the tool you are familiar with is Visual Studio, and you are building managed code solutions, that is, you develop with the .NET Framework and use C#, VB, or any managed language for that matter, then you will appreciate the work the R&D team have done with evolving the .NET business connector to a new generation of typed managed interop. This time, because we can leverage the work that has been done around models and how we are now storing the Meta data of the application, we can provide access to the business application objects in Visual Studio. Actually we did a small demo of this at WPC2010back in July this year but of course you will see a lot more in-depth at the Technical Conference."

"If I could just finish with saying it will be great to see a lot of familiar faces, as well as new faces at the event in January. We are excited to be able to put this event on, we think it is our little version of PDC for developers or TechEd for the IT folks but just focused on Microsoft Dynamics AX and specifically the next release. We think it's important that our community gets the information early. We are happy that with this version we are providing much earlier access to the product before it is released, something we haven't done before.

So go and register at Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2011. And be sure to check out a sample of the session content that should be published by the time this blog is posted. We plan to have a full catalog by the end of October."

Here a little bit of info on Lachlan, just in case you don't know what is role is at Microsoft at the bigger Dynamics Ecosystem.:

Lachlan is a Senior Product Manager with the Microsoft Dynamics product management team. His current role with Dynamics is to provide programs and tools that support the Dynamics AX channel to work with and demo Microsoft Dynamics AX. He has worked in Microsoft for 8 years across various roles in APAC, EMEA and Corp. He previously worked for Navision and has spent 17 years working with mid-range and enterprise business application software. You’ve probably seen him at Convergence presenting in the keynotes.

I would like to thank the Microsoft Dynamics AX product team, and specifically Lachlan Cash for taking the time to kick this series of blog post off. I hope that you find them interesting, and that it helps give some insight into the Technical Conference and next years release of Microsoft Dynamics AX '6'.

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

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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