Migrating from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition

Migrating from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition

Dynamics AX (formerly known as Axapta) has evolved into Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Enterprise Edition. However, that doesn’t mean you can simply upgrade your software license as you can with Microsoft CRM Online, to migrate your existing AX software to the Microsoft Azure cloud. Unlike CRM, AX wasn’t originally developed as a web-based application, and unlike CRM, AX wasn’t previously migrated by Microsoft to an online version. In other words, there was never an AX Online, like there was a CRM Online. Furthermore, AX is a much more complicated application than CRM, because it’s a full-featured accounting and financial system that has a much broader depth of functionality, encompassing accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory, supply chain, financial reporting, general ledger, warehouse management, manufacturing, and so much more.

In migrating AX to 365, you will need to plan for a full-blown ERP implementation project, not a simple upgrade. That being said, Microsoft, in some of its literature, does refer to the migration of AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Enterprise edition as an upgrade or as an upgrade path. Keep in mind that it isn’t an upgrade in the sense of running an upgrade wizard application, but rather a complicated series of steps that will require analysis, decision making, and, most likely, some level of redesign.

Microsoft is justified in referring to the migration of Dynamics AX 2012 as an upgrade path, although a complicated one because it does provide automated programs to migrate the data. A data upgrade is accomplished using a deployable package, which is similar to the mechanism used to deploy new code from one environment (tier) to another.

Fortunately, Microsoft has provided extensive tools and documentation designed to assist you and your Dynamics AX authorized partner in migrating your Dynamics AX ERP to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Enterprise edition in the Azure cloud. These tools include an upgrade analyzer tool, a code upgrade estimation tool, and a project methodology. Ask your authorized partner about how to access and deploy these tools.

In order to help clients map out a transition plan, Microsoft has come up with Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS, for short. With LCS, Microsoft has designed project methodologies for various Dynamics-related projects. A project methodology called Upgrade AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations describes the three phases (analyze, validate, and execute) that are recommended by Microsoft, and it provides links to the applicable documentation.

An upgrade analyzer is a tool that you can run against your existing AX 2012 environment. The output of the upgrade analyzer tool provides information about these options:

» Data Cleanup 

» SQL Configuration 

» Deprecated Features

The upgrade analyzer provides information that may be useful in planning your upgrade, but it doesn’t actually upgrade anything. Also, note that it points out deprecated features — features that were available in Dynamics AX but are no longer available in Dynamics 365. Microsoft is discontinuing some functionality from AX, so it may be impossible to migrate all your AX data because some of the database tables will not even exist in the cloud. Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to migrate to the cloud because, although your setup may lose some features, it will be sure to gain many new features and have tighter and more standardized integration with other Microsoft technologies — and it will be taking advantage of all the benefits of multi-tenant cloud computing.