The future of Microsoft Dynamics 365

Person on pier looking at landscape

What has happened to Business edition?

When Dynamics 365 was first launched in November 2016, it was released as two separate editions: Enterprise and Business. While the Enterprise edition was ready at launch, the Business edition was planned to be released later in 2017, however recently Microsoft have announced that this will no longer be happening.

Instead of launching two separate editions of Dynamics 365, Microsoft have decided to keep only one version but instead offer different levels of access and functionality, which has different price points. This means that from Spring 2018 there will only be 'Dynamics 365' and no edition breakdowns. For example, there will be one version of the 'Sales' application; if you access more of the application, then you pay more; if you access less functionality then you pay less. Think of this like Office 365 - you can access different features and capabilities in Office 365 depending on whether you choose Business Premium, E3 or E5 - all of which have different monthly costs.

Dynamics 365 on tablet

What are the advantages to this?

It's still very early days since the announcement and the different price points and functionality break downs won't be known until nearer the launch in Spring 2018. While there isn't a lot of information currently available we can see a few benefits to this new strategy:

  • No 'upgrade/downgrade' concerns - the upgrade and downgrade paths between Business and Enterprise were never clear (and may not have been possible) as these were two different platforms. The worry was that if you went to Enterprise but decided to 'downgrade' to Business this may have not been possible. Having one platform will give greater flexibility to increase or decrease access and functionality without worrying about migration.
  • Common Data Service - as all apps will be built on the Common Data Service, this means that the apps are built on one common foundation allowing easier integration,
    Scalable - by having different tiers, you can choose the right level for your organisation but have the confidence you're on a platform that can support the largest enterprises so there is no maximum user limit or fear that you will be forced to change systems due to outgrowing the solution.
  • More cost effective - having different levels of access means you only pay for the access that you need. While pricing isn't known yet, this 'pay as you grow' style model means you only pay for what you need. Thanks to CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) licensing you can change your licensing monthly without being tied to annual contracts.
  • Focused & quicker innovation - with one platform, Microsoft will be able to deliver more focused innovation and updates to this one platform; Dynamics 365. If updates had to be applied to both Business and Enterprise this could have meant one platform was favoured or it could have taken longer to add updates by having to build and test features for two different platforms, reducing the amount of time to dedicate to improvements.

What about the SMB promotion?

While, waiting for the launch of Business edition, Microsoft offered a heavily discounted SMB promotion, allowing smaller businesses to buy Enterprise edition licenses at a fraction of the cost seeing as they could not start using the SMB edition. The terms allow an organisation to renew at this promotional price point until 1st December 2019. This offer was launched as an interim offer until he release of Business edition (expected in June 2017). Although Business edition has been abandoned, this SMB promotion is still running and will continue to run until around Spring 2018 when 'Tenerife' is launched.

What is 'Tenerife'?

Microsoft have always been a fan of obscure codenames for their product releases and Tenerife is just another placeholder name for a new offering until they decide an official product name. 'Tenerife' is the current name for next years' launch of Dynamics NAV as a SaaS model. This 'NAV Online' will take the final piece of the Microsoft Dynamics family and move it into the 'Dynamics 365' suite to join CRM and AX.

As a quick recap, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX are both Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. The main difference is that AX was aimed at large organisations, while NAV was aimed at smaller organisations (roughly under 200 employees). Last year, the functionality of AX was built in to become Dynamics 365 Enterprise Finance and Operations, while Dynamics NAV continued as NAV.
Now, Microsoft have announced that in Spring 2018, they will launch this 'Tenerife' - new end-to-end business management cloud solution, which will combine Finance and Operations Business edition (only available in US, Canada and UK) with Dynamics NAV. Until this time, Finance and Operations Business will still be available in US, Canada and UK but when Tenerife launches as "Dynamics 365 for <something>" users will switch over to this new solution. Please note, this will also be available on-premise but not from Spring 2018.

Tenerife will give businesses basic marketing, sales, service, finance and operations capabilities. However, if a business wants to add functionality from apps from the rest of the Dynamics 365 suite - such as Dynamics 365 Sales - then they can. This is all thanks to the Common Data Service, on which all these apps are built allowing simple integration for more of a 'pick and mix' style business app solution.

Dynamics 365 Tenerife business management suite graphic

Where's Marketing?

Finally, when Dynamics 365 launched there was no Marketing built-in expect for minor functionality such as marketing lists. As Microsoft announced that they were retiring Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, they partnered with Adobe as their recommend marketing application; having Adobe Marketing Cloud as the marketing element on Dynamics 365. While a robust solution, Adobe Marketing Cloud is expensive and aimed at Enterprises, so partners may have recommended other marketing solutions for Dynamics 365 (for example, we recommend ClickDimensions).

Now, Microsoft will be launching 'Dynamics 365 for Marketing' - but there is no General Availability data yet. Currently in private preview, this new app will join to Dynamics 365 suite. However, as it is early days there is still no news on licensing and pricing but you can get an idea of functionality here.

Dynamics marketing vs Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Conclusion

There have been a lot of exciting announcements and as usual, Microsoft is innovating and releasing at a rapid pace. While it is brilliant to see them taking on customer and partner feedback and continually reviewing their strategy, it can be tough to keep up. If you are unsure what any of these announcements mean and how they may impact you, then feel free to get in touch.

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