Every new Microsoft Dynamics NAV version in the making has a code name; traditionally it’s named after an island. Since the release of NAV 2017 in October 2016, Microsoft has been working on ‘Tenerife’ and we all expected that this new version would become NAV 2018 and would be available in October 2017 for our customers. Not this year! Instead the release of NAV 2018 will happen in stages, as Microsoft announced last week at the conference Directions EMEA in Madrid.
NAV 2018 will be released as an on premise version on 1 December 2017. This release will be followed by a NAV 2018 R2 version in NZ autumn, i.e. between March and June 2018. Why these stages this time? The NAV 2018 R2 release will coincide with the upgrade of the online version Dynamics 365 for Financials (former code name ‘Madeira’) and become Dynamics 365 Tenerife. The name will change and importantly, from that point on the product, code base and full functionality will be the same across the SaaS (online) version of NAV in the cloud and the current on premise version.
On premise in the world of NAV is the version we as partners have to install, either on a local server, in a data centre or on virtual machines in the cloud (Azure). There are still the two license options for the on premise versions, subscription or perpetual.
Availability of Dynamics 365 Tenerife
Dynamics 365 for Financials has already been available in some countries - including the US, Canada, UK, Germany and The Netherlands - for a year. Dynamics 365 Tenerife will replace Dynamics 365 for Financials and will become immediately available in twelve countries on its release day next year. Unfortunately, New Zealand and Australia are not among these countries. I followed up directly with Marko Perisic, the Microsoft General Manager SMB, and there are no plans or roadmaps for southern hemisphere availability.
What does this mean for NZ and Australia?
So what to do? Should southern hemisphere customers wait for Dynamics 365 Tenerife to become available in this region, or implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 or 2018 when it is shipped? There will be an option to transition from the on premise version to Dynamics 365 Tenerife. It will come with some restrictions though, as a heavily customised database can’t be moved. Dynamics 365 Tenerife is a multi-tenant offering and all customers will be running on the same code base.
Extensions and customisations
Can a multi-tenant offering like Dynamics 365 Tenerife be enhanced or customised for a customers’ needs, as we currently do with the on premise version? Happily, the answer is “yes”. It will be possible to add functionality from other solution providers via Extensions, which can be installed from the Microsoft AppSource store.
Partners can also make changes to the code using Extensions - almost the same kind of changes as those we have done to date in on premise installations! This is a total game changer, as customers will get the best of both worlds: a monthly automatically updated NAV version running in the cloud as full SaaS and the ability to make modifications to suit individual business needs. This will be all possible with Extensions v2 and AL code, developed in Visual Studio Code. Yes, we will abandon our programming language C/AL and move to AL in a (for a NAV developer) completely new development environment. So also a game changer for every NAV partner! At Theta, we have already started learning the new tools, which have been available as a preview version for some time.
Editions vs Apps
Previously, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials was only available in the Business Edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and couldn’t be paired with other applications from the Dynamics 365 suite when they were part of the Enterprise Edition. Microsoft listened to their customers who are interested in applications and functionality rather than “editions”. With the release of NAV 2018R2 in Q2 2018, Microsoft will remove the editions and only offer apps. Dynamics 365 Tenerife will then offer full functionality, divided into five applications:
The Marketing app will be a brand new application, supporting email marketing and event management, dashboard reporting and more. We saw a very impressive demonstration of this at Directions EMEA, so watch the space!
The elimination of editions is a recent change and there is not a lot of information available yet. The obvious questions are how will the applications be licensed and will there be dependencies between the applications? Regardless, we believe the removal of editions is a positive for all customers as they now have a free choice and flexibility about what they want to use.
Dynamics 365 – Pick and choose
Now it is clear why this release is not just another release of an on premise application. The current confusion about which functionality is in the SaaS version versus the on premise version comes to an end - it will be the same, due to the same code base. You can still choose your preferred option and pick any other application you want to use in combination with Dynamics 365 Tenerife. All we have to do is to wait until it will be available Down Under - hopefully soon!