With the dust settling on the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft has turned its attention back to the enterprise. The software giant on Monday took the lid off new advances in the architecture of the next version of Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Code-named AX 6, the latest version of the enterprise resource-planning solution aims to empower independent software vendors (ISVs) to bring solutions to market faster while simultaneously reducing product life-cycle investments and expanding market opportunities.
Hal Howard, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Research and Development, said the new version promises "rich functionality, advanced architecture, and the full power of the Microsoft stack." At the same time, he said, Microsoft is working to keep it simple by "streamlining application deployment, maintenance and upgradability."
Accelerating Software Development
New to Dynamics AX 6 is a model-driven, layered architecture that accelerates software development, requiring less coding than building from scratch and easing maintenance and upgradability. Microsoft said this allows developers to build high-value functionality quicker and better.
The new version also offers pre-built interoperability with the Microsoft Application Platform, including Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010, and other Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010. Microsoft said this allows developers to spend less time on technical integration and compatibility, and increases the breadth of developer resources available to ISVs.
"This is a welcome move," said Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC. "I think positioning Dynamics differently from traditional big-bang ERP is a good way to leverage Microsoft's developer platform strengths into a key capability of Dynamics."
Hilwa pointed to what he called a RAD shift over time to more business-centric areas such as BPM and highly configurable package applications. He sees this as a move in the same direction, where rich applications begin to become rich frameworks to build on additional custom functionality. This, he said, opens up the space for high-value partners to leverage the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem.
Customer Speaks Out
Microsoft reports strong momentum from ISVs, and customers are also giving Dynamics AX 6 the nod -- LexisNexis among them.
"We're looking to the future with Microsoft Dynamics AX 6 and are confident that its robust and scalable foundation can be counted on to help our business grow," said Bob Hadingham, platform director at LexisNexis UK. "We have been very impressed with how quickly and easily we have been able to extend our offerings for law firms and expand our international market opportunities by being able to focus our R&D efforts on application development for our core expertise, instead of investing in platform development."
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 is generally available today. A community technical preview of Microsoft Dynamics AX 6 is planned for February, and general availability is planned for the third quarter.