After the buzz of day 1 I went for dinner at the Tap House Grill (http://taphousegrill.com/) where I met with some great guys in the form of other MVP’s and important Microsoft people; Lyle Curry, Jim Davis, Tommy Skaue, Joris de Gruyter, Murray Fife, Justin Carter and Jared Lambert (there were others as well :-)). A great night meeting for the first time and putting faces to names and voices.
Day 2 also started with the announcement that Satya Nadella was the new Microsoft CEO and breakfast in the grand ballroom included video footage of the news and pre-recorded interviews. Strange to be so close to Microsoft when this happened and see how they handled and publicized the event.
My first session on Day 2 was another keynote with Mike Ehrenberg, technical fellow, and Sri Srinivasan, director of engineering, presenting how Microsoft Dynamics AX is the unifying fabric that brings the best Microsoft technologies together into “One Microsoft.”. Sri started off with presentations around LifeCycle Services (LCS) which is seeing the focus of a Microsoft push with the move to Azure and the emphasis on the full implementation methodology from pre-sales to live. LCS has been live for 8 months and around for 14 but is still considered a fledgling product with its issues and unknown elements, but it is clear Microsoft are putting a lot of effort into this area. Once the Business Process Mapping is captured with the advanced Task Recorder the gaps can be identified and the Fit/Gap sent to TFS. There was an interesting concept of linking the data to the support platform and creating a virtual image with a video for reproduction steps to speed up the whole process and to capture the version, build etc. automatically from the base company using the meta data established in the connection.
Sri continued to highlight the importance of the Cloud to the next version and that LCS was the first step in providing this service. There were also pointers to holding systems on Azure, pre-sales and production, using Azure to bypass the need for all of the hardware in advance. LCS is also outside of AX and they have a monthly update of the product, trying to avoid tying the product to any CU or hotfix.
The second session showed how Master Data Management (MDM) in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 simplifies master data synchronization across multiple Microsoft Dynamics AX instances by utilizing conceptual business entities, meta data, and declarative configuration. Bigyan Rajbhandari showed how the data import/export framework could provide of out-of-box data synchronization and support for extending this solution to accommodate additional customer scenarios. The system shipped with five core entities pre-build for data synchronization; Customers, Vendors, Employees, Products and the Global Address Book. Other customer entities can be created. This needs SQL Server 2012.
The next session was “Empowering the shop floor operators by bringing information and control to their fingertips” which saw Johan Hoffmann and Bill Moffet demo of a new companion app that supports the daily tasks of the shop floor operator. Designed for devices that run Windows 8.1, the app’s modern user interface was optimized for touchscreens to deliver the familiar behaviours of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. This relates back to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) mantra that Microsoft have been extolling for the past 12 months. The touch enabled graphically coloured app allowed the reporting of jobs and recording of breaks etc. whilst fully sitting outside of AX. A shopfloor web service has been created using windows integrated authentication to connect. Whilst not fully there it showed where the future is heading with modern smart looking interfaces talking to the traditional underlying structure of AX.
My final session was a lab for the Data import/export framework hosted by Mudit Mittal. This was really interesting. The first question posed was to see who had no experience in the DIXF concept, then who had not attended any of the earlier sessions. I was one of five people to raise my hand to both which must have sent shivers down the hosts spine because the lab gave you files and a task – but no instructions just the odd hint. It took me a little over 60 minutes to go through some base options and then to create the solutions required. In essence I imported a customer file in CSV format and a Vendor file in Excel, I also exported the Chart of Accounts into an XML set schema and then performed multi-company data comparisons and updating the data based upon set instructions. Let that sink in for a bit. No training, no step by step guides and I managed to export and import data. Granted these were set scenarios with files provided but the new DIXF framework was extremely simplistic and easy to use from my perspective – limitations will come as we dig deeper I am sure, but a starting point for customer ownership of the data migration project is clear. Very powerful and exciting, a great finish to day 2!