Microsoft today announced that the new version of its Dynamics AX cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for business management is now available to all companies.
The service, which runs on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure, includes the Power BI business-intelligence service that enables businesses to get visual answers to the questions they’re wrestling with. And, as with many typical software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, companies pay based on how many users they have each month, instead of paying for a more traditional perpetual license. The software has been redesigned since the Dynamics AX 2012 release in 2011, and the release comes right on schedule — Microsoft said back in November that it would ship in the first quarter of 2016.
“It’s an ERP system that people actually like to look at,” Microsoft technical fellow Mike Ehrenberg told VentureBeat in an interview. Rather than appear bloated with pop-up boxes, the new service lives in a browser — it works with any modern browser and is based in HTML 5, he said. Ehrenberg added that Microsoft’s Cortana personal digital assistant also plays a role in the new Dynamics AX and said that Cortana-based notifications will come later.
Now that Microsoft has a solid cloud-based ERP offering with a real cloud pricing model, it could be in a position to more effectively stave off competition from NetSuite, Workday, and other vendors.
The new software is highly customizable. It’s possible, for example, to pin certain key performance indicators (KPIs) to a tile in the dashboard. And it’s a universal Windows app (UWA), which means it can run across any device that runs Windows. Dedicated Android and iOS apps will come later, Ehrenberg said.
Companies that have used the new software ahead of its official release include Engine Group, Hagler Systems, Haldex, Icon, Matilda Jane Clothing, Renault Sport F1 Team, Priva, Smiles, Travel Alberta, and Umbra Group, according to a statement.
Eventually, the new Dynamics AX (sometimes known as AX7) will become available for companies’ on-premises data centers. The timing will be dictated by when dependencies like Azure Stack become fully available, Ehrenberg said.