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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Highlighted on Dynamics Community Site

Today, I was highlighted on the Dynamics Community Site, Community.Dynamics.com, for the interview I did with Microsoft's Mike Ehrenberg.

I feel very honored to have some of my work highlighted on the home page of the Microsoft Dynamics Community site.

The team behind this site puts in a lot of effort into trying to foster and grow the Dynamics community. This includes AX, GP, CRM, SL, NAV, and more! Shane, Nick and the gain do a great job, and I am honored to a part of the community.

The Dynamics Community site has all kinds of information, technical and functional, and is very useful. The forums, blog feeds, articles, Microsoft team members. It's all about fostering growth, sharing information, and giving the ability for someone to find what they are looking for, and learn something they did not know.

I want to say thanks to the whole Dynamics Community team! Thank You!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Treebeard at Convergence 2010?

While at Convergence 2010, I talked to maybe the most knowledgable person, focused on Dynamics AX. His vertical focus was for sure in the timber industry, but more on the preservation side of things.

He went on, and on, and on about convervation, middle earth, and implmenting AX --- focusing on the Evironmental Dashboards, and was heavy into products impact on the environment.

Here he is heading into the Convergence Receiption dinner.:

Honestly, the strangest and coolest entertainment bit I saw at Expo was old treebread here. I did not really talk with him about AX, just in case your wondering. I actually don't think It was suppose to speak. It sure made the reception interesting though. Along with the others on stilts!

I have more serious post coming soon, however I had to get this one out here!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coverage of AXUG Software Architect SIG at Convergence 2010

One of the sessions that I was lucky enough to attend at this years Convergence was the AXUG Software Architects SIG (Special Interest Group) for Dynamics AX.

This was a very, very interesting session that spanned a lot of different topics. This session was headed by John Smith and Jason Thorpe. Both AXUG members that are actively involved with helping promote and foster the AX community.

This was not a typical session in which you had a single speaker or two driving the whole time, but more of a round table session. Jason and John help keep the session going, and help start it, however allowed plenty of driving by the many people that attended this.

This SIG's focus is about AX Architecture, development, and being able to allow fellow Architects to share and build upon past exp. and current facing needs to help one another.

Some of the top topics discussed in this SIG were.:

These were some of the hot and major topics covered in this session. There was some great points, and interesting things that customers were facing, and it seemed more than just one customer was facing some similar questions, and answering these questions in similar fashions.

It does seem to be that, from the techical Architect's side, either large or small companies, that similar trends and needs, along with upgrades, performance, change management with version control, integration seem to be the highest of priority.

With this post, I would like to kick off a series that covers these topics. To help dig deeper into these subjects, talk about what is being done now, what can be done, and what in AX 6 and beyond will help with these areas.

Check back soon, and feel free to leave comments, questions, and your own thoughts into this. If you were at the session, I would love to hear from you as well.

I would also like to thank Jason and John for thier time in hosting this SIG session. It was well worth the effort, and time attending this event.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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A lot to cover from Convergence 2010


I have a lot to cover for Convergence 2010! Not sure if you were able to follow mt tweets during the event, but there was an amazing amount of energy, information, and news to talk about. I also did some very interesting interviews, and have some interesting interviews coming up as well.

I plan to touch on the different topics over the next several weeks, then dive deeper into the subjects as we move forward.

So check back soon, as I kick into full gear with all the knowledge and information sharing that was gathered on Convergence 2010. Also, first bit of news, just in case you have not heard yet. Convergence 2011 will be held in Atlanta again!

I would also like to thank everyone that stopped by the Sunrise booth! Customers, Partners, Prospects, and Microsoft alike!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heading to Convergence 2010!

Well I am getting ready to head over to Convergence. I have a busy schedule, and will be doing a lot of post convergence posts, including an interview I plan on doing while at Convergence.

While I am there, I will be using my phone to tweet about Convergence, what's going on, etc. To follow me, a reminder here.:


If I get time at night I might do a post, but most likely you will not see another post here until after Convergence.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Master Data Management with Dynamics AX and MDS (Future)

Recently I interviewed Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft Dynamics Distinguished Engineer. That interview can be found at the following post.: Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg

As promised, I am taking different aspects of that interview and diving into the different topics that were talked about. In one section of the interview, Mike talks about.:

"[T]he ability to drive our innovation in this area together with innovation across Microsoft in areas like Master Data Management enables to drive great solutions through Microsoft Dynamics."

So the 'this' part, that Mike is talking about was from a question I asked around SOA, AIF, and the Vision laid out by Lachlan Cash, in an interview I did last year. (Microsoft's strategy and vision for Dynamics AX and SOA)

This is the only section, during that interview, in which Master Data Services is mentioned. However, this I believe is going to be a big item, that more and more companies, of varing sizes, will focus on.

So we can rewind a little bit, and look at a post I did, nearly a year ago, talking about SQL Server Master Data Services, which was project 'BullDog' for Microsoft, that is the enabling technology that Microsoft will soon be releasing to manufacturing as part of SQL Server 2008 R2. That post can be found here.:
SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services - Aka: Microsoft MDM, Project BullDog

In that post, I go into the need and why for MDM, and what SQL Server MDS will bring to the table. I actually referenced a good bit of information from different Microsoft sources, that hopefully helps bring to light what could be possible with MDS and why.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

So now, here we are, a few days from Convergence 2010 in Atlanta, and mid-summer set for SQL Server 2008 R2 release, that will include SQL Server MDS. What does this means for Dynamics AX?

In the simplest terms MDM is meant to enable "One source of the truth." Now lets think about the role that Dynamics AX plays in a customers overall enterprise solution.

Some customers, Dynamics AX is the end all, be all business package. Older systems are migrated away from, and placed those processes and data inside Dynamics AX. When this is the case, there are still some need for MDM, and so MDS will have relevance. And how is that? Well if that given client has one or more websites / portals? What about CRM? What about a small cloud application?

In this Dynamics AX is the hub, and these other applications are the spokes systems. Now could be that an arguement could be made that CRM is the hub for certain information right?

And that is true, so depending on the data need, and where the true hub, or owenership of data should really live, will depend on how your data mapping of hub and spoke will exists.

Lets also add another possibility, what about the recent Marketing that Microsoft is doing, where Dynamics ERP can be used in a two tier level? Where Dynamics AX is positioned to be the spoke for Divisons of large corp? Also what about Dynamics AX instance that span the world? If for example there is a Dynamics AX production system in China, one in Latin America and then one in the U.S.?

In the past, for enabling integration, a lot of this was code driven. You could / can use BizTalk, along with AIF, X++, .Net, MSMQ, and any number of paths to help manage, not just the transactional data, in which these are designed to enable, but the Master data. There was not a seperation of these two, and is not, in regard to how they flow from one system to the next.

The vision, as I am seeing it, for MDS is enabling the seperation of how the Master data, true Master data elements, flow through a companies enterprise. This includes on-premise and cloud based.

So the transactional integration, now is different than the Master Data flow through a given company.

With MDS, a whole new world will open up for Master Data Management. I mean, look at the list of possibility, with versioning, workflows, business rules, role based access and listed control. Such things, in the past, where developed and not configured.

And this is the overall big move we are seeing, look back at a recent post I did, SQL Server Modeling - Coming to a Dynamics AX near you! , in that we see that SQL Server Modeling is coming to Dynamics AX, and the goal is to reduce the need for custom code, enable model driven application development, and allow for Domain Specific Languages to address problem domains for business.

Similar, we are seeing with the MDS offering, that Dynamics AX will be a point in which MDS can connect to and allow proper flow of Master data elements in and out of Dynamics AX. Some where Dynamics AX is the Hub, and some where Dynamics AX is the spoke.

A lot is coming to Dynamics AX, and very soon. Master Data Management, through SQL Server Master Data Services is one of them. For this reason, I did create a new LinkedIn group.:

LinkedIn group: SQL Server Master Data Services Group

Feel free to join if you like, and help foster the growth and knowledge of SQL Server Master Data Services. This group is not limited to Dynamics AX focus, but is meant to focus on all aspects of SQL Server MDS. However I am sure plenty will revolve around Dynamics AX, CRM, the Cloud, and beyond!

I expect that people will be talking about MDM, and you will hear about some of this at Convergence. After SQL Server 2008 R2 is released this summer, and we get closer to Dynamics AX 6, we will start to see some offical information from Microsoft, getting into more details on exactly how MDS and also SQL Server Modeling will be used with Dynamics AX.

That's all for now, but I invite you to leave comments, send me an email, and of course join the LinkedIn group and start good discussions, news, etc. See you next time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Convergence 2010 Starts this weekend

Well it's that time of year again, and what time of year is that? Convergence time! This year Convergence, as most of everyone is aware of, is being hosted in Atlanta, GA.

I will be attending Convergence, and will be tweeting while there. The tags will all be the #CONV10.

You can following me on twitter for that event, and also now and beyond, at the following.:


I will be attending sessions, doing interviews, talking with customers, and also be at the Sunrise booth from time to time. (Sunrise will be at booth 520).

I will also do my best to have some updates on here as well, but will be doing a lot of post Convergence post for the sessions, interviews and information that I get while at Convergence.

So make sure to follow me on twitter if you want to know what all is going on, and if your there, feel free to direct mail me through twitter, and if I am free I am willing to meet up!

That's all for now, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Electronic Health Records (EHR) in Dynamic's future?

Recently I had a fellow blogger email me about a great new article, talking about not if, but who and when --- Microsoft will fully enter into the EHR, or Electronic Health Records business.

We have all heard about the spanning news stories with Companies like IBM, Oracle, GE, and others focusing in on this, espically since the Federal Government has put out a mandate that all health records must be electronic by 2015.

Part of those headlines, we have also heard both Google and Microsoft, with Microsoft HealthVault, target personally managed medical information.

(Note: The above logo, is the current Microsoft "Health" branding, with it's HealthVault and Amalga products.)

Still Microsoft has not shown that it has a full on EHR that can compete with the established brands. If you look at Dynamics, Specifically Dynamics AX, their is a Life Sciences Vertical, however these focus primarily on Biotech firms, Pharams, etc.

So with this, Austin Merritt, from Software Advice wrote the following article.: Microsoft EMR: It’s Not Just a Matter of When, It’s a Matter of Who

This article is very well done, and actually good timing with Convergence coming up, and the big push with the EHR news flying left and right. It also compares the EMR question for Microsoft, to what existed back in the late 90's and early 2000's when Microsoft entered into the ERP market space with purchases that ended up creating the Dynamics ERP / CRM line.

From the article.:
"Microsoft Dynamics is largely present in just about every software market but medical. And they’re missing out big time. The United States healthcare IT market is growing at about 13% per year and is expected to reach $35 billion in 20111. The biggest opportunity for growth in the industry is among ambulatory care physician practices, partly due to the Stimulus Bill requiring the use of electronic health records (EHR) systems by 2015"

"[Microsoft's] entry into the medical market would mimic the acquisition spree that Microsoft conducted between 2000 and 2002, when it acquired Great Plains, Navision, Damgaard, and several related vendors. These systems were re-branded and offered as Microsoft Dynamics. Before these acquisitions, Microsoft was not present in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) application market. Its only ERP presence was as an infrastructure vendor, licensing SQL Server databases and related platforms to support application rollouts. However, this lack of application presence gave competitors such as Oracle and SAP the opportunity to squeeze Microsoft out of the ERP infrastructure market by pushing Unix, Oracle databases and IBM DB2. By acquiring several applications, Microsoft was able to drive sales of its SQL Server and Windows Servers directly, in addition to the Dynamics applications themselves. This strategy proved effective in giving Microsoft a multi-billion dollar share of the lucrative ERP market.

Setting its sights on the medical market, Microsoft is starting to squeeze its way in with a few smaller acquisitions and developments of its own, mainly Amalga and HealthVault. However, these current medical offerings are on the periphery of the market and do not really target the sweet spot: electronic health records for physician practices. An intelligent acquisition of a large EHR player would provide a key piece of the puzzle for Microsoft’s entry into the medical market."

This article then moves into a comparison of the current possible companies that Microsoft could purchase, to help them enter into the EHR space, as Microsoft did with the ERP space.

If even goes on to mention about a specific company, among others, named: Eclipsys.

In the article, and breakdown for the compare for Eclipsys is stated.:
"Eclipsys acquired MediNotes in 2009 in an attempt to move users to its Peak Practice EHR. While Eclipsys is fairly popular among hospitals, Peak Practice has not achieved similar success among small to mid-size outpatient practices. Existing MediNotes users are not thrilled about being forced to purchase Peak Practice and we’ve seen quite a few seeking a new solution from a new vendor. We think the success of the MediNotes deal is unclear and Microsoft would steer clear for now."

So it's Austin's thinking that Microsoft would not purchase Eclipsys, until the success of MediNotes purchase by Eclipsys is a proven item. Now that we are focusing on Eclipsys, I am not sure I agree with Austin on this point, though he could be right.

Recently though Microsoft and Eclipsys entered into a highly touted partnership, covered well by the following article.: Eclipsys, Microsoft partnership looks to open platforms, interoperability

From the article.:
"Under the agreement, officials said both companies plan to integrate key components of Eclipsys' Sunrise Enterprise suite of integrated software applications with Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS), a data aggregation platform that integrates clinical, administrative and financial data from disparate information systems. Officials said the goal of the planned integration is to give providers improved analytic capabilities and help connect estranged and disparate data repositories."

"Clinicians have been frustrated by not having critical information available to them at the point of care because either the information resided on disparate systems or they were unaware that patient data was available," said Philip M. Pead, Eclipsys' president and chief executive officer. "The new federal regulations surrounding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and achieving 'meaningful use' are a tipping point that will drive a rapid amount of change in how healthcare information is accessed."

So we have here a focused Partnership with Microsoft and Eclipsys, which suite happens to be named Sunrise (The name of the VAR I am apart of), that is directly focusing in on what Austin is bringing up.

So has Microsoft actually started down this path already? Will they purchase Eclipsys, and move into the EHR / EMR space as they are now in ERP space with Dynamics?

It seems to me, for now, they are lining up to partner they Amalga suite with products like the Eclipsys Sunrise Suite. Staying on the infastructure and platform side of the equation. But for how long?

I agree with Austin that Microsoft will purchase, and most likely it will target two or more product lines, that offering size varations for the different possible clients from the small to enterprise sized. It makes sense then that Microsoft would partner with Eclipsys, and then foster a channel with them, which would lead to a purchase down the road.

What do I see as the ultimate delivery of a EHR / EMR solution? Dynamics will be involved, but I see a possible Dynamics ERP / xRM combo, where the Amalga and Future Products combine to sit beside the Dynamics ERP / xRM stack, which all sit on top of the Microsoft platform, including SQL Server, SharePoint, Office and Azure Cloud Platform.

So to answer my own question, is their EHR / EMR in Dynamics line future? Yes, I believe so. How far into the future, I believe will depend on where Microsoft and the Eclipsys partnership ends up. I believe this is a real push by Microsoft and this partnership will really shape what EHR will mean for Dynamics line in the future.

Think otherwise? Leave your comments!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Get in the Cloud with Dynamics AX

I openned this year up with a focus on calling 2010 'The Year of the Cloud.'

I truly believe, and have already seen that 2010 is more than just the year of the cloud, but it's a kick off point really to a decade of cloud computing. Check out the following article from ZDNet.: Will economic conditions trigger a cloud computing avalanche?

In this, ZDNet author, Joe McKendrick, points out that after major economic downturns, a new wave of technology advances take place. And since we are just now coming out of a deep recession, does that mean a Cloud Revolution is upon us?

Well I stick with what I have been saying all along, my answer to this is yes. Not only does the technology exists, now, but also the times are right for projects to start getting kicked off from an economic stand point.

So what does this mean for Dynamics AX? After all Dynamics AX is an ERP platform, so how can the cloud help Dynamics AX?

In my recent, Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg, I asked Mike about the cloud, and what Microsoft's vision is for Dynamics and Dynamics AX. His was response was this.:

"In Dynamics, and across Microsoft, we are focused on the ability to combine software plus services – on-premise assets with the cloud – using each to their maximum advantage to deliver the best capabilities to our customers. We are doing that today, extending our on-premise and on-line products with cloud-based services – in some cases developed by us, and increasingly working with others developed by partners."

He goes on.:
We are really focused on three types of solutions where the cloud simply is better.: Connection of the business system to the public internet, Large volumes of shared data that is frequently changing, Connected supply chains.
(To View the full details, please use the link above.)

So with these three major areas for the cloud and Dynamics AX, we get an idea of what Microsoft's vision the cloud can and will play with Dynamics AX ERP implementations for customers.

So what about how? Well with Dynamics AX 2009, you can now working with .Net 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010. (ie: Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0 Passed Compatibility Testing with Dynamics AX) This means that creating and working with Cloud projects is really easy.

All you need is Visual Studio 2010, and the VSCloud Service Project / Windows Azure installed. Once you have that, without having an Azure account even, you can develop, and debug cloud based services, ASP.NET Web roles, and Worker Processes that all can be deployed and access via the cloud. This also means you can make use of SQL Azure, for cloud based SQL Server Data Services as a Service.

So with this, you can develop services, and use WCF communications, to allow AX 2009 to make service references, in which X++ code could call Azure based services.

Right there, you have a hybrid cloud, in which on-premise AX is running, and connecting to Cloud based services to enable a given process, processes or solutions.

Now I have not even talked about what might could be done with IaaS, or Infastructure as a Service offered by Amazon EC2. With this, you can have a cloud based VM, that is not pure cloud services, offered by Azure, but can target SQL Server and Windows Server images, and therefore (I have not tested this yet!) Dynamics AX running in the cloud, on Amazon EC2 hosted images.

So the cloud for that possibility is the Infastructure needs, Network, RAM, CPU, Power, etc. This would be more like a Hosted version of AX in a colocation, except it's a lost easier to quickly bring up images and servers, using Amazons EC2 services, without having to order servers, etc.

Alright, so this is all now. In the not to distant future, ProISV and it's AX.NET Server offering, (ProISV talks about AX.NET offering compared to Future DAX .Net offerings), will help bridge the gap even further with Dynamics AX 2009, allowing for Cloud facing applications like a SilverLight application, to consume services exposed via AX.NET, on presmise, and through the firewall over HTTPS / TCP.NET, Cloud services and Cloud Facing Front Ends could actually work directly with Dynamics AX X++ code and data.

Therefore you could move entire processes to the cloud, and still have on-premise control over your ERP, Data, Business logic and processes.

Hopefully, in this post, the point is clear... there are many, many options for what can exist now in the cloud. We see Microsoft's vision for the cloud, and it's beyond cost savings and operational based thinking.

If we take the vision, and the technologies then we can take customers real business problems, there problem domains, and use this to help create a better, faster, cheaper -- and cloud connected solutions that enable customers to be more dynamic and more agile than ever before.

So here to a new Decade of cloud computing, in which we are just now embarking on!

That's all for now, I hope to use this post though as a starting point to get into some real life Solution Designs with Dynamics AX + The Cloud. To show how things can connect, how this all works together, and the biggest reason of --- why! Check back soon and often!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations Certification Exam (Prometric Exam # MB5-858) Preparation Guide

Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations Certification Exam (Prometric Exam # MB5-858) Preparation Guide

I saw through twitter that the new exam MB5-858, Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations Certification is starting to be offered now. And Microsoft has updated and released the study prepatation guide for this exam. The direct link to this came be found here.:
Preparation Study Guide - PartnerSource Access is Required.

This is a new certification requirement, that all Parnters will be required to staff members carry this certification. The overview.:

"This certification exam measures your ability to understand Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step as a structured engagement methodology for Dynamics implementations. This exam measures the working knowledge that the candidate has of Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step."

That's all for now, but check back soon, as there is more to come!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Sunrise over Convergence 2010

Recently I sat down (virtually) with President and Owner John Pence, of Sunrise Technologies, Inc., the Microsoft VAR I am a part of, to talk about Convergence 2010. I wanted to get John's thoughts on convergence, how important convergence is, and what topics he thinks will be hot ones this year.

The following is that interview.:

1.) John, for Sunrise what does Convergence mean?

"First and foremost it is a chance to connect with many of our customers from around the country. I personally look forward to this aspect of Convergence the most. Second, it is a great opportunity for Sunrise to connect with many of our Microsoft colleagues and share where Sunrise is headed and what is happening at Microsoft. Third, it is a great opportunity to learn about products in the Microsoft/Dynamics suite that could be incremental to our core Dynamics AX practice."

2.) What information will Sunrise be sharing at it's booth at Convergence this year?

"We have a number of new initiatives this year that we will be discussing at the booth. We are releasing in June a new version our industry leading Apparel & Footwear Template for Dynamics AX. We will also be releasing in 3rd quarter a new version of our WMS solution. We will be celebrating American Apparel winning the Customer Excellence award this year, and we are one of the launch partners for Microsoft’s new Retail Solution."

3.) What are some big things you expect Microsoft to focus on at this years Convergence?

"I this SAAS will continue to get a lot of discussion in terms of future product direction. In a similar vein, Microsoft will be discussing quite a bit the various business services they well be offering via the cloud. As always, there will be product road maps for all of the various Dynamics products, and how those road maps relate to the broader Microsoft story. I think BI and business reporting will again be a big focus this year."

4.) If you had to tell a CIO some key sessions that you would recommend, what would those sessions be and why?

"I have not seen a detailed set of sessions for Convergence yet, so I can’t answer this specifically, but the sessions I will be paying the most attention to are: 1. Latest product road maps for ERP, CRM, and BI products. 2. The major keynotes because they are always good, especially Ballmer. 3. The hands on demos in the Expo Hall. I probably learn more by just going to the Microsoft area and getting demos of anything I haven’t seen yet. 4. Spend some quality time looking at ISV solutions available for Dynamics. There are always some great new products being featured at Convergence.

One last point I would like to make is the biggest value to Convergence for me is the chance to network with other people who share your interests. I learn the most at Convergence from just talking to people. It is a great chance to talk with our customers, other Dynamics AX VAR’s and ISV’s, and of course Microsoft. It is really the only event all year that brings this constituency together and provides that kind of opportunity. I always get new ideas from comments made at the various break-out sessions or technical updates. The user group sessions (AXUG in our case) are always excellent at Convergence and provide another great chance to network. In short, you just have to be there!"

John Pence's Bio.:
John has spent the last 29 years tackling large scale IT and supply chain projects for a wide range of corporations. John spent the first 15 years of his career working his way up from programmer trainee to CIO at Sara Lee Corporation. Along the way he held numerous IT and non-IT jobs, including Director of Planning and Distribution for Sara Lee’s 400+ retail stores, serving as the logistics partner to Wal-Mart, and CIO of Champion Products. In 1994 John left Sara Lee to found Sunrise Technologies, a company focused on bringing advanced supply chain solutions to the apparel and textile industries. Sunrise Technologies has grown into a Gold Certified Microsoft partner specializing in the Dynamics AX ERP solution. Sunrise is headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, with offices in Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, and Xi’an China.

John has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics, with Highest Honors University of California, Santa Barbara, 1979. He Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics, with Highest Honors University of California, Santa Barbara, 1979.

I would like to thank John for taking the time and sharing information about Convergence, the importance of Convergence, and what Sunrise will be sharing.

You can read more about Sunrise at Convergence, with the following press release.: Sunrise Technologies Shines at Microsoft Convergence 2010

You can also come see us, at booth 520! I will be at Convergence myself this year, and will also be at the booth from time to time throughout Convergence.

That's all for now, but I have a lot of good post coming out this week, including a dive back into the Cloud!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0 Passed Compatibility Testing with Dynamics AX

Recently, over at the Dynamics AX Sustained Engineering blog, a new post was done about recent compatibility testing that the sustained engineering team has been doing.

The link to that information can be found here.: New Compatibility Testing Results - March 2010

"Dynamics AX Sustained Engineering Team has completed the following compatibility tests for the new releases of the following external stack components... .NET 4 and Visual Studio 2010... Dynamics AX 4.0 SP2 and Dynamics AX 2009 Both 32 and 64 bits mode Clean install and side by side."

Now there are some other good test that were done, but I wanted to end the week with a post about Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0. I am really impressed! I have been working with Visual Studio 2010 RC Ultimate Edt., and I love it!

I am running it on a Windows 7 64-bit machine. I am doing Cloud Development work, and also some targeted .Net 3.5 Framework work. I am really impressed with Visual Studio 2010.

It loads really fast, the sleek design is very appealing, and I have found easier to look at actually --- at least for my eyes --- than the older design and UI. I have also found the dubbger and IntelliTrace to be VERY handy.

So I am glad to see that the Sustained Engineering teams have giving Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0 a go on compatibility testing. I will start to target future .Net assemblies to be referenced in Dynamics AX 4.0 SP2 and Above, with the .Net 4.0 framework, and try to take advantage of some of the newer features, like those offered with the Parrellel Computing Platform that's part of .Net 4.0 framework.

That's all for now, for real, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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DynamicsWorld - 2010 Top 100 - Voting

You may or may not recall, DynamicsWorld.co.uk launched and one of the first things they did was create a top A DynamicsWorld top 100 list of people, for Microsoft Dynamics in 2009.

Well this list is back, and they have over 250 people that have made the cut. What DynamicsWorld is asking your help now, is voting.

Voting counts, along with many different measures that they use, including a panel of judges.

To vote, just go to the following link.:
2010 Voting Link

Keep in mind, that there are 20 people per mini-poll. So if you want to continue voiting through the entire 250 people, vote, then hit refresh and the next random set of 20 will appear for you to vote on. Once you have votes your good.

The folks at DynamicsWorld.co.uk told me they added the voting aspect to help the Dynamics Community have a bigger say in the top 100 list.

I actually think this is a very interesting experiment, and wanting to see how the voting aspect affects this years list.

That's all for now, have a great weekend and check back soon as more post are coming next week!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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ProISV talks about AX.NET offering compared to Future DAX .Net offerings

Recently, I wrote a write up and interview about the recent ProISV release of version 1.0 of their AX.NET offering. That post can be found here.: ProISV Launches Version 1.0 of AX.NET

When I posted this, there was some questions from some of my readers around being a little confused actually about what AX.NET is offering, compared specifically to the work that Microsoft is doing for Dynamics AX '6', with the AX Visual Studio tools. (AXTools Blog latest on AX Explorer for VS)

I asked ProISV Partner's and Co-founder's Niels Skjoldager and Kaspar Bomholtz to answer this line of questioning. To shed some light on what ProISV offers now, how it alings with Microsoft's vision for the future, and specifically to the released information about the AX Tools for Visual Studio. Bellow is the response I got back from them.:

"AX.NET does already, today, add significant value to the investments AX customers have already made. Many AX customers are not necessarily on the most current AX version as well, or do not upgrade immediately after Microsoft releases a new AX version, so AX.NET is also highly relevant for all of those customers, who chose to stay on their existing AX version “for some time”. However, we will urge all AX customers to always migrate to the newest AX version, thereby yielding continuous advantages as Microsoft moves down the road of bringing further innovation to market.

AX.NET will continue, also in the future, to add significant value, even after Microsoft releases the much anticipated (and delayed) AX 6.0. ProISV is already in higher gear in terms of having the ability to make even more out of the new exciting features in AX 6.0, when those eventually are released of course. However, ProISV will not sit back and wait for AX 6.0 to hit the streets, which is why we releasing technology now, which can be used by existing AX customers as well as future customers on AX 6.0.

AX.NET Server will fully cloud enable AX2009 and newer versions, obviously including AX 6.0, and this product will be released before the summer of 2010. This means that AX.NET can already be used today to write exciting applications in .NET, as it is already fully integrated with AX, and be ready to deploy those solutions in the Cloud. In other words, while Microsoft is continuing with their great innovations, ProISV expands the opportunities for all AX customers and beyond, following Microsoft’s roadmap for AX for “eternity”. Since we are so focused on this particular technology, we will always make the most out of what Microsoft offers out of the box and add significant value on top of that, as is the case with AX.NET today. Our licensing model also fully protects our customers’ investments.

We of course expect Microsoft to also direct their investment in AX towards cloud enablement, as is already announced on several occasions by Microsoft executive leadership. It is also very clear to us that the AX.NET Server ambitions go way above and beyond what Microsoft will offer anytime soon in regards to both moving the entire AX into .NET and moving AX into the Cloud. Microsoft will soon offer that certain web services and AIF can be hosted in the AX AOS itself as well as Cloud services, such as payroll and better integration with external sites. AX still remains a deployment choice between “on premise” and “partner hosted”. AX.NET Server gives the choice of moving the entire AX into the Cloud.

We offer choice as well, so that AX.Net customers can design their own strategy for Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud deployment. Windows Azure is one of the natural options, but far from the only viable option to choose from. This level of freedom of choice is something we know from our long and diverse experience in the world of Microsoft Dynamics AX is “a must”, so the fulfillment of that core requirement is already built into our technology. AX.NET will support everything Microsoft chooses to ship and expand on that, also when it comes to Cloud computing.

We expect as well that Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics AX will be an addition to the Visual Studio Reporting Tools for Microsoft Dynamics AX. We also expect that Visual Studio Tools for AX will continue to primarily focus on the Microsoft product portfolio, which essentially means Sharepoint and SQL Server Reporting Services (SRS). AX.NET fully supports that strategy, but as mentioned before provides the ultimate .NET integration with AX as well as flexible Cloud enablement in any size and shape. Our Code Protection System adds significant IP protection as well on top of that, something we know is high in demand.

So, all in all, we are very excited as well about the Microsoft innovations, because we are completely aligned in our product strategies. In fact, we are complementary to each other and we continuously expand to the Microsoft technology stack."

To help give a face to those behind this, and since I was not able to post this last time, the following are Niels and Kaspars pics and Bio's. They are open to any direct questions you might have for them, and as always feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email! Thanks!

Niels Skjoldager, Co-founder/Partner

Niels is a visionary, passionate, multi-lingual, entrepreneurial business leader, with 14 years of proven international track-record in various executive roles and entrepreneurship. Niels has 10 years of executive leadership experience in various software developing companies, being the leader of strategy, partners channels, sales, development, sustained engineering and support teams.

Niels is highly goal and result oriented, a team builder, strong ethics, strong financial and people management background as well as highly educated with a M.Sc. degree in Supply Chain Management with focus on the application of solving complex business problems through the means of technology and software solutions in particular. Key focus has been supply chain integration and the use of ERP, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, as the core application.

Niels also has 10 years of direct experience in working with Microsoft Dynamics AX: Development, deployment, business process analysis, support, training, development of ISV solutions and Microsoft product certifications, as well as developing strong relationships with Microsoft.

Niels is a co-founder of ProISV, having the overall responsibility for strategy, business development, partner channel development, sales and support.

Kaspar Bomholtz, Co-founder/Partner

Kaspar is a visionary, passionate and driven software developer, with an outstanding ability to very efficiently develop a vision for a software solution to product, while always producing high quality products.

Kaspar has extensive experience with designing and implementing complex software solution in .NET C# and VB.NET since the first version in 2002 and in total more than a decade of development experience.

Kaspar also has vast knowledge in working with Microsoft ISV’s and partners as well as understanding their business problems relating to the development and deployment of Microsoft Dynamics AX, as well as industry leading expertise of the technical architecture of Microsoft Dynamics AX and the utilization of the newest versions of X++ and .NET C#.

Kaspar has been through the vigorous and extensive Certified for Microsoft Dynamics AX as well as Industry Builder certifications as well, and thereby has deep knowledge of the Microsoft standards and requirement for quality, trustworthy computing and thread modeling.

Kaspar is not only a developer, he is also a strategist when it relates to planning of products and development as well as translating complex business problems to elegant software solutions, in close collaboration with project stakeholders, design and implementation teams.

Kaspar is a Co-founder of ProISV, having the overall responsibility for product development.

That's all for now, but check back soon as more great post to come, including WCF, Cloud, Top 100 voiting, Convergence and much much more!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sunrise Customer - American Apparel - Will recieve award at Convergence 2010

Sunrise Technologies, Inc. (www.sunriseconsult.com) announced today, about one of out Customers, American Apparel, will be honored at this years upcoming Convergence 2010, with the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Excellence Award for Excellence in Industry Implementation.

This is a great achievement, and speaks volumes to the effort American Apparel and Sunrise did, with working together to make American Apparel's Dynamics AX implementation a success, and a continued success after their go live.

From the Press Release.:
American Apparel’s Director of IT, Jeff Kolb stated, “We made a great decision by selecting a system that balances scalability, ease of use, a complete feature set, and a development environment that promotes simple integration and enhancement. Our users have embraced the migration from disconnected systems to a single integrated platform, providing constructive and positive feedback along the way. Microsoft Dynamics AX has enabled our information systems to keep up with our company’s explosive growth, and I am confident it will continue to do so.”

A direct link to the full press release can be found here.: American Apparel / Sunrise Technologies Recognized for Outstanding Business Achievements - Earns Microsoft Dynamics® Award of Excellence in Industry Implementation

Congrats to both American Apparel and Sunrise! This is a big honor!

That's all for now, but check back soon as I have more blog post coming out soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

ProISV Launches Version 1.0 of AX.NET

Today, ProISV is releasing version 1.0 of the AX.NET, minus the AX.NET Server peice, which is set to be released within the next two months.

This is a new offering, that I wrote about in the following blog post.:
Dynamics AX and .Net - A new technology offering from ProISV

As well as my CIO focused article on MSDynamicsWorld.com, found here.: MSDW: How AX.NET Extends a CIO's Integration Options

This covered the details of what AX.NET planned on offering and was bringing to the Dynamics AX, .Net table. Now, as of today, ProISV is releasing AX.NET, along with their new partner program.

For this launch, I interviewed ProISV team, Neils and Kaspar. Below is that interview.:

1.) What will be released as version 1, today, from the AX.NET offerings and what does this bring to customers and partners? (Niels)

"We are including a lot of functionality in our first AX.NET release. The core functionality creates a .NET version of AX, thereby enabling full .NET integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX business logic and data. Feedback from our now closed beta1 program and analysts is that we are closing a major gap in the Microsoft Dynamics AX technology base with the release of AX.NET.

So, today we are offering two different types of AX.NET licenses: AX.NET Developer System, which targets product developers and AX.NET Client, which is suitable for users on the system as well as internal AX development. The AX Developer System all inclusive license, unlimited developer users and Code Protection System, will retail at EUR 3,995, while the Client license retails as low as EUR 295 per user.

This means that developers can now write custom .NET code, while using the AX logic directly in Visual Studio, as well as use our Code Protection System to ensure that their intellectual property is fully managed and cannot be circumvented. The client license makes it possible to run the AX.NET applications at a low price, thereby enabling a much richer Microsoft Dynamics AX experience and at the same time reduce the cost dramatically. There are many fine details in our functionality, which is probably too much to all be mentioned here, but our website provides all the details as well as the differences in the license types: (ProISV license types link.)

Well worth mentioning though is that we are now also introducing our Partner Program, through which we will enable authorization for partners to distribute and resell AX.NET licensing. This is a very big revenue opportunity in addition to the significant cost savings of using AX.NET to develop applications. None of this would be meaningful though, without having a high quality product offering, so that has been our highest priority leading up to our product launch."

2.) To what do you attribute your ability to release a stable version 1 of the AX.NET offerings? (Niels)

"The key principle of all of our product development is that it is test driven, agile development, blended with our many years of experience in the field. This means we can quickly attain a very high level of quality in our products. The key purpose of our AX.NET beta1 program was to work with partners, get their feedback both in terms of quality and functionality. We had a very successful and productive beta1 program, which resulted in great new features and a very stable product, so we are obviously very happy for that and thankful to our beta partners for their active participation."

3.) Without getting into details, can you give us an idea of Customer and Partner involvement during the beta program that lead up to this April 7th release? (Niels)

"We had great feedback from our beta partners and some of them were giving us intensive feedback throughout the work days. This speaks to the fact that AX.NET really fills a major technology gap and the ability to finally work with a full .NET version of AX is something, which has been received with tremendous interest. We will now continue working with the beta partners and assist those, who have chosen to take a step further and use AX.NET commercially in their businesses. We were actually able to very quickly implement suggestions for product improvements as well, so that probably create great confidence in ProISV as a business partner"

4.) Can you talk about some of the improvements, with examples that took place during the beta program that helped refine and make AX.NET a better offering? (Kaspar)

"There have been many improvements during the beta program, and many suggestions from our Beta Program Partners have been implemented.
The most visible changes have been made to streamline the AX.NET Assembly Generator that is where all AX.NET development starts.

We have for example made it easy to connect the Microsoft Dynamics AX AOS using the Dynamics AX Client Configurations stored on the local computer.

When choosing the selection of tables, classes and enums to be included in the AX.NET Assembly, which shall constitute your .NET version of the AOT in Microsoft Dynamics AX, you can now define the selection by choosing private and shared projects from the selected Microsoft Dynamics AX.

This way it is easy for a business consultant to define in Dynamics AX, what should be included in the .NET representation of AX. A technical consultant can then build the AX.NET Assembly using the Microsoft Dynamics AX project.

During the Beta Program we improved the control over which elements actually are included in the AX.NET Assembly. When building the AX.NET Assembly, the AX.NET Assembly Generator uses the defined selection of elements, but AX.NET Assembly Generator also included a feature to automatically include depended elements.

So if I am creating an AX.NET Assembly with the CustTable table from Microsoft Dynamics AX, I would probably like to automatically include the classes and tables that the methods (business logic) on CustTable use as parameters. AX.NET enables this, and with the new features developed during the Beta Program, it is even now possible to define how many levels of dependencies should be included.

There has also been made great progress in streamlining the AX.NET Framework to make it more intuitive and user friendly. We have for example changed the naming convention in the AX.NET Assembly, so the name of the .NET types in a generated AX.NET Assembly in most cases have exactly the same name as in Microsoft Dynamics AX.
This means that the Microsoft Dynamics AX class Map is now also called Map in an AX.NET Assembly, where it before was called IMap. Further the Microsoft Dynamics AX table CustTable is now called CustTable in an AX.NET Assembly, and a row in CustTable is called CustTableRow.

We believe that there has been made great progress and improvements during the Beta Program, and we really would like to thank our Beta Partners for providing us with their feedback. We will continue down the path with our next product offering, the AX.NET Server."

5.) What are your plans for the AX.NET Server offering? What will it target, and allow? (Niels)

"In short, AX.NET Server will enable the AX infrastructure to run in the Cloud as a modern age alternative to on premise or hosted servers in the traditional sense. Thereby new business models in line with Cloud computing can be introduced as well.

So with AX.NET Server, AX can be accessed through a web browser, just like any other Cloud service. AX.NET Server is fully compatible with all of the AX.NET features in the Developer System and Client License system, which means that applications developed today, can run as Cloud services, once we release AX.NET Server.

Obviously, delivering Microsoft Dynamics AX as a cloud service will eliminate many costs otherwise associated with deploying and maintaining AX."

6.) When is the AX.NET Server offering scheduled to be released as version 1? (Niels)

"We anticipate to release AX.NET Server Beta towards the end of April. The commercial release will depend on the beta program feedback. As was the case with AX.NET beta1, we will apply agile development and release when the product is ready. That means “fast”."

7.) What do you feel are some of the most important things that AX.NET brings to Customers and Partners? What is the, short version, of the case for AX.NET in a Dynamics AX implementation? (Kaspar)

"We believe that the release of AX.NET today marks the beginning of the next generation of .NET solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX. AX.NET will enable customer to build custom .NET solutions that increase the value of their Microsoft Dynamics AX investment by enabling faster, cheaper and better support for development of web, mobile, smart client and integration solutions.

AX.NET can achieve this by enabling the full power of the newest version of Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio to be unleashed including support for LINQ (Language Integrated Query) and Intellicense (auto completion, inline documentation and compilation check) in Visual Studio.

Writing .NET solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX by direct use of the Microsoft Dynamics AX Business Connector can almost be illustrated as writing your .NET code in notepad without any productivity or quality enhancing tools. AX.NET truly brings .NET development for Microsoft Dynamics AX into Visual Studio with everything it includes.

For AX.NET Partners we both provide a great business opportunity to resell AX.NET to the end-user, but we also provide special features for our ISV Partners developing solutions on top of AX.NET and selling them commercially.

When Partners buy the AX.NET ISV license (AX.NET Developer System), they get the possibility to use the AX.NET License System to protect their own Intellectual Property (IP). All AX.NET ISV will receive a digital certificate from ProISV that they can use to sign AX.NET Licenses. The AX.NET License System then allows them to specify, that their AX.NET solution only is allowed on an AX.NET installation with an AX.NET License digital signed by both ProISV and the ISV. Hereby the ISV is ensured that they receive the entire AX.NET License sale for their solution, and that there is no unauthorized use of their product."

8.) If you could pick one thing to really highlight about AX.NET, that maybe a lot of customers and partners might not appreciate fully when first looking at AX.NET, what would that be? (Kaspar)

"If you don’t have a technical background or are familiar with the life of a .NET developer working with Dynamics AX through the Microsoft Dynamics AX Business Connector, it can be easy to underestimate the effect of AX.NET on productivity, quality and moral. With AX.NET a Microsoft Dynamics AX .NET developer does not have to look envious at his colleague that is developing a pure .NET solution."

"The era where .NET development for Microsoft Dynamics AX was a difficult process has passed, and the future is racing towards us. The future is the Cloud, and AX.NET will take your there with AX.NET Server and Microsoft Azure very soon!"

I would like to thank Niels and Kaspar from the ProISV team for taking the time to do this interview. This is exciting news, and I recommend you check out what AX.NET can do for Dynamics AX implementations that need .Net based integration work.

A direct link to their website can be found here.: www.ProISV.com

That's all for now, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

SQL Server Modeling - Coming to a Dynamics AX near you!

Last week, I ended my post with an interview with Microsoft DE, Mike Ehrenberg. A direct link to that post can be found here.: Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg

There was a lot covered in this interview, and I plan on diving deeper into each section with details, that help fill in the vision and path that was laid out by Mike during that interview.

So with this in mind, I wanted to jump right into the "Oslo", or now know as SQL Server Modeling. I wrote about this topic actually before I had the interview with Mike. I made an educated guess, after reading Mike org. executive insight blog post that SQL Server Modeling would have an impact on Dynamics AX vNext versions to come.

Just to back up a little bit, I first starting writing about, then, Olso in Feb. of 2009. In the following post, Dynamics AX, SOA and Oslo on the mind... , I wrote.:

"In the next release of Dynamics AX (based on current road map) Oslo + Dublin, along with the modeling language "M", yes a new language that we will explore here, will be used by normal super users to create, manage and maintain business work flows and processes, without the need of much coding in X++ or C#."

Now lets fast forward to my next post about Olso, now SQL Server Modelings, SQL Server Modeling - Formely Code name "Oslo"

In that post I list a good amount of helpful links, to help you dig into SQL Server Modeling (SSM), and also stated the following.:

"My educated guess, is that SQL Server Modeling will be a base technology, along with .Net 4.0 Workflow Engine, .Net 4.0, the .Net SQL Server Modeling Class Libraries, etc. Now a full own use of SQL Server Modeling within Dynamics AX might not exist in the next release, but it for sure will be in Dynamics AX 7.0. However 6.0 will have something of these technologies to enable what I was talking about... ...I am willing to bet we will hear about this at Convergence."

So the past post I have been doing for over a year, talking about Oslo / SQL Server Modeling, has been correct and verified, as seen in the recent interview with Mike.:

"Yes, definitely. Dynamics AX has always made a big bet on modeling. The metadata accessed through the AOT is a core part of what makes Dynamics AX development highly productive. Our evolution points to more and more done through declarative modeling instead of code – making it both more efficient and more resilient through upgrades over time. In Dynamics AX ‘6’, all of this metadata moves from the file system to the SQL Server database. This is a deployment simplification and one that moves towards the capabilities of SQL Server Modeling – our roadmap and the result of what was “Oslo”."

It makes sense now why one of the reason's MFP's post highlighting the move of the Application Files, to be stored in the database, is taking place.

Like I said, above, this helps verify my educated guesses, and also helps give us direction that SQL Server Modeling is on it's way to Dynamics AX.

So here we are, Convergence just around the cornor, deep into Dynamics AX 2009 and Dynamics AX 2011 set for Q1 release of next year. This means we have roughly 6-8 months to really start looking into what SQL Server Modeling will bring to the Dynamics AX table.

Microsoft's vision for this is it will allow for Domain Specific Languages to be created, and used by Functional Consultants and Business Users to create their processes with. Allowing for a Model Driven approach to the business system development, that would cut out 80-90% of the code that is currently created today.

Does this mean C# or even X++ is going away? No! It's and impossible task to have software, in which zero development takes place. However, with Model Driven development, the business process can be defined, in a Domain Specific Language, that shapes the process and workflows, where the remaining needs are filled in with code at given points in those processes and workflows.

Quote from Mike's responses.:
"Our evolution points to more and more done through declarative modeling instead of code"

To me that statement says a lot. Declarative Modeling instead, or in place of code. This is the direction, and if Dynamics AX is in your future, then Declarative Modeling is in your future with SQL Server Modeling.

I plan on doing a deep dive into all of this. Getting into Domain Specific Languages, M, what SQL Server Modeling will look like, along with the rest of the topics covered in the interview.

That's all for now, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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