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Dynamics AX Updates

Dynamics AX Upgrade to Finance and Operations

Application release, and later provides an Dynamics AX Upgrade path that the customers who currently run Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can use to move their data and code to Finance and Operations. Currently Upgrade from the AX 2012 R3 and AX 2012 R2 are supported. The MS Dynamics AX Upgrade process is built on the following elements:

  • Tools to help you bring forward the existing custom application code from AX 2012.
  • A data upgrade process that you can use to bring the database forward. Therefore, you can upgrade your full transactional history.

Dynamics AX Upgrade Overview

The overall MS Dynamics AX Upgrade process can be visualized as three overarching phases: Analyze, Execute, and Validate.

The following diagram shows the end-to-end Dynamics AX Upgrade process, and the activities that we consider part of each phase.

Analyze

The activities in the Analyze phase help you estimate the effort that is required for the Dynamics AX Upgrade. They also help you prepare a project plan. These activities can be done before you buy the Finance and Operations. They will help you make an informed purchase decision by providing the data point about the effort and resources that you will require.

Sign up for a Finance and Operations LCS trial or the partner project

To perform the Analyze activities before you purchase Finance and Operations, you need to sign up for an LCS trial or partner project. This will allow you to deploy your own Finance and Operations environments. It also gives you access to the tools in the Microsoft Dynamics Life Cycle Services (LCS) that are used to evaluate your AX 2012 environment and your existing custom code.

If you have an existing LCS project for the AX 2012, you must still sign up for an additional LCS project for Finance and Operations.

Select the upgrade methodology

In your new LCS project, set the project methodology to Upgrade AX 2012 to the Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. This methodology is made specially for the AX 2012 customers who are upgrading. It describes the three phases in detail and provides the links to all the supporting documentation about the process.

Run the upgrade analyzer

The Dynamics AX Upgrade analyzer tool runs against your AX 2012 environment and identifies tasks that you should do to prepare the AX 2012 environment, to help make the upgrade experience smoother and less expensive:

  • Data cleanup – This process helps you identify the data that you can remove without causing loss of functionality. The tool identifies various types of the data that you can reduce by running a cleanup process. For each type of the data, an explanation is given about the impact of the cleanup. You then decide whether or not to run the cleanup process. Part of the cost of your Finance and Operations subscription is based on the database size. Therefore, by reducing the size, you reduce that the component of the subscription cost and also help reduce the time that is required for the upgrade go-live process. A smaller database helps guarantee a faster upgrade.
  • SQL configuration – This process reviews the SQL configuration and recommends the optimizations. By making sure that the SQL performs optimally, this process helps reduce the time that is required for the upgrade go-live process.
  • Deprecated features – This process identifies the features that you’re currently using, but that aren’t available in Finance and Operations. Therefore, the process helps you discover the gaps in functionality early. It also provides suggestions for alternatives.

Additionally, as part of this step, you must install a pre-upgrade checklist in your Dynamics AX 2012 environment. You can use this checklist to enter data that will be required for the Dynamics AX Upgrade procedure. For example, in one pre-upgrade checklist task, you provide the Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) sign-in information for each current Dynamics AX 2012 user, so that each user will be able to sign in to the Finance and Operations.

  • If upgrading from the AX 2012 R3, install KB 4035163
  • if upgrading from the AX 2012 R2, install KB 4048614

The output of the upgrade analyzer tool becomes the workstream in the upgrade project plan for your Dynamics AX 2012 system administrators.

Run the Code upgrade estimation tools

This step takes your code from Dynamics AX 2012, converts it to the new format, and provides feedback about conflicts that a developer must resolve later. This step forms the basis for the estimate of cost of your code upgrade.

To complete this step, you must export your code from the AX 2012 as a model store export and upload it to the LCS Code upgrade tool. The Code upgrade tool will produce the upgraded version of your code and a report about the remaining conflicts that must be resolved. Your developer can then review both the upgraded code and the report to determine the effort that will be required in order to upgrade the code base.

The output of this step represents the workstream in the upgrade project plan for your MS Dynamics AX developers.

Deploy a demo environment

Demo environments are the default environments that contain demonstration data (not your own data) and standard code (no customizations). We recommend that you deploy a demo environment to evaluate the new features, and to perform a basic fit gap analysis of standard processes that are used in AX 2012 but that might have changed in the Finance and Operations. You can either deploy these demo environments in the Azure or downloaded them as a virtual machine (VM) that you run on your own hardware. If you deploy them in the Azure, you must provide your Azure subscription, because you’re still using a public preview project and haven’t yet purchased a Finance and Operations subscription.

The output of this step represents the work stream in the upgrade project plan for your functional users or business users.

Create a project plan

A template for the project plan is provided in the upgrade methodology. In this step, the output from the previous steps of the Analyze phase is used to fill the project plan for upgrade project. The project plan will also contain all the testing details: data upgrade testing, cutover testing (mock cutover), the functional test pass iterations, and details about the various resource assignments for those tasks.

At this stage, the project plan provides the data point that can help you understand the time and cost that an upgrade to Finance and Operations will involve.

Execute

During the Execute phase, you work through the tasks that you planned during Analyze phase. To move to the Execute phase, you must purchase Finance and Operations, and you must have available resources that can work on the Dynamics AX Upgrade.

Switch to the LCS implementation project

The public preview project that you used for Analyze phase has served its purpose. You can now discard it. For the remaining steps, you require only the project plan that you created in the final step of Analyze phase.

When you purchase a Finance and Operations subscription, you will receive the details about how to sign up for a new LCS project. This project is known as the implementation project and will be the new permanent LCS project for your subscription, for as long as you have that subscription. This project differs from public preview project in that it’s managed by Microsoft. Therefore, this project has these characteristics:

  • All environments in the project are hosted in the Azure.
  • The Microsoft Azure subscription that is associated with the project is managed by Microsoft. Therefore, there is no separate billing for the Azure costs. The costs are covered by the Finance and Operations subscription.
  • The Production environment inside the project is maintained by Microsoft. Therefore, the code deployments, upgrades, and infrastructure maintenance are run directly by Microsoft, not by your staff.

Perform the AX 2012 preparation tasks

Complete the tasks that the upgrade analyzer tool discovered, and that are documented in the upgrade project plan. Your Microsoft Dynamics AX system administrator and the database administrator (DBA) must complete these tasks.

Perform code upgrade

Complete the tasks that were planned during the code upgrade estimation step of Analyze phase. Your developers must run these tasks.

From this point onward, the code changes in AX 2012 should be frozen. Only the emergency code changes should be allowed in AX 2012. If a change is made, then it must be ported manually to the new code base.

Develop new code

Complete the tasks from the fit gap analysis that was performed during the “Deploy a demo environment” step of Analyze phase. These tasks will probably be a mixture of functional tasks that define the configuration and development tasks for customizations that are related to new features that are being taken up.

Data upgrade (development environment)

After your code Dynamics AX Upgrade tasks are completed, you can upgrade your AX 2012 database to Finance and Operations for the first time. This first upgrade occurs in the development environment, so that you can more easily remediate or debug any issues that are found at this stage. In a development environment, an issue can be debugged immediately, the code can be adjusted, and the upgrade can be rerun within minutes. Larger sandbox environments don’t offer this agility, and the minimum of several hours will be required in order to debug and remediate issues, update code, deploy the updated code, and rerun the upgrade.

The following illustration shows the process. Just back up the AX 2012 database, upload it to the Azure, restore it to the Finance and Operations environment, and then run the data upgrade.

data upgrade development environment

data upgrade development environment

Data upgrade is done through the special type of deployable package. The same mechanism is used to deploy the new Finance and Operations code from one environment to another environment.

The underlying framework that is used to convert the data in the database during this process is largely the same as upgrade framework in AX 2012 that is based on X++ batch jobs that run ReleaseUpdatexxx classes.

Data upgrade (sandbox environments)

When the data upgrade in a development environment is completed, the same process can be run in a sandbox environment. The sandbox environment is the environment where the business users and functional team members can test business processes by using the upgraded AX 2012 data and code.

The following illustration shows the process for running the data upgrade in a sandbox environment. The difference here is that the bacpac tool is used instead of the traditional SQL backup. This tool is required in order to convert between the Microsoft SQL Server and Azure SQL Database. It’s a standard SQL tool, and isn’t specific to the Finance and Operations.

data upgrade sandbox

data upgrade sandbox

Validate

When you enter the Validate phase, you will have the available environments that include your upgraded custom code and your upgraded data. This phase describes the process of both validating and testing that the upgraded environment works as desired. It also describes the process of preparing for the go-live.

Perform cutover testing and create a cutover plan

The term cutover that is used here to describe the final process of putting the new system live. This process consists of the tasks that occur after the AX 2012 is turned off and before Finance and Operations are turned on.

The goal of the testing or the mock cutover is to practice the cutover process. In this way, you can help guarantee that everyone who is involved in the actual cutover to the go-live will have a smooth experience.

There are two main workstreams:

  • The Technical workstream – This workstream is the process of running the data upgrade. Your business will enforce a limit on the amount of the downtime that is allowed. During this downtime, neither the AX 2012 nor Finance and Operations will be available. The technical workstream might have to performance-tune its data upgrade procedure to meet business’s downtime limit.
  • The Functional workstream – After data upgrade, several configuration tasks will be required in the Finance and Operations environment. All these tasks must be documented and quantified, and a resource must be assigned to them, because they must fit together with the technical tasks within the business’s downtime limit.

Functional test pass

Complete a full functional test pass of all the business processes. This test pass will be an extensive retest of all the business processes that involve Finance and Operations. These business processes include both the old processes that were brought forward from AX 2012 and new processes that involve new features that were taken up for the first time in Finance and Operations.

Depending on the code quality, issue remediation and retesting might require several iterations of the functional test pass. When an issue is fixed, be sure to retest all the processes that are involved, to help guarantee that the downstream or upstream process isn’t affected by the change.

Pre-go-live checklist

The pre-go-live checklist is the recommended procedure that can help reduce the chance of errors during the final cutover to go-live. One week before go-live is due, stop configuration changes in AX 2012 (that is, under <module>\Setup). This restriction on configuration changes is merely procedural. The Microsoft Dynamics AX system administrators just agree to put the changes of this type on hold at this point.

We recommend that you also freeze the code changes in the Finance and Operations code base. No further changes should be allowed unless they have been evaluated, and have been shown to the not block go-live.

After the configuration restriction and the code freeze are in place, data upgrade should be run for the last time before cutover. In this way, you can also make sure that everything still works as expected.

Go live

After you have successfully completed Dynamics AX Upgrade testing in a Standard or Premier Acceptance Test environment (Sandbox Tier 2 or higher), and you have also completed a successful test cutover, the moment has arrived to upgrade your production environment and the go live.

Cutover is the term that we use for the final process of getting the new system live. This cutover process consists of tasks that occur after Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is turned off but before Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, is turned on.

Supported upgrade paths

Upgrade to the cloud version of the Finance and Operations is supported from AX 2012 R2 and AX 2012 R3, in private preview.

Upgrade from the Dynamics AX 2012 RTM isn’t currently supported. Dynamics AX Upgrade to the on-premises version isn’t currently supported but will be added in the future.

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