Microsoft Announces August 2016 Platform Update to New Dynamics AX, Available from LCS

August 18 2016

Microsoft has made Dynamics AX Platform version 7.2 available this week. It adds the use of Azure Resource Manager for managing deployments, as well as improvements to the user interface, Office integration, analytics, security, and integrations.

If you aren't familiar with the concept of platform updates for the new AX (aka, AX 7), they are distinct from "application" updates like the one offered in May 2016 in terms of the types of improvements (e.g., no new financial reporting in a platform update). And platform updates can be applied without updating the whole application.  

The 7.2 platform update, also referred to by Microsoft as the "August 2016 Update" or just "Update 2" is deployed via Lifecycle Services (LCS). Microsoft explains that the LCS code upgrade tool will now upgrade your Dynamics AX source code and metadata to the latest platform update, Dynamics AX Platform version 7.2 (August 2016), and the latest application update (May 2016).

The August 2016 update can be used with demo, test, or production instances, and it can be applied to existing AX 7 instances via the LCS Shared Asset Library. The new update can be applied to non-production environments with a self-service approach, but production AX 7 systems will have to go through a request process in LCS so that Microsoft Service Engineering can apply the update.

As a platform update, the August 2016 update is compatible with previous versions of the Dynamics AX application, starting with the 7.0 release. "Therefore, you can stay up to date with the latest improvements to the platform without having to upgrade your whole application," Microsoft explains in a wiki page about the update.

Highlights of the update include:

  • If you require integration with a third-party business intelligence (BI) tool or a preexisting data warehouse, you can now export data entities to your own SQL database. Data can be exported as a full push or as an incremental push. Therefore, this feature enables frequent updates.
  • Improved Word document generation, as well as controller extensions for setting file names based on transactional data like invoice number or customer name.
  • Tier 2 sandbox environment can be updated with a copy of your production database for testing.
  • Troubleshooting SQL issues in real time, including blocked queries and aggregated lock information for tables.
  • Edit task recordings by rearranging steps or inserting new steps without playing back any existing steps.
  • Gantt controls have been updated to enable the development of new interactive scheduling scenarios and delivers enhanced APIs for customizing the appearance of activities.
  • Access to Skype contact card data from AX
  • Use of Azure AD Business to Business service, which means external users can be invited to Dynamics AX using an externally-managed identity

For anyone unclear on the progression of updates to the new AX, the product wiki has a "What's new or changed" page that lays out the iterations so far, starting with the February 2016 7.0 release, application (7.01) and platform (7.1) releases in May 2016, and the new platform update (7.2) for August 2016. By contrast, the May application update included things like cloud POS, financial reporting, financial management, and supply chain capabilities.

The use of Azure Resource Manager (ARM) requires its own onboarding process via LCS and Azure management tools. ARM allows Azure customers to work with the resources in their solution as a group so they can deploy, update, or delete all resources in a single, coordinated operation.  This article provides a more detailed starting point.

In addition to AX updates, Microsoft has also continued pushing out monthly updates to LCS itself, including recent July and August enhancements

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Prior to co-founding, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. He has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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