Microsoft Dynamics AX to D365 Finance and Operations Upgrades: Lifecycle Services ... and Azure?

November 11 2019

Lifecycle Services (LCS) for Microsoft Dynamics D365 for Finance and Operations (D365 F&O) is the dashboard and tool set that controls and monitors AX to D365 upgrades and D365 F&O implementations, as well as live systems. Think mission control for the launch of a space mission, only slightly less complicated and expensive.

In layman’s terms, LCS is an admin tool that is intended to guide and control upgrade projects utilizing an interface intended for non-technical users. LCS and its capabilities are constantly evolving with new capabilities and improved tools.

The progress of your upgrade or implementation project requires that certain steps are completed and checked by Microsoft in LCS before you can move to the next phase of your project. Understanding how to navigate this process is an important project skill.

Here are our key takeaways from working with LCS for AX to D365 upgrade projects:

  • LCS includes tools intended to help with quoting upgrade projects. These tools can be useful because we have found upgrade quotes to vary widely, often not based on good technical analysis or experience. However, this creates a Catch-22 for companies looking to use these tools in an evaluation mode. Access to LCS requires the purchase of a D365 license of 20 minimum users and kicks off the licensing upgrade process from which there is no return.
  • There is a magic number of users for companies upgrading from AX to D365. That number is 150. For companies under 150 users, LCS is a do-it-yourself experience. With over 150 users, Microsoft provides a dedicated Fast Path upgrade engineer. This resource can be invaluable.
  • LCS is not intuitive or easy to navigate on first or on occasional use. Access to an experienced user or partner expert who knows LCS best practices is critical for success, especially if your upgrade project has a critical go-live date. Additionally, the constantly evolving feature set dictates that it is a prototype jet, best flown by experienced pilots.
  • Critically, LCS is the interface used for managing environments. In the AX world, customers and consultants controlled every aspect of environment creation and management. Today, environments are controlled indirectly via LCS. This control of environments has one major downside: speed, or lack thereof. There are published guidelines for how long it takes to perform such critical tasks as creating a new environment, uploading data, or performing backups. Actual times can vary wildly, and this can create critical issues for projects on a tight implementation schedule.

The bottom line is that LCS is a mandatory and, therefore, critically important tool for upgrades and implementations that is ever-changing and best used by highly experienced resources.

But wait….there's more!

At a critical point during our first AX to D365 F&O upgrade project, we ran into the technical limitations of LCS and had to enter into the daunting world of Azure, which had been heretofore hidden from view by the LCS interface.

Using our industry contacts, we identified expert Azure resources to assist us. Unfortunately, we hit a major roadblock!

In explaining our specific technical requirements to our new Azure friends, we were met with the same universal response, “What is Dynamics”?

You don’t want to deal with that knowledge nugget getting dropped on your lap five weeks from a critical go-live or five minutes before an executive update with the project steering committee.

For guaranteed AX to D365 upgrade project success, it is critical to work with a partner that understands and has extensive experience not only with the AX and D365 ERP platforms but also with LCS and Azure.

Photo by Dragoș Grigore on Unsplash

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