Sunday, February 9, 2014

AX Technical Conference 2014, brief summary

My ambition was to write a blog post for each day, but I decided to write a brief summary to highlight the key takeaways from the conference. I also think it’s important to respect the disclaimer given at the start of each session (not go into the details revealed).

AX 2012 R3 is mainly a functional release adding new functionality (Warehouse Management and Transportation) and improvements/extensions within existing industries like Retail. In addition, Life Cycle Services (LCS) was emphasized as the central HUB throughout the lifecycle of an AX solution bundling many of the individual services and tool sets (add-ons) in an Azure hosted environment. At least this is what Microsoft want customers and partners to adopt and utilize to manage a solution as a project including Project Management, Diagnostics and Configuration in addition to Issue Management and Servicing (when submitting an Issue, a repro solution will automatically be deployed in Azure reflecting the parameter settings from the running solution and Contoso data). The Deployment Tool for Azure was also presented making it possible to deploy an AX solution to Azure IaaS (Demo, Development, Test and Production) utilizing templates. The installer for AX 2012 R2 CU7 already revealed an integration to LCS when selecting the Advanced Update option utilizing the metadata to filter hotfixes related to a specific process. Mobile applications was also given much attention.

The key message was that R3 will be the foundation for the future and an unofficial indicator of the increase in functionality, was +20% compared to R2 measured in code size (Model Store Database). Another measure was that R3 included more new functionality than the complete AX 2009 application.
All in all a load of information to digest and try to adopt in customer deliveries. Microsoft talked a lot of Azure and the reason for describing R3 as the foundation for the future, was supported by some pieces of information around the next major AX release (AX7) code name “Rainier” (a monumental mountain south-east of Seattle WA). From what I understand, this will be a major architectural release cloud enabling AX (no surprise given the focus on Azure). Regarding Azure, I think Microsoft is paying much attention to the US market already covered by four Azure Data Centers (what about the rest of the world like Europe?) and not at least little information regarding the cost of utilizing Azure (some kind of subscription required).

All in all good value, but I personally think the name of the conference is misleading (AX Technical Conference) since it’s not very technical (one level 400 session, rest level 200 and 300) compared to the old Technical Briefings (Damgaard/Navision). A lot of sessions was designed for the Business roles (US Payroll, eProcurement, Demand Forecasting etc.) which I find hard to relate to the technical roles (Developers and Technical resources). The AX Conference would perhaps be a better name given the broad content presented. Maybe I’m the only one, but my expectation was deeper technical coverage. Some logistic challenges with full sessions was also a reality and I would recommend Microsoft either to decrease the number of attendants or book a venue with overcapacity. It’s a little disappointing to miss a session (I actually missed two sessions due to full rooms) when travelling from Norway, but I guess it’s difficult to predict the interest for each session when designing the room plan.

But I'm rest asured that the future will bring AX closer to the vision of Empowering People and that the community must work hard to adopt the constant changes (Dynamics).

My verdict is 5 out of 10 stars with the Q & A (Ask The Experts) as the most valuable sessions and a very good keynote on day two.

If the time allows, I will go a little deeper around my personal predictions around AX and Azure, and maybe also some follow up on specific sessions from #AXTech2014.


Since R3 is a functional release, it probably makes sense that AXTech2014 focused most on the functional aspects of R3. But even this makes it hard to call it a Technical Conference in my oppinion - maybe next year will fullfill my expectations (AX7)...

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