With Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft offers both public and private enterprises cloud-based ERP software. Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud is a Windows-based ERP system that is particularly well-suited for organizations that operate in product-centric industries -- such as manufacturing, distribution and retail -- or in services-centric industries, like the public sector and delivery. The sizes of these companies can range from mid- to upper midmarket to large enterprises.
The cloud-based ERP software, which can be hosted either on premises or on Microsoft Azure, is currently available for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3. Microsoft plans to make these available on the new Dynamics AX later in 2016. Whether Dynamics is in the cloud or on premises, its code base remains consistent across all deployments.
The major modules in Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud ERP
As Dynamics AX cloud is well-suited for product-centric industries, its retail module is a key component of the cloud-based ERP software. The retail module includes point of sale, assisted sales, e-commerce, social media, order processing and merchandising functionalities, along with the ability to perform centralized store, omnichannel, payment and catalog management actions.
The manufacturing component of Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud allows enterprises to perform lean, process and discrete manufacturing. There are also product configuration capabilities, along with tools, that enable shop floor management.
Microsoft's cloud ERP software also boasts a sales, service and marketing module which includes Salesforce and marketing automation, lead and opportunity management, sales and case management, service management, rebates, royalties and trade allowances and the ability to connect to customer relationship management systems.
Procurement and sourcing, another core module, is a tool that helps enterprises perform direct and indirect procurement and create purchase requisitions and manage supplier relationships while also providing e-procurement software and a vendor self-service portal.
Enterprises can perform various inventory management actions and run demand forecasting with the supply chain management module, which also includes multisite warehouse management, distribution planning, transportation management and quality management functions.
Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud also offers modules that cover project accounting and financial management, along with business intelligence and human capital management. When combined, these modules provide enterprises with a well-rounded cloud ERP system.
Under the hood of Microsoft's cloud-based ERP software
Microsoft Dynamics AX is architected with open APIs to integrate with on-premises systems or other cloud services. Connections established between customers and Microsoft data centers are encrypted and all public endpoints are secured using industry-standard Transport Layer Security (TLS). TLS effectively establishes a security-enhanced, browser-to-server connection to help ensure data confidentiality and integrity between desktops and data centers. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a thin HTML5 client running on popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Edge.
To support cloud-based software like Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft runs its Microsoft Azure data centers around the clock and in key areas of the world -- including the U.S., Northern and Western Europe, Asia Pacific, China, Japan, Brazil, Australia, India, Germany, Canada and the UK. This enables the company to capably support its service-level agreements (SLAs) and also to provide resilience for disaster recovery and business continuation.
Since Microsoft Dynamics AX runs on Microsoft Azure, it is able to use Azure's security and access controls for applications and data at each phase of cloud services delivery and for every user interaction -- physical data center, network connectivity, service hosting platform and user and administrator access.
Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud comes with a lot of support options
The new Microsoft Dynamics AX comes with foundational technical support services, self-serve training (such as the task recorder), implementation methodologies, tools and automation (in Dynamics Lifecycle Services). For an additional fee, customers can also add support services from Microsoft, including ProDirect and Premier support, which offer one-hour response times. Premier also offers on-site services and mentoring. Microsoft Consulting Services (and services through business partners) are also additional pay-for options that can be utilized for customer-specific implementation services, training and technical support.
Microsoft maintains compliance with leading data protection, security and privacy laws that are applicable to cloud services. Since certifications require a system to be running for a number of months before an initial audit can be performed to confirm the adherence to those guidelines, audits are performed as soon as Dynamics AX reaches those milestones, as outlined by the various certifications or regulations.
Disaster recovery and high availability are provided in the Microsoft Dynamics cloud ERP production environment as part of the client's ERP subscription. Specific disaster recovery SLAs include:
- SQL DB Premium SLA for Active Geo-Replication with an estimated recovery time of less than 30 seconds and a recovery point objective of less than five seconds.
- BLOB (binary large object) Storage SLA with a 99.9% successful read/write using either local or geo-replicated storage.
- Site Recovery SLA (used for the AX compute tier) that has a 99.9% availability of service with a four-hour recovery time objective.
Microsoft produces customer conferences multiple times a year for various audiences that are organized by industry, role and size of organization. New product requirements are collected through customer communities and user groups, and Microsoft Consulting Services and its business partners provide custom work for customers.
Microsoft released the New Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud ERP software in February 2016. The release is supported with platform updates four times a year and application updates twice a year.
Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud ERP is available to clients on a per user/per month subscription basis. The minimum contract length is one month and the maximum is three years. The service is priced using three user types (self-serve, task and enterprise) and a limited number of add-ons (additional sandboxes and storage). The product is sold both directly by Microsoft and through its network of business partners.
Microsoft does not offer a free trial of Microsoft Dynamics AX cloud ERP.
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