Thursday, April 2, 2020
In our previous blog post, we explained when you should choose to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS NOW. But more often than not, it is a complicated process. You may experience various limitations which prevent you from upgrading. To resolve some of these limitations sometimes the answer is to wait and eventually these issues disappear with technological progress. Examples of such limitations are as follows:
- Missing Microsoft Standard Event Publishers. When creating an Extension for Dynamics 365 Business Central, we found that there’s a lack of Microsoft ‘Standard Event Publishers’ when trying to move customizations over to events. Therefore, if you choose to upgrade LATER, Microsoft may have implemented most of the ‘Standard Event Publishers’ and you will be able to move code from ‘the standard’ more easily.
- Add-ons yet to exist as apps. Customers may use add-ons that their business processes depend upon, but some add-ons are yet to be released as apps (which are required to work with Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS).
In March 2020, we counted more than 600 apps on Microsoft AppSource for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS. However, it has been predicted that the number of apps on Microsoft AppSource is to increase significantly in 2020; with many add-on providers upgrading their popular on-premises solutions.
- Unavailable localizations. Localizations for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS are not released for the required country.
- High demand for backups and database management. At present, Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS functionality does not offer the possibility for customers themselves to automate backups and restore databases back to a selected point in time, which some business units require. This is dissimilar to SQL backups for On-Premises versions. Although it is possible to conduct manual backups regularly or ask Microsoft support to restore database to a selected point in time in emergency case.
- Database size. In order to migrate to a Dynamics 365 Business Central database from a Microsoft Azure SQL database, you need to ensure that the database size is no more than 80 GB – this is the maximum size supported by the Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS tenant. Technically, it is possible to migrate databases up to 150 GB, but if size exceeds 80 GB – you should ask Microsoft support for more space.
- Internet quality and speed dependent. In certain countries and regions, internet speed and quality can be an issue when upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS.
Even though many of the limitations when upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS disappear over time, there are some limitations that remain and to resolve them you must take action. In such cases, you should choose ‘re-implementation’ and also re-do certain functionalities using different technologies. Examples of such limitations are as follows:
- Web Client limitations. It can be problematic upgrading an On-Premises C/AL solution that uses Windows Client only to a Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS because some Windows Client features are not supported by Web Client on SaaS. Therefore, reimplementation is needed for the following functionalities:
- Automations and .NET variables.
- Long running dialogs.
- Reports without request pages.
- Integrations. SaaS supports integrations using Web Services only. If an old third party software is using different integration methods on C/AL, it needs to be reimplemented for SaaS.
- File system limitations. Many old customizations store files in local servers, but with SaaS there is no access to local file systems, everything has to be done using Microsoft Azure storage or other online alternatives.
- Other technological constraints:
- Access to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS system tables is restricted.
- Standard keys, variables and table relations cannot be modified by Extensions.
- Standard fields cannot be used in custom keys.
- Some standard object properties cannot be modified and need to be mandatorily filled for SaaS.
- Some grid layouts, indentations, lookups, and refresh features are not supported by a Web client which generates challenges.
What are the Benefits of Upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS LATER?
- Managed risk. When making the decision of whether to upgrade to Business Central SaaS NOW or LATER, you take a risk of massive gain or loss depending on which you decide. To manage risks, you can choose to upgrade LATER and spread the upgrade over 2 or 3 steps, the first step is moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premises and then from there, moving to a SaaS deployment as the limitations are resolved with technological progress. This type of approach is called a ‘Lift and Shift’. It is generally less risky for the customer because not only is the full, complicated transition to SaaS split into multiple phases, but the risks are also split into two or three phases as well.
- Reduced upgrade price. If a limitation for upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS is non-existent Microsoft Standard Event Publishers, then waiting instead of reimplementing customizations would result in a reduced upgrade price. Each year Microsoft introduces new Standard Event Publishers to make the base application more extendable. For example, with Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019 wave 2, Microsoft released 1400 new Standard Event Publishers.
To understand the difference in pricing, you can compare the time it takes to move customizations to the existing Standard Event and the time it takes to reimplement customizations. To move a customization to the existing Standard Event it takes 5 to 10 minutes work. Reimplementing a customization, without having a Microsoft Standard Event Publisher, can take more than 10 hours of work.
- Cost control. The cost of upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS might be difficult to estimate for larger and more complex installations, this is because a lot of reimplementation work can be required when moving customizations to Extensions. Choosing ‘Lift and Shift’ approach gives you the benefit of controlling the cost, as the bulk of the upgrade is charged at a fixed price upfront, and the redesign work is minimized.
- A smart way to invest. If you move to Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premises as a first step of a ‘Lift and Shift’ project, any investment you make will count as an investment towards moving to the SaaS version, because upgrade to the newest Business Central On-Premises version is a mandatory step when upgrading to Business Central SaaS.
How to Upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS LATER: Lift and Shift Strategy
Before upgrading, it is important to evaluate the solution first, to find out what exactly limits the upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS and then make a long-term transition plan consisting of 2 phases: Lift and Shift.
During the Lift phase of the upgrade process, it is important to get to the closest possible ‘stop’ to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS. There can be several Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premises ‘stops’ you can choose from, such as:
- Upgrade to Business Central 2020 Wave 1 (version 16.x) with base app customizations.
Choose this option if you are ready for the Web Client. Once you upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 wave 1 release On-Premises with base app customizations, build Custom Event Publishers for not yet available Standard Event Publishers. You can put in a request to Microsoft to create Standard Event Publishers in the places where you have created Custom Event Publishers. This way, you can gradually transition customizations into a standalone Extension once Microsoft releases Standard Event Publishers.
- Upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019 April release (version 14.x).
Choose this option if you are not yet ready for the Web Client and your required add-ons are not yet available for Business Central 2019 wave 2 (version 15.x) or Business Central 2020 Wave 1 (version 16.x). Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019 April release is the last version that supports C/AL and Windows Client On-Premises.
After the ‘Lift’ phase, wait until time-sensitive limitations preventing you from going into the ‘Shift’ phase are gone. For example, if you requested Standard Event Publishers from Microsoft and they are approved, you should wait until the next Dynamics 365 Business Central release where it will be implemented. Equally, with the other limitations that require waiting, it is recommended to ensure that the gap between the ‘Lift’ and ‘Shift’ phase is no longer than 1 – 2 years.
When everything is ready for the second ‘Shift’ phase, the upgrade process is as follows:
- Upgrade. Execute upgrade tasks to get to the latest available version of Dynamics 365 Business Central.
- Create an Extension. Move the remaining code into the events that Microsoft has added and execute the remaining work to create an Extension out of all the customizations.
- Reimplement. Review all customizations that were not moved from the standard code and the limitations of Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS. Then decide how to best reimplement these conflicts.
Upgrade with 1ClickFactory in 2 Phases
1ClickFactory’s ‘Phased Transition’ service helps to successfully implement ‘Lift and Shift’ strategy. It brings all data and transforms all customizations into Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS in 2 steps.
To start planning your ‘Phased Transition’ to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS, upload a .fob file on the 1ClickFactory Upgrade Analyzer, where you will receive a fixed price estimate for the first upgrade phase and exact plan to get ready for the second phase.
To ascertain which path is best for you, the strategies available and how to make the best choice when upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS – download the 1ClickFactory e-book or get in touch with us.