As we work with mid-market manufacturers, we are often asked to help develop an IT strategy that enables the business to expand into new areas while retaining critical home grown applications.
For those companies seeking business process improvement, it’s advantageous to implement software that offers the flexibility to integrate, modify and extend the software to meet the needs of an evolving business models, while cost effectively staying current with software releases.
We addressed this issue in the first part of our Microsoft Dynamics AC Vendor Review blog post and today continue our close look at the Microsoft Dynamics AX product suite.
Microsoft facilitates integration through what they term the Application Integration Framework.
The full set of application code/business logic is deployed within one or more Application Object Servers. Within the Application Object Servers the business logic can be remotely executed through the Web services running on WCF/IIS.
Microsoft provides a large collection of pre-developed web services. The business objects can be exposed and executed in this fashion. In addition the Microsoft Message Queue can be used in more of a store and forward fashion.
The Microsoft Dynamics Development environment is based upon MorphX. MorphX is used to develop new forms. In the Application Object Tree new tables, indexes, etc can be developed which drive directly in the SQL database.
Changes developed by users from within the Application Object Tree are placed within a layer in the software stack called the USR layer. New forms can be created and bound to data sources. Business logic can be developed using X++ or through visual studio. All changes can be controlled through one of several integrated software development lifecycle tools.
The Microsoft Dynamics AX environment is highly scalable. The Dynamics Database resides in SQL Server. The physical server can be dramatically upsized with multiple processors / cores, large amounts of RAM, and large disk arrays. The business logic, workflow engines, integration framework, etc reside within one or more Application Object Servers(AOS). The individual AOS can also scale up with support of many CPU’s, cores, and lots of RAM but also scales out with the ability to add many AOS’s. Load balancing functionality ensures that individual sessions are spread over the AOS servers to ensure good response times. The load balancing has the flexibility to be configured to dictate which user or which function hits which AOS. If an AOS goes out of service then upon reconnect the user is directed to an active AOS. Microsoft quotes benchmarks showing good response times on environments supporting over 1,000,000 transactions per hour, an important data point when evaluating ERP vendors.
Worthy of Consideration
As we’ve noted in previous blog posts, comparing ERP vendors is a major activity in an ERP selection project.
With the most recent version of Microsoft Dynamics AX and upcoming features to be included in the next release Microsoft is delivering the message that they are serious about ERP and the Dynamics AX is worthy of consideration as a Tier 1 solution.