Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: the perfect complement for Microsoft Dynamics GP users

Microsoft Dynamics GP users rejoice!

If you were a part of the long list of users, partners, and ISVs scared by some imaginary deadline set (by Microsoft) for you to migrate from Dynamics GP and onto Dynamics 365 Business Central, it's now my pleasure to separate fact from fiction in this era of, well, fake news - at least in the Dynamics space.

Microsoft has recently published the October '18 Business Applications Release Notes, a 239 page document describing all the upcoming features and functionality to be included with Dynamics 365 for Sales, Service, Marketing, Finance and Operations, Talent, Retail, and Social Engagement; the Power platform (Power BI, PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Common Data Services), and Dynamics 365 Business Central.

The words "Dynamics GP" appear 7 times in this document (including the table of content) and span from pages 117 through 133, explaining what is an imminent reality: Dynamics GP is now part of the Business Central plan, although folks at Microsoft will tell you, "it always was!" 😂.

To explain this, I must start from a simple premise: your will be able to use your existing on-premises solution of Dynamics GP to connect to the cloud through Business Central.

Microsoft further consider this to be the "convergence point for Dynamics SMB products" as going forward, GP (along with NAV, and SL) is considered a customer of Business Central, in the cloud or on-premise. Now, the choice words can be confusing and can even a bit overwhelming, but the explanation is rather straight forward. Microsoft Dynamics GP customers will have access to all the built-in capabilities of Business Central -- its Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based analytical capabilities, its Power BI powered visualizations and reporting capabilities, the ability to create powerful mobile applications and sophisticated worflows with PowerApps and Flow; and uncompromising data access and storage via Common Data Services, all without giving up their investment in Microsoft Dynamics GP.

In turn, Microsoft will continue to invest and provide key updates to Dynamics GP as it has been done for the past 25 years.

The Intelligent Edge

The intelligent edge bridges the digital and real world -- enabling you to deliver a seamless experience and compute capabilities wherever your data exists -- in the cloud or offline, as defined by Microsoft on their Intelligent Edge page. What does this have to do with Dynamics GP? In Microsoft's view, GP is now considered an edge "device".

Intelligent Edge
(Source: Business Applications Release Notes - October '18)

In order to accomplish such feat, GP customers will connect to an instance of intelligent cloud via Business Central, deciding what companies to replicate in the process. In turn, you will get back actionable analysis and content, right inside your Microsoft Dynamics GP application area pages - similar to the Business Analyzer or Power BI experience today, I would assume.

Now, think of this for a second... long gone are the days were you spend hours on end building analytical reports and gathering insight on your data, because you will have at your disposition a powerful AI and ML based decision engine working for you 24/7/365. Also, you will have the infrastructure of the cloud doing this without you ever having to update it. And what about custom insights into your data? You can create those too! What about taking your data with you on your mobile device? That's also there for you with PowerApps and Flow.

And let's be honest here, for a second. IF and when you are ready to move to the cloud, this will be an easier proposition as most of your data will already be replicated. Need ALL your data? There are specialized partners on AppSource waiting to earn your business. Heck, even the folks over at eOne Solutions are on board with SmartConnect, a tool you already know and love.

But also, let's look at the other side of that coin. You've spent your life building the perfect solution for your business in Microsoft Dynamics GP. You have invested thousands of hours, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting, and you have the perfect combination of third party ISV applications you know you are NOT going to get on Business Central. In addition, you simply love the passion guys and gals like Mark Polino, Belinda Allen, David Musgrave, Leslie Vail, Jen Kuntz, Shawn Dorward, Victoria Yudin, and I display at conferences, showing you how to make the most of your investment. You also know that Dynamics GP is a proven and mature solution that simply delivers. Simple: DON'T MOVE! Continue to use Dynamics GP with the insights provided by Business Central and you will still be golden.

A final note: if you look carefully at the info-graphic above, synchronization of your data is unidirectional (from on-prem to cloud). This means that, although you can  enter data in Business Central, you will need integration mechanisms to get that data back into your on-premise solution.

Until next post,

Mariano Gomez, MVP


martin olsen said...

Great message Mariano. You did already identify the solution to the uni-directional synch. A little integration tool called SmartConnect!!!

Jim Hummer said...

Is this saying that the trend is to push GP data to BC? If so is this not apples and coconuts? Why not do PowerBI just on GP?


Mariano Gomez said...

Not sure the ability to do PowerBI is being taken away from you. What is being given to you is the analytics and intelligence platform of Business Central. In order to do that, data needs to be sent to Business Central. Also, this is optional, you don't have to have customers sign on to this program if they don't want to.

Pam said...


My understanding on the PowerBI side is that they did take the gateway away. I had it loaded and it does not work anymore so in order to use PowerBI other than the desktop version the edge would be required. The Business Query Analyzer is also only showing SRSS and Management reporter excel reports are gone.

Mariano Gomez said...


From what Microsoft Support have tested the gateway is only needed when the content pack is hosted in PowerBI. Since PowerBI no longer supports on-prem implementations, the content pack was made available for download - this is perhaps what you are referring to.

To my knowledge, the Gateway is still used, but it's been renamed to On-premise Data Gateway, the reason being that now it supports PowerApps and Flow applications, not just PowerBI.

Also, remember that PowerBI works with ODATA feeds, so the content packs would need to be slightly edited to use an ODATA feed and not a gateway connection.

As far as I know, Business Analyzer still renders Excel Reports.

Hope this helps.

Unknown said...

Hello Mariano
We have a customer confortable with his large 8+ years investement in Dynamics GP and Power BI Dashboard connected. Some examples of which functional added benefits can we offer him by connecting him as the Intelligent Edge to Business Central will be greatly appreciated.
Cesar Denegri
Sales Manager

Mariano Gomez said...


Given that your customer is happy with their investment in Dynamics GP and PBI dashboards, I wouldn't advise you to look any further. Continue to enhance their investment by looking into Power Platform as a whole, coupled with AI and ML where possible.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

Hi Mariano.

Thanks a lot for your prompt answer. Therefore, is the Intelligent Edge still recommended for some Dynamics GP customers, or today we have a twist into PowerApps?


Mariano Gomez said...

Interesting question, because Intelligent Cloud is supposed to leverage all the AI/ML framework in BC to provide insight. Power Apps can certainly be a tool that you can use, but it will be more to provide mobile capabilities for users and the data in Microsoft Dynamics GP.