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The 9th October 2018 is etched in the minds of many and, if not already, is a date that all AX2009, AX2012 and AX2012 R2 customers should be thinking about. Are you wondering why? Columbus Enterprise Account Manager, Glen Bignall explores...

This is the date that mainstream support from Microsoft ends for all three of those products.

If you’re using AX2012 R3 currently, then you should already be thinking about 12th October 2021.

 

Microsoft mainstream support

What does the ‘ending’ of mainstream support mean and is it something that you should really be concerned about? Let’s start first with what mainstream support from Microsoft is, it includes:

  • Security update support
  • Non-security Hotfix support
  • Design change and feature requests
  • Self-service support (Microsoft knowledge base, Microsoft help and support sites)

This might sound worrying but the good news is that all three products enter extended support until 12th October 2021.

 

What’s the difference?

So, what are the main differences in mainstream support and extended support? In short, the end of mainstream support means that - as standard - Microsoft will not release the following:

  • Security updates
  • Non-Security Hotfixes

There will also no longer be any product enhancements.


Where does this leave you now?

As a valued Microsoft customer, there are still lots of options open to you that will ensure your business continues to operate successfully far into the future! Here are four steps that you can take before your mainstream support from Microsoft ends on the 9th October 2018:

 

1. Talk to your partner

Your partner is there for a reason and as a part of a global solutions provider, Columbus, I can say with confidence that this is the right place for you to get started. Your partner should talk to you about:

  • Where you want to be as a business – what are your goals and aspirations?
  • What is your appetite for risk – are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
  • What is your business roadmap – where do you want to go and how will you get there?

Once your partner has these answers, they will be able to help you plan the right way forward so that you meet your goals and stay on plan! If you’re going to arrange a meeting with your partner to discuss the end of your mainstream support, have answers to the above ready so that you can hit the ground running!

 

2. Maximise the life of your current solution

Just because a product comes out of mainstream support, it does not mean that it is obsolete…You should investigate the possibilities that are still available to you, such as:

  • Could moving up to the latest service pack give you greater compatibility with your infrastructure?
  • Are there any third-party solutions that will help with those reporting niggles?
  • Perhaps you should be looking to ‘sweat your asset’ further and need to look at maximising the value of your data by incorporating technologies such as IoT and data analytics?

Again, if any of the above are roads that you’d like to explore further, your partner will be able to help you choose which will help you meet your goals.

 

3. Explore your upgrade options

At some stage, no matter what you’re using, you always have to look at your upgrade options!

What does this really entail? Here’s what you will need to do:

  • Review your current solution – what’s working for you? What are you struggling with?
  • Look at and understand what modifications you have made to your current solution – are they needed? Were they worth it?
  • Is it really an upgrade? Or is it a re-implementation on the latest platform?

Working through these points and performing a series of engagements with your partner to carry out this review, will leave you much more informed about what your options are and the likely timescales.

Don’t be concerned or put off at the prospect of a re-implementation, if this is the option that will get you closer to meeting your goals, it will be worthwhile and the right partner will support you through the process.

 

4. You could just do nothing, business as usual

Some people would say this is not an option, but it is.

There are many customers, who maintain their Enhancement Plan (EP) long after both mainstream and extended support have ended. Doing this gives you the right to take the latest version of the software (on-premise) when you are ready.

This will also give you access to discounts off the list price if you do decide to move to the Cloud for your Dynamics solution (subject to Microsoft pricing at the time). By maintaining your EP you also keep the door open to buying additional licences, should your business expand and you keep your Protected List Price (PLP).

If you have a strong and experienced partner, they are likely to have customers across all versions of the ERP solutions that they support. I know at Columbus for example, we still support and provide consultancy right back to XAL. It is not always easy but it is possible.

The real problem with this option is that it has no guarantees, so we are back to the risk level your business is willing to take; it definitely gives you something to think about.

 

The next steps

Maybe this helped, or perhaps it has just confused you even more… However, if you want to discuss your options in more detail we have lots of consultants and developers, covering all versions of Dynamics AX & Dynamics NAV, and are happy to talk to you about your case and your needs.

Glen Bignall, Enterprise Account Manager

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