Why you still need to take responsibility for parts of your Dynamics 365 solution.
When infrastructure and business systems moved into the cloud, many people expected cloud computing would change how we work with IT systems. Many also hoped that operation, maintenance and administration would become significantly easier.
The first part proved correct. Prediction number two remains a challenge.
“I still encounter companies with Dynamics 365 who believe that cloud operation guarantees stability and uptime,” said René Kinberg Nielsen, IT Operations Manager at Columbus Application & Operations.
“Yes, Microsoft does guarantee 99.7% uptime and accessibility. But they only take responsibility for the infrastructure, meaning there’s still a requirement for customers to maintain their solution. You are responsible for taking care of the data, configuration, monitoring and operation of the application, etc. This still comes as a surprise to many people,” he said.
Even small errors can result in costly scenarios
“We are often asked to present our uptime service to customers,” explained René. “This could be nightly batch jobs that haven’t been completed because of a lock in the database. This causes the job to begin to run increasingly slow and prevents it being completed through the night.”
“I visited one customer where ‘master planning’ jobs weren’t running. So, the company’s entire production was at a standstill, making it impossible for them to drive out with goods that day.”
This highlights the importance of conducting routine maintenance on your solution to help prevent errors or imbalances in configuration, resource allocation and database integrity. Small errors can quickly develop from moments of irritation to a costly scenario.
By keeping on top of your maintenance and routine management, you’ll help mitigate the risk of downtime and performance issues that are non-platform related.
The need for insight and discipline into classic operating practices
“It’s an integrated application structure that must be monitored, administered and continuously adapted. This requires insight, discipline and respect for the classic operating practices,” said René.
However, the challenge for companies trying to implement by themselves is that even a relatively “clean,” standardised Dynamics 365 solution can be difficult. On top of that, there are all the integrations.
“Even skilled IT managers do not always have the chance to identify the problems in advance, or to remedy them when the situation has become acute,” he explained. That’s why working with a partner can provide support, even in the areas considered your responsibility.
Continuous monitoring can save money – and prevent problems before they arise
At Columbus, we provide our customers with a service called Uptime for Dynamics 365. It encompasses an extensive range of services from monitoring to administration, security and updating. For example, continuous monitoring to check whether an application, database, batch jobs, integrations and more are working as they’re supposed to.
“We regularly check whether upscaling is required somewhere – or, conversely, whether money could be saved by downscaling certain resources,” explained René.
“We also make recommendations about which ‘handles to turn’ in 3-6 months’ time to nip any potential problems in the bud.”
Some companies may believe this is unnecessary because their ERP system is running smoothly at this present moment. However, while they might be running smoothly now, ERP solutions almost never run flawlessly without database locks or failed batch jobs.
“We see many more benefits for customers who are proactive and prevent these challenges from happening rather than struggling to fix them once the damage has been done,” said René.
Columbus specialists provide clear reports in non-technical language
We recognise that not all of our customers will have the necessary technical resources in-house. That’s why in recent years, we’ve upped our focus on reporting to our customers in non-technical language, with clear, actionable recommendations.
“We have a bunch of incredibly skilled, committed people who work closely with our customers to ensure their operations remain stable,” said René “They’re really on the ball and are ready to talk to customers and project manager about the action required to ensure a stable operating situation.”
All Uptime reports contain an executive summary and a general recommendation section, along with a summary of the previous three months incidents with the fixes and recommendations provided. These are reviewed at the monthly service delivery meeting and have resulted in improved collaboration.
“In the cases where we’ve introduced the new report format, we’ve spent significantly less time explaining our conclusions to customers,” said René.
“Instead, we discuss how to optimise the platform or scale it to suit the current load situation, and this often saves the customer money. The meetings are more equal, constructive and satisfactory for everyone.”
Would you like to find out more?
At Columbus, we recognise how difficult it can be to keep track of all the aspects of application management that will make your Dynamics 365 solution a seamless experience once you’ve gone live. As your digital advisors, our ultimate task is to not only provide operational reliability and carry out vital system maintenance, but also ensure you have the right licence agreements in place.
We explore all of this and more in our Life after go-live eBook, click below to get your copy today!