Nobody ever wants to miss a commitment that they make, and with the move of our delivery date from H1 to H2 of 2008, that is the situation we as a Dynamics NAV R&D team find ourselves in right now. This reality is very disappointing for all of us, and definitely not what we hoped for , but I have to say that I am as excited as I have ever been about the product we are building and I am confident that you will find that the product will definitely be worth the additional wait.
With our next version of Dynamics NAV we are making incredible leaps forward on the user experience and technology platform of the product. It was important that the market, our partners, and our customers understand the magnitude of this advance, thus we have updated the code name for this version from 5.1 to “6.0”. It is at minimum a full version worth of progress. The advances we have made include:
· We have moved the product from a two-tier architecture to a three-tier architecture dramatically increasing the integration opportunities for customers.
· We have added support for web services across the board and enabled all of our ISV and partner solutions to also be web serviced enabled. The win for customers is the ability to leverage the open interface from multiple applications in their organizations.
· We have transitioned our runtime execution engine from an interpreted environment to a compiled environment running on.NET. Giving customers increased performance and stability and aligning us even closer with the advances being on the Microsoft Stack.
· We have transitioned our reporting story to Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and the incredible richness that it provides for users to gain more insight into their business.
· We have added a deep integration with Office SharePoint Services making it even easier to get more people in an organization working with your business system.
· Finally, and most dramatically and importantly, we’ve made a MAJOR upgrade to a new Role Tailored User Experience that our research indicates that customers will absolutely Love.
We are accomplishing this while at the same time working to ensure that we preserve customer and partner investments. This requires a robust set of transformation tools and processes in addition to the core product advancements.
We are introducing a lot of change and we must make sure to get it right. Why the change in date? Well there are a few reasons:
· First, we just were not tracking towards the plan we had created, and we were not going to make the planned H1 2008 date.
· Second, we are closely monitoring the performance and simplicity of the new 3-tier model. As a result, we made some adjustments to our designs to increase our performance and the simplicity of our install.
· Third, we’ve made a huge commitment to getting more feedback on this release before shipping. We will provide code much earlier in the release cycle in order to maximize the feedback that we can receive and process. I will talk more about this later.
As a result of our decision to move the date of “6.0” we decided that it would possible to pull some of the work we were doing in “6.0” forward into a Service Pack for 5.0. That work includes:
· We are going to deliver Dynamics Mobile support for Dynamics NAV as part of the service pack and for Dynamics NAV 4.0. This feature will allow our partners to create mobile solutions that are occasionally connected and fully integrated with Dynamics NAV.
· We brought forward a number of Microsoft SQL data access improvements. These will increase both the performance and scalability of the product.
· We have added a collection of small features that have been highly requested over the years.
· We have rolled up a number of the improvements and corrections that have been done since version 5.0 shipped.
· We will expand the number of countries that will have version 5.0 in their markets.
Dynamics NAV 5.0 is a great release, and with these additions it will be even better. Because of the investment we’ve made in the transition process from 5.0 to “6.0” customers and partners should not hesitate to make the move to 5.0 now.
Earlier I mentioned that we are increasing our feedback process before we release “6.0”. Here is some of what we are planning at this point:
· In November at the Directions Conference in Orlando, the entire NAV R&D leadership team will be there to do an entire day of sessions, running the current “6.0” code, discussing the transformation process, showing our new concepts, and working to gather as much input as we can. We will also provide a set of pre-recorded step by step demos of the “6.0” product that can be used to build familiarity with the product.
· Also in November we will deliver a preview version of the product to 50 ISV’s who are part of our early adopter program. These partners have committed to working with the product and providing us with feedback. This drop will be of our core release.
· In Q1 and Q2 of 2008 we will release updated previews to the entire partner community . These will be early availability drops and will need to be treated as such; our intent is to gather feedback on quality, performance, and any transition process issues that partners can identify.
· The Q2 version will also be localized to a selected number of countries, and we will be working with a small number of partners and customers to work on transitioning their solutions onto the “6.0” product.
· The final beta will be provided in Q3 and we will deliver a version for select countries that we will use with our early adopter customers to take them live on the product. By going through the full implementation process and getting end user feedback we are confident that we will have exercised the product to the level where we can all be confident in the solution
As a Dynamics R&D team we are extremely committed to this plan and we are doing everything we can to make sure we get feedback, react to the feedback, and deliver a high quality solution.
The team and I are really, really, really excited about the product we are bringing your way. I sincerely hope that this quick glimpse behind the scenes into our delivery plan increases both your confidence and anticipation of where we are taking Dynamics NAV. With well over 1,000,000 users today Dynamics NAV is already a great product, Version 5.0, Version 5.0 SP1 and Version “6.0” are moving it forward towards and even better future. It is a ride you will most definitely want to be a part of.