May 18, 2023

    3 Paths for a Microsoft Cloud ERP Migration

    In a webinar with Microsoft Dynamics World, Enavate presented, “Business Continuity in Times of Change: Explore Your Dynamics Cloud Options.” Watch the recording on-demand here. 

    Organizations worldwide are modernizing, taking the next step in their technology journey to get away from the challenges of legacy on-premises software solutions that are no longer serving them and instead making their way to the Cloud. The good news is that there are multiple paths organizations can take to make this happen, depending on where they are in their digital transformation. 

    Today, business disruptions are becoming more common, whether a local disaster like a wildfire or a pandemic. In the face of these challenges, how do you keep operating? Many times, disruptions like these change the way that we need to operate and how we need to conduct business.  

    Modernization can take many forms, from being able to remotely connect with your team or customers through Microsoft Teams to being able to access and analyze data through Power BI. Here, we’ll address what Microsoft Dynamics 365 is and how it can pave the way to the Cloud. 

    What is Microsoft Dynamics 365? 

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a platform that combines ERP with CRM processes. It's hosted in Microsoft Azure and connected using standard web technologies to Microsoft and non-Microsoft Cloud services, like Dropbox.  

    From a functional perspective, Dynamics 365 addresses processes from marketing to field service, running the full gamut of what you need to manage, analyze and optimize your business. Applications may include sales, finance, commerce, mixed reality, and more, depending on your needs.  

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers two routes for those looking for an ERP solution: Dynamics 365 enterprise solutions, including Finance and Supply Chain Management, and Business Central, an ERP solution designed for small and mid-sized organizations. 

    Business Central has a 30-year heritage as a standalone ERP, formally called NAV. Business Central allows for a rich set of integrated data access functions across its platform.  

    Benefits of Cloud ERP Software 

    So, why modernize your current system and move to the Cloud? A business may choose to move on from legacy systems for many reasons, including: 

    Business agility/work from anywhere. Many businesses are facing the need to work from anywhere, especially today. The ability to work from anywhere is more than just a requirement for sales reps now.  

    Security. The move to the Cloud with Microsoft offers better security than most organizations can provide on their own. In fact, IT departments usually embrace the adoption of Dynamics because of this. 

    Business continuity/disaster recovery. When a disaster strikes, on-premises systems can present challenges to accessing data and maintaining customer connections. Moving to the Cloud streamlines recovery as staff and users adapt. 

    Accounts Payable automation. Access and management of Accounts Payable in the Cloud can improve cashflow visibility, invoice management, approvals, vendor payment processing, and more.  

    These are just a few examples of how moving to the Cloud can improve processes previously bound by on-premises legacy systems.  

    Paths to the Cloud 

    There are several approaches for migrating your business to the Cloud, which are not exclusive of one another. The transition may only happen in stages; your path depends on where you are in your business journey.  

    Move your servers: The fastest way to the Cloud. 

    A lift and shift of your servers is the fastest way to get to the Cloud. This is traditionally known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Unexpected events, such as pandemics, can provide compelling reasons to adopt this approach because it moves what you have with little change. Depending on the integrations and connections you have in your legacy Dynamics system, it may also involve moving some file or application servers into the Cloud. 

    This approach also has the least impact on your users since they use the same software with very little change. Access basically looks like a window on your desktop. Of course, you may still have to apply upgrades if you’re still using legacy Dynamics 365.  

    The liberated data solution: Sync your data to the Cloud. 

    If you can't move your entire system to the Cloud, you can choose to sync your data to the Cloud and use Cloud services to view and act on that data. The benefit is that you can access your data from anywhere. Business processes are still on-premises but connected to Cloud services. In this scenario, users still use their legacy systems for transactions, but reporting and analytics are Cloud-based. 

    One of the ways to do this is using what Microsoft promotes as its Intelligent Edge for on-premises. It's a read-only copy of the data in Business Central to provide visualization and reporting services. This allows sharing of data even if the person does not have access directly to the legacy Dynamics system on-premises. This may be a great first approach if your needs are primarily around accessing the data. 

    The cons are that you would still be on legacy Dynamics. With this approach, you may have to upgrade to a newer version of GP, SL, or NAV if you want to leverage Microsoft's Edge tools.  

    The full Cloud ERP solution: Access the Cloud both within and outside of Microsoft services 

    Your final path to the Cloud is moving to a full Cloud ERP solution, using Dynamics 365 Business Central with non-Microsoft Cloud services. This move involves re-implementing your existing legacy software to Dynamics 365.  

    This option is the Microsoft-preferred route because businesses retain the latest options and versions of their solution. It integrates with Office, Azure, and third-party Cloud apps such as GoToWebinar, MailChimp, DocuSign, and Dropbox. Businesses become full Cloud citizens, providing users with a roadmap to learn about the latest changes and making adopting modern technology easier.  

    The choice is yours: Which is your path to the Cloud? 

    Continuous, reliable, and integrated business operations are possible with Cloud technology, and businesses can take multiple approaches to their digital transformation. Figuring out the right path for your organization may take some work, but Enavate is here to help. Offering a Cloud readiness assessment, we can help you determine the right option.  

    To learn more, and explore your Cloud options in more detail, watch our on-demand webinar and then reach out to our team to discuss a Cloud readiness assessment.  Contact Enavate today.

    Chris Lavelle

    Chris Lavelle serves as the Vice President and Pod Meister™ of Cloud Offerings and Strategy at Enavate. In this role, he is responsible for the Strategic Vision of Enavate’s Subscription and Cloud Offerings and ensures they are successfully brought to market. Prior to Enavate, Chris has spent the last 22 years in the Microsoft channel providing leadership and strategic direction to midsized Consulting Organizations supporting Application Development, BI&A, Collaboration, Security, Infrastructure, ERP, and Cloud Services. Chris has been a member of multiple Microsoft Partner Advisory Councils including the Microsoft Security PAC, and the Microsoft Infrastructure PAC, and has presented at multiple Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conferences.

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