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Submitted by Saurav Dhyani on 29 June 2020

Microsoft Busines Central Version 14 Licenses Will Not Be Available After October 2020: Should You Upgrade Now or Wait?

By now, most of us have already read much about upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (BC) version 14 and how it can help you save time, money, and effort. While it might seem reasonable to wait, the problem is that the current Microsoft Licensing policy states that October 2020 will be the last month the BC version 14 license will be available for renewal or new purchase. 

So, the decision needs to be made very soon: Should you upgrade now or wait?  

This blog discusses challenges that you could face during your upgrade if you move to BC version 15 or higher from Business Central version 13 or any version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. 

NOTE: With any business solution, you and your Dynamics Partner are a team that should work together to develop, support, customize, and upgrade your business solution. You know your business, and your partner knows Business Central, so you need to work as a team. Therefore, work with your Partner as a team to assess your situation and make a decision.

Also, every business is different; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is up to you and your Partner to translate this discussion into how your business will benefit from upgrading or waiting. 

Question #1: We always upgrade after X years. Why should that change?

BC14 is the last version where C/AL and AL are both supported. This is also the last version with Windows client. This blog will discuss why this should be an important factor in your decision.

Question #2: Those are technical reasons. Why should I care?

You are correct in that they are technical reasons, and you as a customer should not be concerned about it. But as stated above, every business is different—which means every database is different—so those technical reasons could impact you.

Question #3: What are the possible challenges around upgrading, and what can I as a customer do to identify which challenges my company will need to address?

Here is a checklist that will help you determine if you might face challenges by not upgrading to BC14 (Your partner can help you with the answers)

  1. Are you using any ISV Add-on solutions?
    • If Yes, are they available as Extensions? 
    • If they are available as Extensions, do the ISVs who offer them also offer an upgrade path (to upgrade existing data) for your add-ons?
  2. Do you have customizations in your base Microsoft Objects?
  3. Have you modified base Microsoft Permissions?
  4. Which Client is most of your users using –Classic or Role Tailored?
  5. Do you have custom SQL Indexes, Views, Procedures and/or Reports?
  6. Are you using Com Add-in/Custom DLL in your solution?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you could run into challenges if you don’t upgrade to BC14 by the end of October, 2020.

On the other hand, if you are ready to upgrade without…

  1. An ISV Add-on solution
  2. Any customizations
  3. Any SQL changes
  4. the Windows Client

You should not have any impact by waiting until a later date to upgrade to BC14.

Question #4: What Will the Typical Upgrade to BC14 Process Look Like?

  1. You and your Partner decide that it’s time for an upgrade. Your Partner will request a copy of your current Dynamics NAV Objects as a FOB (Financials OBject file) or access to server.
  2. Your Partner will analyze the objects and come back to you with a quote for the upgrade*1. If you and your Partner agree to terms, your project can begin.
  3. Your Partner will merge your changes*2 into the version of BC to which you’re upgrading.
  4. Your partner will then ask you for a Test Server, where they will run Microsoft & Add-on Solution Data Migration logic*3 and upgrade your data.
  5. Your Team will start testing, and your partner will fix any reported issues.
  6. Once Testing is completed, you will agree on a Go live date (typically a weekend).
  7. Your Partner will execute the Go Live on the scheduled date.
  8. Your Partner will support you for a defined period (as per contract).
  9. When you and your Partner have agreed that the upgrade has been successfully completed, you can close the project.

Now, the challenges (assuming your next upgrade is to BC15 or higher)…

*1 Quote – In C/AL world, a quote was typically based on the number of Base objects modified and number of ISV Add-on solutions you have.

If your upgrade is to BC15 or higher, the quote will include an unknown factor, which is for those customizations that cannot be upgraded to AL as Extensions. It is next to impossible to estimate those changes in the Quote phase.

*2 Merging your changes – In the C/AL world, Microsoft provided Partner tools that can handle automatic merging to a higher version. But, as the programming language is changing from C/AL to AL, there are no tools and will never be a tool for merging C/AL changes to AL (I can say that with 100% certainty).

So, merging will be a manual process, and during this phase, there might be some customizations/modifications that cannot be upgraded to AL as Extensions.

*3 Data Migration logic - As stated earlier, data migration logic is important for upgrades to carry your data from the C/AL world to the AL world. 

Microsoft takes care of Microsoft fields and table data, your Partner will work on writing data migration logic for your custom tables and fields, and your ISVs must be ready to upgrade your data from C/AL TO AL.

Question #5: What Will the Typical Upgrade Process Look Like If We Upgrade Directly to BC15 or Higher?

NOTE: These are my views, and I could be wrong.

  1. You and your Partner decide that it is time for an upgrade. Your Partner will request a copy of your current Dynamics NAV Objects as a FOB (Financials OBject file) or access to server.
  2. Your Partner will analyze the objects and come back to you with a quote for the upgrade with Unknown Factor included. If you and your Partner agree to terms, your project can begin.
  3. Your Partner will merge the changes that can be upgraded into the version of BC to which you’re upgrading.
  4. Your Partner might come back to you with merging issues that cannot be moved forward. At that point, those modifications will need to be rewritten in the current environment so they can be upgraded.
  5. That also means you will need to test those modifications in your current version and go live with them in current version during the upgrade, which is happening in parallel.
  6. Once that part is done, your Partner will ask you for a Test Server, where they will run Microsoft & Addon Solution Data Migration logic and upgrade your data.
  7. If you use an ISV that does not have an upgrade routine, then you will have to put that project on hold or decide to switch to another Add-on/ISV that can accommodate your needs.
  8. Your Team will start testing, and your partner will fix any reported issues.
  9. Once Testing is completed, you will agree on a Go live date (typically a weekend).
  10. Testing can be difficult as users might not be comfortable with new, modern client. Users will also need to reset user personalization as that cannot be carried forward.
  11. Your Partner will execute the Go Live on the scheduled date.
  12. Your Partner will support you for a defined period (as per contract).
  13. When you and your Partner have agreed that the upgrade has been successfully completed, you can close the project.

Question #6: What are the Benefits of Upgrading to BC14 before October 2020?

  1. You don’t run the risk of losing out on functionality.
  2. You don’t run the risk of having to switch an Add-on/ISV.
  3. You don’t run the risk of losing productivity due to time spent by users learning the new, modern client.
  4. You aren’t pressured. BC14 will be supported until 2023, which gives you, your Partner, your ISVs, and your users more time to plan and be ready for the future:
    • You have time to work with your Partner to identify areas that might cause problems in next upgrade and fix them in the current environment phase by phase.
    • Your ISVs will (hopefully) be ready with Extensions and a data upgrade path.
    • You have time to switch from the Windows client to the modern client in phases with your team, so they learn it and are using it comfortably while still in BC14.

Connect with Your Partner to Decide…Contact ArcherPoint with Questions 

As stated at the start of this blog, customers and Partners need to work as a team and plan for this opportunity, which starts with understanding what it means, as well as the potential challenges. For another view on upgrading to BC14 before the deadline, read Jon Long’s blog, Upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central 14 While It’s Still Cheap.

If you have any questions about Extensions or upgrading Dynamics NAV or Business Central, contact the Upgrade Experts at ArcherPoint or download our free eBook:

 

Or go ahead and request an upgrade quote today.

 

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