Microsoft Dynamics NAV has long been one of the world’s most popular, most implemented, best-selling ERP software programs for managing the small to midsize business. Today, over 160,000 companies, deploy NAV across 2,700,000 users in 195 countries! So when the core product evolves, the ensuing buzz cuts a wide swath across the IT community. These days, a product long code-named ‘Tenerife’ is doing just that, as the quickly evolving SaaS (Software as a Service) next generation product begins its long journey as the future of NAV.
And as of yesterday (April 2, 2018) NAV is now (drum roll please…) Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
To begin with, what we’re seeing here is the evolution of NAV from an on-premise based software solution that’s been around for decades, that then evolved into a cloud-deployable solution (hosted by anyone from your local reseller to global partners who specialized in hosting), into the latest rendition, in which the CBFKAN (code base formerly known as NAV) evolves onto a Microsoft SaaS platform that is sold on a subscription basis (by “named user”) to users within a company for one flat monthly per-user cost. (There will actually be three levels of pricing, dependent on the ‘type’ of user you choose to purchase.)
To reiterate, D365 Business Central is the complete installation of NAV software, that is, it’s the same code base. That means that the functionality and flexibility and extensibility for which NAV has been long known are still there and fully functional. NAV is a special, unique product, so that code base integrity is important. But while the product itself remains intact, the ‘branding’ (and hence, name) is changing.
With D365 BC, there are some new wrinkles. For one, it puts the individual users – the ‘clients’ – in a web-only situation. These clients run on tablets and phones or in your computer’s web browser but, notably lacking at least at this point, is a traditional Windows client. For existing NAV users, that might be a deal-breaker right there. For the newer user starting fresh, perhaps not so much.
The software license is now provided via the Cloud Solution Provider program, a newer Microsoft delivery program in which providers must be registered. It renders users as ‘named’ users (one client instance by individual name, generally) paid for via a monthly subscription-based fee. There are no ‘concurrent’ users in the D365 BC/CSP model, but there are also no upfront software costs or what today is known as annual maintenance. It’s all bundled into the one monthly fee.
D365 Business Central takes advantage of an app store philosophy embraced years ago by Apple and later others, in which applications are purchased through an online store. With D365/BC, these apps add or extend the functionality of the base NAV product, and fit neatly into preassigned code areas within NAV for ‘plug-in’ flexibility and ease of installation. In NAV, these are known as ‘extensions.’ The aim, at least for Microsoft, is to build a large and robust community of extension developers and users, thus growing the overall base of Dynamics 365 users.
There’s more to the announcement than will fit in a single post, so we’ll finish this post in a second installment in our next post. Stay tuned…