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04

Sep

All Aboard the CDS and Dynamics update train!

In 1869, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States of America ushered in a long and sustained period of growth and prosperity as American industry got moving on an unprecedented scale.

150 years on, it is fitting that Microsoft has created a virtual train to drive updates to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement (and Common Data Service) customers around the world. This regular, weekly service replaced the old system of updates

Previously, updates were deployed as either Update Rollups, or as weekly updates with a large Spring/Fall update.  These larger updates would be dramatic, typically requiring planning, downtime, and change management that could be disruptive to the business.

It is Microsoft recognising that fast and regular service is key to keeping your business moving too. But how does this train work, where does it stop around the world, and what happens when Microsoft releases its larger, feature-rich April and October updates? Let me provide you with some answers…

The train stops in four regions across the world

Once Microsoft has pushed a change through the required testing and internal releases, it embarks on the start of its express journey across the world.

Each week it stops, deploying updates at one of four places in the following order:

  1. Japan/South America/Canada/India
  2. Asia Pacific/Great Britain/Oceania
  3. Europe/North America
  4. Dedicated Service Group/Government Cloud

The train is stopped if it's broken

If at any stage a critical error is encountered, the update is cancelled. So if the train makes it to the ‘first release’ (internal Microsoft) region, and an error is found, it will be cancelled and not make its way to the Japan/South America/Canada/India region.

In most cases all regions will be on slightly different versions. However, if an error is found then that one train will not continue - creating a one week 'gap' in updates and creating a situation where two regions may be on the same version.

The train no longer causes everything to stop

Before the virtual update train was driving change at a weekly cadence, updates were dramatic.

Applying a change would create downtime. Sometimes entire Dynamics 365 systems would be unavailable for up to 6 hours.

In our 'new' world, the downtime estimate for the larger, twice yearly (April and October) releases is only 30 minutes - and the meaning of 'downtime' is no longer 'completely unavailable', but rather 'lowered performance'. Additionally, Microsoft will deploy at an ‘out of hours’ time to avoid peak usage.

Needless to say, Microsoft claims to be working on ways to optimise this further, and outside of the twice-yearly feature updates, the regular changes do not create noticeable downtime.

Version numbers are now incremental

In ye olden days of … about a year ago, large changes (such as those in Spring and Fall) to Dynamics 365 and the Common Data Service came alongside big version changes. Dynamics 365 went from version 8.2 to version 9.0 and to version 9.1.

No longer.

Now, even larger changes simply update the build number - that is, the final 4 digits on the Dynamics 365 version number. For example, the last major release - in April 2019 - changed the Dynamics 365 version from 9.1.0.3844 to 9.1.0.4050.

Other more subtle and generic changes, such as renaming spring and fall deployments to April and October, have been made to ensure the process is as seamless and easy to understand as possible.

This virtual train of change, like the real-world equivalent of the nineteenth century, is now driving systems forward in ways that improve predictability and reduce risk. Jump aboard as it heads your way!

Posted by: Bruce Edwards, Practice Lead Customer Engagement & Business Central | 04 September 2019

Tags: Dynamics 365, Common Data Service


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