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Technical highlights in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

I’ve had the privilege of working with Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 for a number of months before the 1st August general release date. I helped build the demo system used by Steve Ballmer at the Convergence launch in April (you can read about the demo here), and I’m busy implementing the system in a customer situation at the moment. Suffice to say, I’ve had enough time to note down a list of technical highlights in the latest release, and I thought it’d be only fair to share them.

I’m really excited about what the future has in store with Microsoft Dynamics AX. The release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 brings with it a plethora of enhancements made to the product (approximately 1200 new features have been implemented, some of which are quite significant). These will enable some jaw-dropping solutions to be built.

Here’s a sneak preview of what I think are some of the leading features that are available today with the new release of Dynamics AX:


Microsoft SQL Reporting Services ReportsMicrosoft SQL Server

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been working diligently to standardise one single reporting platform across all of their ERP products. This release of AX brings Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) as the primary tool for building AX reports. The old X++ reports no longer exist and have been converted into the new SSRS equivalent.


Security Architecture has received an overhaul – simple yet powerful

Security Architecture AXThe new AX security model has introduced the ability to now configure Claims-Based Security, which can enable the use of a Federated trust for granting role-based security rights to non-AD users. This now enables customers and suppliers to access their customer/supplier information without the need to configure and manage an AD account for each one.

In addition to this, the new security concepts like Security Roles, Duties and Privileges enable administrators to model security a lot more closely to business roles and their associated role centres, making configuration easier.


Microsoft Visual Studio integration enhancements

Microsoft Visual StudioThere have been a lot of improvements made in the area of Visual Studio development. The following list provides a brief list of the enhancements made:

-          Support development in managed code

-          Browse AX metadata from inside Visual Studio

-          Store Visual Studio projects in the AX model store

-          Model SSRS reports and write managed reporting business logic

-          Develop Enterprise Portal Web Controls

-          Develop and debug managed code integrating with AX

-          Debug server side batch and services X++ code

These enhancements will see a new generation of solutions being built for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Instead of the traditional let’s build everything using the ERP development tools approach, developers will now approach solution development using the best tools for the job. This ultimately results in better solutions at a lower cost.


Introduction of a Model-Driven Layered Architecture

Model-Driven Layered ArchitectureAX 2012 introduced a new Model-Driven Layered Architecture (MDLA) that was designed with the objective of helping accelerate the application development process for customers and partners.

The new MDLA consists of two main components, namely a Model and a Model Store.

A Model enables the logical grouping of AX elements (e.g. forms, tables, queries, etc.) into a single entity to promote easy management and deployment of AX elements.

The Model Store is a central repository that contains the models within the SQL Server database – this now means that the AX application files are no longer stored on a shared file server.

One of the benefits that the new layering system brings to both customers and partners is that it greatly simplifies the deployment of multiple ISV solutions into a single database – a simplified deployment directly equates to a reduction in cost.

I hope these snippets provide you with a sense of some of the new features that have been implemented in this new release of Dynamics AX 2012. I’ll be back over the course of the next few months with more of the new features that have been implemented – so watch this space!

Posted by: Jolann van Dyk, Practice Lead, Dynamics Solutions | 15 August 2011

Tags: AX, Visual Studio, Steve Ballmer, AX2012, SQL Server

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