In November 2018, Microsoft released Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations version 8.1.1, with build number 8.1.170. This version includes Platform Update 21. To know more about what’s new or changed in this version, please refer to: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/fin-and-ops/get-started/whats-new-changed-8-1-1.

one platform

This is the future of Microsoft strategy around Dynamics ERP and makes Dynamics 365 a truly differentiated Cloud ERP System compared to what is out there in the market today.

We got a chance to attend the first 8.1 Upgrade official workshop hosted by Microsoft at their Bellevue, WA campus. It was a great experience collaborating with the Microsoft Team working on the actual upgrade. The 5-day workshop allowed us to identify any roadblocks for us in this major upgrade. Here, we worked on the actual upgrade process following Microsoft’s best practice.

Are you ready? Does it impact us?

We have been hearing about the new 8.1 Upgrade for a while. But really does it impact us? The short answer is YES, if you are already on D365 F&O or planning to upgrade from an earlier version of AX (AX 2012 R2/R3, 2009, etc.)

  • The official deadline is April 2019 to upgrade from earlier versions of D365 F&O. In the very near future, these versions will be unsupported.

This 8.1 Upgrade will be the last upgrade that end users or partners will ever have to do, because all future enhancements for Platform and application will be delivered thru cumulative updates on a scheduled basis (i.e., monthly) via a single tile. There will be no granular X++ updates.

Proposed Upgrade Process

Remember the old days of doing upgrades? We had to do planning for days – if not months – to do even a CU upgrade. But things are changing a lot.

The standard process will be: Microsoft will update the Gold / UAT-Test environment (Microsoft-hosted Tier 2) first with the new updates, and as a client we have 15 days to test before it gets applied to PROD environment. You can request to do a conditional hold on the PROD update for certain number of days (decided by Microsoft policies).

  • For the scheduled upgrades for both TEST and PROD environments, Microsoft will send an email notification. Also, the upgrades can be voluntarily applied earlier than scheduled date thru the LCS process.
  • If there is any critical update (hotfix) needed, Microsoft may release the update sooner than scheduled. For example, an update that is needed for a large group of customers.
  • System Downtime: Minimal to none (a few minutes to a couple of hours) decided by the client’s environment specifics. The standard email will be sent before the scheduled update time

The bottom line about Customizations:

When the new Dynamics 365 F&O was launched, many clients jumped in and adopted the new version. For any typical ERP system, we usually have some sort of customizations. Prior to 8.1 version, clients/partners had options to develop the customized code thru Overlayering or an Extension, though Microsoft had always insisted on Extensions as best practice. To know more about Extensions and Overlayering, please refer to: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/dev-itpro/extensibility/customization-overlayering-extensions

In simple terms, overlayering is Inline (customized) code referring to base models. This makes any system upgrade difficult. Hence, Microsoft decided to stop this feature completely and give clients/partners the ability to do customization only thru Extensions. So, anyone with older versions of D365 F&O needs to run the Upgrade report to review development compatibility for the upgrade. If any of the code was developed thru overlayering, we must convert it to Extension before proceeding thru 8.1 Upgrade.

There are some new features, such as Chain of Command (aka CoC), that were introduced with Platform Update 9 and can help the clients with avoiding the overlayering. To know more about CoC, please refer to: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/dev-itpro/extensibility/method-wrapping-coc

Customizations / Extensions is the most critical aspect of the 8.1 Upgrade. If you have a lot of customizations done as overlayering, plan for this part of the process as a major effort of your overall upgrade process. Just like any enterprise level company, Microsoft has its own ways of performing rigorous testing before any new update releases. Since Microsoft will not do any changes to its base code, any future system updates shouldn’t affect the existing customizations.

Bottom line: NO overlayering code in the new One Platform environment.

To know more about how we can make your One Platform Upgrade go smoothly, please contact PowerObjects Delivery Team at: POERPTeamDelivery@PowerObjects.com.

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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Joe D365

Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.