All roads lead to Sweden with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Opinion, by Mark Brummel

 

Many great things come from Sweden. If all houses in the world containing IKEA furniture would collapse I would guess we’ld all be standing on a pile of rocks right this minute.

Did you know IKEA uses NAV? Yes they do. A solution based on another solution. Actually the guys doing that also had a consultancy session at my house. They are Dutch.

Navision is from Denmark. Great Plains from Fargo. Both cold in the winter. Dark early. What do you do when it is cold and dark? You write software! Guess where LS Retail is from. Damn, it’s cold there, trust me I’ve tried.

Let’s go back to the orriginal post and where we left off.

It’s Navision! Or not quite…

Business Central is NAV with a touch of GP, some SL and a large portion of Project Green.

Project Green is the reason I became an MVP. When Microsoft acquired Navision, I was 25 and just starting my career as a software developer. I was working for the largest reseller in The Netherlands.

Rumors where that Microsoft was going to replace Navision and I was excited and decided that I wanted to learn Axapta. The company that I worked for just started an Axapta practice and I was allowed to take a training of version 2.5. After two days I decided to move back to Navision and it was when I realized even more how much I liked working with it and I was going to fight for it.

When I became a dad in 2004 I decided to switch to a much smaller reseller in the city I lived in. I biked to work every day (not ice-skating, sorrt), worked part time and loved it. But as we were a much smaller shop we did not get the news from Microsoft anymore and this is when I found Mibuso and MBSOnline (now Dynamicsusers.org).

David Singleton was the one who talked me into freelancing which I first started to do part-time but soon more permanently. He was also involved in me getting my first MVP award in April 2006.

Back then NAV was still two-tier with the classic database and classic client but changes were imminent.

I won’t bore you with my personal history any more than necessary. The years after this were quiet and I spent most of my time with SQL Server rather than NAV as I became specialized in performance tuning and troubleshooting.

It was not until 2009 that things become interesting again when Microsoft introduced the concept of the service tier, web services, DotNET and much more in NAV. I loved it and decided to move back from SQL Server to Dynamics NAV.

Project Green had discontinued. That was the official story from Microsoft. All of the business applications had inherited pieces of it. Microsoft had streamlined their ERP applications to a point where only a trained eye could see the difference between GP, SL, AX and NAV.

Stop…

Let’s stop here as I think that this is an important point of time. This is when a lot of partners started to complain to Microsoft. Their main complaint was that the new NAV was not flexible enough compared to the previous version.

Classic Navision was fantastic at its time and one of its main advantages was that anyone could be a developer. C/AL was very easy to learn and the architecture was almost impossible to break.

This changed with the 2009 version as SQL was mandatory and the service tier required a better understanding of network technology. Pages were far less flexible than the old forms and I’m not even going to get started on reports.

At this point in time things went south. The partner ecosystem went against Microsoft and forced changes. This was very bad for the reputation of NAV. Competition smelled victory and used slogans like “We are more Microsoft than Microsoft”.

Ever since the introduction of NAV 2009 Microsoft has been fighting against themselves and their partners rather than taking the lead.

What about GP and SL?

I’m writing this story from the perspective of a NAV developer based from The Netherlands. Whatever happened with GP or SL was none of my concern.

One of the first decisions Microsoft made after the acquisition of Navision was not to continue to try and make GP and SL grow outside the English-speaking parts of the world. This is probably where Microsoft signed the capitulation for these products.

GP and SL have been merged into Business Central. A few years ago, Microsoft did a fit/gap between the three SMB products. It’s when some new features appeared in NAV that were directly copied from GP and on App Source you can find an extension called “Progressus Software” which I’ve been told is taking features from SL into Business Central.

So where is the problem?

If Business Central is based on NAV and GP and SL are merged into it, where is the problem Mark? Nobody should be happier than you!

If you are still with me here than you have my respect. You’ve been patient enough to read over 2000 words to get here.

Business Central is NOT Navision!

If Business Central is the intermediate result of Project Green than we should be proud that most of the ingredients are from Navision. Why is it then that I am not quite happy?
The immense success of Navision is based on the simplicity of making raw source code modifications and being able to change almost all of its behavior.

At Directions ASIA Microsoft claims to have 160.000 installations and 2.7 million concurrent users. If these numbers are correct than somebody sold one million seats in less than a year. In an era of fake news, I would love to see that number independently audited.

Dynamics NAV partners should be happy about their product having won but this is not the case.

This has quite a number of reasons and this is what makes it so immensely complicated.
There are quite a lot of companies still running on old (classic) versions of NAV and a lot of partners are still selling and supporting this. They struggle to move forward.

Business Central is Great Plains!

Did you know that most of the work for Events and Extensions on NAV is not done in Denmark but in Fargo?

The customization model of GP has always been Events and Extensions. For them this is normal. It’s only the Navision partners who are pampered with raw source code modifications but also have to drag around the negatives.

Compare to NetSuite, Exact Online and Quickbooks!

These companies can only dream of an extensibility model like the one Business Central has. They don’t even come close to the technology Microsoft offers. However, they run circles around Microsoft when it is about features and functions for the customer.

Mark, what are you doing next?

Let’s move into bits and bytes after this analysis of our ecosystem and I’ll layout my strategy for the next few years. Which may surprise you my friends…

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “All roads lead to Sweden with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

  1. Martin Olsen

    Mark, I am a little confused as to any conclusions you are drawing.
    Do you like Business central but wish you had access to change source code?
    You seem to suggest that BC is the great new wonder tool? I am very skeptical about getting too excited about a new Microsoft release that has exactly zero sales? Business central may turn out to be the next big thing (I hope so) – but right now it is a small startup fighting for survival against its big brother AX (who seems to be the favorite child).

    One thing you have not pointed out is that every time source code is changed with NAV – that customer now has a much more difficult and expensive upgrade path – which is why there are so many companies still using old versions of NAV. (We used this fact in pre-sales to win many deals against NAV back when I sold GP for a living). With the GP model of customization you will find that the large majority of the base has been able to stay up to date on upgrades and are within a version or two of the latest release.

    The other thing I would like to take objection to is that GP has been retired. Far from it. In fact sales of our GP related products have increased in 2018 over all previous years. GP remains functionally rich and will compete strongly with Business Central long after it has grown wings and left the nest.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Mark Brummel Post author

      I stopped wishing long time ago. If I had to wish I would want NAV to take the GP spot. I know a very small team can do mirracles. NAV was on “maintenance mode” for years and look, we are still there. Sometimes it is better not to be the product of choice. I think we all know most of the GP developers moved to Business Central.

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