Dynamics NAV Server granule – Where did it go?

I got quite a pleasent surprise today while I was placing an order with Microsoft for a new Dynamics NAV (Navision) customer. While I was clicking through the granules, I was looking for the dreaded granule 9100 – Dynamics NAV Server to add to the price list  and this is the screen that I spent 15 minutes on:

Notice anything different? That’s right, granule 9100 is no longer there!! I originally thought it was a mistake and clicked back and forth, deleted and re-created the order just to get the granule to pop up. Sensing something good was going on here, I went ahead and processed the order just to see what the license would look like. If it was missing due to a mistake, I can always just write a sales support to the ordering desk and have them add it for me.

For those of you who don’t know, granule 9100 is a granule that you much purchase to have the privilege to use the Role Tailor Client or RTC. Here’s a blog article that mentions it:

After the order was processed, I did a quick search on Partnersource and couldn’t find any mentino of granule 9100 being removed. So I went directly to the Price Sheet Explanation document and this is what I found:

Happiness! The granule is, as of December 15th 2010, included in the Foundation pack. Now we don’t have to charge the customer extra just to have RTC capability!

One question remains though is what about the customers that purchased the granule? How does their enhancement play out? Do they get a credit? I’d be a little upset, not because of the amount of the granule, but because I’m being punished to be an early adopter.

Dynamics NAV (Navision) in the Cloud

With the introduction of the App-V technology for Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 (Navision 6.0), it really introduces the concept of putting Navision into the Cloud. In case you haven’t heard of App-V, you can download the white paper here describing it in detail:

What is the Cloud?
Simply put, Cloud is software applications that people can use over the internet. There are a lot of IT documents out there will give you some complex definition or a diagram of what a cloud is. Don’t get caught up in tech speak! It’s a battle you’ll never win.

The advantage of the cloud is that you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware to use powerful software. In theory, it may also reduce your need for full time IT staff since there are less hardware to maintain (However, from my experience, this is usually not the case).

The cloud is great for softwares that you can use “as is”. Software such as e-mail and CRM, yes, there are some places where you need to personalize, but it’s usually not too intensive. Even with CRM, you usually need an ERP software to keep track of information that your CRM solution cannot.

Why the Cloud model Doesn’t Work in for your ERP?
Technically, it could. The cloud software model essentially has to be everything to everybody (I will repeat this phrase quite often). The cloud software is not able to be customized because it has to be everything to everybody. Every functionality the cloud software has written has to address the needs of the mass public that are using it, not just you.

In addition, even if the cloud ERP vendor says that you are able to customize their product, you’re request is subject to be routed in many other millions of queries about modifications for their company. And likely to be handed to a developer that doesn’t know what the intent was and may not create the function you need. Why? Because the cloud software model essentially has to be everything to everybody.

Another draw back is the ability to retrieve data. When you sign your cloud software agreeement, most likely, you’ve consented in that the cloud software company owns your data. So when it comes to a time where your company outgrew the cloud model, you may have a hard time trying to get your data out. Even if you can get your data out, it may just be the data from some master tables, and not the transactional data.

As I wrote in my previous entries, every business is unique, or I should say, HAS to be unique in order to have a competitive advantage. If your business is the same as everybody else, you shouldn’t be reading this blog, you should be seriously look into your company and identify what your competitive advantages are and leveraging that competitive advantage. So if your business is unique, why are you trusting the heart of your business that has to be everything to everybody?

How does App-V (Application Virtualization) Change the Game?
App-V allows your software, in our case Dynamics NAV or Navision solution, to be published over the internet. The App-V is an framework that allows you to create a private cloud that is controlled by your company. If you like the idea of not having expensive hardware inhouse, it also allows hosting companies to host NAV for you and publishing YOUR version of Dynamics NAV (Navision) software for you.

The advantage of this private cloud model is that the software is still under your control, this means you’re able to any customizations that is unique to your business. This model takes the best part of the cloud model and leaving out the everything to everybody part.

If your business is pretty simple and you don’t mind keep track of any information that’s not available externally, and you don’t mind waiting a long time for a support/modification request, and you’re comfortable having your financial data stored somewhere, then the straight cloud model may be right for you.

The cloud technology is always changing. What my concerns are now may not be relevant 5 or 10 years down the line. But as it stands right now, I’m having a hard time justifying any company to go straight into the cloud ERP model. The ability of App-V is a good starting point to eventually move into the complete cloud.