Last October Microsoft launched a new way of using Dynamics NAV with their managed service platform. In essence this means that instead of one of their partners taking Dynamics NAV, to build and run a platform to run it on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft have done it for them.
This is designed to be a multitenant solution with multiple companies/organisations using that same platform. Still provided through partners it requires a common set of objects or logic across all of the companies based on each instance.
It has the real advantage of being monitored and backed up by Microsoft’s operations team on a second by second basis, those guys have access to everything so if they cannot fix no one can. In addition, they have put together as resilient a system as Azure is capable of providing. Finally they’ve made the ability to deploy updates as straightforward and easy as it possible to be – you’ll be updating monthly on this platform!
The down side is the traditional Dynamics NAV strength of flexibility which the multitenant solution takes away currently. You cannot have the unique modifications that are just for you, because all the other tenants will get them to.
If you use ‘standard Dynamics NAV’ or even a version of Dynamics NAV for a particular industry that has not been changed specifically for you then it’s a good option. If you think you might need anything specific to you in the future though then it’s probably better to stick to one of the other deployment models.
One thing with Microsoft (especially for you nosuite trolls) is that you have the choice, you can do what’s right for you. It’s not one size fits all with the compromises that forces! What’s more you can change your mind because what is right today might not be tomorrow. Even better the platform and commercial models are separate. You can take a perpetual licence and deploy from the cloud or you can do a subscription licence and put it on your own servers. What’s right for you?
Back on the managed service platform though I expect this to get significantly higher take up as more and more customisations get redeveloped into the new extensions. Then you can install (and uninstall) an extension per tenant so each one can have exactly what they want. Right now there are limits to what you can do with extensions but Microsoft would have to be daft not to remove those one by one and stupid is one thing they are not.
In short, in my view it is the future of Dynamics NAV for most. At the moment it’s a subset of customers it is suitable for, but that will grow quickly over the next couple of years.
One final point is to make sure you’re given the option or your partner explains why it’s not suitable for you. Some partners are slower to adapt it than others, Microsoft are asking for some commitment so it takes some investment, their slowness to make that investment should not restrict your options.