by Nicki Stewart

Paul White, senior director at Microsoft responsible for the Dynamics products, gave key notes yesterday and today. Paul unashamedly showed one key slide on both days, repeating the message of “IN” Office 365 and “ON” Azure. Reminiscent of Steve Ballmer’s call to partners some three years ago, “We’re going to the cloud, who’s coming with us”; Paul was selling tickets on a very real vehicle.

With these thoughts in my mind, I set off to the NAV 2013 on Azure seminar. The session was led by Elizabeth Alexander, senior Microsoft product manager. Elizabeth stated that industry projections were that within the near future, “SMBs will have clouded everything that is cloudable”. Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 supports cloud ambitions either as a perpetual licence in a hosted environment or on a pure subscription basis. This has been stated with previous versions of NAV where it was possible to achieve this but not without challenges. NAV 2013 R2 has been fine tuned for cloud deployment and ready to take on solutions that were born in the cloud.

More than its Dynamics siblings, AX and GP, NAV is the solution that Microsoft is backing for the cloud. NAV 2013 R2 has been designed for the cloud, not just pushed up there. The fine tuning required to achieve this includes improvements to performance in terms of both latency and resource consumption (a major consideration as resource-heavy solutions become expensive in the cloud, think of it as improving MPG in cars without compromising speed!); authentication issues as well as security have all been given a good going over.

For those users on pure cloud or hosting in a Microsoft data centre, the investment in the technology is amazing. The centres themselves look bomb-proof; they have generators to take over in the event of power-failure; they house millions of virtual machines. More importantly, is the geo-replication. This means Microsoft customers will not have to suffer the down-time and data loss experienced by SalesForce users last month. And it’s all backed by SLAs (again, unlike SalesForce where there are no financially backed guarantees).

Last year I was concerned that cloud was not yet viable due to cost, security and performance. This year I am an advocate for cloud proposition. It won’t be for everyone, and that’s fine, but it is a very feasible and attractive option for many, especially when you combine the compelling proposition of NAV 2013 in Office 365. Richard and I agreed that this is a must show for client day, if you’re not a client and would like details of the event, please contact us.