As usual Microsoft seems to have put together a comprehensive agenda. These guys definately know how to plan a conference and you are poised to get bang for your buck if you put in the effort. A bit of planning is advised since there are many sessions and so much to learn that you can get lost if you're not careful.
In my experience the cool thing about the technical conference (compared to Convergence) is that it's held near Redmond. This means that MS typically brings many more of the real experts (not the marketing guys) from the dev teams since the overall cost is much lower. So the chance of getting to talk to some of them who actually creates the product is a lot higher.
As a generalist (I'm not into any specific part of AX) I will be focusing on getting as much information as possible about the future. This in itself can be a bit tricky since it's much easier for the MS people to talk about what's there now rather than what they think will come...
However, for those of us who are heavily dependant on being able to look a few years ahead, the future is the interesting part.
So - I have tried to look into the agenda and session catalog for interesting stuff which points a bit ahead. With those glasses on I've tried to combine the agenda with my own reflections on what may become important. Doing this I have noted the following,
KeynotesIt's always interesting to listen to Hal, Mike and others to hear their view on the latest release and sometimes even a hint about what's next. You can be sure that if there are any important radical changes or news, the keynote sessions are where they will be flashed - so don't miss them.
I'm especially interested in hearing more about the progress on the new user experience for the "Rainier" client and the impact it will have for all our industry modules, customizations etc. I guess right now it can be anything from "yep - we'll auto convert all forms by the push of a button" (highly unlikely) to "sorry guys, you have to redesign all forms completely manual". Interesting stuff.
The other part which I will be listening for, is MS thoughts on workloads. How do they see workloads (and "apps" for them) playing together and how do they see the interaction model between workloads supported by standard AX and industry specific workloads made by partners. I have no doubt that the model used through the last 15 years (layered source code modification using MorphX) is changing significantly - but the question of course is what the replacement model is and how fast it can/will be introduced.
SessionsSo far I have picked a few of the sessions which I will try to attend. There are plenty others that are also interesting but browsing the session catalog, these ones stood out for me,
- Master data management
Why? well I think this topic in many customer projects becomes a need-to thing. The days where AX was the only solution in the mix are gone. Today there is often a Dynamics CRM, a best-of-breed industry solution or something else which needs to be held synchronized with data in AX. Interesting to hear what they are thinking about this.
- Lifecycle services
MS has definately not nailed this yet. There are may issues still with the current offering, but in general I think it's an important topic. In EG (www.eg.dk) - as a large AX partner with many customers - it's a nightmare (and quite costly) to manage deployment and upgrades etc. per customer. It needs more attention (Sri - I hope you are reading this :-)
- Service integration through Azure
This is going to be part of the future. I need to understand more about where this is going. We probably need this for our state-of-the-art industry solutions in EG when they are not developed in AX but still needs close integration.
- Advanced reporting solutions
MS has a real serious challenge with reporting. What I am hearing is that the old reporting engine inside MorphX was not good - but the new reporting services based engine in some cases is worse...I'm looking forward to hear about improvements and possibilities.
- Dynamics CRM and AX Project integration
More out-of-the-box integration between AX and CRM is always interesting. CRM is enjoying tremendous traction in the market and closer ingration will be needed.
- Create Microsoft Dynamics AX builds using the new X++ server-side parallel compiler
As head of a dev team which are gradually switching into using TFS for all projects this is interesting. I'll try to understand where MS is heading with AX versus TFS - could be the most interesting session in the conference.