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Home / Insights / Blog / 5 Best Practices to Follow During a Dynamics AX Upgrade
January 3, 2022 - by Angna Thakkar
Microsoft understands the need for organizations to stay abreast with the latest in the world of technology. That’s why, it drives constant efforts towards launching new versions of the Dynamics platform and offering an array of new and improved features and capabilities that enable them to keep up with the dynamic pace of a volatile world. As an organization looking to get most out of your Dynamics investment, it is natural for you to consider upgrading your AX environment to the latest version of Dynamics 365 to access innovative, new-age capabilities.
But for that to happen, you need to first prepare for a smooth and seamless upgrade. A successful Dynamics AX upgrade can be divided into three main steps: 1) Analyze the existing environment, estimate the effort, and build a project plan, 2) Execute the data and code upgrade process, and 3) Validate and test the upgrade and prepare for go-live.
Preparation can include having a completion checklist, identifying the upgrade scenario, and devising an execution plan that allows you to tailor the upgrade as per your requirements. Understanding your company’s objective and verifying that you are trying to augment a function of your business that needs improvement is imperative. Also, making sure you analyze all the custom code and creating a robust plan for code upgrade is important; such analysis will allow you to understand if customizations are necessary in the new version, or whether a complete refactoring is required.
All said and done, here are 5 best practices to follow during a Dynamics AX upgrade:
Your current Dynamics AX system is bound to have years of transactional data, which needs to be cleaned up, prior to embarking on the upgrade journey. This can be done using the Intelligent Data Migration Framework (IDMF). The tool allows you to assess the health of your Dynamics AX database as well as analyze current usage patterns. It also helps in removing all redundant and unnecessary data, thus reducing the processing time during the upgrade. You can also reduce the database size using the tool’s archiving and purging options: while archiving moves related data from the production database to a standby or archive database, purging removes or deletes data from a set of related entities from the production database – offering you a clean and updated database for an efficient upgrade.
In order to ensure a successful update, it is recommended that you define a robust strategy for creating backups before each step. This is especially useful when you run multiple test passes during the testing phase and at the time of live upgrade, as errors such as out of disk space and network failures can result in unexpected downtime. It is also important to backup all application files that contain customizations. These include all *.aod, *.add, *.ald, *.ahd, and *.khd files on your existing system.
To ensure your upgrade efforts bear fruit, it is recommended to carry out an upgrade in your test/stage environment first instead of directly conducting an in-place upgrade of your production environment. This gives enough opportunity to confirm that both source and target systems are working correctly before you begin the production upgrade. Since Dynamics AX allows you to preserve and reuse pre-processed data that is created on your test system, by upgrading in your test environment first, you can easily reduce pre-processing time on your production source system.
Running out of space is one of the most common problems associated with any AX upgrade. Since a new system will most likely bring with it new capabilities and features that would take up more space in your system, it is essential you verify (and confirm) you have sufficient space on your system as well as in your database transaction log. If you run out of space during the upgrade process, resizing will significantly slow down all operations. Therefore, analyzing and fine-tuning the space available can drastically improve performance during the data upgrade. Pro tip: Examine the actual growth of the database on a test run to more accurately determine how much additional space you need to allocate.
If you’re looking to achieve the highest performance and output from your upgraded AX system, it is important to make sure that you optimize your SQL server during the upgrade. By completing the upgrade process on a dedicated database server, you can ensure that all other applications running on the same server won’t affect the upgrade process by competing for resources. Review performance benchmarks of your existing database servers and determine whether you have to add more resources. Once you’ve optimized the SQL Server, test the server for optimum performance before you start the upgrade process for Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Transitioning from an existing AX version to Microsoft’s latest Dynamics 365 offering is a must, if you’re looking to make the most of the latest improvements and innovations. However, since any upgrade is a complex and time-consuming endeavour, engaging with a partner who is an expert in upgrades is critical to get the most out of the upgraded solution. Outsourcing the upgrade project to an experienced partner can help you stay on top of normal work priorities as well as in meeting the upgrade project deadlines. The right partner will be able to work on all the little details and ensure a successful upgrade, so you can leverage all the upgraded system’s benefits and meet today’s challenges with greater ease.
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