Inside project “Madeira” part I | Impact on the traditional one-off implementation

By Mark Brummel – Founder of NAV Skills Masterclasses & Microsoft MVP since 2006

I have not been more enthusiastic about something lately than about project “Madeira” and tried to learn as much as I can about it and reflect it to my day-to-day life with Dynamics NAV which is a combination of Training and Implementation.

Transformation Time (again)

In the Dynamics NAV or Navision channel we’ve had quite a few transformations in the past that ended up working well but interrupted many people’s business for quite a few releases.

Those I remember quite vividly where the move from Native database to SQL server and the move from 2-tier to 3-tier stack. Both initiatives we know where absolutely vital for the future of the product but were a giant step that took several years and releases to complete.

Dynamics NAV 2016 is by no doubt the best version of Navision ever like Navigator 3.56 was before and Navision Financials 2.60. And in computer software its a rule: When you think you have all your ducks in a row, the context changes. This is what project “Madeira” will do as well.

Project “Madeira”

In this series of blogs I will dive into the disruptive part of project “Madeira” for the traditional NAV business which is huge and in my opinion one of the reasons it is positioned side-by-side with NAV running on the same stack, just like the SQL Server option when it was first introduced.

Most Navision partners were smart enough not to take any customers live on the first version of SQL Server for Navision even though it was brought by marketing as a backup-and-restore option. We know how that ended up and it took Navision and later Microsoft over a decade to make it right. Yet we all know that Navision would no longer exist today if someone many years ago did not have that vision to move forward.

NAVUG Summit Europe | Keynote

Last week I was at the first NAVUG Summit event in Europe organized in Stuttgart Germany and visited the NAV Keynotes done by Marko Perisic.

Marko took us on a trip to memory lane talking about how Navision grew from a Dos based product to a first class cloud citizen. Quite an interesting achievement. But what does that mean for NAV and the NAVUG community.

It seems that Microsoft is primarily aiming with NAV in hosted scenarios with platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service. In this scenario NAV is the Paas solution and project “Madeira” is Saas. It is quite important to understand project “Madeira” is not NAV, it is based on NAV. I’ll get back to that in future blog posts in this series.

With that being said it was quite a surprise that in the presentation there is no detailed (functional) roadmap for NAV. This has been the case for the last couple of years for vNext+1 but not for vNext. (It was actually Mark Rhodes of NAVUG who brought this to my attention.)

With the focus to the hosted scenarios (project “Madeira”) it seems that traditional NAV is not really getting a lot of traction. (In a recent blog article Microsoft promoted the Web Client as an alternative for the Windows client, something all partners would wish was true, but is not…)

The idea about hosting is improved repeatability which is good for Microsoft license revenue. Traditionally NAV has been specifically good at one-off highly customized projects.

Marko also brought up something else which was interesting. In the future Microsoft only wants Extensions to be able to customize NAV. Extensions is a new way of shipping customizations in NAV of which NAV 2016 has a technology preview built-in. With the current model extensions are not suitable for one-off implementations. Microsoft is aware of that. The concept also needs a lot of polishing for Paas and Saas.

So, does that mean Microsoft will write-off the one-off highly customized customers?

Definitely not!

If only because there are so many of them and the installed base of NAV is very important for Microsoft.

“However, traditional NAV might get a little bit less attention in the next few years.”

Where NAV 2009 introduced the role-tailored client, NAV 2016 introduced extensions. We all know it took Microsoft quite a substantial amount of releases to get the concept of the RTC mature enough to replace its predecessor and many still miss features we used to have although I would tend to disagree.

In the next couple of blog posts I will try to dive into more questions about the future of NAV, project “Madeira” and Extensions.

“If done correctly project “Madeira” can be the next generation ERP everyone will love.”

With some changes done correctly the one-off customers will be satisfied as well. Question is how many years of releasing project “Madeira” updates it will cost before we get there. With the RTC it was about half a decade.

Interesting time ahead! Be sure not to be left out.