It is not mandatory. However, sooner or later there will be no more updates or new releases for GP or Nav. Eventually, some older versions of these products will no longer be able to get license files. This means if you need to add users, you won’t be able to. At the moment, new licenses are not available for NAV 2013 and older.
There are a number of positive reasons as to why your business should considering migrating from GP / NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Dynamics 365 Business Central is cloud-based, which means that your data and computer applications are remotely stored and delivered over the internet. (This means Business Central and any other cloud-based solutions are available anywhere at any time.) This varies from on-premises systems, where everything is stored on local servers, perhaps down the hall from the office space, and which incur steep infrastructure costs to startup or upgrade.
Business Central is most cost-efficient when utilized as Software as a Service (SaaS), which is entirely on Microsoft’s cloud. We also host Dynamics NAV and Business Central clients on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, an open and flexible cloud platform within Microsoft datacenters that is safer, faster, more redundant, more scalable, and more affordable than hosting on your own servers.
Yes, and we can do that for you. Licensing must be purchased upfront, and annual renewal fees are paid to Microsoft. Business Central on-premises upgrades are controlled, all add-ons are available, and you have full database access. For most partners, the price of Business Central on-premises includes licensing only, and it does not include costs for IT infrastructure (servers) or support. So you would have to consider that additional ongoing cost when deliberating which form to invest in.
Hosting on Azure allows you the benefits of the cloud—such as being able to access your apps anywhere, anytime, but you get a dedicated, private environment that will feel much like on-premises deployments. However, with Azure, you don’t have to worry about servers, IT, or support. Licensing can be purchased upfront (perpetual) or per user/per month. Upgrades are controlled rather than automatic, all add-ons are available, and you receive full database access.
But we do suggest moving on to the cloud for all its benefits. SaaS (Software as a Service) is deployed in a similar way to Office 365, where licensing is per user/per month and no servers are required. You access applications via a web browser and is available anywhere, anytime. SaaS includes automatic upgrades, many available add-ons, and no database access. It’s also the most cost-effective in terms of licensing and infrastructure costs (which are none).
We do have two considerations that may make SaaS a less favorable option for some companies:
But stick around for a discussion of migrating customizations, because those of you with large modifications may not need to keep them when moving to Business Central.
Business Central is built on the same foundation as Dynamics NAV. In essence, it is the newest, most improved version of NAV. If you’re currently using NAV but want to stay current, relevant, and be on the forefront of technology, you will need Business Central.
Business Central is constantly being developed and improved upon. Upgrade Releases and monthly updates are free and automatic on the cloud and takes no effort on your part. NAV, however, is not receiving any new upgrades or releases.
No! In fact, it’s better. When you use Microsoft’s Azure cloud, you get all the state-of-the-art security measures that Microsoft has already invested in, without having to navigate that process yourself. These measures include perimeter fencing, video cameras, security personnel, secure entrances, and real-time communications networks.
You can also opt in (which we recommend) to Azure Active Directory and multi-factor authentication options—available via Dynamics 365 and Office 365, to make sure that only your authorized users get into your system. With industry-standard encryption protocols and threat protection services, you have tight security.
Data itself is less likely to be lost, as well. Your data is redundantly stored in a main location and a secondary location within two Microsoft datacenters. If one datacenter is compromised (say, due to an earthquake), your data can be recovered via the backup data center in a different part of the country. This is a huge benefit of cloud-based applications – an on-premises environment will rarely have these redundancy and recovery options.
Whether you move NAV to the Azure cloud or move to Business Central (SaaS or on Azure), you will reap these rewards.
There are conversion tools to take GP / NAV data and move it to Business Central. This data will be usable within Business Central just like data entered after go-live.
The first question to ask when considering customizations and add-ons is are they even necessary anymore? Business Central is the next generation of NAV, it’s been improved and features have been added. Perhaps your bank reconciliation add-on (or whatever add-on you have) isn’t necessary anymore because Business Central has bank reco out-of-the-box or there’s an even better way of doing the action your customization was built to do. Check in on this before moving forward.
Add-ons: Many ISVs have converted their add-ons for Business Central, which requires switching their C/AL code they previously used for NAV over to the AL code that Business Central uses. If your ISV has not already done this, you can look into your ISV’s plan to do so. If they have a timeframe, you can plan around that. If they don’t intend to make their add-on compliant, you won’t have that add-on. And you’ll want to find an Extension (the Business Central add-on equivalent).
Customizations: We can help you assess if you even want to keep your customizations, or if the abilities of Business Central make that customization unnecessary. Whatever customizations are deemed necessary, we can translate those customizations into Business Central, and plan it into your migration.
These costs for cloud licensing are per user, per month, and it is named-user licensing, meaning that only one user can use each license:
To be hosted on Azure, there is additional costs to your Microsoft Partner, while to host on-premises, you need to factor in the additional cost of infrastructure, IT, service, maintenance, and periodic infrastructure updates. Hosted on Azure, you are able to buy your licensing up front (perpetual owned) instead of per user/month, but you will need to pay renewal fees to Microsoft. On-Premises, you have to buy licensing up front and have to pay renewal fees to Microsoft.
Yes! Microsoft does a 30-day trial. You can use data available within the trial or you can even import your own.
Dynamics NAV users are in a strong position, and though we suggest moving to Business Central, we understand that you may have invested quite a bit lately in NAV and don’t have the budget to switch (or some other business reason is holding you back). You don’t have to switch now, but we urge you to seriously consider migrating in the future. To prepare for that:
None, really. The path to migrate depends on your current solution, and you do need to consider add-ons, customizations, and if you’re moving to on-prem, Azure, or SaaS. When moving to Business Central on-premises, you will have to look at the version of the Operating System and have to look at SQL. In most cases both will have to be updated. We’ll help you figure all this out.
Basic implementation (few to no customizations, or small customizations) – 6 weeks
Advance implementation (some customizations) – 3-4 months
Enterprise Implementation (lots of customizations) – 6 months
As for training: NAV users should have confidence in a migration because you’re in a great position. Business Central is going to feel quite similar to NAV, just more modern and cloud-based. Your users will need less time to acquaint themselves with the system than users on another ERP system.
The following activities come as part of the fixed price for the migration from Dynamics NAV to Business Central:
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