Dynamics 365 Moves to a Continuous Deployment Cycle
Microsoft has announced some important changes to its Dynamics 365 update policy. The main highlights from its recent blog post communicating these changes are:
- Two major cloud releases each year in April and October will deliver new functions and capabilities
- Updates will be backwards compatible to ensure that apps and supported customisations remain operational post-update
- New features involving potentially disruptive changes will be disabled by default enabling admins to test prior to deployment
- Release notes will be published on 23rd July for the next update available from October 2018
- Update timelines will be changed to help administrators validate the impact of major updates in a sandbox environment prior to the main production release
- Continuous delivery schedule means that organisations running an older version of D365 will need to update to the latest version
- Revised update process applies to the Dynamics 365 applications and underlying platform (Common Data Service for Apps)
What this means for Dynamics 365 users
Microsoft’s commitment to twice annual Dynamics 365 updates reflects its recent practice of spring and autumn releases. What this updated policy does change is the ability of administrators to skip a cloud release.Whereas, D365 customers have been able to remain up to one version behind the latest cloud edition this will now require all users to be on the latest available version.
This isn’t an immediate change but customers running Customer Engagement apps (Sales, Customer Service, Project Service & Field Service) must plan to be on the latest version by 31 January 2019.
Customers using v9.0 are already using the latest version but this policy change will require v8.2 users to complete their cloud update prior to February 2019 to avoid having an automated update being scheduled by Microsoft.
With the prospect of two major releases each year, and no option to skip an update, there will be an increased need to stay away from unsupported Dynamics 365 customisations.
While many admins are already using their sandbox environment to test updates before applying these to their live environment, Microsoft has signaled that from April 2019 it will provide a separate timeline specifically to assess new capabilities and train users in advance.
In addition to its two major releases each year, Microsoft promise a continuous set of updates for reliability and performance. This has been evident recently with a noticeable step up in the frequency of its update cadence with new updates arriving most weeks. Rather that spreading its resources across multiple products, with all users on one version the expectation will be that it enables Microsoft to better focus on adding new features and making performance improvements.
The next important date is Monday 23 July when Microsoft will share details of its October 2018 update in what is expected to be another 200+ page document!
READ MORE: FAQ for Dynamics 365 Update Policies