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Microsoft aims for Dynamics 365 cloud migrations

Microsoft AIM is a new initiative to help on-premises Dynamics ERP customers move to the cloud, with guidance, tools and services from Microsoft and partners.

Microsoft launched AIM, a new program designed to help on-premises Dynamics 365 customers with cloud migrations, at its annual partners conference Tuesday.

The Accelerate Innovate Move (AIM) program offers Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics SL and Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premises ERP customers services and tools to move critical business processes to the cloud. 

The rapidly evolving pervasiveness of generative AI, which includes Copilot embedded throughout the Dynamics applications portfolio, is requiring customers to move to the cloud to take advantage of the offerings, according to Giovanni Mezgec, vice president at Microsoft, in a blog post.

"Organizations relying on on-premises applications will struggle to compete with peers embracing these AI-powered technologies in the cloud," Mezgec wrote. "It is paramount for companies to migrate their critical business processes to the cloud now."

AIM uses three characteristics for cloud migration projects:

  • Assessment of the cloud migration, which includes understanding the business value, expected outcomes and steps needed to move from on premises to the cloud.
  • Access to Microsoft services and support, where customers can use implementation guidance and services from Microsoft and certified partners, including Success by Design, a systematic guide for designing, building and using Dynamics 365 applications. This also includes guidance on using the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Portal and collaboration with Microsoft FastTrack application architects for eligible customers.
  • Scaling cloud migrations through licensing offers that enable customers to move critical business processes incrementally as needed.

A similar cloud migration path as Rise With SAP?

Microsoft's pathway to help on-premises customers with cloud migrations is similar to Rise With SAP, said Mickey North Rizza, group vice president for enterprise applications at IDC.

SAP's initiative also uses partners to help its on-premises customers to the cloud, she said.

The need is becoming more pressing; Rizza noted that an IDC SaaSPath 2023 report found 44% of organizations plan to move from on-premises to SaaS ERP solutions in the next three years. The report involved 2,875 respondents across 23 enterprise applications.

The partners have access to the Success by Design [implementation] tools and guidance to help the organization systematically move to the cloud.
Mickey North RizzaGroup vice president for enterprise applications, IDC

AIM provides Microsoft partners with the tools and resources they need to help customers assess where they are before the move, she said.

"The partners have access to the Success by Design [implementation] tools and guidance to help the organization systematically move to the cloud," Rizza said. "This includes prescriptive guidance for designing, building and deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications, as well as transitioning from on-premises to the cloud."

Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers, also noted similarities between AIM and Rise. He said it looks like AIM comprises a commercial package of cloud migration tools that Microsoft partners can use.

Anything that helps customers with cloud migrations should help a little bit, he said. However, Microsoft in general doesn't have the same issues with moving customers to the cloud as SAP with its large on-premises legacy base.

"[Microsoft Dynamics customers] are usually much smaller companies that have much less customizations than SAP [customers] had in the 1990s," Jakovljevic said. "Microsoft's bigger problem is that legacy Dynamics GP or SL ERP users not go to NetSuite, Acumatica or others when they decide to move to the cloud."

Jim O'Donnell is a senior news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for TechTarget Editorial.

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