Wrapping up Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2011 Deepak Kumar, Senior Program Manager, presented the data upgrade framework in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Data upgrade is an intrinsic difficult subject to demonstrate in a breakout session. “Seeing is believing”, and Deepak had invested the time in preparing no less than six AX instances each at a different stage in the data upgrade process. With this setup Deepak was able to demonstrate all the improvements at various points in the data upgrade process. I’ve had the pleasure of presenting with Deepak a few times in the past. I know how much attention he pays to detail, and how much time he spends preparing just his slideshow. With this setup I will not even guess how much time Deepak has invested in helping us understand the data upgrade process in AX 2012. As one of the 400+ attendance in the audience, I felt I got spoiled. Thank you Deepak!

“Fear – Challenged – Rewarded – Joy” is the emotional evolution you go through during the data upgrade process.

Fear is the naturally emotion that kicks in when you are facing a big unknown change. To reduce the fear an Upgrade Readiness tool will be available. You install this tool on your live AX 4 / 2009 system. The tool offers a lot of benefits. First, it enables you to verify that the data in your live system can be upgrade. For example, if an optional column is being converted to an mandatory column, and your current production data has <blank> contents in the field – then the data upgrade is bound to fail. In the past you discovered issue like this much later in the process – you could call it trial-n-error. This pre-verification allows you to fix your data on your live production system before starting the actual upgrade.

Challenged replaces fear, as you now know you are in good hands. The Upgrade Readiness tool will secondarily enable you to enter data that is required to run AX 2012. In the past you would be entering this type data after the actual data upgrade but still during the downtime. Now you can enter the data up-front while the system is live. It is a quite comprehensive amount of data you need to provide, covering global address book, site, financial dimensions, organizational model etc. Next the live Preprocessing allows you to process live data to a staging area. It will be doing data transformations in the process, and the idea is to lower the complexity (and thus execution time) for the upgrade scripts that needs to run during the downtime. This process is of course delta-based, so any updates happening in the live system can be reapplied to the staging area. You can even control how much of your live system’s resources should be used for this, e.g. you may only want to use 0% during peak hours, 20% during night time, and 40% in the weekends.

On the AX 2012 installation you can connect to the live production system. The upgrade process now prioritize the actual upgrade scripts and data copy tasks based on the data composition of the production data you have. You can of course tweak the prioritization of the upgrade scripts and data copy tasks to further tune your data upgrade. At this point you have completed about 80% of the data upgrade process, and now is the time to take the system offline to do the actual data copy/transformation. Reward is in sight.

True joy is when the upgrade is completed, and you uninstall the upgrade model. The upgrade model contains all the DEL_ tables/fields/indexes, and as you don’t need them anymore – you might as well remove them completely from your system. This way your developer experience on the system gets much improved. Take a look here:

Let me wrap up my coverage of the Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2011 with a quote I heard yesterday: “AX is like Hotel California – once you get there, you can never leave!”