Business Central April 2019: Upgrade or Die?

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Which NAV users need to upgrade to Business Central?


At this year’s annual Microsoft Dynamics partner conference, “Directions North America,” the topic on everyone’s mind was just how important it is to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central.


Directions 2019 brought developers, tech gurus, sales teams, and executive representatives from SMB partners, ISVs, VARs, and Microsoft affiliates from around the globe. The conference’s stated mission, “to expand, enhance, and empower Microsoft Dynamics SMB channel partners,” meant that Business Central’s rise to prominence would inevitably be examined.


Business Central’s Transition from C/AL Code to Modern UI and AI Code


Leading Dynamics experts discussed Microsoft’s strategic goals and roadmaps. The company announced the “sun-setting” of traditional Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Central C/AL code customizations with the April release of on-premise Business Central.


[More information about the modern UI and AI code in Business Central can be found here.]


In a nutshell, Microsoft’s April 2019 release (referred to as “BC14”) is the last release to include the Windows Client and the C/Side Development Environment (code customizations with the C/AL language).


Starting with the October 2019 release, the base Business Central application itself will be implemented as an extension written in the AL language. It will only be customizable with extensions written in the AL language.


Before a panic attack sets in, it’s important to note that Microsoft is throwing the Dynamics NAV channel a bone by allowing for the transition to the April 2019 release until October of 2020. That’s helpful, though it still means there are only a few months to procure an April 2019 license.


As most of you probably know, transitioning licenses causes older versions to become “locked” to any further changes and/or additions. This includes changes to things like new granules, objects, or users. As a result, this forces an upgrade to be fast-tracked if the customer needs licensing changes.


Who Needs to Upgrade to Business Central?


Our position here at Advanced Business Systems is to recommend all customers running Dynamics NAV versions older than the 2017 edition to start planning for an upgrade immediately. Why? Users running anything prior to NAV 2017 cannot convert their C/AL code customizations to extensions with their old version, unless they were to upgrade to a version that can support their conversion to extensions.


By upgrading to BC14 in the near future, it’ll allow for an in-place, traditional upgrade first. Then, once stable running the upgraded C/AL code customizations in BC14, the code customization can then be converted methodically to AL extensions.


If you wait and miss the BC14 boat, you’ll be forced to not only perform a normal upgrade (and all the issues you’ll tackle with that), but you’ll also have to go directly to extensions. This has the potential to give your organization a major testing headache. You would need to test multiple failure points, which would mean you’ll have a more difficult time determining the cause of an issue. Is the issue because of the upgrade or is it caused by the conversion to extensions...or some combination thereof?


Needless to say, that wouldn’t be fun. The bottom line, from everything we know and have heard, is this: upgrade to Business Central.


What’s Next?


For a more in-depth timeline on Business Central’s rise to the top, check out our post on Microsoft’s push for Business Central. The blog focuses on GP users, but it’s applicable to older versions of NAV, as well.


Sign up for a webinar on the top 10 things you should know about Business Central, or contact us directly to learn how your organization can most efficiently upgrade to Business Central.

Don Domzalski, Chief Technology Officer


For over 20 years, Don has been designing and developing software solutions in a wide variety of functional areas, from aerospace to warehousing. Don specializes in formulating solutions that integrate and enhance the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics GP & Dynamics 365 utilizing the full Microsoft .Net stack.

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