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Dynamics AX 2009 debuts

Microsoft’s new Dynamics AX 2009, now available, targets multinational companies. This release lets companies combine multiple time zones and currencies in a single ERP instance. — something that should suit mid-sized and even large companies with sites in multiple countries, according to Kees Hertogh, Microsoft Dynamics product manager.

Also new: Bi-directional support for Arabic languages. That means that PC screens in Arabic-speaking offices will read right to left with the appropriate character set while other offices can retain their screen look-and-feel.

“One site can have multiple entities — warehouses, offices etc.” Hertogh said.

With this release AX (formerly known as Axapta) also gets the “role-based” user interfaces that first surfaced in Dynamics GP 10 (aka Great Plains).

It’s fair to say that Dynamics AX is Microsoft’s most direct competitor against SAP’s big-iron ERP applications. Microsoft execs have hinted that they see enterprise opportunity for the Dynamics line, most notably Dynamics CRM but also ERP. They must tread carefully there because SAP has been a long-time ally on other fronts. SAP was a key win for Windows when Microsoft persuaded the company to support the platform years ago. And the companies even discussed a merger a few years back.

Dynamics AX 2009, like it’s other Dynamics brethren, plays up integration to rest of the Microsoft stack — bringing business intelligence “cubes” from SQL Server into the application itself. It also integrates the Windows workflow foundation to support embedded workflows. That’s especially important in compliance enforcement because policy violations can be flagged and trigger appropriate responses.

That stack integration can be blessing or curse, depending on the partner’s vendor alliances. Some customers have no interest in getting locked into Microsoft’s foundation-and-applications upgrade cycles. On the down side, a fix to one part of the stack, can break other parts. Others have no problem with that and prefer to minimize the number of vendors they work with.

For a partner-eye view on the new release, check out Brandon George’s blog.

To hear Hertogh talk about Dynamics AX 2009, see this weeks’ SearchITChannel.com pod cast.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at bdarrow@techtarget.com.

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