No more worrying about Microsoft service updates with SURA
With SURA (Service Update Release Assistance) from Focus Enterprise Solutions, you no longer have to worry about Microsoft service updates. Angelique den Boef, Release Manager, explains exactly what you can expect from SURA.
Mandatory Microsoft updates
Angelique explains: “As a user of Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (Unified Operations, formerly F&O), you are obliged to update your ERP environment a number of times a year. This must be done at least twice a year and can be done a maximum of seven times a year. In addition, you may skip three consecutive Service Updates. Are you skipping more Service Updates? Then Microsoft will automatically update your ERP environment. Any ISV integrations or customization may cause problems with an automatic update by Microsoft.
Twice a year, in April and October, Microsoft releases a major update: the so-called Waves. If you want to install this major update, you need to know what the impact of this update is for your organization and test the functionalities extensively. SURA from Focus Enterprise Solutions can help you with this.”
SURA in practice
“To install the mandatory updates from Microsoft, an all-in-one deployable package must first be created., In such a package you will not only find the standard release from Microsoft, but also the software from independent software vendors (ISVs) and customizations that have been developed specifically for you. Any new licenses of ISVs will also be added to thissection.
As a Release Manager I take care of these packages and I can also contact suppliers to retrieve new versions of their software. After I have made the deployable package, the new version goes through the DTAP roadmap (development, test, acceptance and production environment). Because I create and install the package, I immediately encounter obstacles in Microsoft’s software, ISVs or customization, which no longer match the new version. Then I can solve them during the Development phase and the customer doesn’t really notice anything when they start testing.”
“Twice a year Microsoft releases a major update: the so-called Waves. If you want to install this major update, you need to know what the impact of this update is for your organization and test the functionalities extensively. SURA from Focus Enterprise Solutions can help you with this”
Close cooperation with you
“Testing,” Angelique continues, “is the responsibility of the customer. They must thoroughly test all the functionalities they use before the new version goes to Production. If you want me to help and guide your organization in testing, you can. Then we have to carefully map out the processes together in advance.
In a new release, a number of features are automatically activated by Microsoft, while others have to be turned on manually. You also have to test these features in the UAT (User Acceptance Test) environment first and that takes time. That is why I would like to help you determine the usefulness of new functionalities for your organization in advance.
At the beginning of a year I agree with the customer which releases they want to install. Then I take care of its implementation in LCS (Lifecycle Services, the Microsoft standard tool for implementations). In addition, we always make sure that we do not skip more than three consecutive updates. Because if that happens, Microsoft pushes the new version without testing.
Of course, we can adjust that planning later in consultation if new functionalities become available that the customer wants to use immediately. If the new functionality is not necessarily necessary, I usually recommend waiting until the next Wave. That big release contains all the new functionalities of previous releases, so you are always up-to-date.
When making the planning, I also take other things into account. For example, you can think of versions or licenses of ISVs. Microsoft will immediately remove an ISV solution if the license is no longer valid. But even if a new version of Microsoft does not match the version of the ISV software that the customer is using, this can cause problems. To prevent that, I take care of the management of these licenses.”
“Because Focus Enterprise Solutions has a Premium contract with Microsoft, cases that we report are given priority in the treatment.”
“What is also nice for customers is that they only have one point of contact because of SURA. If you have any questions or problems with a new release, you can contact me. For example, if you have discovered problems during testing, I can first investigate them myself. If I don’t know the solution myself, I consult with my colleagues from Managed Applications or with Microsoft.
I am also a member of the Yammer Finance and Operations Insider Program Network. This is a global network of professionals who use Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and representatives of Microsoft. Within this network, problems are shared and solutions and workarounds are sought.
If it turns out that the problem is due to the new release, I can make a report to Microsoft. Because Focus Enterprise Solutions has a Premium contract with Microsoft, cases that we report are given priority in the treatment. During this process, I stay in close contact with Microsoft and the customer, so that you always know exactly what the status is.”
SURA is tailor-made
“Every customer is different, especially when it comes to ERP systems. This ensures that the update need is also different for every organization. This requires customization. That is why we have developed an Estimator Sheet with which we can map out the update need together with your organization. Factors such as the number of ERP environments, integrations with ISVs, customization and the testing capacity of the organization play an important role in this.
“The costs of this service are therefore, just like the service itself, fully tailored to your organization.”
After completing the Estimator Sheet, we know how many hours the customer needs for SURA on an annual basis. The costs of this service are therefore, just like the service itself, fully tailored to your organization. We include this number of hours in the Service Level Agreement (SLA). We then invoice the costs for SURA monthly. This way you know exactly where you stand and we prevent unpleasant surprises,” Angelique concludes.
Want to know more?
Would you like to know more about the possibilities that Focus Enterprise Solutions offers your organization with SURA? Or are you looking for a partner for the implementation of AX to the cloud (Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management)? Please feel free to contact us!
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