How well does Microsoft's flagship ERP work with other systems?
Most companies that use Microsoft Dynamics AX need to integrate with third party systems. For example, data from social media services like LinkedIn or Twitter can provide organizations with a single view of the customer that is very useful. This can be part of an overall goal to integrate all customer data to better understand the dynamics that drive engagement.
Although this can be a challenging task for any business, the benefits are obvious. Organizations work hard to deliver effective marketing and sales campaigns to drive new business, and a unified view of a customer can play a pivotal role in increasing revenue.
However, companies usually have various departments that interact with consumers (marketing, IT, sales, customer service, etc.), and customer data gets recorded in different systems. The accounting department may use an ERP system to manage financial data, while the marketing department uses a CRM to organize customer information. Other parts of the business might use billing, application tracking, and social media monitoring applications to engage with and understand customers.
Fortunately, Microsoft Dynamics AX is designed to adapt to the business needs of your staff and the overall integration needs of your organization. In addition to some of the systems discussed here, it can even be integrated with CAD/PDM/PLM, giving you the combined power of an engineering and manufacturing system
There are a number of technologies available to programmatically integrate Microsoft Dynamics AX with other applications that enable you to exchange data or integrate functionality. These technologies include the following:
- Application Integration Framework (AIF) – Exposes business logic to other internal or external systems. AIF enables you to integrate functionality and exchange data with other systems.
- Business Connector – Enables external applications to access Microsoft Dynamics AX data and invoke business logic.
- Common language runtime (CLR) – Provides interoperability with external .NET components and enables you to execute managed components from within X++ code.
The integration components in all these methods interact with Application Object Server (AOS), as shown in the following figure. Therefore, integration between Microsoft Dynamics AX and any other system is done only through AOS.
AIF provides an extensible framework within Microsoft Dynamics AX that enables the exchange of data. AIF comprises three primary components:
- Services - AIF enables you to expose any business logic as a service to be consumed by other applications. Within Microsoft Dynamics AX you can create, customize, and publish services.
- Document services - A specific implementation of services in which the Microsoft Dynamics AX business logic is exposed through document services. Document services are typically used to exchange data with other systems in the form of XML documents.
- Consume Web services - In Microsoft Dynamics AX, you can consume external Web services from your X++ code.
The Microsoft Dynamics AX Business Connector enables external applications to access Microsoft Dynamics AX data and invoke business logic. The Business Connector consists of the following components:
- NET Business Connector – Provides interoperability with the Microsoft .NET Framework. Use these components for integration with external applications that are written in managed code and are built with the Microsoft .NET Framework. The .NET Business Connector requires the installation of the Windows Server SDK.
- COM Business Connector - Provides interoperability with Microsoft COM. COM Business Connector is no longer going to be supported in a future release.
Classes in assemblies that are managed by the CLR can be accessed from X++ code. This feature of Microsoft Dynamics AX is called common language runtime interoperability, or CLR interop.
CLR interop works only in the direction where X++ code calls CLR managed assemblies. It does not support calling X++ classes from a CLR managed assembly.
The choice of technology will depend upon the specific need of the user and can usually be determined based on the application with which AX is to be integrated.
In conclusion, each application is different in how it behaves and how it supports business processes. In each integration project you will need to design, develop, and test integrations.
Korcomptenz has a proven track record of integrating any data you may need between AX and any third-party tool like e-mails, scanners or mobile apps or any other application that needs to get data from your AX system. Contact us today for a consultation to address your unique needs.
ERP Functional Consultant