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Is it necessary to discover Microsoft Dynamics AX metadata?

Do you really need to discover Microsoft Dynamics AX metadata?

The answer is a definite “Yes”, because as one of the world’s most implemented ERP/CRM packaged solutions for large and medium sized enterprises it suffers from the same metadata challenge as SAP, Oracle, and increasingly Salesforce systems. (According to Panorama Consulting Solutions’ most recent survey, Microsoft Dynamics is third behind SAP and Oracle with 9.4% market share for ERP/CRM packages.)

That problem is the difficulty in quickly accessing, navigating and making sense of a large, complex and often heavily customised data model in the context of a data, or information management project.

Microsoft Dynamics AX metadata

Just because it comes from Microsoft, it doesn’t mean it is simple or easy. As an illustration, Microsoft Dynamics AX has a data model which is made up of 7899 tables (as per this spreadsheet that I downloaded from their website). The table names are a guide to the contents of the table, however, there are no field names for each table, no primary or foreign key relationships or business descriptions provided to make this information of any real value to a data professional. It should be noted as well that this spreadsheet is dated May 2014, so it may not even be up to date!

Sometimes you need a bit more information about how things fit together

Sometimes you need a bit more information about what things mean and how they fit together

Then of course, there will be customisations made to the data model during and after implementation as the packaged is changed to reflect the needs of the end user organisation.

Why would you need to know about the package’s metadata?  As the foundations of the data in the package itself, it holds critical knowledge required for those who are trying to incorporate Dynamics AX 2012 data in Data Warehouse, Big Data, Master Data Management, Data Integration, Enterprise Metadata Management and Data Governance projects. 

In addition, as with virtually all large complex enterprise systems there is no built in easy intuitive way of finding and comprehending the metadata underpinning Microsoft Dynamics AX. The impact of the problems associated with locating the right data tables often results in delays, overspend and poor quality. It is therefore important to be able to discover Microsoft Dynamics AX metadata quickly and easily.

In an internal study into Microsoft Dynamics AX and AX 2012 projects, PwC found that 75% of implementations “had reporting issues due to poor data migration or not enough reporting focus early on in the project”. Some of this is likely to be caused by a lack of understanding of the Dynamics AX data model by the implementation team. 

Safyr for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Here at Silwood Technology, we provide data professionals (that’s data architects, wranglers, analysts, scientists etc.) with the ability to access, navigate and use the data models from the world’s most complex ERP and CRM applications. Our product Safyr® helps them to deliver projects faster, more cost effectively and with less risk of inaccurate data being introduced into the information ecosystem when compared with traditional methods.

Safyr does this for packaged solutions from SAP, Oracle and Salesforce without the need for expensive external consultants. internal technical specialists, guesswork or searching the internet for appropriate models.

Microsoft’s presence in the ERP and CRM packaged application space is growing quickly and Silwood have now moved to address the challenge many organisations face when trying to access, understand and exploit the underlying data model of Dynamics AX 2012 with a new version of Safyr. More information about Safyr for Microsoft Dynamics AX is available here.

Roland Bullivant
Silwood Technology

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