The world has changed since the introduction of Business Central (BC) as a replacement for NAV, and the change continues. We’ve seen it in the way that solutions are delivered by Microsoft, the way add-ons are made available through App-Source, or even the support and maintenance strategy of the Business Central product.
ISVs have had to adapt to this change and even change their way of delivering solutions (updates) and support to the market. This blog describes the way To-Increase has adapted to the new normal on support and upgrades.
Ever since BC version 15, the support strategy of Microsoft has changed to support the product for 18 months instead of about 5 years. The 18-month period is split into two parts.
The first part is the first six months during which the updates become available both for the online and the on-premises platforms. Potential (small) new functionality and bug fixes are introduced in the one codebase and are automatically deployed on the online platform.
In the second part of 12 months, Microsoft provides bug-fixes only for the on-premises platform of the codebase. This is because, after the first six months, a new version is released and deployed on the online platform, effectively replacing the previous version (Figure 1).
In this schema, October 2019 saw the release of version 15 for both online and on-premises. From October 2019 through April 2020, updates were released for Business Central, and these were made available for on-premises, and then pushed to the online platform.
In April 2020, version 16 was released. This version was pushed to the online platform, effectively making that new update on version 15 (15.4), which was also the last available update for the online platform. Since then, Microsoft has released more updates for the version 15 platform, but these updates have only been released for the on-premises platform. In October 2020, Microsoft will release Version 17, and the latest update of Version 16 (expected to be 16.4) will be the last online version of 16.
In the meantime, Microsoft will continue to release fixes for versions 15 and 16 until April 2021, after which the support-lifecycle for version 15 will end. Microsoft will stop delivering fixes for this version. More importantly, the customers still using version 15 after April 2021 in an on-premises environment will lose their rights to bug-fixes and regulatory changes.
How does To-Increase deal with this lifecycle policy?
We will follow Microsoft in releasing monthly updates for the first six months of the new version. It means that we will strive to deliver an update of our Business Central solutions by the end of each month. This update may contain a new Microsoft update, new functionality in our add-on, bug-fixes, or a combination of the three.
After this 6-month period—by the time Microsoft releases the new version—we will come out with one final update, and then move to the new version. For example, for version 17, we will strive to release our solutions on 17.0 by the end of October 2020. We will then continue to release updates at the end of November 2020 through March 2021, and in April 2021, we will release our final update for 18 and the new version 18.
After that period, we will no longer release monthly updates for version 17. Only when regulatory changes demand a new version, will we create an update. However, we will release bug-fixes, but only on demand.
As you can see in Figure 1, we will release monthly updates for the green part of each lifecycle only. Once the lifecycle reaches the orange state, we will no longer create monthly releases, but only bug-fixes on demand.
New functionality for our solutions will be released in the monthly updates and in the major versions. You can find the documentations on updates content and our complete release policy at our online help portal.
Our final thoughts
We think that the Microsoft policy and our implementation of support for To-Increase products point towards one statement: “Please keep the deployed software for your customers up-to-date according to this policy.” With all the changes to AL and Extensions, there are fewer reasons not to do so and all the more reasons to convince your customers to keep in line with the monthly update rhythm.