In my previous blog I explained the first two steps of a NAV upgrade at Innovia Consulting. This blog focuses on the remaining steps.
3. The data upgrade
After merging the customer modifications and any desired add-ons with the standard code for the new Dynamics NAV version, we perform a test data upgrade before the live database data upgrade. The data upgrade consists of standard Microsoft and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) processes that populates appropriate data in any new fields and tables based on existing data so that the new functionality works properly with the existing data. This allows us to identify and resolve any issues with the data upgrade process prior to the live data upgrade.
We recommend using a new server for performing the test data upgrade. When we complete the live upgrade, this new server will become the live NAV Server service tier host server. This allows us to separate the new Dynamics NAV version test environment from our client’s live NAV database so that the testing of the new version does not impact their live database. In addition, this allows us to start the new Dynamics NAV version with a clean environment that is properly configured for optimal Dynamics NAV performance and reliability.
While not essential, we encourage our customers to also create a new SQL Server host when we upgrade their Dynamics NAV database. This allows them to get the advantages of the new version of SQL Server at the same time that they get the advantages of a new Dynamics NAV version. This also helps with the performance of their live Dynamics NAV database as the testing of the new version is completely done in an environment that is isolated from their live database.
When upgrading from older versions of Dynamics NAV, we sometimes have to perform the data upgrade in 2 or more steps. For example, when upgrading from Dynamics NAV 2009 to Dynamics NAV 2017, we must first perform the data upgrade to Dynamics NAV 2013 then perform a second data upgrade to NAV 2017. This effectively doubles the length of time it takes to complete the data upgrade.
4. Upgrading Security
Dynamics NAV security is a tool that our customers use to determine which users are allowed to view and change different types of data. For example, a purchasing manager may need to see information from the vendor, item and purchase order tables. However, their company may not want them to view or modify sensitive financial or payroll information. With Dynamics NAV security, customers assign each user to one or more permission sets. A permission set is a list of tables that users which are assigned to that permission set are able to view and/or modify.
Microsoft provides a standard set of Permission Sets with each version of Dynamics NAV. Our customers frequently add or remove tables to these standard permission sets based on their unique needs.
With each new version, Microsoft introduces new tables and discontinues other tables that are no longer needed. When appropriate, they add these tables to or remove them from the standard permission sets. They also create new permission sets. As part of the upgrade, we bring forward all of the permission sets and associated permissions from the pre-upgrade database then merge in any new permission sets and permissions from Microsoft’s standard set of permission sets and permissions for the new version.
5. Testing and going live
After completing the test upgrade, one of Innovia’s Application Consultants completes an upgrade test checklist. This checklist helps to ensure that users are able to complete essential functions such as creating new customer, vendor and item records and creating and posting various documents.
At this point, we require that our customer completes their own testing to ensure that the upgraded Dynamics NAV database functions as needed. This is especially important for areas of Dynamics NAV that have been modified or that are part of an add-on.
After our customer has verified that the upgraded live database is functioning as desired, we schedule the go live. As part of the go live, we repeat the data upgrade but this time on the live database. After completing the data upgrade, Innovia and our customer verifies that the upgraded live database is functioning correctly.
The first step of the live upgrade involves copying the live database. We then upgrade the copy and keep the original database as an emergency backup. Once we start the data upgrade on the live database, any changes (such as new orders) that are made in the original database will not be brought forward to the upgraded database. However, if our customer requests, we allow them to continue to run reports or lookup information in the original database while we complete the live upgrade.
Depending on the size of the customer’s database and which version we are upgrading from, this live upgrade can take from 4 to 48 hours. Most of the time the live data upgrade can be completed in less than 16 hours. While we occasionally complete simple upgrades on a weeknight, most commonly we schedule the live upgrade to start on a Friday afternoon so that we have the weekend to complete the upgrade.
On rare occasions, we discover issues with the upgraded live database. If these issues are critical and cannot be resolved quickly, we have to be prepared to revert to the pre-upgrade database and reschedule to the go live for a later date. Because of our extensive testing and experience, we rarely have to use this backup plan but we know that it is better to be prepared.
If all goes according to plan, our client will go live on the new version on Monday morning following a weekend upgrade or the next morning in the case of a weekday live upgrade. We always have an application consultant, a technical consultant and a development consultant on call from when we start the live upgrade through the first full day of running the upgraded database. The Innovia upgrade team addresses any issues that are encountered during and shortly after the upgrade go live. Once we have addressed any upgrade issues, we turn over ongoing support to our service and support team and the upgrade team moves on to other projects.
We recommend that each customer work with their Innovia Customer Engagement person to develop a post live “refresher training plan”. While training is provided during the upgrade, it is challenging for users to digest new material while in the upgrade project. We find that a refresher training 30 days following go live and again 90 days following go live, help users take advantage of the many new features that will make their jobs easier.
We hope this has given you some new insight into the complicated process that is a NAV upgrade.
To learn more about NAV Upgrades, click here to view a webinar presented by Joseph Gress.