What´s your release/OneVersion strategy for Dyn365FO?

In this blog I want to talk about release/OneVersion strategies for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation in the age of monthly update. 

In my opinion there are only two feasible strategies: monthly or “three monthly”. The prerequisite for both strategies is to participate in the preview early access program (PEAP). You can sign up for the PEAP program using the following link: https://experience.dynamics.com/insider/ 

The goal of both strategies is to always be ahead of the scheduled auto-update and to have as much as possible time for (regression-)testing. The timeframe I used for the diagrams is aligned to the currently available schedule for the targeted releases, you can find here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/fin-and-ops/get-started/public-preview-releases#release-cadence  

For both strategies we are planning to also deploy bugfixes and features (changes not from Microsoft) to use the testing effort to also validate this changes.

Release-/OneVersion strategy: Monthly

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The monthly strategy “simply” adopts the target release dates communicated by Microsoft. With this schedule you are able to run your (regression) test for each release for almost one month. At the beginning of the test phase you are using the PEAP package of the new version (1st April, 6th May, 10th June, 8th July, …) and as soon as the version is generally available (Week of 8th April, 13rd Mai, 10th June, 8th July) you update the pre-production (sandbox) to the GA version. 

Advantages of the monthly strategy:

  • Pause is possible in case of a found issue during validation or limited available resources for testing e. g. holiday season.
  • Easy integration of KBs provided by Microsoft because backport will only happen to an active version.
  • Recommend approach from Microsoft.
  • Small change-delta because of frequent updates.
  • Faster availably of new features. 

Disadvantages of the monthly strategy:

  • More updates (once a month) with a perceptible footprint e. g. for update of all development environments etc.
  • More test effort, but this should decrease by consistently using the regression suite automation tool (RSAT).

Release-/OneVersion strategy: Three Monthly

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The three monthly strategy “simply” takes only every third release communicated by Microsoft. With this schedule you are able to run your (regression) test for the release you will take for almost two month. At the beginning of the test phase you are using the PEAP package of the new version (10th June) and as soon as the version is generally available (Week of 8th July) you update the pre-production (sandbox) to the GA version. 

Advantages of the three monthly strategy:

  • (Regression) testing can be performed for almost two months.
  • Less frequent updates (only every two months) incl. all development environments etc. 

Disadvantages of the three monthly strategy:

  • In case of a found issue during validation or limited available resources for testing, you are not able to pause the update. Work around would be to update to the last stable version to be less than two updates behind.
  • For integration of KBs you have to update to the currently active version, because backport will only happen to an active version.

To ensure testing of critical hotfixes, we are using a fallback sandbox which is always on the same version as production to test/verify/service those critical hotfix. This is not mandatory because you are also able to leave your build servers on the production version to be able to deploy critical hotfixes through pre-production (sandbox) to production. Of course in this case you´re testing the hotfixes against a newer version.

I´m very interested in your release/OneVersion strategy for dyn365fo and on your thoughts on this two strategies, so please post them in the comments of this post.

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