knkMedia Release 2023R2

The big news in the release 2023R2 of knkMedia (formerly known as knkPublishing) is not so much the new product functionality that knk has added. That is important enough by itself and will be addressed in the next article. The really big news is that for the first time, knkMedia is available on the Microsoft Azure Public Cloud. To explain the significance of that for user companies, we describe the breakthrough below and why it is so important and unique among publishing software providers.

Until this cloud-native release was made available, knkPublishing was offered only on-premises or in a private cloud operated by knk. The issue with private cloud models is that the responsibility for operation and maintenance of the user company’s infrastructure lies with the application vendor. Clearly, running client infrastructure and systems is not a core competence of application software vendors. It is an unnecessary complication – a “middle-step,” and adds all kinds of risk, including operational errors, delays, and malware attacks. More importantly, it cannot take advantage of all the features and options provided by the full Azure public cloud experience.

In general, public clouds offer better scalabilityflexibility, mobility, and cost-effectiveness than private clouds or on-premises operations. And with a public cloud, users also get the benefit of highly trained and experienced security experts from the provider, in this case, Microsoft Azure.

There are further benefits with Microsoft’s Azure public cloud. Here, as a user company, you do not have to deal with firewalls, certificates, or with servers or any information technology at all. Public clouds get publishers out of the data center business. All a user company needs is a browser and they are ready to go. Eventually they will be able to license the required knkMedia apps directly from the Microsoft App Store on-line. There are simply no constraints that complicate the operation of publishing applications like those that exist in a private cloud or an on-premises model.

Gartner recognizes this and recently stated, “by 2025, cloud-native platforms will serve as the basis for more than 95% of new digital initiatives, compared to 40% in 2021.” For companies that are not able or do not wish to invest in IT, this is a godsend.

The key is this. Previous versions of knkPublishing were all written using Microsoft’s C/AL language. The foundation to knkMedia 2023R2 and all following releases is that C/AL has been completely replaced by the newer AL language. The result is a far superior maintenance and support model for user companies, which means that they can now stay up to date with all MS and knk releases much more easily and much less expensively. Here is why.

Previously, all Microsoft Partners like knk added their application code to the core ERP MS Dynamics product by modifying the base code within MS Dynamics. That meant that whenever MS or knk released new upgrades, the entire body of program code had to be reviewed and re-integrated – an expensive task that led many users to put off the upgrade, making it progressively more difficult and expensive to ever making future upgrades. It was especially so if the user company had made custom modifications to the knkPublishing software. All of this committed users to a frozen, older release, and never being able to take advantage of new technology at a time when new technology is a driving force in the industry.

Now, Microsoft has resolved this problem by providing an “extension” capability in the AL language, by which partners like knk can overlay their application code on Dynamics 365 Business Central. Partner applications such as knkMedia 2023R2, now separate and encapsulate the core Business Central code from the knkMedia application code. So when Microsoft issues a new release of Business Central, and when knk issues a new release of knkMedia, minimal changes are necessary to integrate the new versions and make the upgrade operational. As a result, user companies can much more easily stay up to date with both Business Central and knkMedia software updates at a fraction of the out-of-pocket and opportunity costs that upgrades used to cost.

The problem of users being stuck in old releases has now been resolved!

Microsoft issues new releases to the core Dynamics 365 software twice a year and knk follows that cycle, and from now on, knkMedia users on the public cloud will automatically receive these updates. Furthermore, the public cloud version of knkMedia and all subsequent releases seamlessly integrate all the Microsoft platform capabilities (like Teams, Outlook, the Power Platform and Power Automate, and AI Tools such as Copilot), thus providing automatic connectivity and interactivity between all these apps, while enjoying automatic updates to all. For example, integrations to your Outlook mailbox or Customer Engagement environment give you access to certain Business Central data and processes right where you are. All these unique features of knkMedia 2023R2 stem from the Microsoft AL language in which it is written. It is the only way for software application providers like knk to operate in the MS Azure Public Cloud, and for users to enjoy all the benefits we describe above.