Microsoft have recently emailed to say that the release of the Business Central update to version 18.0 has been put on hold. I’ve attached a link specifying which updates and additions this includes. We have no word on when updates will resume but it’s been clarified that communication will be made when there is a clearer picture on continuing the rollout. Whilst the situation isn’t ideal, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to run through how Microsoft perform update management. This includes separating the types of update release, scheduling and delaying them.
Major update timelines
There are three categories for update releases. These are:
- Update is available
- Update starts rolling out
- Last scheduled update date
These three sections run chronologically. The first dictates when an update has their features made generally available. What this means is that users can begin using the new feature but they have a choice whether or not to incorporate it. The second relates to the standard date when Microsoft look to upgrade users’ environments. This date can be amended within a set range if you would prefer to have the changes implemented at a different point. We will look at scheduling a little bit later. Lastly, the third point relates to the final point at which an the update can be kept from upgrading. This is 60 days after the initial scheduled update (‘update starts rolling out’ stage). It’s worth stating that an update’s release date can slightly vary depending on which region your business is located in.
Microsoft recommend copying the environment into a sandbox area. This way, you can test the update in a test environment. The sandbox environment will be ready for the update process within an hour of creation. This way, you can have the new update live within 24 hours. If any issues are detected when running the update, an email will be sent relaying the nature of the issue. This is ideal as it grants the user ample flexibility to see whether it’s worth proceeding with the update in the live environment immediately, based on the scale of any issues detected.
Minor update timelines
I’ll start by prefacing that minor updates follow a very similar pattern to major ones. The main difference is that the time disparity been the update being available and the update having to be applied is much shorter. These minor updates occur monthly and are essential to maintaining performance levels. Whereas major updates have a 60 day leeway between the update rolling out and users choosing the last possible date before it is automatically applied, for minor updates that leeway is two weeks.
Service updates are typically region specific and don’t add or remove Business Central functionality. Microsoft try their best to schedule these updates to periods of lower user traffic. Typically, this would be in the early hours of the morning. Unlike the other update types mentioned, service updates don’t try to inhibit usability whilst they go ahead.
The sections prior to this summed up the timelines when applying updates. However, the question of how a user goes about scheduling the updates still stands. The Business Central administration centre is the location for users to schedule their updates. There are four elements to consider here.
The first is ‘Available Update Version’. This specifies the Version to which you can update your environment. The second, ‘update scheduling available’ specifies whether it’s possible for you to change the update date. Thirdly, ‘scheduled update date’ provides an amendable default update date, like mentioned previously. If a scheduled update date isn’t set, the update will take place automatically between the default date and the final day possible possible for the update release. It’s strongly advised that a time for the update is set as this will prevent any instances whereby updates go live during working hours. Finally, ‘update rollout state’ references information relating to the state of the rollout. This is prevalent in cases where Microsoft delay a Version release.
Delayed scheduling of updates
It’s possible that where updates are available in your region, you may still be unable to specify an update date. There are a handful of reasons as to why this could be the case:
- Your environment hasn’t updated to the latest minor update of the previous Version of Business Central. This is because all environments must be updated to the last available minor update of Business Central, before applying the next major one. In order to see the Version you are currently on, visit the Help and Support page and then click on Troubleshooting.
- Where a sandbox environment is a copy of your production environment. This is only the case where the sandbox environment is copied from a Version that requires updating. In this instance, Microsoft will schedule the update for the sandbox environment to take place within the next hour.
- The major update isn’t compatible with your per-tenant extensions. If there are issues, Microsoft will communicate them via email beforehand to the relevant recipients.
- Where your environment’s AppSource apps are not available for the next major update.
Where updates are delayed due to one of these reasons, the environment will return to the application Version it was before. The environment will then be automatically rescheduled to update in seven days.
In instances like that which we are seeing now, when Microsoft have to postpone updates, emails will be sent out and a notification should appear in the Business Central administration centre. The Version Management section within an environment will display the update rollout status as ‘postponed’. Where the issue isn’t straightforward and a solution isn’t known, then no mention of a resume date will be provided in the email notification. When a potential release date becomes clearer, this will be communicated.
Hopefully that clears up a few elements on update management from the perspective of both Microsoft and the user! Make sure to read the extended explanation provided by Microsoft if there’s any confusion.
If you have any comments or queries, feel free to get in contact with members of the Probitas team.