Common Data Model

Common Data Model (CDM) is a standard for defining data structures and relationships between them. The declarative language of CDM allows independently developed applications to have a common data management and storage engine. Initially developed for integration across the Microsoft product lineup, it is now open source and grows on a regular basis. Businesses can now benefit from the ideas shared by the community members specific to their sector or industry at no cost.  Data stored in CDM is not affected by the way was created and becomes portable between the apps, making it available for processing and analyzing at every possible angle.

Introducing the Common Data Model

Common Data Model Simple Description

Developed by Microsoft in close collaboration with its business clients from automotive, banking, commerce, educational, healthcare, marketing, sales, legal and non-profit institutions over decades of data management as a collection of standard data definitions (called entities) Common Data Model seamlessly integrates all Microsoft product lineup, including Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure. 

The extensive collection of the standard entities are further enhanced with the relevant metadata on relationshipsattributes and semantics.

Standard entities of the Common Data Model describe commonly used objects and activities across almost every business: Account, Contact, Product, Service, to name a few out of more than 333. The number of available entities has been growing at a tremendously high speed after Microsoft changed CDM to be an open source community.

Historically, the way of handling the data has been influenced by the function of a specific app. Accounting app would store and process the data similar to a Commerce app in a different way, more convenient from the accounting standpoint. Enabling these two to exchange the data does not require building custom solution, if a CDM is used.

Now anyone can create and extend custom entities without the risk of disrupting the existing data links. Businesses take advantage of the ideas shared by the community members specifically for their area at no cost.

Common Data Model Entity
use of common data model

Importing data into CDM requires mapping to the standard entities, or creating custom ones. Abundance of publicly available mapping templates makes importing fast and easy.  Data stored in Common Data Model remains secure, as each business maintains full control over what exactly is shared with the other apps.

Using the Common Data Model

With Common Data Model, any process or application can get a permission to analyze, process and unlock every bit of meaningful information from the data shared with it. For marketing this means new trends and insights, for sales and services – more personal customer engagements, and many more. Developers use CDM for simplified data access and management, rapid app building and deployment. Even computers themselves are using it for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. 

Horizontal data integration provided by CDM is further extended by free industry accelerators from Microsoft – collections of foundational components for rapid deployment of industry-specific vertical solutions. Currently Microsoft has developed the accelerators for Automotive, Banking, Insurance, Educational, Healthcare, Non-profit, Manufacturing, Media and Entertainment industries with many more to come.

Microsoft Dataverse relies on CDM for secure data storage and across the entire Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform product lineup, extending functionality and analysis capabilities as well as speeding up workflows, solutions and app development.

Inside the Common Data Model

The data inside CDM is stored in folders, one for each entity. The folder has a metadata file called manifest which holds detailed entity description in a human-readable JSON format and a number of data files in a comma-separated value (CSV) format. All entities within the model, their relationships and interactions are encapsulated in a master object named corpus. It also includes an object library that creates and manages the Common Data Model folder metadata files, allowing for data type customization at any level. It also holds the version information for the entity. Both the manifest and schema definition files allow for import of other definition documents.

Common Data Model Structure Concept Diagram

Industry Accelerators for the Common Data Model

dataverse industry accelerators explained

Industry accelerators include powerful connected experiences that are designed to support common, existing business needs for specific industries, enabling solutions that deliver new insights and more personalized customer engagements. This helps simplify efforts to procure partner solutions or build custom applications by providing access to a unified data layer that saves customers the time and resources they would have spent creating their own proprietary data layer or attempting to integrate disparate systems and solutions


Currently available industries are: automotive, healthcare, nonprofit, education, manufacturing and supply chain, media and communications, banking and finance with the others being added on a regular basis. Each accelerator is being developed by an open community managed by Microsoft, where specific businesses share and implement their best practices and ideas.

  • Automotive industry accelerator includes specific entities for deals, sales contracts, specifications, fleet, warranties, inspections, test drives, branding, customer-vehicle relationships, vehicle and equipment, leads, service and after-sales management, and more.
  • Banking and Finance industry accelerator is built in agreement with open source specifications from the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) to include definitions for loans, mortgages, referrals, branch details, collateral, deal, limit, facilities, etc.
  • Education accelerator provides easy access to data entities such as students, faculty, extracurricular activities, previous education, test scores, courses, academic periods, programs, test types, registration status, and areas of interest.
  • Nonprofit accelerator includes extensions to the Common Data Model to develop solutions for managing constituents, raising funds, grants and awards, program delivery, and tracking impact.
  • Media and Communications accelerator provides extensions for event and venue management, sports management, ticketing and advertising sales, media sponsorships, and various guest interactions such as event registrations and the tracking of loyalty programs.
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain accelerator is packed with scenarios to qualify new suppliers, onboard suppliers for API data integration, and manage the ongoing supplier relationship. 
  • Healthcare accelerator unifies electronic health record (EHR) data while enabling a suite of systems and applications to help more easily manage and understand patient outcomes.
Microsoft Dataverse ISV Point of View

Since Dataverse is built around a Common Data Model, industry accelerators are providing exciting opportunities to the independent software vendors (ISVs) to build on top of any level of the platform and accelerators:

  • Build own accelerator on top of the Common Data Model (CDM)
  • Extend the existing accelerator
  • Further extend Microsoft or third-party app and build a solution
  • Extend the solution build on top of the app available from the AppSource
  • Provide expertise for Customer and industry solutions built on top of the Microsoft Industry Accelerators. This enables software integrators to create industry vertical solution support and practices that can help customers directly, build their own solutions / tools or support ISV deliveries

Learn how Dataverse leverages
the Common Data Model.

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