Microsoft Dataverse

Microsoft Dataverse is a data storage and management engine serving as a foundation for Microsoft’s Power Platform, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 apps. It decouples the data from the application, allowing an administrator to analyze from every possible angle and report on data previously existing in different locations. It is based on Common Data Model principles, enhanced with rich security features, business logic, and productivity tools. Data of any size and format could be easily imported, managed and exported out of Dataverse with streamlined processes. Dataverse is built on Microsoft Azure to ensure scalability, global compliance, data security and availability.

dataverse explained details out of box

Introducing Microsoft Dataverse

Microsoft Dataverse is a functional implementation of the Common Data Model that provides a backbone for Microsoft’s Power Platform, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 applications. It comes with a huge set of pre-defined entities or “tables” which are metadata definitions of the most commonly-used business objects and procedures, such as Accounts, Contacts, Services, Invoices, etc. It also contains pre-built definitions of how these objects relate and interact with each other, which are referred to as  relationships and business rules. Once put into Microsoft Dataverse, the data can be ingested by the other apps without the need for customization. Data from any other source could be easily imported into Microsoft’s Dataverse with the use of a data export service called Azure Data Factory, dataflows and Power Queries. Using a set of connectors, the Dataverse can communicate with SAP ERP, Salesforce, Amazon Redshift, SharePoint lists, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Blockchain, Azure SQL Data Warehouse and many more. Security in Microsoft’s Dataverse is addressed through a set of built-in roles that are highly customizable. Dataverse is built on Microsoft Azure to ensure scalability, versatility, global compliance, data security and availability.

Benefits of Microsoft Dataverse

  • Easy to manage – Both the metadata and data are stored in the cloud. You in turn don’t need to consider the details of how they’re stored, as this is handled directly by the cloud service.
  • Easy to secure – Role-based security allows you to control access to tables for different users within your organization. Data is securely stored so that users can see it only if you grant them access. Additionally, Microsoft’s Dataverse provides the ability to create field-based security so that you can choose the granularity of security in your organization. 
  • Natively integrated into Dynamics 365 and Power Platform – Data from your Dynamics 365 and Power Platform applications is also stored within Dataverse, allowing you to quickly build apps that use and recycle your Dynamics 365 data and extend your apps with Power Apps. 
  • Logic and validation – Define calculated columns, business rules, workflows, and business process flows to ensure data quality and drive business processes seamlessly and with limited user engagement.
  • Productivity tools – Tables are available within the add-ins for Microsoft Excel to increase productivity and ensure data accessibility, from anywhere and on any device.
Dataverse handles data in any shape and form

Dataverse is designed to work with any type of data and incorporates all of the major categories of data technologies that your organization needs — relational, non-relational, file, image, search, and even data lakes. Dataverse includes a set of visual designers to create, edit, and interact with data. This makes it easy to quickly define the tables, relationships, business rules, forms, and workflows that represent your business. With the easy-to-configure integration features built into Dataverse, deep integrations with Microsoft’s cloud services such as Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365, etc., make for an easy set-up, with no development overhead. Dataverse can connect to the devices, apps, systems, services, and popular SaaS offerings that contain the data needed for your business to succeed and remain efficient.

As a result, a wide range of enterprise integration scenarios—from retrieving data sent in a spreadsheet as an email attachment, to emerging scenarios, like using Dataverse data in a blockchain network—can be achieved with ease and with little to no code required. Integration efforts that previously were measured in days and weeks can now often be measured in hours and minutes. This not only preserves your in-house development efforts, but also saves you from acquiring future technical debt. 

 

In addition to providing the ability to create data or import it from other systems, Dataverse also supports virtual tables or “entities”. Virtual tables map data in an external data source so that it appears to exist in Dataverse. This enables Dataverse to execute real-time data operations against the external data source and surface a “read-only” column of that data in your user interface. 

Dataverse works with any software

When an organization wants to create a new app, it can realize additional productivity gains by using Dataverse with Power Apps. By leveraging the Common Data Model, Power Apps understands the rich metadata included in Dataverse and uses it in a multitude of ways to help you rapidly build great-looking apps that are secure, scalable, and make them available across desktop, web, mobile, and through a new native integration, Microsoft Teams.

Organizations that use Power Apps can quickly develop mobile apps for iOS and Android. You can also take advantage of Dataverse mobile offline functionality, which enables apps to collect, query, and interact with data when offline. For organizations that want to integrate Dataverse data into existing apps or write new apps by using custom code, Dataverse provides a powerful REST-based API, a developer SDK, and a growing list of samples for common business scenarios. Organizations can leverage these developer tools to extend applications and create complex background plugins and more.

You can also use Dataverse in bot-based apps that deliver intuitive, interactive dialogues with employees, partners, and customers. Leveraging the data contained in Microsoft’s Dataverse, citizen developers can build bots using Power Virtual Agents, that can be embedded in websites, existing Dynamics 365 enterprise applications and Power Apps. 

 

The fact that Dataverse works with any application means that it should also work with the tools that functional employees and professional developers use. To help them be even more productive, Dataverse has the ability to be integrated with popular tools such as Excel, Outlook, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps, Power BI Desktop, Power Query, Azure Data Factory, Data Export Service, and SQL Server Management Studio. In fact, Dataverse has native integrations already live or in preview, with many of the applications listed above.

Dataverse unlocks gems hidden in the data
Power Platform interaction with Dataverse (formerly Common Data Service)

Dataverse includes the ability to create lightweight charts and paginated reports. The data in Dataverse can also be used with Power BI to create rich, interactive reports and dashboards. For organizations that are interested in employing AI to analyze their data, AI Builder can give everyone in the organization—regardless of their technical expertise—the ability to add artificial intelligence capabilities to the business process flows they create and use. Delivered as part of the Microsoft Power Platform, AI Builder includes six pre-built AI models that can be used in Power Automate and Power Apps to seamlessly evaluate data within Dataverse. If you require a more complex data model, AI Builder allows you to create your own, select a database, and train your data model in minutes. 

To support advanced analytics and machine learning, Dataverse includes a managed data lake. Data within the lake can be used to run Power BI reporting, machine learning, data warehousing, and other downstream data processing. One of the benefits of the data being in Azure Data Lake is that organizations can take advantage of Azure Synapse Analytics. This service can deliver added productivity by bringing together enterprise data warehousing, data exploration, code-free data orchestration, deeply integrated Apache Spark and SQL engines, as well as integrated AI and BI.

Dataverse has multi-level security
example-business-unit-dataverse

Dataverse uses Azure Active Directory, idtable and access management mechanisms to help ensure that only authorized users can access the environment, and its relative data and reports. Dataverse natively supports encryption of the received, sent and stored data because of its Azure nature.

 

Dataverse uses role-based security to group together a collection of privileges. These security roles can be associated directly with users, or they can be associated with Dataverse teams and business units.

 

In Dataverse, individual columns or “fields” can be shared on a one-by-one basis with another user. Because entity-level control of access isn’t adequate for some business scenarios, Dataverse has a column-level security feature to allow more granular control of security at the column or “field” level.

Another layer of data security in Dataverse is hierarchy:

  • Manager hierarchy – to access the data, a manager must be within the same business unit as the report, or in the parent business unit. Users that sit under the manager (from an organizational design perspective), will view data only relative to that hierarchy.
  • Position hierarchy allows data access across business units.
Dataverse Security Roles and Privileges
Dataverse protects you against malicious behavior

In order to ensure service levels, availability, and quality, entitlement limits to the number of requests users can make each day are governed by licenses. Service protection limits have also been put in place against malicious behavior that would otherwise disrupt service for all customers. Entitlement limits represent the number of requests users are entitled to make each day. The allocated limit depends on the type of license assigned to each user. Service protection limits exist to protect the health of the service for everyone. These limits provide a level of protection against random and unexpected surges in request volumes that threaten the availability and performance characteristics of the Dataverse platform. The service limits the number of concurrent connections per user account, the number of API requests per connection, and the amount of execution time that can be used for each connection. These are evaluated within a five-minute sliding window. When one of these limits is exceeded, an exception is returned by the platform.

Dataverse takes care of your data

Dataverse ensures data integrity and security with regular backups. Manual backups are user-initiated, typically done before making a significant customization change or applying a version update. Both sandbox and production environments can be manually backed up. Sandbox backups are retained for seven days by default. Manual backups for production environments that have been created with a database and have one or more Dynamics 365 applications installed are retained for 28 days by default. Manual backups for production environments that don’t have Dynamics 365 applications deployed in them are retained for seven days by default. There’s no limit to the number of manual backups that can be made, and manual backups don’t count against storage limits.

Automatic (system) backups back up all environments. They take place automatically and continuously. The underlying technology used is Azure SQL Database. System backups for production environments that have been created with a database and have one or more Dynamics 365 applications installed are retained for 28 days by default. System backups for production environments that don’t have Dynamics 365 applications deployed in them are retained for 7 days by default. System backups for sandbox environments are also retained for only 7 days by default.

Industry Solutions Accelerators for Dataverse

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

dataverse-healthcare-patient-scheduling-screening-template

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

Dataverse for Teams - should we say "Power Apps in Teams" ?

Power Apps for Microsoft Teams Dataverse

Microsoft now offers a free version of the Dataverse as a part of its Microsoft Teams app. It is, in fact, a lighter version of the Dataverse and is completely separate from it. As such, it is not “visible” from  the Dynamics 365 or Power Apps Dataverse, if an organization has one deployed. It is also limited to a relational database only and can not exceed 2 GB or have more than one million records. A paid upgrade option is, of course, available if any of these limitations is in the way of your business expansion. 

The mindset behind introducing this into Teams was identical to one that brought “Record Macro” button into the Microsoft Office products a decade ago. It is to enable non-IT users of the organization to quickly automate their everyday tasks by themselves. Any user of the Microsoft Teams app in the organization can now easily create no-code/low code apps with the built-in Power Platform canvas interface. The apps could be shared with the team and use Dataverse for Teams for data storage and management. Microsoft even added pre-built template apps to help with getting started.

Dataverse for Teams can be used for small-scale automation tasks, getting business intelligence data with Power BI,  building AI or creating a virtual agent without need for Dynamics 365 or Power Platform license. Even an unexperienced user can build and share an app with the team in less than an hour. However, the app built with a free license can only be used from within the Teams environment. 

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