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.
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.
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.
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 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 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:
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 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 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.
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:
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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