Microsoft Power Platform is a lineup of low-code/no code tools for rapid app building, data analysis and process automation. It includes Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents. All of these products are natively integrated into Dataverse and can be easily connected with Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, as well as hundreds of third-party apps, including Google, Facebook, Instagram and many more. The Power Platform suite of apps might already be included with your Microsoft product, or even better – you could be eligible for a free license. Please contact us for more information.
This post briefly introduces Power Platform products, ways they could be licensed and highlights changes introduced in the March 2021 Microsoft Power Platform Licensing Guide. Please note that Microsoft reserves right to update and review the guide at any time and without prior notice.
Imagine building a mobile phone app to record your expenses in Excel, creating a process that pastes this data into your legacy expense report app and then emails your manager for approval. Imagine a call center agent building a chat bot that automatically collects customer data and books service appointments in you software of choice. Imagine doing that in an hour just by following simple tutorials. These are just a few quick and basic examples of what Microsoft Power Platform users, even without prior coding knowledge, can do for your organization. I’m referring to users whose job description say “clerk”, “accountant”, “service agent” or “security guard”, not “software developer”. Power Platform does not distract them from their main role, but instead empowers them to enhance internal processes, without the IT overhead and the technical “know-how”. Microsoft refers to this “low-code developer” persona as a “citizen developer”.
The general approach to Microsoft Power Platform Licensing did not change in the March 2021 licensing guide, as there are still three main buying scenarios:
However, some recent changes may be pertinent to your organization’s current licensing model. Microsoft is no longer offering Select Plus licensing agreements. External users outside of your organization have to be appropriately licensed to access the apps and data from the Power Platform. On a good note, the following Microsoft Power Platform apps are available at no additional cost:
By default, the subscription capacity for Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents share the same tenant and infrastructure, hence the capacity accrues across one tenant: 10 GB of Dataverse database and 20GB of Dataverse file space on a per-user plan or 1GB and 20GB on a per-app plan. Purchase of each additional per user license adds 250MB of database and 2GB of file storage to the default Dataverse capacity of the tenant. Additional per app licenses only increase the Dataverse database by 50MB and file capacity by 400MB.
Users with existing licenses for Microsoft Dynamics 365, Office 365 or Power Apps might already have access to core Microsoft Power Automate features. For the extended set of automation capabilities, Microsoft offers a standalone license for Power Automate. A per flow standalone license is ideal for the processes needed to be accessed by the unlimited number of users, regardless of which team, department or organizational unit they belong to. For the users who require unlimited number of automated flows, Microsoft offers a per user standalone licensing model.
As highlighted above, a number of Microsoft Windows licenses now include rights to create and execute automated desktop flows with Power Automate Desktop. The license grants unlimited use for all websites and applications and across all browsers for non-enterprise purposes.
Microsoft Office 365 allows user task automation with Power Automate within the context of Office 365 applications, including Microsoft Teams. Any application is allowed to connect, store and manage data of other Office 365 applications.
Microsoft Power BI has been free for individual use for a while now, but did you know there is also a free business version as well? But, there’s a catch – it only gives the user read-only access. You will need Pro or Premium license in order to be able to Publish content to other workspaces, share dashboards, subscribe to dashboards and reports, share with users.
Power Apps allows non-experienced users who are not software developers to start building and launching apps right away using prebuilt templates, drag-and-drop simplicity, and quick deployment—users can then roll out continuous improvements as needed. Professional developers can also benefit from using Power Apps with the advanced tools to seamlessly extend app capabilities with Azure Functions and custom connectors to proprietary or on-premises systems.
General purpose, full Power Apps capabilities are licensed on a standalone basis per user as well as per user per app as described above. Additionally, limited Power Apps capabilities are included within various Office 365 and Dynamics 365 licenses.
Power Apps Portals are provisioned on demand, every instance draws 1Gb from the Dataverse unused capacity. Various add-ons are available to extend the portal accessibility from the outside of the organization: per login and per page view license extensions could be purchased.
The Power Virtual Agents extension enables non-experienced users to create chat bots using a simple, guided graphical user interface and then integrate said chatbots into existing apps and services using the collection of provided connectors. Combined with Power Automate, these bots can take actions on behalf of the customers. For example, sending an email, booking an appointment or submitting an approval request.
Power Virtual Agents is licensed per tenant in units named chat sessions: every tenant receives 2,000 sessions per month, additional sessions are available for purchase. The billed session begins when a user topic is triggered and ends when the user’s questions are answered; or the conversation exceeds 60 minutes or 100 turns.
Microsoft now offers a free version of the Power Platform 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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