Bill’s Recommended Sessions:
- Empower Everyone to Automate Common Processes with Power Automate- good discussion for those who are new to Power Automate to learn how to use it and specific use cases.
- Ask the Expert: Power Automate- good discussion on how to use service accounts and the 30-day limit on Microsoft Flows. Presenter demonstrated a good work around for the 30-day limit.
- Enhancing the Admin Experience with Power Platform Governance- Good for IT Pros because it covered all 3 pillars: security, compliance and governance.
Exciting New Capabilities through Power Automate Desktop:
- Ability to add Power BI data context to a Power Automate flow for real-time, more informed automation.
- Continued Teams integrations to enhance the approval process.
- Process Advisor- a new process mining capability in Power Automate Desktop that will allow you to record and analyze manual business tasks, discover inefficiencies, and surface optimization and automation opportunities.
- New capabilities to integrate legacy applications outside the scope of Power Automate.
Power Platform Governance Announcements:
- New data loss prevention features add flexibility to end point, connector and connector action restrictions.
- Tenant-wide Analytics functionality pulled out of COE as a built-in feature to allow access to analytics across all environments without premium licensing.
- Application lifecycle management pipelines coming soon that will simplify moving from one environment to the next.
Microsoft Dataverse Now Available in Teams:
- Access to model-driven apps and Dataverse directly through Teams without premium licensing for more cost-effective way to prototype and prove out new model-driven apps.
Converged Authoring Experiences for Power Apps Coming Soon:
- By end of May a new app designer for model-driven apps will be available to simplify the building experience and streamline integration with canvas apps.
- In October, the Teams and Power Apps Studio methods of creating canvas apps will be merged into a single experience.
- In 2022 a single Power Apps Studio experience will allow you to build model-driven apps and canvas apps in the same tool.
Valorem's Digital Workplace experts can help you plan and optimize your Power Platform journey and accelerate time to value. Our Power Platform Workshop is a great way to get hands-on with this power tool and learn how you can leverage it to grow and maximize your business!
Pete: Hey there, this is Pete Meeks, I’m a Cloud Architect with Valorem Reply here with my colleague.
Bill: Bill Feldker, Cloud Architect also from Valorem Reply.
Pete: So, Bill, you went to a few of the sessions for the [Microsoft Business] Applications Summit. I’m curious, which one of those sessions would you recommend? Like, if people had just some limited time, what would you recommend that they go to?
Bill: I actually have three, and it's actually going to be desperate across three different user sets. The first one I would recommend is the “Empower Everyone to Automate Common Processes with Power Automate.” Really long title, but it was a really, really good low-level discussion about Power Automate. It went from the low level to a nice level of how to use Power Automate and what it can be used for. So, I thought it was a really good session.
The other one that I thought was really awesome if you're really into Power Automate, was “Ask the Expert: Power Automate.” That one was really good, lots of good detail. There were a lot of really good questions. Some of the key ones that I heard, and thought were really interesting, the way Microsoft was answering the questions, [were focused on] how to use service accounts. They answered that question in there, which I thought was really great. And also, one of the questions was “will [Microsoft] Flows always be bound to 30 days or will that limit be lifted?” And the answer was, there is no future [plan] for limiting that or for removing that 30-day limitation. But he did describe a really good work around using approvals and then causing a second flow to start. So, it was a really good way to do that.
And then I had a 3rd [session I attended and would recommend], this one just for it pros, “Enhancing the Admin Experience with Power Platform Governance.” And the reason why this one was really good is because they did cover the three pillars: security, compliance, and governance. And it was one of the lead people at Microsoft who really kind of covered that one well.
Pete: Awesome its interesting about the 28-day flow limitation, I heard there was a new way that they're allowing exporting of that data into Azure storage. So, if you need that data beyond that [28-day window], you would at least be able to get to it pretty easily.
So, you were focusing on Power Automate [at the Microsoft Business Summit sessions]. What are some of the features of Power Automate that people should be getting excited about, that were announced at the summit?
Bill: So, there were actually some really, really good ones. Obviously, the biggest news this year, so far, has been Power Automate Desktop. And it's really going to be an awesome tool for people as [Microsoft continues to develop] it. They talked about the ability to add a button to Power BI reports that then, when you click that button, you can actually send the Power BI context of the data that's on that report, at that time - if it's filtered down - to a Power Automate flow. That can then run a process on that data. So that was something that I hadn't tried, hadn't heard of yet, but I thought it would be really interesting.
The integrations with Teams, they keep adding more and more integrations with Microsoft Teams. So, they talked about the approval process and how approvals are in there. The one I heard that I thought was pretty cool, it's in preview right now, it's called Process Advisor. Which [allows you to] record tasks on a machine, and you can do this across your company or several users that do different tasks, and then you can actually have the Advisor tell you ‘hey, if you do it this way, it'll be more efficient.’ But it can also tell you how to automate that entire process so that your users don't have to do those same tasks over and over again. And then, you can create that Power Automate Desktop solution as part of that, using the Process Advisor. It is in preview mode, but they do expect it to go come soon into general availability.
Pete: So, you mentioned the Power Automate Desktop and I know that that's kind of been a new add to the Power Platform, but what are some of the features up and coming? What should people know about the [Power Automate] Desktop that's new?
Bill: It's free with Windows 10! So, if you have Windows 10, you can download it for free, which is awesome! I mean that's probably the best thing is, you can get started for free. Of course, there are some connectors that, if you them to it, it'll give you an extra charge, but initially you can actually do a lot of automation for free with Power Automate Desktop so that's probably the best news. But one of the [things] people really ask [about Power Automate Desktop}, what is it? ‘I don't even understand what this tool is.’ And so basically, what it is is, it allows you to automate processes. And I call it processes because it's something anything you do in your desktop. Let's say I open up an Excel every morning and I click on three or four things and then I send it in an email to someone else. Every morning I do this task. So instead of doing that task, you can actually have Power Automate Desktop record those clicks and then send it off. So, it can record mouse clicks, it can record keyboard clicks, and it can even go into legacy applications that you can't use in Power Automate. Now, with [Power Automate] Desktop, you can click open those [legacy] applications and then you can follow all those steps to actually do what you need to do. So, it's a great way to automate the other processes that are outside of the scope of Power Automate.
Bill: So Pete, I know that you attended several of the sessions at the Business Applications Summit recently, so I figured ‘hey let’s have a quick discussion about that.’ So, what announcements regarding governance of the power platform actually interested you the most?
Pete: Well, there's been a lot and you know governance has been a hot topic for IT groups. The power users and the citizen developer, they’re loving it. IT has been wanting more and more governance, so I think there’s been a lot. There's a lot coming. But some of the things that just caught my interest were around data loss prevention. For instance, you would have the ability, currently, to restrict just SQL Server access across the board, but you don’t have that granularity. Now, you can specific which actual databases you want to restrict. So you can say ‘oh, let’s restrict this HR database but we’re going to open up these other operational databases.’ So you have that flexibility on the end point restrictions.
Also within the connectors themselves, you can restrict actual connectors. Like you don’t want people to be using Twitter, you can restrict that particular connector. But also the actions within it, so you said ‘we don't want to necessarily restrict Twitter, but we want to restrict the ability to post something to Twitter.’ Through Power Automate, we can do that with some of the new data loss prevention features. So those were really interesting.
Tenant wide analytics was another [exciting announcement]. That's functionality that we have in the COE (Center of Excellence) starter kit, but they pulled that out as a built-in feature to the platform. So, now you can see your analytics across all the environments, like API consumption reports. I ran into that where a user, their flows are running super slow, and it's because they're just making too many requests, too many actions. And you can anticipate that with some API consumption reports. You know how flows expire after 28 days, the instance data, you can now export that. There's a simpler way to export that to Azure so you can have that data as long as you need to and not be bound by what [time frame] Power Platform is going to retain that for.
Also, just around Application Lifecycle Management, like that whole pipeline. I know we've been given great tools to be able to build, like checking in our apps and flows into code repositories to move them from environment to environment, but that requires a manual builder. Those pipelines, they're going to be coming down the road. It's not here yet but being able to build in those as features so it's just a click of a button say to move it from one environment to the next [will be coming soon]. So, those are some of the features that I was impressed with, that really caught interest.
Bill: Yeah, I saw one of the [sessions] on the governance [as well], and it was really great to see that they added the ability to see some of that reporting right into your admin center. So that you don't have to go anywhere else, it's right there. So that was pretty exciting.
Pete: Yeah. Of course, installing the COE requires some additional premium licensing, at least one premium license. So at least now you have that report. If that's all you were wanting out of the COE, you're going to get that without having to go down the licensing route.
Bill: Perfect, so why should people be looking at [Microsoft] Dataverse for Teams?
Pete: Yes! So Dataverse, formerly known as Common Data Service, based on the Dynamics 365 Platform, that's the basis of all the model-driven apps. So, you have the [Microsoft Power Apps] canvas apps and the model-driven apps. And it's been kind of a difficult point of entry for users, power users. Because of the licensing. You require premium licensing for the model-driven apps and using Dataverse. And it's just the vast majority of apps built in [Power Apps], by Microsoft's admission, are canvas apps connecting to SharePoint lists and libraries. Like 60 or 70-80% of them. And a much smaller percentage are model-driven. So, Microsoft is trying to kind of make that more available. So, what they've done is created a Power Apps environment, a new type of environment, that connects directly to your [Microsoft] Team and your Office 365 group. So now, you have the ability to build model-driven apps within the Teams context without the licensing requirements, which is huge! So now, you have the ability - without licensing requirements - to build apps [and] prove them out. If they become something that really takes on, you can then upgrade that environment to something that's more the full blown production type of environment and share it more broadly with the organization. But you don't have to make that decision right up front and have all the licensing costs. It's only $10/user per month for a single app, but that adds up. Especially when you're prototyping. So I think there's a huge, great move on their part to just raise the adoption of the model-driven apps.
Bill: So, Pete, can you talk to me about the new converged authoring experience for Power Apps?
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know that there's, depending on the type of app you want, there's different ways to do that. Like there's one way to build model-driven apps on Dataverse [and] there is a couple different ways to build canvas apps. Whether it's through the maker portal or through Teams, there's two different canvas app versions. So, the first thing that Microsoft has done is they're rolling out, this month, in public preview, a new app designer for model-driven apps. And so, what that is going to do, it's really going to simplify the whole experience of building model-driven apps. And specifically, the ability to embed and bring in the integration with canvas apps. You can already do that today but they're streamlining that experience, so you start to bring more canvas apps into that model-driven experience. So, that's happening for model-driven right now. But later this fall, in October, they're going to be converging the two different ways of building canvas apps. So, they're taking the [Microsoft] Teams version, and then the Power Apps Studio version of building canvas apps, and bringing that into a single experience. So now, you have, at least by the fall, you have one way of doing canvas, you have one way of doing model. But then, by this time next year, by April next year, they're going to bring that into a single experience. A single Power Apps Studio experience where now model-driven apps and canvas apps are the same tool that you're using. So, you know start to blur the lines between the two different apps. Whereas before, it's been like some people only focus on canvas, some people focus only on model driven. With the introduction of Dataverse for Teams they're really trying to pull all that together and now you get to choose. And you're not limited to some of the UI and technical limitations that you had before. So I’m excited about that.
Bill: Yeah, it would be nice not having to jump between three different tools to figure out how you want to build something.
Pete: Yeah, or try to explain to people ‘well, when you're doing it this way use this tool, when you're doing it this way that tool.’
Bill: Yeah, exactly. That’s great Pete, thanks!
Pete: You bet!