Dataverse for Teams and what it means for users and admins?

Starting from mid November 2020 users of Office 365 and Microsoft Teams have been able to create Dataverse for Teams environments within standard O365/M365 licensing. What this actually means for end users and IT admins? What they have to consider when using this new feature?

Summary

As a summary Microsoft Power Platform is a platform to visualize data, build apps, automate workflows, build chatbots and store data by centralized way to Dataverse as a low-code approach. But wait… I thought Common Data Service was part of Power Platform? Haven’t heard about Dataverse? Microsoft renamed Common Data Service as Dataverse and the same time Dataverse for Teams came generally available (11/2020). Also some other main terminology changes came effective related to Dataverse environments: Entities -> Tables, Records -> Rows, Fields -> Columns.

Screenshot showing overview of Microsoft Power Platform.

Previously utilizing Dataverse (CDS) required advanced licensing model for Power Platform. Also using some advanced features like Power Virtual Agents and AI Builder required Dataverse as a background service so they were also binded to advanced licensing model. Since the launch Dataverse for Teams end users are now able to create “light-weight” Dataverse instances within their Microsoft Teams context. This allows a completely new approaches and options for individual teams and employees to start working with their data. Also building Power Virtual Agents is now possible through Dataverse for Teams… and it’s easy!

Creating Dataverse for Teams environment for your team

To create a Dataverse for Teams instance to your Team you have to add “Power Apps” or “Power Virtual Agents” (or both) Teams app to your Teams client. Simply access “Apps” button on lower left corner of Teams UI, search for Power Apps and then choose the app and select “Add”. You can be owner or member of the team and Team itself can be private, public or organization wide.

This will add app to your Teams left navigation. Remember to pin it with right click! Now you can access the new interface which allows of creating a new Power App (and Dataverse for Teams environment on background) for selected Team. I prefer using “Power Apps” Teams app as a main interface since it contains more features than “Power Virtual Agents” app and it launches the later one when needed.

You will end up to this kind of polished Canvas Power App editor which allows you to edit your canvas app and/or to create a new Table to newly created Dataverse for Teams environment. Ignoring building Table or Canvas App itself here actually doesn’t matter, you now have Dataverse for Teams environment on background. Of course you can start building app right away.

Later accessing “Build” tab of Power Apps app you can list all Teams which have Dataverse for Teams environment created and you have access as owner or member. From “New” button here you are also able to start creating a Chatbots (Power Virtual Agents).

By selecting “See all” option from previous view you can easily see all the artifacts from selected Team. This view also actually allows the full management of Tables and their columns as well as table data if needed. Notice all column types for tables are not available from other views! You can of course create multiple custom tables if needed, add custom columns and create relationships between tables.

End User considerations

  • You can build Canvas Power Apps, Power Automates or Power Virtual Agents
  • All standard and premium connectors are available. However you should prefer standard connectors to really get benefit from licensing changes.
  • Applications based for Dataverse for Teams only works in Microsoft Teams context. You can’t run these as standalone or add them to your company Intranet portal or so.
  • Remember this approach can be a data silo in a negative manner!
  • Considering previous bullets, make sure to scope you application correctly. Who are the actual users needs access to data? Is this really for your team only or should we actually build organization level application? How much data you are going to store considering limits we have? Your company must have some kind of Playbook for utilizing Dataverse for Teams.
  • Data is accessible by owners and members of the team. Guest users can use apps but by default they only see their own items from Tables for example. Individual access to PowerPlatform environment can be given through Power Apps admin center.
  • Many advanced feature from actual Dataverse is not available. REST API is missing, Dataverse access right model is missing, no Business Rules, no Webhooks and no plugins for example. You can’t create Model Driven Apps at all based for Table.
  • You can update Dataverse for Teams to actual Dataverse environment if needed – Option however is not yet available!
  • There is a limit of 2GB and/or 1 million rows of data per team (and per Dataverse for teams instance)

IT Admins consideration

  • By default all end users can add required apps to their teams and create Dataverse for Teams environments. This behavior can be blocked or changed through Teams Admin Center App policies.
  • 500 Dataverse for Teams environments can be created per Office 365 tenant. This is a current hard limit and can’t be changed.
  • Dataverse for Teams environments doesn’t count or effect for actual PowerPlatform and Dataverse capacity in your tenant.
  • All Dataverse for Teams are actual PowerPlatform environments and can be seen through Power Apps Admin center as “Microsoft Teams” typed environments.
  • You can setup and configure PowerPlatform DLP policies against these environments if needed.
  • By default Dataverse for Teams environment is deleted when the connected Team is deleted. However Dataverse for Teams PowerPlatform environments can be deleted on background without deleting actual Teams for example to get more quota for new active environments.
  • You should take this new PowerPlatform environment type under consideration in your Governance models.

Final words

Even the whole concept of Dataverse for Teams may sound a bit complicated I feel this a really good track and addition to current toolbox of Microsoft Teams. By informing and training end users, having a Playbook for them and getting these environments under ICT governance models there are again a lot more possibilities for organization and individual teams to be more efficient. And I love Power Virtual Agents already!

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