Microsoft released Power Apps and the Power Platform some years ago, initially as part of the Office 365 platform. The platform today consists of Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents, and reaches into Dynamics, Office 365 and the Azure platform. Together, these provide customers with a powerful platform to create and deploy applications with little or no code.
The licencing and requirements of the platform have changed a few of times since their introduction and the recent changes have prompted this update:
As of 31st December 2020, customers will no longer be able to order or renew the old Power Apps Plan 1 or Plan 2 licences and will need to transition to one of the new plans outlined below.
This update focuses on the Power Apps platform licencing, a separate article will talk about the PowerApps/Dynamics relationship, Power Apps Portals and Power Apps Virtual Agents.
The Power Apps Vision
The vision of the Microsoft Power Platform is to help businesses analyse, automate, and collect data in the cloud and on-premises, and sits across all of Microsoft’s critical platforms. The key components are PowerApps, Power BI and Flow (or Power Automate) and built on the Common Data Services (or Dataverse to give it its new name) for Apps.
To break down the various components:
Power Apps: This is the user interaction end of the platform allowing low code/no code development of apps – be they for mobile, web based or more recently published, Power Apps integration on the Teams platform.
Power Automate: This is the underlying automation tool that allows users to build out workflows and decision points based on user interactions with apps. Power Automate permeates all parts of the Office 365 platform and can be used for all sorts of automation tasks.
Power BI: Everyone loves a good graph! Power BI gives users the tools to build interactive dashboards and models and publish them in Teams, SharePoint and on the web. It is a great tool to analyse and display the data collected.
Common data service: Underlying all of these is the Common data Service (CDS). The service is a database secured and hosted in Azure. The CDS (or Dataverse as it is now termed) comes with predefined data types and can be customised and extended to suit your needs.
Licensing Power Apps
Power Apps has a couple of different licencing models. Each has specific use cases and a couple of scenarios will help when choosing the correct model for a specific scenario. Before I get into the descriptions, a couple of definitions will help make the different scenarios clearer.
Canvas apps: Created within the power apps environment, these use a set of visual tools to create apps with no coding experience required. All of the tools are drag and drop and each element has properties that you can set to control the input and user experience. The app can be connected to an existing data source which can be connected to Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics and a host of other data sources including SQL and the CDS. Canvas apps tend to be simpler and have greater flexibility.
Model app: Model apps exist to allow for more complex apps with very structured data and business logic requirements. Typically, these will require some code and more skills than their Canvas app cousins.
Environment: An environment is defined as a space to store, manage and share your organisation’s business data, apps and flows. It also serves as a container to separate apps that might have different roles, security requirements, or target audiences. An Office 365 tenant will have a default environment with a common set of user privileges. All additional environments can have the user rights customised to suit each environment.
Standard connectors: Standard connectors are that connectors that connect to common free or open-source protocols – some examples are Dropbox, GitHub, Google drive or Twitter. Other services that fall into this category fare from the Office 365 stack such as Outlook, Azure AD users, SharePoint or OneDrive
Premium connectors: Premium connectors are connections to most commercial data sources – such as SQL Server, Dynamics 365, the Common Data Source, Sales Force etc. If you need to access customer data sources or on-premises gateways – these also require a premium connector.
Office 365 Power Apps licencing options and restrictions
Power Apps licencing is bundled with a wide variety of Office 365 licencing, including all of the enterprise plans (except F1) and all of the business plans. Power Apps for Office 365 has some limitation on use – summarised in the table below:
Power Apps Per User Licencing
The easiest model to understand is the per user model. Licences are assigned in the Office 365 admin portal to a user and that user can access any number of apps in any number of environments – without restriction. As with any other Office 365 licence, a user licence can be re-assigned if an employee leaves the company.
Power Apps Per App Licencing
Power Apps Per App licencing is not assigned to a specific user – rather to an environment. Users who are then assigned an app will automatically be assigned a licence. So it is the assignment of the use right to the app that determines the count. The Power Apps Per App licenses work with so called ‘App Passes’. A licence for any specific app is not directly assigned to a user, rather it is automatically assigned when a user starts using an app. Each Power Apps Per App licence is good for access to 2 apps (Model-driven or Canvas) + 1 portal.
There are a couple of caveats though: Microsoft’s normal 90-day limitation on licence re-assignment applies. The means, for example, that a Per App licence cannot be assigned to user 1 in the morning and user 2 in the afternoon. It is understood that the assignment is until user 1 no longer needs access to the app or leaves the organisation.
A couple of example scenarios that might help:
- If your organisation has 25 users and you want all of them to access 1 Model-driven app, you will need 25 Power Apps per App licences
- If your organisation has 25 users and you want all of them to access 1 Canvas app AND 1 Model-driven app, you will still only need 25 Power Apps per App licences, because each is good for 2 apps.
- If your organisation has 25 users and you want 10 of them to use app A, and the remainder needs to use app B, you will still only need 25 Power Apps per App licenses, because the App Passes would be automatically be assigned to different apps.
- If your organisation has 25 users all using 2 apps and 10 users need to access 1 additional new app, you will need 35 power Apps Per App licences ( once you go beyond 2 apps, they are stackable)
The only other scenario you need to watch is if apps exist in different environments. How you choose to use environments depends on your organisation and the apps you’re trying to build.
- You can choose to only build your apps in a single environment.
- You might create separate environments that group the test and production versions of your apps.
- You might create separate environments that correspond to specific teams or departments in your company, each containing the relevant data and apps for each audience.
- You might also create separate environments for different global branches of your company.
The impact on Per App licencing is that you will need to assign licences on a per environment basis – so to continue the scenarios above:
- If your organisation has 25 users and you want all of them to access 2 Canvas apps in 2 different environments, then you will need 50 Power Apps per App licences, because each is good for up to 2 apps in a single environment.
Other licencing scenarios
The other common scenario is guest users. Guest users are users that only exist in another tenant, such as customer, suppliers or partners. If you have guest users assigned to use an app, the guest user must have a Power Apps licence assigned through one of the following tenants:
- The tenant hosting the app being shared
- The home tenant of the guest user
Also, the guest must have the same licence that is required for non-guests to run an app. The table below summaries they typical scenarios and required licences:
Find out more
To learn more about our licencing services, head over to our Software Asset Management page.