What is Microsoft Dataverse? A Complete Guide.

Data. It’s such a small word, but it’s literally at the heart of everything we do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a large enterprise; you need reliable data to do what you do.

More important than just “having” data is the ability to use it and capture it securely and quickly. Then you must be able to analyze it in real-time to inform better data-driven business decisions. Unfortunately, that’s where most organizations today fall flat. It’s, then, no surprise that 55% of data collected by companies is never put to good use.

Thankfully, Microsoft Dataverse exists for that very purpose-to help organizations utilize data in the best way possible. So, what is Microsoft Dataverse, and is all the hype it’s been getting of late worth it? Read on to get the answer to that question and a lot more.


Looking Beneath the Hood: What is Microsoft Dataverse, Exactly?

Building a modern data infrastructure capable of performing all of the above functions while remaining agile enough to accommodate future unexpected changes can be challenging.

Today’s data hits an organization from multiple angles, in various formats, and in numerous sources. Yet you still need to derive actionable insights quickly, or you can fall behind the competition.

It can be done. It’ll not be easy to source the developers needed to create an algorithm that can bring infrastructure to life. Even if you got them, you’d have to pay a couple of thousand dollars.

Tally in the costs for deploying, configuring, and managing the finished infrastructure, and you’ll be staring at mind-blowing figures in every word. And that’s to mention the collective effort and hours your team will put in to make that dream a reality.

As depressing as that sounds, though, there’s a more straightforward solution: Microsoft Dataverse.

First announced to the world in November 2020, Dataverse (formerly CDS) was created to provide a simple, scalable, secure, compliant, end-to-end and globally available data service.

It empowers organizations to work with any data, regardless of source or format, to garner real-time, actionable business intelligence.


What Versions of Microsoft Dataverse Are There?

Microsoft Dataverse is available in Office 365 in two versions:

Microsoft Dataverse

A premium edition that requires a PowerApps premium subscription. Allows creating apps accessible from all interfaces.

Microsoft Dataverse for Teams

This is the free edition of Dataverse. However, it has its own set of limitations, one being that it only allows the creation of internal apps.

Microsoft Dataverse is part of the Microsoft Power Platform, so it’s inherently low-code. In other words, your team can have prior programming knowledge to be able to install it and begin experiencing its ample benefits (more on this a little later).


How Does the Microsoft Dataverse Work?

The Dataverse is a relational database hosted in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Like any other database, it stores its data within tables. No wonder some people call it the “Microsoft Dataverse database.”

A standard table is a set of rows (formerly referred to as records) and columns (formerly referred to as attributes/fields). Each column within the table is designed to store a specific type of data, such as name, age, salary, etc.

The beauty of the Dataverse is that it incorporates a set of standard tables that cover typical scenarios you’re already familiar with. You can create custom tables unique to your organization and populate them using the Power Query. Citizen developers in your team can then use PowerApps to build rich Microsoft applications that utilize this data.


What Kind of Data Does the Dataverse Work With?

As we hinted earlier, the Dataverse works with any data. It also incorporates all the significant categories of data technologies that your organization needs: search, file, image, data lake, relational, and non-relational.

To ensure users have no trouble utilizing these technologies, Dataverse has a set of built-in visual designers for creating, editing, and interacting with data. This makes it easy to quickly scope out and define the tables, relationships, business processes and rules, workflows and forms, all of which come together to represent your business.


How Much Data Can You Store In It?

If you’re wondering how much data you can store in Dataverse, it depends. But to be sure, check your storage capacity entitlement and usage by database, file, and log as it appears in the Power Platform admin center.

For new subscriptions activated after April 1st, 2019, the default tenant-wide storage capacities are as follows:

Dataverse for apps database: 3GBDataverse for apps file: 3GBDataverse for apps log: 1GB

As for Microsoft Dataverse storage pricing, that solely depends on your specific PowerApps licensing plan. With the per-user plan, for instance, you get to enjoy the rights to use the Dataverse as a data source with a larger capacity. The cost for this is around $20/user/month.

Put differently, if you’re using PowerApps, you already have a license covering Dataverse. So you don’t need to pay anything extra.


Is Microsoft Dataverse Secure?

Yes, without a doubt. Conceptually, security in Dataverse ensures teams like yours can do the work they need to do with the least friction while still protecting the data and services they’re working with.

Microsoft Dataverse achieves watertight security via the Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). The identity and access management mechanisms encapsulated within this platform help ensure that only authorized users can access your environment, business data, and reports.

Where there’s a collection of privileges, Dataverse uses role-based security to group them. These security roles can be associated with business units and Dataverse teams or directly with users.

If you’ve always wished for a way to share individual rows with other users without relenting on security, fret not since Dataverse has you covered. The platform has a column-level security feature to allow more granular control of security at the column level.

To top it off, Dataverse also includes two security models for defining hierarchies: the position and manager hierarchies.

The position hierarchy allows data access across business units. As for the manager hierarchy, a manager must be within the same business unit as the Power BI report or in the parent business unit of the report’s business unit to access the report’s data.

If you’re running a customer service organization, the position hierarchy is ideal since it allows your managers to access service cases handled in different business units. However, you might prefer the manager hierarchy model if your business is finance-oriented. It prevents managers (or any other user) from accessing data outside their business units.


Dataverse vs. Common Data Service: Out With the Old, In With the New

Does all of the above sound familiar? That’s because Dataverse is nothing new. The Dataverse was formerly the Microsoft Common Data Service (CDS). If you only hear about this now, fret not; you’re not alone.

Before we go any further, here is a quick clarification: CDS is not CDM (Common Data Model). The latter is more or less the standardization of data concepts.

The new name was chosen to try and popularize the platform and make it more understandable to users. For a couple of days in 2020, the platform was called Microsoft Dataflex. However, it was only a short time before it assumed the name Dataverse.

So, to answer the question, “What is the difference between Dataverse and CDS?” we’d say not much. It’s only the name that has changed. The renaming process is still very much in progress. The Microsoft Power Platform still has references to the Common Data Service.


What Are the Primary Benefits that the Dataverse Brings Forth?

Microsoft Dataverse boasts many benefits that your organization can’t afford to ignore. However, only some of your employees know the platform’s immense perks. Let’s take a brief look at some of the most notable ones.


1. Endless Integration Possibilities

In terms of integrations, Dataverse has no match. The platform can work with virtually any business application in your productivity stack, including third-party systems. That’s because it allows data to be integrated directly or with the help of pre-built connectors, such as the Dynamics 365 Connector or the Microsoft Dataverse Connector.

Thanks to these integrations, many enterprise-level scenarios become incredibly easy to achieve. That includes everything from retrieving sensitive data stored on spreadsheets in an email to provide a secure storage platform to power the creation of flexible canvas apps. Here is the best part: all those scenarios require minimal code (or often no code).

With so many time-consuming, resource-intensive tasks off of your plate, you and your team can finally focus on the work that truly impacts your bottom line. Never again will you have to sacrifice between doing it fast and effectively.


2. It’s Easy to Manage

We’ve already highlighted how easy it is to work with the Dataverse from a data integration and data type point of view. However, we’d be remiss not to mention that it’s also easy to manage once it’s been set up.

Both the data and metadata are stored securely in the cloud. So you can have complete peace of mind regarding how they’re stored. No more sleepless nights and frantic, early morning calls to your IT team.


3. Powerful Analytics

Believe it or not, organizations that place more emphasis on data see an average annual revenue increase of 5.32%. Yet, many businesses today still need to work on using their data quickly and effectively.

Fortunately, that’s not a problem you’ll encounter with Dataverse.

With this platform, you can prepare paginated reports and basic charts almost as quickly as you can say “hand me that report.” Interoperability with Power BI, in particular, simplifies the process of creating interactive, well-ideated reports and dashboards.

In this way, it bolsters your organization’s capacity to analyze data more intelligently. You don’t need an expert to remind you that having rich, accurate, actionable insights is the only way to stay ahead of the curve in this day and age.


4. Real-Time Data Sharing

Not every day, you stumble upon a platform that can unify apps in a harmonious, centralized way. Thankfully, that’s one of Dataverse’s fortes.

It’s even better if your organization uses Dynamic 365. With Dataverse, your employees can seamlessly share data between their Dynamic 365 apps without having to toggle between endless tabs or handle clucky paperwork now and then. This empowers them to make intelligent decisions based on real-time data, not just hunches or guesswork.

Smart decisions mean less talk and more action. It means efficient, flexible workflows that help move the needle for your organization.


5. Premium Security

They say that no one is entirely immune to security vulnerabilities. With Dataverse, however, you’ll be halfway there.

So stacked is the platform in terms of Dataverse security that it’s got “built-in” flows for every real-world vulnerability imaginable. Whether you want to authenticate your users or are simply looking to limit the sharing of model-driven apps, Dataverse has your back.

The best part is, that you can set access permissions at whatever level you like for individual users with the simple click of a button. Now that’s what we call premium, on-the-go security.


6. Infinite Extensibility

Have a unique business function and are worried whether Dataverse can cater to it? Fret not, as Dataverse was built with that bottleneck in mind.

The schema behind Dataverse can easily be extended and/or adapted to fulfill any additional function, no matter the size or complexity. Specifically, several extensibility options are built into the platform, including business process flow, business logic extension using plugins and workflows, and Power Automate workflow.

Granted, you need this level of flexibility and extensibility to push your workflows to the next level.


Are You Ready to Get Started?

If you’re still reading this article, it’s pretty clear that you’re already sold on the idea of MS Dataverse as a whole, even if subtly. If it helps, the Dataverse bandwagon is still in its early stages, so you still have time to jump in and start experiencing its impressive string of benefits.

Now, appreciating the perks of this game-changing Microsoft technology is only one part of the equation. The other part is knowing who to call if you need help utilizing the platform for maximum business impact. Fortunately for you, we know a guy. Or rather, we know a crew of senior-level, Gartner-recognized experts ready to come to your aid anytime, any day.

At IncWorx Consulting, we understand the intricacies of Microsoft Dataverse like the back of our hands. Learn how we can help by talking to our consultants at your earliest opportunity. And we’re not just adept in the Dataverse; we’re also experts in Power Automate, Microsoft Power Apps, Office 365, and Power BI, and we can help unleash their full potential for your business.

Contact us today, and let us help make your Microsoft technologies work for you, not the other way around!


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