What is Microsoft Dataverse For Teams?
Before getting started with Project Oakdale, It is required to have the basic understanding and fundamental knowledge of Dynamics 365, Power Platform &, Common Data Service. Please check my article here for the same.
We have been hearing so many new terminologies and features from the last couple of years to build a low code no code app like Power Platform, Common Data Service, Common Data Model, and much more.
And recently, there is one more new terminology/feature that Microsoft has introduced called Project Oakdale.
Now first let’s understand, why Microsoft has come with this new concept/feature, what is the purpose of it, and who is the target audience who supposed to use this feature?
So basically, Project Oakdale (Introduced in Sep 2020) is a built-in, low-code data platform for Microsoft Teams that empowers users to build custom apps, bots, and flows in Teams by using Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, and Power Automate.
Project Oakdale built on top of Common Data Service provides relational data storage, rich data types, enterprise-grade governance, and one-click solution deployment to the Teams app store
Those who already know about the Common Data Service. Project Oakdale is nothing but a Subset of Common Data Service, which allows all Team users and business leaders to quickly build an app and chatbot within the Microsoft Teams to fulfill their business needs.
Project Oakdale = Microsoft Teams + PowerApps + Power Automate + Power Virtuual Agent
What are the components of Microsoft Dataverse For Teams?
Microsoft Project Oakdale provides the following components/features:
- PowerApps – to create an app for your team members/guest users
- Environment Variables – to hold the value or pass the value between the app screens.
- Power Automate – for task automation and writing business logic in your app
- Power Virtual Agent – to build a chatbot for your team
- Table (entity) – to store the data
- Columns (field) – to create fields (with basic data types same like CDS)
- Relationship – to manage relationships (1:N, N:1) between tables
How does it differ from the Power Platform? Earlier also, I had an option to create PowerApps for Microsoft Teams, then what is the significance of using Microsoft Dataverse For Teams now?
It’s true, earlier we also had an option to create an app and publish it to the team. However, that option was made available for App Developer and we need to use PowerApps Studio in order to design the app and then again had to configure few settings in Microsoft Teams to access the app. There was a lot of switch between the applications and teams user has to navigate away from teams in order to create a simple app. So, there was no direct connection or link between Microsoft Teams and PowerApps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agent.
Using Project Oakdale, Team users don’t need to switch between applications or navigate away from the Microsoft Teams Application in order to create an app. Users can directly create an app and chatbot within Teams itself along with writing business logic using Power Automate.
So Project Oakdale is not separate from Power Platform, it’s just an additional layer provided by Microsoft on top of Power Platform and Common Data Service with some limited capabilities, that is only required for any Team Users/Business People. For Pro developers or advanced features, it is still recommended to use Common Data Service only or upgrade Project Oakdale to Common Data Service.
What is the other advantage of using Microsoft Dataverse For Teams from an organizational perspective?
- Support to build low-code and no-code apps, flows, and chatbots for and within Teams.
- Core data capabilities from the same platform behind Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365.
- Storage, rich data types with enterprise capabilities, and one-click solution deployment.
- A new visual editor that makes it even easier to define and populate table data.
- Enterprise security that’s easy to use and aligned with the approach used in Teams.
- Inclusion in most existing Team’s licenses.
- Storage of 2 GB per team, and support for up to 1 million rows.
- Support for up to 500 teams.
- The capability to be promoted to Common Data Service
Architecture of Microsoft Dataverse For Teams?
Who should use Microsoft Dataverse For Teams?
Microsoft has introduced the concept of Project Oakdale for Microsoft Team Users, Business People, Sales People, and for anyone, who has a basic understanding of Microsft Excel and PowerPoint.
Using Project Oakdale, any Team member/user can easily build an app or chatbot for their team members/guest users to solve the various business problems within their teams.
Project Oakdale is initially focused on the low-code and no-code developer and does not provide access to the capabilities like API access, ability to create plug-ins, and so on at launch. However, Project Oakdale’s capability along with premium functionality through Power apps provides professional developers the ability to create robust solutions with far less code, including extending the out-of-the-box capabilities of Power Automate with their own custom logic in Azure functions, connect their own web services, etc.
How does Microsoft Dataverse For Teams security work?
All tables and the applications built within Microsoft Team using Project Oakdale are secured with enterprise-grade security that’s easy to understand and use for low-code and no-code developers. Security in Project Oakdale aligns to how security is handled in Teams, with a focus on (OMG) Owners, Members, and Guests
Access Level and Role Assignment in Microsoft Dataverse For Teams?
Note: Record sharing with other users/teams is not supported in Project Oakdale.
How Microsoft Dataverse For Teams differs from Microsoft Dataverse?
Project Oakdale is just a subset of Common Data Service, which is built on top of Common data service to provide low code no code data platform for Microsoft Teams.
For complex business requirements, it is still recommended to use Common Data Service or upgrade your Project Oackdale environment to Common Data Service.
Let’s discuss what is the major difference between Project Oakdale and Common Data Service
Business intelligence and professional developer features:
How does Microsoft Dataverse For Teams Licensing work?
Project Oakdale is enterprise-grade and designed to work within Teams. Focused on Teams, it aligns with the core roles identified in the environment: Owners, Members, and Guests.
For Project Oakdale, access to the environment is restricted just to the Teams owners, members, and guests. Granting access to the environment is managed by Teams Owner by adding or removing the team members. Key benefits include –
- Supports Teams Azure AD security group with runtime (JIT) user access and privilege checks.
- Auto assignment of System Administrator security role to Teams Owners.
- Ability to assign different security roles to Teams Owners and Members.
- No security settings management for Business Unit and Teams is required.
It doesn’t include additional security features such as auditing, sharing, field level, and hierarchical security that we get with CDS.
Does the app build within Microsoft Teams is responsive?
Apps built with Power Apps and used in Teams will be responsive to the form factor that they’re loaded on, meaning a creator can build an app once for users to view full screen on both mobile devices and desktops.
Is it possible to upgrade Microsoft Dataverse For Teams to Power Platforms Common Data Service?
Yes, it is possible to upgrade your environment from Project Oakdale to Common Data Service.
Promoting an environment from Project Oakdale to Common Data Service will enable customers to take advantage of additional capacity, capabilities, such as:
- Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
- Support for log and Managed Data Lake
- The granular level of security, access control, auditing, snd Compliance
- Relevance search, mobile offline data
- Native integration with Azure, SQL, and Azure Data lake
- Support for clients like web, desktop Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Excel
- Premium Connectors and Calling External APIs
- Complex Business Rules & Business Process Flows
- Model-Driven apps
- Write plugins
- Power BI Integration
- Have to use AI Builder
- Use UI Flows
- Custom Connectors
Microsoft Dataverse For Teams Restrictions
- Project Oakdale capabilities will be available as part of select Microsoft 365 subscriptions. See the Microsoft 365 licensing.
- Teams can invite guests who can access the apps, bots, flows, and data in the Teams Project Oakdale database within their team. However, they won’t be allowed to install, make, or edit apps. They can only discover and run apps in their team.
- Apps created in Teams that use Project Oakdale will only be accessible in Teams and Teams Mobile, regardless of the user’s license.
- For any standalone Power Apps or Power Automate usage, which includes API access as well, the Project Oakdale schema will need to be promoted to Common Data Service.
- No direct API access or pro developer experience will be provided, and only Power Apps embedded within the Teams client will be able to access the runtime.
- Tenant owners and members will be allowed to create their first app template, create a blank table app for the team, or a bot.
- Team owners will be allowed to delete a team associated with a Project Oakdale environment, which will trigger the deletion of that environment.
How is the Project Oakdale environment created?
In the public preview, the creation of Project Oakdale environments is not available from the Power Platform admin center. The creation of new Microsoft Project Oakdale environments will only be possible from within Teams.
Once you create a table as part of Project Oakdale in order to design an app for a team, a new project Oakdale environment gets created for that particular team.
The Project Oakdale environment name is the same as the team name. You can filter the list of environments in the Power Platform admin center to show just Project Oakdale environments.
How to give access to a new User in Project Oakdale Environment?
For users to access Project Oakdale environment apps, bots, and data, they must:
- Be enabled in Azure Active Directory.
- Have an active Microsoft 365 license with a plan that includes Project “Oakdale.”
- Be a member of the environment’s security group.
Then follow the below instructions to add a user to the Project Oakdale environment:
- In the Power Platform admin center, select Environments on the left pane, and then select a Project Oakdale environment.
- Select Settings.
- Select Users + permissions, and then select Users
Can Project Oakdale be used outside of Teams?
Project Oakdale is designed to work in the Teams client across the web, desktop, and mobile. If you’d want to use Project Oakdale outside of Teams, you must promote your environment to Common Data Service.
Can we control who can create environments with Project Oakdale?
Teams govern who can create and join a Team.
In the public preview, the environment is created when a team is created, and when an owner or member tries to create an application in it.
Can a Project Oakdale environment be deleted?
It is in public preview, currently when a Project Oakdale environment is deleted when the associated Team is deleted.
Can customers with Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents subscriptions use premium connectors with Project Oakdale?
Yes. Accessing premium connectors in a specific Project Oakdale environment requires users in that environment to be licensed accordingly.
Example: In a Project Oakdale environment, accessing premium connectors in the context of an app requires all users accessing the app to be licensed by either the Power Apps per app or per user plan depending on the customer scenario.
Can customers purchase more capacity for an environment associated with a Team?
No. Project Oakdale provides support for approximately 1 million rows per team. Although existing apps and chatbots will continue to work when a Microsoft Project Oakdale environment reaches the per environment limit (2GB), users who want to create a new app, flow, or chatbot in the environment will need to :
Purchase Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents subscriptions based on their needs and start building their new app, flow, or chatbot in a Common Data Service environment.
Promote the existing Project Oakdale environment to Common Data Service in the Power Platform admin center and, if needed, purchase Power Apps, Power Automate, or Power Virtual Agents subscriptions based on their needs.
Can customers package and export their solution (app/flow/chatbots) built-in Project Oakdale, and then import that into a Common Data Service environment
This capability is not available in public preview but is included in Microsoft’s roadmap.
Are the existing Microsoft Power Platform use rights included with Microsoft 365 licenses changing?
To deliver a comprehensive low-code extensibility platform for Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Power Platform capabilities available as part of select Microsoft 365 subscriptions are expanding with the introduction of Project Oakdale.
Project Oakdale is a built-in flexible datastore that provides data storage and a one-click solution for (app/chatbot) deployment in Teams. With the addition of Microsoft Project Oakdale:
Power Apps capabilities seeded in Microsoft 365 licenses are expanding to enable building and deploying custom apps natively within Teams.
Additionally, Power Virtual Agents’ capabilities are being introduced to Teams. Customers will now be able to build and deploy custom chatbots directly within Teams.
The existing Power Platform functionality available for use in Microsoft 365 more broadly outside of Teams remains otherwise unchanged.
Does a user require a ‘Power Virtual Agent’ Subscription in order to access it within Microsoft Team as part of Project Oakdale?
No. Unlike Power Platform, the user doesn’t need to have additional licenses in order to use Power Virtual Agent withing Microsoft Teams.
Capabilities available in the Power Virtual Agents app in Microsoft Teams are available as part of Select Microsoft 365 subscriptions with Power Platform and Teams capabilities, excluding plans for US government environments (GCC, GCC High, and DoD) and EDU A1 and SUB SKUs.
To access the full range of Power Virtual Agents capabilities, you need to upgrade your plan to a standalone Power Virtual agent subscription.
The following table is a brief comparison of capabilities in the Power Virtual Agents for Microsoft Teams plan, which is available in select Microsoft 365 subscriptions, against the standalone Power Virtual Agents subscription.
Check this article for more details.
Does a user require a ‘Power Automate’ Subscription in order to access it within Microsoft Team as part of Project Oakdale?
There are no additional licensing requirements when you use Power Automate with Microsoft Teams.
Same as Power Virtual Agent. Power Automate usage also covers in Select Microsoft Teams Subscription. In this subscription, Project Oakdale uses standard connectors instead of premium connectors which doesn’t require any additional license cost, However, if you use any premium connectors inside your Power Automate then all Teams users need to have an appropriate license based on the requirement or connector usage.
Check this article for more details.
How to Promote your Project Oakdale Environment to Common Data Service Environment?
Please check this article for the details.
Tell me some Real Time Example, where I can use Project Oakdale in my organisation?
Some of the scenarios where you might want to create an app and chatbot within Microsoft Teams are the following:
- In an organisation, Someone in the payroll department creates an app and chatbot that helps teammates get tax filing forms and information.
- The facilities manager creates an app and chatbot that answers the common questions they are receiving about coming back to work after a pandemic.
- A human resources (HR) employee creates an app and chatbot that can answer questions about vacation balance, time off, and benefits.
- A member of the finance department creates an app and chatbot that helps their teammates in the finance team to fill out expense reports
- Create an app and chatbot to submit and track ticket status regarding all type of issue/query/feedback/complaint/escalation etc.
- Create an Approval App to handle the approval process in your organization like Leave Approval, Quote Approval, Bid Approval, etc
Useful Resources and References
In my next blog, I’ll demonstrate the end to end Implementation of Project Oakdale, where we’ll learn – How to create Tables, App, Power Automate, and ChatBot within Microsoft Teams.
Stay Tuned. Cheers.