OPINION: DataVerse for Teams

To say that Microsoft Teams has been successful will be a massive understatement, The popularity of Microsoft Teams has gone through the roof, more and more organizations have transitioned to it, and from day one Microsoft envisioned it as not only a communication tool but a complete collaboration and productivity platform that will be the foundation of the modern workplace, and this is exactly where the strengths of Microsoft Teams and Power Platform and DataVerse aligns.


With Power Platform's Low Code No Code application development capabilities Microsoft saw an opportunity for its customers to get the best of both worlds, which allows citizen developers to build collaboration and productivity apps in Power Platform that runs inside Microsoft Teams.


As DataVerse for Teams is a cut down version of DataVerse, the biggest driver for organizations to use is because of licensing benefits i.e. $$$. This is why I will first try to explain my understanding of DataVerse for Teams licensing and why it is appealing to customers and then we will dig deep into the limitations of the product


Licensing

  • DataVerse for Teams use rights are included with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 enterprise licenses such as E3, E5, F3, etc. Most enterprises already have this, which means you are good to go with your projects

  • If your apps and flows contain connections to only Standard connectors along with DataVerse for Teams connector, the app and flow will still show a Premium designation but will not require a premium license to use it if you already have Teams use rights

  • However, if your app uses any other premium connector in addition to DataVerse for Teams connector, then the users will need a premium license to use it

  • If the Canvas App is connected to a power automate flow i.e. it calls the flow from the app, and the flow uses a premium connector other than DataVerse for Teams then a Premium license is required

  • If there is a flow that is not connected to the canvas app and runs in the background on a schedule or some other trigger such as record creation, and that flow uses a premium connector other than DataVerse for Teams, the users of canvas app do not require a premium license, however, the flow owner will require a premium license

As you can see given the use rights with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 licenses, it makes a very attractive proposition to build apps on it for many organizations, and don't get me wrong it is a very attractive proposition. but before you commit to it, it is important that you understand what are its limitations in comparison to DataVerse


Limitations

  • The maximum capacity limit for a DataVerse for Teams environment is 2 GB or 1 million rows across all tables, there is no way to extend that, you can't purchase an add-on for it, The only way up is upgrading it to DataVerse environment which means you are back on premium licenses

  • You cannot copy or reset the environments, the environment will be deleted if the connected Team is deleted

  • There are no Model-Driven Apps, you can only have Canvas Apps

  • There is no support for custom PCF controls or component libraries

  • Calculated and Roll-up fields are not supported, (although you get an option to create one, but it won't work)

  • Advanced Data Types such as Customer, Account, etc is not there

  • Data Management can be done through an on-screen spreadsheet-like editor or using Edit in Excel functionality, but it is not available for all data types, e.g. you cannot upload files or Images using these functionalities

  • Data Flows are in preview

  • There is no Common Data Model yet, but it is coming

  • Plugins and Web APIs are not supported

  • Use of the canvas apps is from within Microsoft Teams, if you want to use it directly in a browser you need a Premium license

  • The security model is simple and based on Team Membership, there are predefined roles or Owner, Member and Guest, and predefined Permission Levels

  • There is no support for advanced security features such as Field Level Security, Custom Security Roles, Hierarchical security, etc.

  • The is no auditing and activity logging

  • You can create Power BI Reports using DataVerse connector but Paginated reports are not supported at this stage


Conclusion


The limitations might have scared you off, but trust me there are still plenty of use cases where DataVerse for Teams is fit for purpose and ROI is great, consider a scenario where you need to build a quick data collection app that is supposed to be used by everyone in the organization, the purpose of this app is for collaboration. Now financially justifying a premium license for 5000 employees will be an impossible task for this and in situations like these DataVerse for Teams will be more than a handy alternative to DataVerse even with its limitations. The way I see it is for focused requirements like this with a large user base it makes sense to consider it, and with time Microsoft will continue to evolve this offering.