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Helper I
Helper I

COE Best Practices: Should I use a service account?

I want to find out what are the best practices for setting up a centre of excellence (COE). Should I use a service account, different from my personal account, for our COE? For importing of all the COE starter kit components and then use of these. As far as I understand this has a few benefits:


  1. You can give the service account all needed permissions, so none of the flows, canvas apps, etc will run into any issues.
  2. The COE will not be tied to an individual users account in case they leave the business 

Does anyone have experience with this and what would you say is the best practice, and why?




That’s valid. For the flow connections in COE I would also connect them to cds via a service principal account.

a service principal uses an azure secret to connect to cds and doesn’t consume a license. It uses a non interactive “application user” account. Application users share a pool of 100,000 API requests so they are better for system jobs and integrations

Helper I
Helper I

I'd essentially thrown aside the idea of forming a COE due to the focus on the CDS as a data storage model.  Now I'm wondering how tightly tied together it all is and if it is worth reviewing for non-CDS data storage and/or how this is impacted by the announcement regarding Dataflex.

Hi @jlindstrom ,


Thanks for the response. Do you know can the service principle account be used for other connections too or is it only for CDS (or should I say DataFlex Pro)?


The COE starter kit has lots of Flows with quite a few different connectors, such as Power Apps Admin, Outlook, etc.

It's only common data service. 

@jhall_IUH  COE starter kit != COE. Everybody needs a center of excellence, meaning a strategy and a group that owns the platform, sets standards, etc. Whether or not you need to use COE starter kit, that's a different question.


But the COE starter kit is a good thing--it does require CDS, but not all of your apps or flow need to be in CDS--just the CDS starter kit needs to be installed in an environment with CDS.

@jlindstrom Well, we are the COE and I am the primary SME on applications/automation built on the o365 Power Platform for our organization.  All I meant is that I immediately questioned all parts of the COE Starter Kit and even the methods presented within it because of the various items that appear to be baited hooks for CDS uptake.  It is tiresome and perhaps the #1 thing I hate about Microsoft's approach (for a platform that I have a great deal of respect for).


I simply cannot rely upon most moves from Microsoft because they nearly always have assumptions based upon the CDS.  And this isn't simply because I feel the CDS is a money grab (which it is), but that their "data first" design remains a great failing in the Low Code community.  It forces the building of data models before delivery.  It relies that we have datasets that are semi-static.  Building PowerApps in this method is driving toward the consumption and uptake of the CDS to integrate in ERP/CRM pre-built data models to feed AI models.  This is simply, for problems I do not have, or problems our organization is not ready to tackle.


What our organization (and most others) struggle with is getting people to release their death grip on data that exists within Excel.  The easiest path is to help them build out their projects and smooth out the data acquisition phase for end-users, then to deliver that data "somewhere".  Somewhere can include exports to Excel so they can continue their existing processes, but meanwhile we can/will build out Power BI dashboards, as well as standardizing on JSON blobs for basic storage until the process matures.  And we do this, because the data that they captured in Excel is WRONG or INCOMPLETE because of the poor tools they had at their disposal.  Relying upon that as a starting point causes similar failures to the original pattern/process.


All of the approaches for Low/No code (it isn't just Microsoft) seem to follow the same old tired routine of us sitting around and doing lots of information gathering and design meetings before a single control hits the page to build data models.  It forces the controls of the traditional development delivery model on top of it.  Traditional models should be questioned at all phases for the design of processes to scope/design/deliver/support because of the drastic changes to where risk impacts low/no code delivery.  Sometimes these changes are just about the level of review, while others absolutely involve the re-ordering of processes.


It is painful to me that every single Microsoft resource I engage with is driving me toward the CDS so strongly, that I now doubt the validity of their advice or guidance.  

Is Microsoft pushing CDS? Absolutely

Is CDS the answer to every app? Absolutely not.

Can you do the things that COE starter kit does without a robust relational database? No


Name one LCAP vendor that doesn't try to upsell you to their premium product?

You use Power BI--there is a license cost for Power BI. Why is Power BI worth paying for, but Power Apps is not.


I disagree with your comments about not doing planning for data model before building apps. Not all apps need this, but anything that is a business application that is critical to your business process requires planning (independent of where you are storing your data). This isn't just about CDS--even if you are using sharepoint lists, if you don't plan out how the data will be stored, you will wind up with apps that don't scale. also need to plan environment strategy so you don't have development happening in production--this is no different between prodev and citizen dev--it's based on the criticality of the app.


The point is COE isn't a money grab--you don't need all of your apps in CDS to use COE. Just buy 1-2 full licenses, install the COE, then you can use these tools for all of your apps.


And did you see the dataflex announcement? You will soon be able to benefit from CDS as part of your teams license for apps deployed in teams.

What you must keep in mind is the CoE starter kit is just that... a starter kit.

Take it as a template, an example of how you can implement some of the concepts of a Center of Excellence in an organization, such as monitoring your assets and usage.

If the actual storage model implemented in the starter kit, adapt it to your recipe.

No hook and bait strategy here, just building on the assets of the Power Platform which is what this is aimed for.

Nothing more, nothing less.


@ZePowerDiver My apologies as this is the internet, and without arguments over nonsense it would be mostly empty.  However, (and I say this with a smile and is not intended to be derogatory), this is where I start to wonder if I am talking to a liar, an idiot, or someone who is blind.  Again, not meaning to just throw stones, just it is where my brain shifts when people are ignoring that any VENDOR's (no matter who they are) incentives and motivations are not necessarily aligned w/ one's organization.  It falls on those of us blazing the path, to balance Microsoft's direction with our own.

My point, was that Microsoft has (and there is simply no argument to counteract it) actively woven the Dataflex Pro/CDS license throughout their examples.  The continue to focus on that as the "preferred method" and their "default recommendation" which, in almost all enterprises, means additional licensing.  I find it tiresome and it causes me to regularly pull back on planned training and rollouts to accomodate their shifting licensing plan that drives relentlessly toward that data store.

Again, I am the lead in our COE and am driving adoption within our organization.  However, I must regularly counsel business users on how to bypass these baited hooks (and they are exactly that) in their applications.  As we have become more proactive in our approaches to guard against accidental usage of licensed components (while still being open to use cases at all times), I find it not only erroneous, but actively harmful, for people to deny that Microsoft is paving a very clear road toward Dataflex Pro/CDS adoption.  This is in every feature and is something that any organization who is not aggressively focusing on that path, to actively suppress that messaging at every turn.

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