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JonathanGibbs
Advocate III
Advocate III

Do I need Dataverse?

I must admit I've not paid much attention to Dataverse. My apps all use SQLServer databases: I can use all the power and speed of TSQL to do the heavy lifting, and rarely use Forms in Power Apps. So I've not really seen the need to learn Dataverse, which I've assumed (?) must be slower than SQLServer and lacks essential features like stored procedures and triggers.

Thinking about improving ALM, however, and experimenting with different environments, I'm told I HAVE to use Dataverse, and indeed, that not using it is 'unhealthy'.

Is this imperative just to support functionality like Solutions, or do I have to convert all my data sources to Dataverse and lose all my lovely fast SQLServer functionality if I want lifecycle management? How much do I have to sign up to the Dataverse religion just to get help with ALM?

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions

@JonathanGibbs 

a bit wordy .. but hang in there... 

 

Taking your specific ask into account, here is how we (Microsoft) think about this:

PowerApps is the "UX" for the Power Platform.  There are currently 3 UX engines in play, each with a different goal and focus, 2 of which are being merged together as a single 'engine' with 2 subsystems. 

They are, 

  • Model - forms over data with a structure layout and merge support. dynamic reflow based on viewport and hosting technology.  - surfaces data hosted in Dataverse Directly or via Virtual entities 
    Code extensibility with PCF and TS/JS
  • Canvas - blank Cavas with data bound UX controls and a formula language, does not reflow or merge, but gives you control over nearly all ux artifacts - surfaces data accessed by connectors.
    Extesiblity with PCF and PowerFX Formula language 
  • Portals - WebForms over Data, designed for Public website use, natively uses Dataverse datasources for data access though can use other datasources depending on how much work you want to do, mastered fully out of dataverse hosted configuration data.
    Extensibility with HTML/Css/Liquid/TS/JS

PowerAutomate is the "async workflow" engine for the Power Platform. (Leaving out the desktop automation aspects for the moment).  This is the equivalent of Azure logic apps with a simpler interface and native support for the functions of the Power Platform.  Power Automate communicates via "Connectors" to other systems internal and external to the Power Platform. 
Dataverse is the "Engine" in the Power Platform.  Its effectively "Azure in a box",
It provides the

  • Configuration management system for any given PowerPlatform environment, (this is the "solution system" )
  • Data Storage based on data type, currently encompassing relational data (sql and no-sql types), files ( blob ) and log data ( doc db ), External data access (via Virtual Entity and or Connectors)
  • API Extensibility for all operations performed via Dataverse API
  • Integrated record and field level security, grouping permissions management. 
  • Auditing of access, change, and api operations. 
  • User developed and provided API contracts
  • Native API clients for .net and Public API Endpoints based on OData4.

 

There are several other systems in the Power Platform, but the 3 I listed are the 'big 3'  (though the Power Virtual Agents system (BOTS) is rapidly approaching being the 4th 'big' system.

 

As I said,
Dataverse enables the Solution System. The solution system is our configuration portability system between environments for all aspects of a Power Platform environment.  it's a big part of our "ALM" enabled system. 

On top of that we have a packaging system that allows for you to bundle multiple solutions + data + deployment related code operations into a Power Platform Package. 

 

Conceptually, the mapping of a Power Platform deployment to something like a Visual Studio solution works out like this. 

A Power Platform Solution is equivalent to a Visual Studio "DLL Project"

A Power Platform Package is equivalent to a Visual Studio "Solution" (a group of projects within a solution deployed together)

 

Now, with all that out of the way and a bit of context set 🙂 

 

When you hear us say "Dataverse is required for heathy ALM";
We are not saying that you have to use dataverse all the features we provide ( data / security / api ). 

We are saying that you need to use Solutions (hosted in dataverse) to manage your configuration. 

 

What all that means is that you can keep your PowerApps and Power Automates on top of SQL, you just need to create a solution and add those existing components too it, then use the solution to move it between environments (or a package if you are doing more complex things) 

 

Sorry about the Long-winded answer there, but I think having the context as to WHY we are asking you do something helps folks understand what we are thinking and helps you provide us better feedback. 

View solution in original post

4 REPLIES 4
DianaBirkelbach
Super User
Super User

Hi  @JonathanGibbs , 

 

I guess Microsoft heard you: the blog  "3 Primary Reasons to Learn Dataverse" was published yesterday. It's a good answer to your question : https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/3-primary-reasons-to-learn-dataverse/

 

 

Kind regards,
Diana
----------
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JonathanGibbs
Advocate III
Advocate III

Thanks @DianaBirkelbach, that's an interesting blog. I can see a case where you are starting from scratch.

For an existing large and complex SQL Server database, though, the blog seems to imply you can 'pass through' Dataverse with 'virtual tables', but from a performance point of view I still can't see why you would want to put another layer in the way. Still less migrate hundreds of lovingly-perfected tables, views and stored procedures that have been performance-tuned over many years using the excellent SSMS, to something that's new, difficult to comprehend, and [possibly] bloaty.

I will experiment and see if I can get any of the positives - lifecycle management, Solutions - without giving up my beloved, 'unhealthy' addiction to raw SQLServer...

@JonathanGibbs 

a bit wordy .. but hang in there... 

 

Taking your specific ask into account, here is how we (Microsoft) think about this:

PowerApps is the "UX" for the Power Platform.  There are currently 3 UX engines in play, each with a different goal and focus, 2 of which are being merged together as a single 'engine' with 2 subsystems. 

They are, 

  • Model - forms over data with a structure layout and merge support. dynamic reflow based on viewport and hosting technology.  - surfaces data hosted in Dataverse Directly or via Virtual entities 
    Code extensibility with PCF and TS/JS
  • Canvas - blank Cavas with data bound UX controls and a formula language, does not reflow or merge, but gives you control over nearly all ux artifacts - surfaces data accessed by connectors.
    Extesiblity with PCF and PowerFX Formula language 
  • Portals - WebForms over Data, designed for Public website use, natively uses Dataverse datasources for data access though can use other datasources depending on how much work you want to do, mastered fully out of dataverse hosted configuration data.
    Extensibility with HTML/Css/Liquid/TS/JS

PowerAutomate is the "async workflow" engine for the Power Platform. (Leaving out the desktop automation aspects for the moment).  This is the equivalent of Azure logic apps with a simpler interface and native support for the functions of the Power Platform.  Power Automate communicates via "Connectors" to other systems internal and external to the Power Platform. 
Dataverse is the "Engine" in the Power Platform.  Its effectively "Azure in a box",
It provides the

  • Configuration management system for any given PowerPlatform environment, (this is the "solution system" )
  • Data Storage based on data type, currently encompassing relational data (sql and no-sql types), files ( blob ) and log data ( doc db ), External data access (via Virtual Entity and or Connectors)
  • API Extensibility for all operations performed via Dataverse API
  • Integrated record and field level security, grouping permissions management. 
  • Auditing of access, change, and api operations. 
  • User developed and provided API contracts
  • Native API clients for .net and Public API Endpoints based on OData4.

 

There are several other systems in the Power Platform, but the 3 I listed are the 'big 3'  (though the Power Virtual Agents system (BOTS) is rapidly approaching being the 4th 'big' system.

 

As I said,
Dataverse enables the Solution System. The solution system is our configuration portability system between environments for all aspects of a Power Platform environment.  it's a big part of our "ALM" enabled system. 

On top of that we have a packaging system that allows for you to bundle multiple solutions + data + deployment related code operations into a Power Platform Package. 

 

Conceptually, the mapping of a Power Platform deployment to something like a Visual Studio solution works out like this. 

A Power Platform Solution is equivalent to a Visual Studio "DLL Project"

A Power Platform Package is equivalent to a Visual Studio "Solution" (a group of projects within a solution deployed together)

 

Now, with all that out of the way and a bit of context set 🙂 

 

When you hear us say "Dataverse is required for heathy ALM";
We are not saying that you have to use dataverse all the features we provide ( data / security / api ). 

We are saying that you need to use Solutions (hosted in dataverse) to manage your configuration. 

 

What all that means is that you can keep your PowerApps and Power Automates on top of SQL, you just need to create a solution and add those existing components too it, then use the solution to move it between environments (or a package if you are doing more complex things) 

 

Sorry about the Long-winded answer there, but I think having the context as to WHY we are asking you do something helps folks understand what we are thinking and helps you provide us better feedback. 

JonathanGibbs
Advocate III
Advocate III

Wow! Thank you @MattB-MSFT for a superb exposition, for once not overlaid with Microsoft-speak marketing froth. There is a lot to mull over in what you say, and I am very grateful to you for taking the time to say it. This is really helpful in getting over the 'Dataverse is a database - Dataverse is not just a database' conundrum that is so difficult to comprehend.

I will absorb and inwardly digest!!

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