Microsoft Power Platform is a term used for a group of three Microsoft applications: Microsoft Power BI, PowerApps and Flow. Microsoft's goal for Power Platform is to provide a collection of apps customers can use to surface, manipulate, automate and analyze data. The apps that make up Power Platform are made to work with data from other Microsoft-based products -- such as Office 365 and Dynamics 365. However, Power Platform can also work third-party apps. Although the individual apps have existed for longer periods of time, the Power Platform is still relatively new -- it was initially formed in 2018. Microsoft Power Platform also serves as an area of investment for Microsoft.
Organizations can use the Microsoft Power Platform to further drive their business using data. Power Platform's collection of apps can be used as an additional layer on top of an organization's infrastructure to manipulate, analyze and automate the data that comes out from that infrastructure. As an example, an organization can take data coming from an app in a cloud service and pull it through Power Platform apps to gain additional insights from that data. The platform is targeted towards customers with less technical and coding knowledge. However, this means that Microsoft Power Platform doesn't have the customizability that would come with the support of coding.
The Power Platform can be beneficial to organizations that prioritize a data-driven environment, but have trouble utilizing all their data.
Microsoft Power Platform applications
Power BI is a business intelligence (BI) application used to connect and display data through real-time dashboards. This application can collect data from on-premises or cloud data sources; these data sources can be from Microsoft-based or third-party applications. Power BI is a regularly updated and supported application.
PowerApps is an application that allows users to create no-code applications for desktop and mobile platforms that run off data. PowerApps allows users to connect easily to Power Bi and Flow, as well as connect to other applications such as Dynamics and Office 365. PowerApps also comes with Common Data Service (CDS) -- which allows users to securely store and control data used in business applications.
Flow is a process automation application which allows users to create automated workflows between Microsoft applications and other services. The application is designed to be used by non-technical users and to automate business processes as well as workflows. Organizations can use Flow to create their own automations or use templates for any common automations. Users can also set triggers, alerts, emails and push notifications with Flow as well. The workflow automation is made with insights that can be gained by Power BI. The workflows can be run from the cloud and managed by Microsoft.
Power BI, PowerApps and Flow all work together to achieve Microsoft's goal: to create a platform that can gain insights from data and use that data to drive and automate business processes.
How Microsoft Power Platform works
Microsoft Power Platform works with the Common Data Service, which is a cloud tool on Azure that acts as an underlying data platform. The CDS also provides a data schema that an application can operate with.
The Power Platform also works using what Microsoft calls a "triple-A loop." This term refers to the loop data takes in the platform: gaining insights from data, using that data to drive business processes and the process that data can automate.
Since Power Platform is comprised of three separate applications, features of each application are included in the overall features of the Power Platform. Some of these features include:
The Microsoft Power Platform can benefit organizations that want to use data to drive their business. These benefits include advantages found in the individual apps and others such as:
- integration between Power Platform apps;
- no-code features for users with less technical knowledge;
- integrated tools for administrators; and
- the Power Platform exists inside a Microsoft cloud infrastructure, such as Azure AD.
Microsoft does not yet have an overall price or licensing bundle for Power Platform, which means to have the complete set of applications that make up Power Platform, an organization would have to purchase each application separately. However, customers could also use any available free or trial versions of the applications as well. The current pricing of these apps is:
- Power BI is $9.99 per user, or $4,995 per month
- PowerApps is $10 to run single apps per user, app and month, or $40 per user and month to run unlimited apps.
- Flow is $15 per user per month or $500 per flow per month.
Because Microsoft Power Platform consists of three different applications, Microsoft is competing against alternatives for each application.
Some competitors for Power BI include:
- Google Data Studio
- Amazon QuickSight
- IBM Congos
- Zoho Analytics
Some competitors for PowerApps include:
- Oracle APEX
- Zoho Creator
Some competitors for Flow include: