Licensing Updates: Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform October 2019 changes for API consumption, customization, apps come into focus

September 2 2019

Microsoft plans to introduce a range of licensing updates related to its business applications lineup in October 2019, ranging from all-new packaging for its first party apps to new limitations on cloud consumption in other areas.

A recent high-level statement on the Microsoft Licensing site declares that updates are indeed coming to licensing of Microsoft Dynamics 365, PowerApps, and Flow. In reality, many of the details included had been revealed over the last two months like:

But the language in the new licensing statement calls attention to important aspects of the change as it relates to current and future business apps. For example, some first party application entities will no longer be restricted from use in PowerApps. The case entity will now be available, the article states, with the suggestion that more changes to entity usage and customization via CDS and PowerApps are coming over time.

The article also notes a distinction in how Dynamics 365 users work with PowerApps and Flow, with new restrictions on building "general purpose" apps and flows:

Dynamics 365 subscribers may continue using PowerApps and Flow to extend and customize their Dynamics 365 applications. However, Dynamics 365 Enterprise licenses will no longer include general purpose PowerApps and Flow use rights. Dynamics 365 Enterprise application users can continue to run PowerApps applications within their Dynamics 365 environments, but running PowerApps applications in non-Dynamics 365 environments will require a PowerApps license. An additional Flow license will also be required to run flows that do not map to a Dynamics 365 application.

Microsoft MVP and Dynamics 365 consultant Alex Shlega wrote on his blog that the impact of this change is unclear. But it will require some adjustments. He wrote:

[W]e just need to make sure those Power Apps (model-driven or canvas) are deployed in the Dynamics CDS environments to allow our Dynamics-licensed users work with them. I have a feeling this is a bit of a license hack, so it might not work this way forever…It’s probably more important from the Dynamics-licensed users perspective that they will be loosing [sic] general-purpose Flow use rights.

Request Limits

Microsoft Power Platform requests allocations based on licenses

Microsoft's licensing statement also noted new limitations and pricing for API requests made against Dynamics 365 apps, PowerApps, and Flow coming in October 2019.

As explained in the Microsoft Docs, API request limits are defined on a 24-hour period. Things get more complicated in scenarios where users have combinations of licenses, but the general rule appears to be that limits are additive. There will be capacity add-ons for PowerApps and Flow, provided in units of additional 10,000 requests/24 hours that can be assigned to any user.

UPDATE: For those wondering how overages will handled, Microsoft MVP Scott Durow reports in a blog post that D365 systems will not block or otherwise shut out users who exceed their allotment. 

The good news is that Users will not be blocked if they exceed the limit, the environment administrator will be notified so that they can take action and perhaps purchase an API Limit add-on (details of which are yet to be published but I'll update this post when they are).

In the comments of Scott's post, others from the D365 community have stated that pricing documentation they have seen puts price for the 10,000 API call add-on pack at $50, though we have not confirmed this with Microsoft. 

Other "service protection limits" to the cloud services are aimed at overall service health. The document explains, "[l]imits help maintain the quality of service by protecting the service from malicious or noisy behavior that would otherwise disrupt service for all customers." These limits touch the Common Data Service, Flow, and connectors within PowerApps and Flow.

In April 2019, Microsoft implemented new pricing on data storage associated with business apps that use the Common Data Service, both Dynamics 365 first party apps and model-driven PowerApps. The pricing model assigns separate costs per GB for database, file, and log storage. Those CSP list prices were initially set at: 

  • Common Data Service for Apps Database Capacity 1 Month(s) $40.00 (USD)
  • Common Data Service for Apps File Capacity 1 Month(s) $2.00
  • Common Data Service for Apps Log Capacity 1 Month(s) $10.00

In the case of PowerApps Portals, the successor to Dynamics 365 Portal, pricing is changing dramatically to reflect usage, with varying schemes for in-house, anonymous, and external authenticated portal users. Anonymous visitors will be paid for in bundles of 100,000 page views, while authenticated external users will be charged on a tiered per-login basis, starting at $2 per 100 logins and going down to $0.70 per 100 for bundles of 5,000 logins.

Consultant Joe Griffin wrote in a blog post that the capacity limits on APIs require careful planning by developers and their Dynamics 365 clients. "If this is not correctly read and understood by ISV’s and developers, then I can imagine a whole heap of problems occurring," he states, adding that questions remain about some pricing details, enforcement mechanisms, and how customers can monitor and manage their consumption to avoid overages.

Solution architect Brian Illand offered more thinking on the concept of license-driven development in a recent blog post. While some of the particulars may not reflect the changes coming in, many of his recommendations remain valid. For example, RFTLG – Read the Full Licencing Guide. And consider the costs of third party plugins. And for organizations tackling these products for the first time, guidance from an experienced developer or consultant can be valuable in planning a solution architecture that makes efficient use of Microsoft's services.

Griffin believes the upcoming changes will (or should) create greater urgency around modernizing CRM plug-ins, whether custom or from an ISV, that could be over-using the APIs. "In essence, plug-in developers will need to start analysing their code and introduce any efficiencies, where required," he writes, adding that looking to alternative methods like moving computing out to Azure services may be warranted in some scenarios.

The move to tighten up resource consumption of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement as a public cloud resource makes sense, Griffin believes, when taken from the perspective that the services are more equitably delivered when everyone pays for what they really consume. Some limitations to API limits are already in place, he notes:

Ultimately, I think the writing has been on the wall for a while, meaning any anger should not necessarily derive from its surprise.

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About Jason Gumpert

As the editor of MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason oversees all editorial content on the site and at our events, as well as providing site management and strategy. He can be reached at jgumpert@msdynamicsworld.com.

Prior to co-founding MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. He has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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