Power Apps Portals seeing "hockey stick growth" as capacity-based model gains momentum

October 23 2020

Microsoft Power Apps Portals officially launched one year ago, and the team behind it has shared new information on the product's growth rate and its future roadmap.

"[Portals] is something we are really deep into and we want to make sure this becomes one of the best technologies for Power Platform that is available to you," said Dileep Singh, Microsoft principal group program manager for Power Apps Portals in a presentation to the recent portal-focused virtual event Fall into Power Apps Portals from XRM Virtual User Group. The recording is available via 365.training site, where access to this recording is free but requires registration.

"This year, it's amazing. We have recently hit more than 30 million monthly unique end users of Portals," said Singh. That rate represents 172 percent growth in monthly users compared to last year at this time when Portals had 11 million monthly active users.

The other headline growth number was the 53 percent growth in active portals compared to a year ago, meaning portals with at least one active user. Other positive metrics included:

  • 600 million page views per month today versus 300 million a year ago.
  • The new capacity-based licensing for portals, a replacement to the previous per-portal pricing model) now accounts for 10 million of the 30 million monthly active users.

The Portals R&D has delivered various updates in the last year, and Singh called out a few:

  • Portal Design Studio has improved its tools for designing a portal.
  • Auth Provider Setup simplifies how customers set up authentication. Previously, any auth provider required documentation, and access to low level site settings. Now the setup process is streamlined to see all available auth sources, to view which are set up, and to manage configurations.
  • Power BI integration is supported in three ways, Singh explained: for organizations, for external users, and publish-to-web. It is a part of Portal Design Studio. He noted the benefits of allowing a user within an orgazniation to share Power BI report outside their organization with a streamlined process.
  • The Portals Web API was recently launched in preview. " We have seen so many examples coming up every day," said Singh, noting that even an XRM Toolbox tool has been released to simplify use of Web API.
  • Manage portals in the Power Platform Administration Center (PPAC).  With visibility in PPAC, customers finally get a full view of all portals present in a tenant. It includes both add-on portals purchased before or capacity-based portals created on-demand by users.
  • Custom entity search has arrived. It is "an underrated feature," says Singh. Now, any entity can be assigned as searchable in a portal. In the past, portals supported search on seven Dynamics 365 entities. But when portals were created on top of the Common Data Service without any D365 first-party apps, the only searchable items were web pages and files.

Key themes for the Portals roadmap include:

  • Low code/no code experiences for citizen developers. The aim is to make the simple things simpler so people with less expertise can do more work in building or managing a portal, said Singh.
  • Offer more capabilities for pro developers using familiar patterns and tools. It's important that Microsoft provides the tools to let developers "stretch [Portals] to its limits"
  • One Microsoft. Look for Azure and Microsoft 365 capabilities to become much more easily integrated into portals for external users.
  • Admin and Governance – The acceleration of digital transformation due to COVID-19 has generated more interest from regulated industries, and governments, said SIngh. That requires more and better administrative tools and more visibility for portal owners.

At the most recent Portals Community Call, Microsoft MVP Nicholas Hayduck noted several specific updates that he believes will bring improvements to Portals.

New support for identity management protocols and providers in the maker experience will simplify identity setup, he said. Options like Open ID connect, SAML, WS federation will be improved with more of wizard setup. Similarly, there is an improved configuration experience coming for use of Azure AD B2C that does not require going into Azure and setting up a tenant.

The CRUD API is set to reach general availability in February 2021, and Microsoft plans to add the ability to launch actions. Hayduk says this capability will open up a whole range of other options like using the classic workflow engine in CDS, plugins, custom workflow activities, and more.

Hayduk also noted the capacity consumption reports. He fields a lot of license consumption questions because users do not have a good way to see that information today other than creating a ticket with Microsoft. The new reports will give visibility that will optimize purchases.

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