For the first time ever at Microsoft Build conference, the Power Platform was presented right at the start of Satya’s keynote this year! Woo-hoo!
Of course this time last year there wasn’t yet the name “Power Platform” to even reference at Build. We had only just seen the merger of XRM and PowerApps into something that was a bit of a puzzle to communicate to partners, let alone customers. Well, the puzzle hasn’t exactly been solved yet, but it is still quite remarkable how far we’ve come in one year already.
Last year’s sessions at Build 2018 were mostly about introducing the concepts like Common Data Service to a .NET developer audience that probably had zero hands-on experience with any Dynamics product for the most part. Not a whole lot of noise was made about this entry into the #MSBuild space. Fast forward to 2019 and now the vision of uniting pro developers with “every developer” is already touted at the keynote sessions. Not just that, but Satya is saying that recent re-architecting of Dynamics 365 on top of Azure infrastructure and services should be examined as an excellent reference for anyone who’s planning to build their own products on SQL Azure.
During the week of Build, the product team behind Citizen Application Platform (“CAP”) puts aside their Citizen caps and pulls on the pro dev hoodies to talk about topics like solution management, PCF component development, Azure Functions, DevOps pipelines and all the nerdy stuff that would scare away the folks who normally create PowerApps. It’s inevitable that as the tools for app makers get more mature the next barrier to world domination will be in getting not just the IT admins to build the necessary automation and governance around Power Platform in enterprise environments but also in finding a way to make pro-coders play with low-coders.
If you look back at XRM, then there’s really nothing new about this division of roles. It has always been the case that code illiterate business analysts do the point & click configuration work for data models and business processes, while the XRM developers spend their time with the SDK enabled client-side extensions, server-side logic and system integration tasks. Fundamentally what the Power Platform does is it enables everyone to level up in their game. Application design on the UI level and interfaces to connected data sources can now be handled by those business analysts who are willing to learn new low-code tricks. Similarly, the developers get to break free from the boundaries of the IIS and SQL Server boxes, to harness the amazing power of The World’s Computer (Microsoft’s nickname for Azure) to hook into new AI services and crunch the contents of The Real Common Data Service.
If the app builders are about to step up their game, so must the sales machine of Microsoft. The big push from Redmond is now on ensuring that an ecosystem will emerge on top of Power Platform. The new partner program for Business Application ISVs, lead by Steve Guggenheimer, is trying to make a bigger splash by combining the earlier models of Azure Marketplace and the Dynamics 365 focused AppSource into a single channel that could actually serve the grand vision of a no-cliffs development platform. As always, you should check out what The Other Steve has to say about the upsides to the new program, before making your conclusions on whether it’s just a new tax on ISVs or an opportunity worth pursuing for a growing number of MS partners.
To summarize the announcements and buzz around Power Platform at Microsoft Build 2019 conference, I’ve compiled this handy lil’ Twitter Moment for you to enjoy: