Here’s a collection of recent questions from the Dynamics 365 and Power Apps use community on licensing topics. The answers are my own interpretations, based on what I’ve seen from MS or other community members. It’s a point-in-time blog post that may well be outdated tomorrow already. Please do also leave a comment if you see errors in the answers I’ve written.
As always with enterprise software licensing, ultimately the answers need to come from materials published by the software vendor, i.e. Microsoft. At the end of the day the customer is always responsible for being compliant with their own legal agreements that may have specific terms included.
Q1: What’s changing in the 2020 Release Wave 1 for users equipped with Dynamics 365 Team Member license?
The release plan contains several items that talk about licensing enforcement. So, the actual rights for Team Member licenses are not changing, but there will be technical limitations on what the users are actually allowed to do. I’ve blogged about the underlying mechanism for linking service plans to application types, which will first be used for Team Members and down the line probably also for other licensing types.
2020 Release Wave 1 will introduce three new App Modules with pre-configured experiences for Team Members: Sales Team Member, Customer Service Team Member and Project Resource Hub. See my review of the early access version of these New Team Member Apps for Dynamics 365 for more details.
Q2: When will the technical enforcement be enabled in our Dynamics 365 environment?
For new customers, Microsoft intends to switch on the restrictions in April 2020. For existing customers with Team Member users, the change won’t happen overnight. Expect to see further communication from MS on this if your organization is affected by the changes.
Update: On Feb 24th Microsoft published the following “Dynamics 365 – Team Member License Enforcement Notification” in the Microsoft 365 Message Center (MC204622) visible to administrators:
To facilitate a smooth transition to the new Team Member app experiences, all existing customer organization instances, which will be impacted by this change, will be granted an additional grace period until June 30, 2020.
Update 2: due to COVID-19, Microsoft has postponed several deadlines for updates and deprecations. The latest guidance for Team Member licensing enforcement is now:
To facilitate a smooth transition, all customer organization instances that are created before April 1, 2020 have been granted an additional grace period until January 31, 2021.
Q3: The entities we use with Team Member license in our environment are not included in the standard apps, can we add them?
Yes. Customizing the aforementioned App Modules is allowed, as long as you follow the instructions given by Microsoft:
“Team Member apps can be tailored to more closely fit your organization’s industry, nomenclature, and unique business processes, just like other model-driven apps built on Common Data Service. However, these customizations will need to conform to the Dynamics 365 Team Members use rights detailed in the licensing guide. While customizing the app, you can add 15 additional entities. These additional entities can be any Common Data Service core entities, or you can create custom entities.”
Q4: The new Team Member apps ship with dedicated security roles. Does it mean we’re only able to assign these to the TM users and nothing else?
There is currently no restriction on what roles you can assign to users with a Team Member license. The way I see it, the OoB security roles are primarily used for granting access to the App Modules and stripping down features within the app that are not within the original design scope.
Q5: If we need users to access more than 15 entities, what are our options?
The App Modules for Team Members will technically enforce a limit on how many entities can be added. Now, keep in mind that the App Module itself doesn’t restrict what’s actually visible in the UI when looking at an entity form. For example, an account form can have many related entities shown that are not part of the App Module specification. If you don’t directly need to navigate to the entity but rather use them to describe properties of the main entity (say, account plans related to an account), then there might not even be a problem here.
If you need to browse through lists of tens of different entities, then you’re really pushing the boundaries of what Team Member licenses are intended for. Anyway, you could consider alternative access mechanisms alongside the Unified Interface App Module to cover these scenarios. Reporting tools could be a better way to present large quantities of data that are going to be read-only for the users. By purchasing a Power BI license for users that are equipped with Team Member licenses already, you would have full access to read the business data in CDS via reports and dashboards – as well as use Power BI for any other analytics needs within the organization.
Q6: Our users are accessing data mainly via the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, is this going to be available to Team Members?
Yes. The Licensing Guide specifically lists this as the first use right for Team Members in Appendix A: “Access Anywhere: Web App, Mobile App, Tablet App, via Outlook.”
Q7: Can we also leverage Canvas apps with the Team Member license?
Yes and no. You can use embedded Canvas apps within a Model-driven app entity form, since these are just customizations within the app itself. However, you can’t access standalone Canvas apps with just a Team Member license.
Q8: What about if we have Office 365 license that gives access to Power Apps AND a Team Member license, could we then build a Canvas app that reads Dynamics 365 data?
Probably not, as this would require access to Premium Connectors. The CDS Current Environment Connector is the only non-deprecated way to access Dynamics 365 data (in the “product formerly known as Customer Engagement”, not talking about Operations or Business Central here), so this will likely be the technical blocker that stops you from building the custom app.
Q9: If we were to move our licenses from Team Members to Power Apps per App plan, what will the main differences be in the user experience?
Power Apps licenses are meant for custom apps, meaning there will not be a preconfigured App Module from Microsoft. That’s no big deal, since creating new Model-driven App Modules is very simple. You can choose the entities you need in the app, design a sitemap to provide the navigation experience for accessing these, give your app a name, hit “publish” and have a custom App Module available to the users. There aren’t any fundamental differences between what a Sales Team Member app and “Our Customer Management app” look like to the users, as they’ll all be Model-driven apps presented via Unified Interface.
Q10: Are there still restricted entities in Dynamics 365 that you can’t access with Power Apps licenses?
Yes, there are, but no one knows exactly which entities. We are still waiting for Microsoft to update the list of Restricted entities requiring Dynamics 365 licenses, to align with what was supposed to be the October 2019 licensing model update. Eventually there will be new information published, but the current situation is quite challenging for both customers and ISVs to navigate past the Power Apps potholes.
Compared to Team Member rights, a Power Apps premium license grants you access to create-read-update-delete (CRUD) entities like accounts, leads and opportunities that are read-only for Team Members. Also there are no 15 entity max limits in the Power Apps world, so your custom app can have a CDS data model that’s very complex. When you’re working with entities you create yourself, there are no restrictions at all. When you touch something built by MS for their first party apps, there’s a chance that limitations will apply at some point.
Q11: If we would like to allow also external users to access Power Apps in our tenant, can we do that without buying a Power Apps Per App Plan or Per User Plan for everyone?
With Canvas apps, there is the option for “bring your own license” (BYOL) available, which I’ve covered in this blog post. For Model-driven apps, this isn’t possible today. Power Apps Portals is always an option if you’re willing to re-build your app as a portal UI. (See also the Capacity topics below.)
Q12: We’ve bought Power Apps per App Plan licenses for our users, now how do we assign these to the custom Model-driven app we’ve built?
This is currently a tricky process, since Microsoft is still working on the proper mechanism to associate app passes with Model-driven apps. Follow these steps published on Magnetism Solutions blog and you should be able to pull it off. The Canvas app side is much easier and better documented by Microsoft.
Q13: It seems that we can’t assign the app passes to both our production and test environments. Is this a bug or a feature?
It’s a feature. While Dynamics 365 licenses like Team Member grant access to any number of environments in your tenant, the Per App Plan is actually a “Per App Within an Environment Plan”.
Q14: From a licensing perspective, what are the differences between a Dynamics 365 environment and a pure CDS environment without Dynamics 365 Apps?
Power Apps users can access any environment, if they have the Per User Plan or a Per App Plan app passes assigned in that environment. Dynamics 365 users are only allowed to use environments that have one or more Dynamics 365 Apps installed. So, if you build a small expense tracking app in a pure CDS environment, a user with $10 or $40 Power Apps licenses can use it, but a user with a $95 Dynamics 365 Enterprise App license can’t.
Q15: If we start with a pure CDS environment to build a custom data model for our custom apps and later want to add a Dynamics 365 first party App from Microsoft, how does that work?
Today you can’t deploy Dynamics 365 Apps into a pure CDS environment, so the only way would be a data migration project from your CDS environment to a new Dynamics 365 environment. It’s a technical limitation that MS surely wants to remove at some point, but right now you can’t step up from custom app to first party app via a license purchase alone.
Q16: We want to build solutions that go beyond the personal productivity apps that the Default Environment is really only good for. What do we need for adding more environments, to leverage CDS and do proper ALM?
Creating a new environment requires database storage capacity, since every blank environment consumes 1 GB before you even store any data there. This is the only cost associated with environment creation, you don’t need any instance licenses for sandboxes anymore like Dynamics 365 used to require earlier.
If you purchase even a single Dynamics 365 license or a Power Apps Per User Plan license, you’ll get the 10 GB default capacity for database storage. If you only purchase Power Apps Per App Plans, it’s 1 GB. Each additional user accrues 250 MB more, if you buy Dynamics 365 Enterprise Apps or Power Apps Per User Plans. With Power Apps Per App Plan or Power Automate Per User Plan the users only accrue 50 MB. With Dynamics 365 Team Member or Professional App licenses, there’s no accrual per user.
The default environment already burns 1 GB of your database capacity, so creating new environments may not possible without buying a capacity add-on license – unless you’ve bought one license that increases your default capacity to 1o GB (hint: always buy one).
Q17: We have integrated other systems with Dynamics 365 / CDS and are now worried about the cost of API calls. How much will we have to pay for these?
If the integration is accessing CDS as a non-licensed application user, the number of API calls that you have available for free is determined based on the types of licenses in your tenant. With at least one Dynamics 365 Enterprise App user, you get in total 100k requests per 24h, every day of the month. With Professional licenses this falls to 50k and with Power Apps / Automate it’s 25k. Anything beyond that requires buying dedicated capacity add-on licenses.
Now, even though you can buy the license already, you can’t assign it yet. Since there also isn’t any API usage telemetry available to customers yet, we’re not in a situation right now where the system usage would be technically limited based on overage.
Q18: Power Apps Portals, is the login capacity license starter level of 100 logins / $200 per day or per month?
That’s 100 logins per month. A login session lasts 24 hours, after which a new login is consumed from the licensed capacity. If a user logs in every first day of the month, that’s a $2 per month cost. If they log in every working day of the month, the cost would be around $20 per month for Portal access, which is twice the price of a Power Apps Per App Plan. For higher volumes of Portal usage, there are discount tiers available to bring down the costs. Note that you need to purchase a sufficient amount of capacity in advance, based on how many logins you expect to have in any given month, because unused capacity does not roll over to the next month.