Licensing for Microsoft products and services is often confusing, befuddling, or downright incomprehensible. The licensing for PowerApps and Flow is no exception, mostly due to changes that went into effect in February 2019 and a second set of changes that are going into effect in October 2019. The goal of this article is to clear up as much of the confusion as possible by documenting how the PowerApps and Flow licensing will work from October 1, 2019 onward.
Please note that the information contained in this article regarding the October 2019 licensing changes comes from a single session delivered on July 16, 2019 at Microsoft Inspire. The official documentation on PowerApps and Flow licensing had not been updated at the time of the writing. As a result, information in this article may be incomplete and subject to change so please try to verify before making any business decisions based upon the information provided.
July 26, 2019 Update: Microsoft published a blog post with additional information on the licensing changes on July 25, 2019: "New licensing options for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow standalone paid plans". Make sure to read the body of the post and the comments, both contain new information.
It is assumed that readers of this article are familiar with PowerApps and Flow. For more information on Microsoft Flow, please visit: https://flow.microsoft.com. For more information on Microsoft PowerApps, please visit: https://powerapps.microsoft.com.
It should also be noted that this article focuses on licensing of PowerApps and Flow for Office 365 users. It does not discuss the differences in licensing between those with an Office 365 tenant and a Dynamics 365 tenant, nor does it cover licensing requirements for Power BI.
PowerApps for Office 365
Your Office 365 subscription includes a license for the users in your tenant to use PowerApps to create canvas applications that connect to data from Office 365 or from external cloud systems via the use of standard connectors.
Microsoft Flow for Office 365
Your Office 365 subscription includes a license for the users in your tenant to build flows that connect to data from Office 365 or from external cloud systems via the use of standard connectors. After October 1, 2019 there will no longer be limits on the number of Flow runs a tenant can use in a month but there will be a limit on the number of API calls you can make to the Flow service per day. Details on the API call limits were not available at the time of writing.
PowerApps and Flow Premium Features
There are many premium features of PowerApps and Flow. This section calls out the major premium features and gives a brief description of each of them.
PowerApps and Flow have native access to two types of connectors: standard and premium. Apps or flows that only use standard connectors may be authored or executed by any user, apps or flows that use premium connectors may only be authored or executed by those with a premium license.
The HTTP connector, which is a very commonly used connector, changed from being a standard connector to a premium connector on February 1, 2019. Organizations that were using the HTTP connector prior to February 1, 2019 have been granted an extension so that they can continue to use it as if it were a standard connector until January 31, 2020.
The screen capture below shows a subset of the available connectors. To see the full list of available connectors, please visit: https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors.
Custom connectors enable you to communicate with services that do not have an “out-of-the-box” connector. Custom connectors changed from being a standard feature to a premium feature on February 1, 2019. Organizations that were using custom connectors prior to February 1, 2019 have been granted an extension so that they can continue to use them as if they were a standard feature until January 31, 2020. For more information on custom connectors, please visit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors/custom-connectors.
On-premises Data Gateway
The on-premises data gateway provides secure access to on-premises data from PowerApps and Flow. The use of the on-premises data gateway changed from being a standard feature to a premium feature on February 1, 2019. Organizations that were using the on-premises data gateway prior to February 1, 2019 have been granted an extension so that they can continue to use the gateway as if they were a standard feature until January 31, 2020. For more information on the on-premises data gateway, please visit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/analysis-services/analysis-services-gateway.
Administration and Management
Users have traditionally needed a premium license to administer and manage PowerApps and Flow but this appears to be changing. This change was not part of the February 2019 changes, nor is it part of the October 2019 changes. It instead seems to be a separate change that was announced on the PowerApps blog in May 2019. Because this licensing change was announced separately it is unclear if the implementation of the change will sync with the other changes being made in October 2019. For full details, please visit https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/provisioning-and-administration-is-getting-easier.
July 26, 2019 Update: This was confirmed in Microsoft's July 25, 2019 blog post: "An important part of this feature simplification is that we will no longer require any standalone plans for maker or admin capabilities. Previously admins required a PowerApps P2 license for certain management operations; this will no longer be the case."
There are administration portals for both PowerApps and Flow. There is also a combined Power Platform administration portal which, at the time of writing of this article, was still in preview. Any user who can create an app or a flow can access the administration portals however only those users who are tenant administrators or environment administrators (see below) can do much with them.
- Flow administration portal: https://admin.flow.microsoft.com
- PowerApps administration portal: https://admin.powerapps.com
- Power Platform administration portal: https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com
Create and manage environments
An environment is a container you can use to separate apps and flows that have different roles, security requirements, and/or target audiences. For example:
- You might create separate environments that group the test and production versions of your apps.
- You might create separate environments that correspond to specific teams or departments in your company, each containing the relevant data and apps for each audience.
- You might also create separate environments for different global branches of your company.
Each tenant has a default environment where tenant administrators have Environment Administrator privilege and all users have Environment Maker privilege (i.e. all users can create apps and flows). However, the permissions are completely configurable in all additional environments. The permission options and the user interface used to assign permissions will be different depending on whether the environment has a Common Data Service database provisioned inside it or not.
There is more on the Common Data Service later in this article. For more information on environments, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/environments-overview.
Set data loss prevention policies
Administrators can group connectors into those that work with business data and those that work with non-business data. When DLP is in effect, users are prevented from using connectors in both groups in any single app or flow. For example, you could prevent the use of the Twitter connector in the same app or flow that uses the SalesForce connector. For more information on data loss prevention policies, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/wp-data-loss-prevention.
The Power Platform admin center provides access to several analytics reports for both PowerApps and Flow. These reports enable you to monitor the health and performance of existing apps and flows as well as get statistics on the apps and flows users are creating. For more information on Flow analytics, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/analytics-flow. For more information on PowerApps analytics, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/analytics-powerapps.
Common Data Service
Common Data Service lets you securely store and manage business application data that is made up of common entities with well know schemas. Common Data Service includes a base set of standard entities (e.g. Account, Contact, and Task), but you can also create custom entities specific to your organization. For more information on the Common Data Service, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/common-data-service/data-platform-intro.
PowerApps Premium Licenses
In addition to the PowerApps for Office 365 license (shown as part of Seeded PowerApps in the screen capture below), there are two premium license plans for PowerApps: the per app plan and the per user plan.
July 26, 2019 Update: The premium plans are only required for app users. They are not required for app makers.
July 26, 2019 Update: PowerApps premium plans no longer include an equivalent Flow premium plan. From Microsoft's July 25, 2019 blog post: "PowerApps users will continue to be able to run any flow that is triggered directly from an app, or from the data that app updates. However the full standalone capabilities of Microsoft Flow will be reserved for the standalone Flow plans outlined below."
Per app license plan
After October 1, 2019, apps that use premium features will be able to be assigned a premium license. An app that has been assigned a premium license may be used by a set of named users regardless of whether the users consuming the app have a premium license or not. The cost of this type of licenses is $10 USD per user per app per month with a required minimum purchase of 30 licenses per app.
As you can see in the screen capture below, an app is defined something that includes “1 PowerApps Portal and up to 2 custom apps”. No further details were shared on how the Portal and apps would need to be associated for them to be considered a single “app” for licensing purposes.
July 26, 2019 Update: From Microsoft's July 25, 2019 blog post: "As an example of a standalone application, customers will be able to deliver a solution for event management that includes: a portal for external users to register, a web app to manage registrations and logistics, and a mobile app for staff to use on site. These assets will be able to be grouped into one scenario and licensed as a single application."
Per user license plan
Users who have been assigned a premium license may build and consume apps that make use of premium features. After October 1, 2019 there will only be a single premium per user license and it will cost $40 USD per month per user.
PowerApps Portals licenses
PowerApps Portals is a new feature that will enable you to build low-code, responsive websites which allow external users to interact with the data stored in the Common Data Service. Internal users of the portal are licensed as described above (i.e. per app or per user licensing). Authenticated external users can access the portal at a cost of $200 USD per 100 log ins. Anonymous external users can access the portal at a cost of $100 USD per 100,000 page views. For more information on PowerApps Portals, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/portals/overview.
Flow Premium Licenses
In addition to the Flow for Office 365 license (shown as part of Seeded Flow in the screen capture below), there are two premium license plans for Flow: the per user plan and the per business process plan.
July 26, 2019 Update: The premium plans are only required for flow users. They are not required for flow makers.
Per user license plan
Users who have been assigned a premium license may build and consume flows that make use of premium features. After October 1, 2019 there will only be a single premium per user license and it will cost $15 USD per month per user with a required minimum purchase of 20 licenses.
Per business process license plan
After October 1, 2019, flows that use premium features will be able to be assigned a premium license. A Flow that has been assigned a premium license may be used by any user regardless of whether that user has a premium license or not. The cost of this type of licenses is $500 USD per month for 5 enabled flows. Additional flows can be added at a cost of $100 USD per flow per month.
The grandfathering for the February 1, 2019 changes have already been mentioned in the body of the article. Organizations that were using the HTTP connector, custom connectors, and/or the on-premises data gateway prior to February 1, 2019 have been granted an extension so that they can continue to use these features as if they were standard features until December 31, 2019.
Microsoft has stated that there will be some kind of grace period so that existing PowerApps Plan 1 and Plan 2 and Flow Plan 1 and Plan 2 licenses can continue to be used after October 1, 2019 but details on exactly how that will work were not available at the time of writing.
July 26, 2019 Update: From the comments section in Microsoft's July 25, 2019 blog post: "There will be a lengthy grandfathering period. All customers will be able to renew PowerApps Plan 1 until March 31st, 2020 for one additional term - there is no immediate change/charge to the P1 licenses you've currently purchased". While this statement is specific to PowerApps Plan 1, I think it is safe to assume that it applies to all existing premium plans (i.e. PowerApps Plan 1 and Plan 2, and Flow Plan 1 and Plan 2).
Just a final reminder that the information presented in this article comes from a single, hour-long presentation given at a conference. There is a very good chance that it is incomplete and there is some chance that is inaccurate. Every effort will be made to update/correct the article as additional information becomes available.