The State of Power Platform Sprawl & How to Minimize It

Post Date: 05/06/2022
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The Power Platform remains an incredible suite of apps that’s central to the effiency of businesses around the world. However, there are several common pain points that both Microsoft itself and IT admins need to remedy.

In this week’s episode of #O365 Hours, I sat down with Microsoft MVP Stacey Deere-Strole and Focal Point Solutions CTO Richard Toland to discuss some of the governance issues around Power Platform as well as migration and licensing concerns. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!

Guests: Stacey Deere-Strole, Founder and President of Focal Point Solutions (visit the website here), & Richard Toland, CTO of Focal Point Solutions

Topics Covered:

  • What’s the state of Power Platform governance?
  • What’s the state of Power Platform migration?
  • What’s the state of Power Platform licensing?

What’s the state of Power Platform governance today?

SDS: For as much as I love governance, I’ve always felt that this area has fallen short. Microsoft has beefed up a lot of things in the security and compliance center to accommodate the Power Platform, but I’ve noticed that people generally don’t even go look at the compliance report. They actively have to be called out on it. It’s been getting better, but it’s still not where it should be.

RT: The Security and Compliance Center is really focused on lifecycle and the security wrappers around data bubbles. But we also see concern around capacity, right? Because especially the Power Platform is meant for the power users to be able to get crazy and do what they want in their license structure. But all that stuff gobbles up capacity in an environment where without a formal governance structure, or at least somebody monitoring usage, the capacity can run out very quickly. That’s something a lot of customers are dealing with today.

CB: It reminds me of the early SharePoint when people had access to things they couldn’t see and search wasn’t adequately surfacing those things. Power Platform is another situation where if people are in there, and they’re accessing data and you don’t have the proper oversight over the solutions that are being built, they may start surfacing and get access to things they’re not supposed to. This can easily reveal weaknesses in your governance strategy.

SDS: Yeah, absolutely. So it all goes back to making an effort to rebuild some of this stuff into a proper governance structure, data structure, and security structure. Luckily, this isn’t taking years and years to rectify in most cases. It’s happening much sooner because organizations know that there’s a problem and it hits that pocketbook pretty quickly.

What’s the state of Power Platform migration today?

CB: When a solution is built in one part of an organization, there are plenty of times when other business units want to leverage that. They then have to wrestle with, “Well, how do we migrate that? How do we make that available?” And figuring that out can be tricky.

SDS: Yeah, absolutely. We see this kind of issue all the time when working with mergers and acquisitions. One company does something completely different than the other, and not only do you have to figure out how to migrate it, but you have to organize a whole new structure. It’s been quite the struggle and I still hope that Microsoft can come up with some better tools to help with migration of the power platform. Right now it feels like there’s a hole there.

RT: Totally echo that. I think the biggest hurdle is inconsistency between the three legs. The Power Platform is the trifecta of your tooling around data, but when you want to pick them up and merge them or migrate them, it becomes a different pipeline. There’s no beautiful utopian story for Power BI. That’s just painful all over the place, migrating from tenant to tenant. We need to talk about how we can refactor apps or pull them into something that’s a migration mechanism or a pipeline for us to get between tenants or promote between environments.

And we don’t have access to the dev environment where things were built, so they often have to be reverse engineered. That’s never a good requirement. It needs the time for reverse engineering, quality assurance, to understand how it functions, and so on. That’s a perfect time to sit down with a client and hash things out.

What’s the state of Power Platform licensing today?

SDS: When Microsoft citizen developers can start using you know, power platform pro licensing as they’re building and not have to have approval from management, that was crazy. Everybody was like, “You gotta be kidding me!” That’s when you go and lock some things down and put some rigor behind it. Know what it means to allow citizen developers to have a process. If you’re trying to do that, great, but there’s a line to walk; don’t just allow them to have the keys to the kingdom. Instead, try to configure the environment to only allow them to do what you want them to do.

RT: Right. Power BI is the bane of my existence when it comes to licensing woes. If I get a budget report nobody else can answer it or open it because they don’t have the license for it. It’s important to sort issues like these out so clients won’t have concerns. We do a lot of that kind of conversational and investigative analysis to help clients maximize their utilization of the license that they’re paying for.

And I think from an adoption perspective, when you take away Power Apps or Power Automate from everybody and lock down your environment, it needs to be communicated in that governance structure. If you don’t, it builds a lack of user adoption.

SDS: Yeah. Which is why we try to stress that you should only purchase the licensing that you need right now. If it’s unnecessary, don’t buy it, save the money, and put that in the budget so you can do bigger and better things. Don’t waste that money. Now it’s way too easy to increase your licensing when you’re not ready for it. You can upgrade when your organization is prepared to use its full capabilities.

CB: I think that’s been a shift, even from Microsoft’s perspective. They used to get angry when partners would tell very large customers that they overspent on licensing. But now they’ve learned that it doesn’t make any sense to sell a hundred thousand seats and then have 70,000 of those seats go unused; that’s not a happy customer. They’ve know that they’ve wasted money on that. It’s much better to sell 50,000 seats and have 80% efficiency. We should have the same philosophy internally. It’s fine to go and prove that you need additional licenses and then scale up from there. Just don’t go in thinking, “Hey, we’re going to actually leverage all these things, eventually, so why not get them right now?”

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An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.

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