Welcome to the Dynamics 365 Partner Community blog series for December. This month’s topic is about the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) and its role on Dynamics 365. It’s one of the most exciting aspects of our release of Microsoft Dynamics 365, and one of the least understood in terms of its importance to the Dynamics 365 concept.
Microsoft Common Data Model overview
A blog post by Karthik Bharathy, Principal Program Manager for PowerApps, provides a comprehensive definition for the Microsoft Common Data Model:
The Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) is a secure business database, comprising of well-formed standard business entities that can be deployed for use in your organization. CDM is secure – it is encrypted at rest. CDM is built for scale – using the best of Azure technologies such as Service Fabric and elastic SQL. CDM provides not only standard entities, but also allows you to build custom entities either extending standard entities or adding new entities that can relate to standard entities. CDM provides structured metadata, rich data types, auto numbering, lookups, business data types like Address, Currency, capabilities like referential integrity through metadata configuration, and cascade deletes – making a compelling functionality. CDM will roll out features incrementally to expand entity capabilities, processes for entities and pre-canned forms for these entities among others.
Together with Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, the Common Data Model is the base of the common application platform for Dynamics 365, Office 365, and other advanced applications that might include partner-created applications or intellectual property. As a piece of this foundation, CDM works together with the easy mobile and web apps creation capabilities of PowerApps and seamless integration capabilities of Flow to create a unique user experience. In this experience, users have access to the information they need, at any time, and from anywhere, from all of a company’s data sources. They have the power to run their respective businesses without having to worry about multiple systems and platforms – the common application platform automates their business.
Frequently asked questions about the Common Data Model
Does Dynamics 365 use CDM as its own Database?
No. Dynamics 365 has its own databases for the Customer Engagement Apps and the Operations App.
Is CDM part of Dynamics 365?
No. The Common Data Model, PowerApps, and Flow, which comprise the common application platform, is a foundation for Dynamics 365, Office 365, and other advanced applications and custom solutions. You will find it included on Dynamics 365 plans and select Office 365 licenses and plans.
What is included with Dynamics 365?
The CDM is licensed together with PowerApps as a standalone solution and is included in two different versions with Dynamics 365.
PowerApps has three different licenses: PowerApps for Dynamics 365, PowerApps Plan 1, and PowerApps Plan 2. Note that these are not the same as Dynamics 365 licenses and plans.
Business apps licenses for Dynamics 365 include the PowerApps for Dynamics 365. The Dynamics 365 Plan 1 and Dynamics 365 Plan 2 both include the PowerApps Plan 2. There are no Dynamics 365 licenses that include PowerApps Plan 1.
What’s the difference between PowerApps for Dynamics 365 and PowerApps Plan 2?
The differences between PowerApps for Dynamics 365 and PowerApps for Plan 2 are substantial. When you compare the plans on the PowerApps pricing page, you’ll notice that only PowerApps Plan 2 allows you to model your data using the Common Data Service, and has per-user file storage of 2GB and data storage of 200MB. However, the CDM is not intended to store the entire Customer Engagement or Operations database. And, since the storage is per user, it’s expected that this storage will be used together with PowerApps and Flow to bring together information from multiple sources that are relevant to each user.
What’s included in Flow?
Flow follows similar logic to PowerApps and the number of runs per month in a plan is per user. With CDM, PowerApps, and Flow delivering benefits to each individual user, it solidifies the value proposition of empowering users to have control of their respective businesses with powerful, easy-to-use apps and integrations that can be built quickly and changed as needed, without coding.
Where can I learn more about the Common Data Model?
Below are some links you can use to get started. I recommend signing up for free on the PowerApps and Flow websites for access to additional resources. On the home screen of PowerApps, there is a collection of videos that will help you learn more.
- Business application platform innovation
- Microsoft PowerApps website
- Microsoft Flow website
- PowerApps and the Common Data Model [blog post]
- Dive into the Common Data Model
- The Common Data Service Security Model [blog post]
- Ignite 2016 sessions for Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and the Common Data Model
Dynamics 365 Partner Community
- Sign up for the December 13 Dynamics 365 community call
- Community call schedule
- Yammer group
- Blog series
- Training and enablement