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  • Writer's pictureSofia Ng

Microsoft Dataverse (with some swedish thrown in)

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Dataverse has been around for a while in different guises, it started its life as the core engine for Microsoft CRM and has transformed into the CDS, Common data service which later had a rebrand to now be referred to as Dataverse. At its essence, Dataverse is an API (Application Programming Interface).

This refocus and rebrand made me think of a saying in Swedish that I struggle to find the equivalent for in English. The saying: "Kärt barn har många namn”, directly translates to "A dear child has many names". It refers to friendly diminutives like nicknames and by-names rather than "alternative formal callings." Each of these aliases typically refers to a charming part of a person’s personality, a developmental milestone, or some other entertaining or noteworthy event. By highlighting individuality, the names serve as a means of expressing love and affection.

Numerous Power Platform products, including Power Automate, Power Apps, Power BI, Power Virtual Agents, and AI Builder, have built-in connectors or direct access to Dataverse. Through the WebAPI, software created with tools and languages other than Power Platform can communicate with Dataverse. Since security in Dataverse is built-in at the platform level (rather than the application level), once you define security roles and field-level security profiles for a specific user or team, these will be applicable to that user or team once they have been authenticated, regardless of the application or service they are using to access Dataverse. In contrast to discrete data access, the security is employed in the context of business usage.

Dataverse can also store your data, which you can then use across systems much like any other database. A table representing a real-world item (a firm, a person, a transaction, etc.) and made up of attributes known as columns serves as the foundation of Dataverse's structure (first name, last name, date of birth, etc.). To appeal to a wider audience and make Dataverse objects more comparable to things like an Excel spreadsheet, these components were recently renamed from entities and fields. Although a maker can design and construct their own unique tables, the Common Data Model offers ready-to-use tables that have been created in accordance with industry standards. These tables can be expanded by a creator with unique custom columns.

Within Dataverse, unstructured data can also be stored in the form of file attachments. Typically, these attachments are linked to a table or designated by file-type columns. The actual data is kept in a hybrid storage solution using Azure SQL and Azure Blob.

In general, the location and method of data storage are unimportant to a producer or end user. The API is the only way to gain access to the data for creation, modifications, and deletion. The Power Platform can easily gain access through connectors which are readily available in Power BI, Power Automate etc. However, a SQL endpoint can be used to read the data directly. This platform has been developed and evolved over many years; it is not a recently introduced concept that will vanish after a week (although it might be renamed).

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