Take advantage of the new pay-as-you-go billing model and seamlessly leverage the low-code Power Platform to spin up Power Apps directly from Azure. We’ll also show you how to package Power Apps as self-contained mobile apps. Charles Lamanna, Microsoft Business Applications & Power Platform CVP, joins Jeremy Chapman to walk through updates across the Power Platform.
Pay-as-you-go billing model: Set it up and link your app to your Azure subscription. Only pay when people use the app.
Track usage with new Azure Meters:
Package Power Apps as standalone mobile apps: Tailor and customize each app experience.
00:59 — Pay-as-you-go
01:45 — Track usage with Azure meters
04:07 — Standalone Mobile apps
05:41 — Updates used by Xiaomi’s demo app
06:56 — Additional updates
08:59 — Wrap up
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- Up next on this special edition of Microsoft Mechanics, I’m joined again by CVP Charles Lamanna, to take a look at how professional developers can take advantage of the new pay-as-you-go billing model, and seamlessly leverage the low-code Power Platform to spin up Power Apps directly from Azure. And it gets better, we’ll also show you how you can now package up Power Apps as self-contained mobile apps and more. So Charles, it’s always a pleasure to have you on Microsoft Mechanics, welcome back.
- Hey Jeremy, it’s always great to be on.
- So in the last few shows that we’ve done with you and your team, we really started to dig deeper into the Power Platform’s capabilities, going beyond the citizen developer, who might be using the Power Platform to build apps or automate everyday tasks within apps like Microsoft Teams, to how professional developers can now use the Power Platform to spin up new apps or experiences with sophisticated integration and custom capabilities pulled in from Azure APIs, all as part of their DevOps process. And you’ve just made a few announcements today that are going to make things even better for our pro devs.
- We have, we’ve done a bunch of work to make it easier to use the Power Platform as an Azure developer. The biggest thing we’ve done that I’m most excited about is the work we are doing to make it easier to acquire and manage the resources required to run Power Platform-based applications and automations. Let me quickly show you, for any Power Apps app, you can set up pay-as-you-go and link your app to your Azure subscription. And now instead of paying for licenses upfront and having to figure out the number of potential users, you only pay when people use the app. This was the top feature request from developers, we heard you loud and clear, and here it is.
- I know this is going to be something well received, because now you can just focus on building the app, but how does all this work?
- Right, it’s just a more flexible way for developers to get access to the Power Platform technology they need to innovate. So let me explain how this works. We are introducing new Azure meters to track Power Platform usage. First, there’s a Power Apps per app meter, where you accrue costs per unique user of the app each month. Even if users go down in a given month you’re only paying per unique active user, which is great for an app that may be available to everyone but only used occasionally, or if you can’t plan for how many people will use it. Another is a Dataverse meter, where for each environment you get 2GB of storage: a GB for files and another GB for data, included when you link it to your Azure subscription. You are only charged when you go over what’s included with your environment. This is great, as an app may start out not using so much storage, then as you add more capabilities and your storage needs increase, you don’t need to worry about planning and purchasing storage in advance. Not only does all this make it easier for you as a pro developer to pay for licenses, but you can also track and forecast your operational costs for Azure in the Power Platform.
- That said, with pay-as-you-go, some people might be wondering though, if they’re going to get surprised by a huge bill maybe at the end of the month.
- Well don’t worry, we’ve thought of that too. Once you enable pay-as-you-go billing for an app, you can use Azure Cost Management to track your spending and create budgets and alerts, just like you would for any other Azure resource.
- And all this really ties nicely into the tighter integration that team has built between Power Platform and also Azure services.
- It does, that’s been a big part of making the Power Platform more accessible to our pro developers in Azure. We really want to just make these experiences part of your normal workflow. For example, I’m in the Azure SQL blade and I have Power Platform controls directly in the Azure portal. Now if I click into Power Apps, I can transform my SQL tables into a Power App. No need to worry in advance about who is licensed to use it, I just have the freedom to build and innovate.
- And this is really going to be music to the ears of a lot of people watching.
- It will, you know, we have over 4 million monthly active developers using the Power Platform today, and a good percentage of those are professional developers. And there’s good reason for that. Whether they are offloading UI development and minimizing the time it takes to build beautiful, modern-looking apps, or to modernize existing apps, we have hundreds of connectors that allow you to connect to the systems and services running in your organization. These take care of the version of the API to call, how to authenticate and how to pass data back and forth so that you can focus on your app experience and building business logic. And of course, if you need more custom logic on the backend, you can hook up your coding environment and service of choice, using Azure APIs.
- Right, and it gets even better. Another announcement that I’m personally excited about, is the work that you’re doing for mobile apps.
- I am too. We just announced the ability to package your Power Apps as standalone mobile apps. So for example, here on my mobile phone I have a few line-of-business apps for warehouse, communications, management and retail. And these are all actually Power Apps. They have their own icon and they’ll each have a native mobile app experience. And in this case, these apps are packaged up as native Android packages, or APK files.
- To be clear, while with the Power Apps mobile player you could see all these apps by default in one place, you know, for some of your critical apps, you’ve now got that option then to individually or as a group, package these apps up natively to run on the phone also. But can you walk us through how a developer would take advantage of this?
- Absolutely. So let me show you a great example from Xiaomi, and this is actually their phone. Xiaomi is one of the world’s leading smartphone companies. They have literally hundreds of millions of monthly active users globally. We partner closely with Xiaomi to deliver many of the updates for the mobile app experience I’m showing you today. This is their demonstration app, it’s an employee empowerment tool. You can see they’ve incorporated their brand guidelines with the app icon. And when I open it, you’ll see the app load screen is also branded. And this takes me to a home screen and customized navigation to other apps. As you can see, this Power App comprises several standalone Power Apps for purchase orders, order tracking, applications, feedback, approvals, exams and training. So with the structure in place, it’s also easy for them to roll out and include new Power Apps into the unified package they created.
- And just so everyone can see the richness of the developer experience, can you walk us through some of the updates that Xiaomi used in their employee empowerment tools?
- Sure, so the Xiaomi developers use Visual Studio to write a custom API that is used by the app. And the nice thing about the Visual Studio integration is that you can publish APIs directly to Azure API Management, and everything works with CI/CD integration and GitHub as well. And once it’s running, if I jump over to API Management in Azure, you’ll see the Empower Employee function I just built. And from here, I can test this Git operation, and it looks like everything is working. To leverage this API in a Power App, I’ll create a Power connector, find the environment to publish it to, and hit Create. And now it’s available to me inside Power Apps Studio. From here, I can expand data, then go to my custom connectors, and there it is. I’ll click into edit, make my way over to the test tab, I’ll test it out. And you’ll see that our API is working from Power Apps Studio. This is just one example of how Xiaomi is transforming their app development using the Power Platform, delivering line-of-business apps internally in their company.
- And API management combined with API gateway, also gives them the complete flexibility to brand custom capabilities from their backend, wherever their services are running.
- Right, and beyond Xiaomi’s example, I want to show you a few other updates that we’re delivering for developers. First, we are enhancing the collaboration experience as you develop apps using the Power Apps Studio. In fact, we have now added the ability to post comments and tag others in your team as you build out your apps. Here, you and I are working on this app, and I want you to put some effort into some new icons for the app, so I’ll post a message to you. This works well if you have teams comprising different skill sets and you want to bring in someone’s specific expertise.
- And I like those icons actually, but I’ll swap them out just for you. So how are the apps then, like the ones that you showed for Xiaomi, packaged up for standalone mobile app delivery?
- So we’re building in the ability to package mobile apps for standalone installation currently as an Android package and we’re working on iOS, but that will come later. And the mobile app package contains the full runtime of the Power Apps mobile platform with a complete experience, from authentication to app rendering, connection, to backend services to bring in the data you need, and device hardware integration like your camera and microphone when you’re recording a video, and other onboard sensors. These are all things that we built into the platform that you don’t need to worry about. It also allows you to configure the bootstrapper to control the app settings, icon, and launch experience like I showed earlier. And of course, it can be used as a container to package multiple embedded Power Apps. As I mentioned before, you can publish your own internal app store, and distribute the app using your mobile device management tool of choice, like Microsoft Endpoint Manager. In fact, I have Microsoft Endpoint Manager open, and you can see my Android line-of-business apps here. And because this is a native Android app, it also means that we can use mobile app management policies and Microsoft Endpoint Manager on a per-app basis. So each can have different levels of control applied to them. So for lower risk apps that might be customer facing, I could have more relaxed policies. And for things like this health check app or financial, HR and R&D apps, I can lock them down as needed.
- I think all of this really opens up the possibilities for mobile app developers building line-of-business apps. So when will these capabilities start to light up?
- So we covered a few updates today, and the good news is much of what we presented is available now to try out. That includes the public preview of the pay-as-you-go integration with Azure, as well as the integration to build apps right from Azure SQL Database in the Azure portal. Azure API Management connectors for Power Platform had been available for a while now, and we gave you a first look at mobile app packaging options today. This is in gated preview on December 1st, and a broader public preview is slated for spring 2022.
- So thanks so much Charles for joining us today, and also sharing the updates across the Power Platform and the work that Xiaomi’s doing to modernize their mobile app development. Of course, keep checking back to Microsoft Mechanics for all the latest news and be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. And thanks for watching.
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