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CRM Audio

Oct 24, 2019

In this episode, I announce some changes going on at CRM Audio and share my thoughts on self-service license purchase options for the Power Platform. This episode is brought to you by Maplytics by Inogic.

Microsoft recently posted a notification in the Microsoft 365 Message Center this week notifying customers that starting in mid-November, end users would be able to start purchasing licenses directly without Administrator approval.

This has resulted in the typical doomsday reaction by some people in the community. It seems like whenever Microsoft announces some change to the way that software is sold or licensed, somebody will be outraged. This speaks to the breath of Microsoft’s customer bases, and you can’t always make everybody happy.

Predictions are made that CIO’s won’t trust the platform and won’t use it. Yet, based on Microsoft’s latest financial numbers, they are doing something right and the sky is not falling.

I think that, like usual, this outrage is overblown, some arising from misunderstanding what is happening, and some from people who work for very large enterprises not recognizing that the majority of companies' environments are not like theirs.

The Power Platform is just that—a platform. Saying that end users can buy their own licenses does not mean that they can buy access to data—it means that they can buy licenses—using their own money—to build their own apps, flows, and reports. It doesn’t give them the ability to bypass any corporate data governance.

So here is why I think that self-service license options are nothing to fear:

  1. Users can do it anyway. Even before the self-service option is introduced, if an employee or department wants to build PowerApps or use Power BI, they can buy their own licenses outside of your tenant. With the self-service option, at least you get visibility for who is using Power Platform and your data and access policies still apply. Also, many Office 365 services and add-ons can be purchased and used without admin approval today, so what is the difference?
  2. Users can do it with most competing systems. Slack, Salesforce, and Lucidchart grew to what they are today by selling their services directly to individuals and departments without corporate approval. In many companies, these grew to be corporate standards based on the number of people in the organization that were using them. Saying that CIO’s will not use Power Platform because they offer self-service license purchases is a fallacy because what alternative are they going to use that doesn’t also allow self-service license purchases without administrator approval? Why should Microsoft be held to a different standard than equivalent services?
  3. You still maintain control—DLP rules determine what connectors can be used in end-users’ apps and flows, security roles in SharePoint and CDS grant or block what records they can access and actions they can perform in corporate systems, and Active Directory SSO limits where users can log in to Power Platform apps and services. Plus you have full visibility for who have purchased licenses and what they are doing with them. And most importantly, just because an end-user buys a license, that doesn’t give them access to your precious corporate data. How is someone buying a license and building an app with their own data any different than someone doing the same thing with an Excel spreadsheet? If your organization has a policy against people buying their own licenses to build apps, you can see who is doing this and go knock them in the head or cut off their access to the other services.

Based on these reasons, I feel this is nothing to worry about. Would it have been better to give the option to disable self-service license purchases? Maybe. Will some admin somewhere not know about this and have users build ninja IT? Likely. Is it reasonable to say Microsoft shouldn’t do this when it would put them at a competitive disadvantage in many situations? Absolutely not.