Power Apps: Azure SQL vs Dataverse

Dataverse is a fundamental shift in application development from application code to low-code / no-code leveraging the many capabilities within the Dataverse platform to speed development with features that would take time to build with a traditional application.  I know you can leverage Power Apps Canvas Apps for low-code development on top of a SQL Server environment, but it does not take advantage of many features that Model Apps do. 

The following is a list of features that I leverage regularly to reduce the development time for applications while providing applications that are easy to maintain and extend to additional requirements.  Many of these are core to Dataverse and some cross into the Model Apps that are configured on top of the Dataverse.

  • Scalability - Model apps leveraging the Dataverse have proven to scale to thousands of concurrent users with Microsoft's performance studies with applications like Dynamics 365 for Sales that is built on this platform.
  • Security - Dataverse has many security features built in including encrypting data at rest and in transit, very strong role-based security, hierarchical / positional security, field level security, and more.
  • Accessibility - Microsoft's Model Apps are built with ADA accessibility in mind.
  • Environments - Ability to create new environment or backup and restore very quickly for sandboxes and additional production environments.
  • Auditing - Built out of the box. Enable auditing at the table and field level within your tables and model apps can view these changes with no additional configuration required.
  • Activities – Special type of tables in Dataverse to support common activities (Email, Calendar, Task) and relate these to other tables. Ability to create custom types of activities as well and synchronize standard ones with Microsoft Exchange.
  • Document Management – Multiple options here from utilizing Attachments (File, Image) to a record, to standard integration with SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.
  • Export / Import - Many out of the box features that can be leveraged within Dataverse and Model Apps to import and export data.
  • Business Rules - Ability to build business rules through a building block visual interface and utilize to hide / show fields, make fields required, set values, and more.
  • Business Process Flows – Orchestrate business processes through use of business process flows that can help your users walk through stages step by step and visualize status at all times.
  • Model App - UI Components - Utilize the Dataverse to build forms, views, charts on top of your data with no code and then bring these together into the model apps. The ability to bring this information together quickly is amazing.

Overall, Microsoft states that Power Apps development decreases development time by 70+% in a project and I really believe this statistic is valid when you are talking about Create / Read / Update / Delete (CRUD) type applications leveraging Dataverse and Model Apps. 

Now, I am not saying SQL Server is bad in any way!  SQL Server is amazing and you can really do many things with your data that you would not be able to do in Dataverse like creating cross database joins, materialized views, and the list goes on and on.  It will depend on your data environment and complexities if Dataverse makes sense, but I would take a hard look at it as it really brings you into a whole new development paradigm with ability to build applications at a rate and pace that would excite your internal and external customers.

author avatar
Nate Freidhoff