It is now 18 months since Microsoft announced the general availability of Power Apps and the Common Data Service. The Common Data Service was a particularly important component as it allowed Power Apps to interact with other applications via a common schema for the data. This is known as the Common Data Model, so far mainly used by Microsoft Dynamics 365. In March this year, Microsoft announced the Common Data Service for Analytics is coming soon to Power BI: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/coming-soon-to-power-bi-common-data-service-for-analytics/
What is the Common Data Service for Analytics?
Extending further on the Common Data Service for Apps, the Common Data Service for Analytics provides access to the same Common Data Model as Power Apps and Dynamics 365. More importantly, it looks like it will be extensible to other services and data stores. That means that even if you use Salesforce as your CRM, Dynamics 365 for Finance, and a bespoke system for warehouse management, you can still leverage the power of CDS for Analytics to break down the silos of data in your organisation.
How will it work?
Very little has yet been formally published on how the Common Data Service for Analytics will work. Some of the early demonstrations suggest that collections of entities from the Common Data Model will be created and data sources mapped to them. These can then be used by Power BI models to provide all the visualisations we have come to expect.
Where the Common Data Service for Analytics takes data from a pre-defined source, I think it is safe to assume at least some of the mapping can be done automatically. That capability is likely to be more limited where the data source is a generic database connection (although, I’d be surprised if that didn’t at least have some facility to map by name).
What will it cost?
Again, nothing specific has been published yet. Current indications suggest the Common Data Service for Analytics will be available for both Pro and Premium SKUs. That said, given the storage limitations on Pro accounts, I doubt that using it on a Pro licence will be realistic outside of running a proof of concept.
Great, when can I have it?
All Microsoft have said so far is “Quarter 2 of 2018”. Of course, there is a Business Applications Summit in Seattle at the end of July, so watch this space.