Flow Licence Changes in terms that Matt Weston Understands!

This blog post is a follow on from my previous entry "PowerApps Licence Changes in terms that Matt Weston understands!", and is focused on the Microsoft Flow changes. Why post two different blogs? Well not all Flow users are interested in PowerApps, and not all PowerApp developers are interested in Flow. That and, as this is aimed at people like me who want it split out nice and simply, it just made it easier to address them separately.

Just a recap of the background that I gave in my other post: At the Microsoft Inspire Conference in 2019, it was announced that there were changes being made to the licensing throughout Dynamics, PowerApps and Flow. The announcement lacked a lot of detail, and so the only way that I can describe the reaction within the community, was PANIC!

It's taken Microsoft a while to release more details about what the actual licensing is going to be, from the 1st October 2019, but hopefully my summary below will help you to understand what you are going to get from your new licenses, and draw comparisons to what we had before.

The idea behind changing the licensing model is to simplify the pricing, and when the announcement was first released, the changes seemed like you needed a quantum computer to be able to process all of the information. As I have got my head into what Microsoft are doing, I am starting to see how this model is more simple, and from my initial musings, doesn't just seem to be Microsoft cashing in a good thing.

Now that groundhog day is over, let's get to the actual information about the changes that will affect Microsoft Flow.

Runs

What was this before 1st October? Each user had a number of runs from their license, all of which got consolidated into a tenancy level pot. Flow for O365 for example had 2000 runs per user per month, so if my tenancy had 5 users, everyone had a combined total of 10000 runs to hammer through. Whenever I spoke to clients about this, I would describe it as a tenancy quota rather than an individual quota.

What is it after 1st October? With the new changes comes a new consumption model. Rather than having a number of runs per Flow, there will be a limit on the number of times in which an API can be called by a particular user. 

The idea behind the daily API call limit is to help protect organisations from having a single user who uses 95% of the organisational Flow runs because they set up a recurring Flow to run every 5 seconds and do nothing (I've seen this happen!).

According to the Requests and Limits site (aka.ms/platformlimits) an O365 user will get 2000 API calls per day compared to 5000 if the user is on the premium licensing. When I first looked at these limits I didn't really thing that was a lot, but to get through 2000 API calls in 24 hours is some going. With my production Flows and all of the stuff I build when I'm helping in the Flow Community, I still barely touch 200, and I consider myself a heavy user.

If you need more, there will be a "Capacity Add-on" available which will give you 10,000 additional daily API requests across your tenancy. Therefore you can start to share this with the user accounts which are intensively using their requests.  This will cost $50 per unit, so you can obviously buy more if you need to do so.

So now we've looked at how the "runs" are changing, let's have a look at the actual licensing.

Licensing

The license models for Flow are quite similar to that of PowerApps, there are just fewer options now:
  • Seeded Flows
  • Per User Licences
  • Per Process Licenses
  • AI Builder Licenses

Seeded Flows

What was this before 1st October? This was previously referred to as Flow for Office 365 licensing, and was really there to allow you to start building basic workflows and processes to extend the functionality and your exploitation of the Office 365 services. All of this was part of your O365 licenses (of all types).

What is it after 1st October? Following the changes, just like PowerApps, not a massive amount is changing in terms of how it is licensed. There are however some key aspects to be aware of that are going to catch people out sooner rather than later. Some of the more powerful connectors around Azure and Dynamics are being moved to Premium status, so that includes things like Azure SQL, Azure Dev Ops, and Azure Automation (yes I'm still crying about this one!!)

Just in case you've not seen my other post, here's the list that's moving.
Having spoken to a few people in the community about this already, there may be a slight shift for people to move towards Azure Logic Apps, which while the cost model is completely different, you get access to all of the functionality that you need to create some complex Flows interacting with Azure Services. As always, it's just going to need a little more cost analysis to weigh up whether it's worth paying in the Logic Apps consumption model, or if you're better to stay with Flow and pay for one of the license options that we'll now look at.

Let's start with the Per User license.

Per User License

What was this before 1st October? Previously, Flow was broken down into Plan 1 and Plan 2. Plan 1 would give you access to the Premium Connectors, the Data Gateway, the ability to create Custom Connectors, and would also reduce the polling time for some of the automated triggers. Plan 2 gave you the Common Data Service and access to the suite of management tools. Regardless of plan, if an app was created using premium functionality, then both the creator and the user of the app would need the relevant license.

What is it after 1st October? The Per User license is a consolidation of what was previously Plan 1 and Plan 2, and gives you access to the full capabilities of Microsoft Flow. This means that you can access all of the Premium Connectors, the managements tools, custom connectors, basically everything you want to take your Flows to the next level.

The Per User license is going to cost $15 per user, per month, and will allow that user to create an unlimited number of Flows utilising the full capability available to the platform. The same rules apply as they did previously, though, that if you create a Flow which requires premium functionality, then the users of the Flow will also need it.

While this isn't as expensive as the same plans in PowerApps, you are still going to be quickly pushing up your monthly spend if you're having to license all of your users, especially if you only have a few Flows which make the most of the premium services.

Just like PowerApps, we have a new type of license which is the Per Process license, which is intended to provide a more cost effective approach to licensing just a number of processes.

At Inspire, it was announced that you had to buy a certain number of Per User licenses, however that has now been overturned, and so if you want, you can just buy a single Flow Per User license.

Per Process (Per Flow) License

The Per Process license is intended to give teams of users access to automated processes without having to license each one individually. The cost for this is $100 per Flow, per month. However, at the time of writing this blog, there is a minimum purchase of 5 Flows, so you're looking at $500 per month. I'm still quite surprised that Microsoft haven't u-turned on this one in the same way as they did with PowerApps, but fingers crossed that it will happen as at the moment I don't see this as an option which will float with a lot of my customers.

The foot note which was pointed out on the slide deck from Microsoft was that "child Flows are not charged", which when I asked the question in the webinar, means that Flows triggered from the "licensed" Flow, are part of the overall business process and are therefore included in the licence.

Update: Transition Period

One thing that should be pointed out is that there is a period of transition, so things aren't just going to stop working on the 1st October 2019. These are the two scenarios:

Scenario 1: I already have a Flow which uses a connector being moved to premium

In this scenario, you have quite a long grandfather rights period in which to either re-engineer your Flow to use an alternative technology, or put in the correct level of licensing. You have until the 1st October 2024, to achieve this (by which point we'll have had several more changes to the licensing!). 

Scenario 2: I have a Plan 1 or Plan 2 which extends beyond the 1st October 2019

If you find yourself in this scenario, then any Flows that you have created prior to the 1st October will fall into what was described in Scenario 1. 

Any Flows that are created AFTER the 1st October with the listed connectors, will still work, however you will have until either the 1st October 2020, or until your Plan 1 or 2 is due for renewal, in order to transition to a new solution or new plan.

Finally

After looking at the Flow licensing, I'm still of the opinion that the new model is simpler, however I'm not as sure about the Per Process license with Flow as I was with the Per App model with PowerApps. This is purely because of the minimum purchase level, and as I said earlier, I really hope this is scrapped because then I think it will start to fly off the shelves.

Just like with PowerApps, again the key thing to remember is that some of the Azure and Dynamics Connectors are moving to premium, so you will either need to consider purchasing one of the paid plans.

As always, the community will be the overall judge on whether this actually works or not, I just hope that it doesn't have an affect on adoption of the Power Platform.

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