Tuesday Perspectives

The Power of Microsoft Flow
Key Questions and Answers

Published: August 1, 2017

Microsoft Flow was released in Q4 2016 and since then, there have been hundreds of organizations across 139 countries using the cloud-based service that makes it simple to automate common tasks and business processes across your applications and services, such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and many more.

Due to the overwhelming interest of Microsoft Flow from our recent webinar: The Power of Microsoft Flow with CRM, SharePoint and Project, on June 14, we wanted to share some of the questions the audience asked during the webinar and the answers that would be helpful in determining how your organization can utilize Microsoft Flow to automate tasks and processes without making the processes complex or require coding.

Question: How can we control the app availability with a basic plan? Is there a DLP policy that we can apply for in the basic plan?

Answer: Yes, there is that business data that can be applied but there is also a separate DLP. You will need to reach out to your license partner on how that exactly applies.

Question: Does Flow depend on Power Apps or vice versa?

Answer: No, and that’s actually very easy to get confused. Power Apps is the new form solution, the quick and easy web-based or device agnostic way to make an application oriented towards mobile being routed to SharePoint for forms. It utilizes Flow heavily, but it does not need Flow. And vice versa, Flow could use Power Apps, and is often using Power Apps as a frontend for what it does but it does not need Power Apps. They work very well together, but you can use either by itself.

Question: Is there a list of all the applications available to be connected? Can we create our own custom connections?

Answer: You can create your own premium connections, I believe that is available in Flow plan 1 and 2 as there is extensibility there. You can go to flow.microsoft.com, go to services and you can take a look at the services and templates available, and in general just play around.

Question: Is it possible to access REST web services API from this platform, using OAUTH2 or OpenId Connect to authenticate to the API?

Answer: Flow is oriented more towards the user than the developer. They do utilize integration like with a common data service, Azure Plus, but executing a web service directly, I do not believe so. That’s the simplicity it’s trying to make.  Microsoft Flow is trying to get away from having to do that call by itself and instead rely on integrated services to move the information. I’m not saying it can’t be done, not sure the method you would need to do to implement it. And that might be something where you instead of look at Flow you look at Logic Apps in Azure. It is similar to Flow, but much more developer oriented in terms of workflow solutions. They both have their place.

Question: Can you expand on Logic Apps in Azure?

Answer: Essentially, Logic Apps is Flow for developers. Giving you the more powerful scripting, commands as an example, based in the Azure environment. It takes a lot of the interface from Flow. If you are looking to do something like calling that web opt, look for Logic Apps within Azure.

Question: What safeguards are there against users creating flows that are harmful, like infinite loops?

Answer: They do have throttling for infinite loops baked into Flow. If they see something churning around over and over, Flow is going to take care of that, similar to the way throttling can occur for any Office 365 type of implementation. So they do have built in safeguards against that type of intentional and malicious behavior.

Question: Can we pause the flow? How long can flows run? And can we kill it?

Answer: You can definitely kill it. Go in and click into a particular flow, it will not only tell us the connections and the owners, but it will tell us the run history, so if something isn’t executing, we can resubmit it, see what’s going on with it. I believe you can pause it as well. Another thing that is very cool is during flow execute. Unlike SharePoint Designer, it actually tells you step-by-step the execution time, the success and fail, the expression results, and just gives you a lot of insight for a simple workflow. It tells you all of the input values and the output values that are being sent. You have a lot of control in terms of analysis.

Question: Why doesn’t Microsoft want SharePoint Designer Workflow? Why Flow in Office 365?

Answer: SharePoint Designer Workflow is meant for SharePoint and Project Online because it works off of SharePoint. So Flow is looking to instead bridge that gap. You don’t want to rely on SharePoint to suddenly connect data from CRM to MailChimp or Google Mail. You want something independent to bridge that gap because SharePoint would be an unnecessary go-between. Not only that but the way SharePoint Designer workflows are built right now you are relying on web services and APIs instead of something that’s already been integrated where you can plug and play.

Question: What does the future look like for Flow?

Answer: Flow is huge. It is still version 1, or depending on how you view it, maybe it shouldn’t be 1 yet, but the future is bright. Power Apps is here to stay. Flow is deeply integrated with that. The library of connections for Flow is doing nothing but growing. Flow is integrated into SharePoint 2016 as well as SharePoint Online. It’s not going anywhere. Microsoft is integrating it into their core solutions.

The Q&A above was meant to provide quick insight on Microsoft Flow. To view the webinar on demand, please visit https://www.microexcel.com/Webinar/the-power-of-microsoft-flow-with-crm-sharepoint-and-project/.

For more information or to schedule a personal demonstration, please contact info@microexcel.com.

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