Create and use dataflows in Microsoft Power Platform

Using dataflows with Microsoft Power Platform makes data preparation easier, and lets you reuse your data preparation work in subsequent reports, apps, and models.

In the world of ever-expanding data, data preparation can be difficult and expensive, consuming as much as 60%-80% of the time and cost for a typical analytics project. Such projects can require wrangling fragmented and incomplete data, complex system integration, data with structural inconsistency, and a high skillset barrier.

To make data preparation easier and to help you get more value out of your data, Power Query and Power Platform dataflows were created.

Linked entities in Power BI

With dataflows, Microsoft brings Power Query’s self-service data preparation capabilities into the Power BI and Power Apps online services, and expands existing capabilities in the following ways:

  • Self-service data prep for big data with Dataflows—Dataflows can be used to easily ingest, cleanse, transform, integrate, enrich, and schematize data from a large and ever growing array of transactional and observational sources, encompassing all data preparation logic. Previously, extract, transform, load (ETL) logic could only be included within datasets in Power BI, copied over and over between datasets, and bound to dataset management settings.

    With dataflows, ETL logic is elevated to a first-class artifact within Power Platform services and includes dedicated authoring and management experiences. Business analysts, BI professionals, and data scientists can use dataflows to handle the most complex data preparation challenges and build on each other’s work, thanks to a revolutionary model-driven calculation engine, which takes care of all the transformation and dependency logic—cutting time, cost, and expertise to a fraction of what’s traditionally been required for those tasks. You can create dataflows using the well-known, self-service data preparation experience of Power Query. Dataflows are created and easily managed in app workspaces or environments, in the Power BI or Power Apps portal respectively, enjoying all the capabilities these services have to offer, such as permission management, scheduled refreshes, and more.

  • Load data to Common Data Service or Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2—Depending on your use case, you can store data prepared by Power Platform dataflows in the Common Data Service or your organizations Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 account:

    • Common Data Service lets you securely store and manage data that's used by business applications within a set of entities. An entity is a set of records used to store data, similar to how a table stores data within a database. Common Data Service includes a base set of standard entities that cover typical scenarios, but you can also create custom entities specific to your organization and populate them with data using dataflows. App makers can then use Power Apps and Flow to build rich applications using this data.

    • Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 lets you collaborate with people in your organization using Power BI, Azure Data, and AI services, or using custom-built Line of Business Applications that read data from the lake. Dataflows that load data to an Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 account store data in Common Data Model folders. Common Data Model folders contain schematized data and metadata in a standardized format, to facilitate data exchange and to enable full interoperability across services that produce or consume data stored in an organization’s Azure Data Lake Storage account as the shared storage layer.

  • Advanced Analytics and AI with Azure—Power Platform dataflows store data in Common Data Service or Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2—which means that data ingested through dataflows is now available to data engineers and data scientists to leverage the full power of Azure Data Services, such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Databricks, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse for advanced analytics and AI. This enables business analysts, data engineers, and data scientists to collaborate on the same data within their organization.

  • Support for the Common Data Model—The Common Data Model is a set of a standardized data schemas and a metadata system to allow consistency of data and its meaning across applications and business processes. Dataflows support the Common Data Model by offering easy mapping from any data in any shape into the standard Common Data Model entities, such as Account, Contact, and so on. Dataflows also land the data, both standard and custom entities, in schematized Common Data Model form. Business analysts can take advantage of the standard schema and its semantic consistency, or customize their entities based on their unique needs. The Common Data Model continues to evolve as part of the recently announced Open Data Initiative.

Dataflow capabilities in Power Platform services

Most dataflow capabilities are available in both Power Apps and Power BI portals. Dataflows are available as part of these services’ plans. Some dataflow features are either product specific or available in different product plans. The following table describes dataflow features and their availability.

Dataflow capability Power Apps Power BI
Scheduled refresh Up to 48 per day Up to 48 per day
Dataflow authoring with Power Query Online Yes Yes
Dataflow management in Power Apps portal in Power BI portal
New connectors Yes Yes
Standardized schema / built-in support for the Common Data Model Yes Yes
Dataflows Data Connector in Power BI Desktop For dataflows with Azure Data Lake Gen2 as the destination Yes
Integration with the organization's Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 Yes Yes
Integration with Common Data Service Yes No
Dataflow linked entities For dataflows with Azure Data Lake Gen2 as the destination Yes
Computed Entities (in-storage transformations using M) For dataflows with Azure Data Lake Gen2 as the destination Power BI Premium only
Dataflow incremental refresh For dataflows with Azure Data Lake Gen2 as the destination, requires Power Apps Plan2 Power BI Premium only
Running on Power BI Premium capacity / parallel execution of transforms No Yes

For more information about specific products, see the following articles:

Dataflows in Power Apps:

Dataflows in Power BI:

Next steps

The following articles go into more detail about common usage scenarios for dataflows.

For more information about the Common Data Model and the Common Data Model Folder standard, read the following articles: