I recently enjoyed being involved in an internal Power Platform modernization hackathon. I want to share my experience to provide valuable insights and/or ideas to help others decide if they will participate in or host a hackathon themselves.

What is a Hackathon?

A hackathon is typically a single sprint event where a group of motivated technical folks collaborates intensely to implement and demonstrate the solution to a problem use case chosen by each team. It is a rapid development effort where the solutions are designed and implemented towards the overall goals of the hackathon event. Besides valuable business/account benefits, hackathons are known to be great opportunities for hands-on learning and upgrading technical skillsets.

AIS Internal Hackathon

AIS held an internal Power Platform hackathon in the summer of 2021. One such stirring event helped a few motivated AIS team members to learn and upgrade their Power Platform skills while applying those to solve practical problem scenarios at one of our major clients. The event focused on relevant use cases that can use the many features of Power Platform to solve real-time gaps and/or problems across our client enterprise. There were six teams of 4-6 team members each. Each team had at least one Power Platform developer and one person familiar with the client’s business domain. A set of senior Power Platform SMEs acted as advisors for the event.

The Case and Team

I’ve had the opportunity to propose two of the six use cases selected by a team for implementation. My team focused on a crucial financial reconciliation process which proved to be a spot-on candidate for Power Platform modernization. The existing production system was a dusty Windows Forms application created at lightning speed by AIS to help our client avoid renewing a costly COTS product. Power Rippers’ hackathon team consisted of a Power Platform developer and three .NET developers with no Power Platform experience. Two of the team members had domain experience specific to the client we focused on. We’ve had an excellent experience working intensely on the effort as a mini-project. We leveraged Microsoft Teams for all collaboration, including recorded meet-ups, shared OneNote’s, and linked a OneDrive library app to the chat space.

Power Platform and its Wide Range

We learned, utilized, and integrated a wide range of Power Platform components like Model-Driven App, Dataverse, Dataflow, Power BI, paginated reports, data alerts, Power Automate, and OneDrive. Using these technologies, we modernized the existing business processes. In addition, we added a few Power Platform-backed enhancements to demonstrate how the platform can empower business users further.

Component Level Interaction


We had our share of hiccups in the project, which proved to be a significant part of the learning experience. Our team secured 2nd place, which came with a monetary reward!

From a business standpoint, it did not stop there. We made our application into a proof concept. We presented to the application leadership as a possible solution to replace the existing application, with benefits such as the following:

  • An application that is easier to maintain
  • More functionality than the original application
  • Decreased level of effort and costs for continued enhancements
  • The ability for the client to configure many aspects of the application through model-driven application
  • Moving the application to a platform where the functionality could be maintained, and enhancements could be done by the client themselves with limited training.

From a personal standpoint, it ticked a few checkboxes for my growth, like becoming familiar with PowerApps and Power BI to an intermediary level vs. a lesser-than-a-novice before this. It also allowed me to present my first Lightning Talk, a short presentation to pass on what I learned to others within my company.

The Transformation Saga

This excellent transformation story of a third-party product rewrites into a Power Platform opportunity that materialized to reality due to the hackathon.

The Transformation Story of Power Platform

Why AIS?

This effort is a testament to the technical learning appetite of AIS folks, how we as a company strive to make things beneficial and better for our clients. It also demonstrated how internal activities like hackathons, level-up sessions, lightning talks, etc. help participants achieve personal goals and work together to share their skills and knowledge.

Hello, Power Platform Devs! In this blog post, I’d like to highlight my learning experience with the AIS HUB Team that you can take advantage of to get started with Power Platform fundamentals.

What is the HUB Team?

The AIS Cloud Acceleration Hub (HUB) is a dedicated team of AIS consultants organized to help our project teams deliver successful cloud solutions. The HUB team consolidates knowledge and experience to provide rapid research and guidance services for AIS delivery teams at no additional cost to our customers.

What is Power Platform?

Power Platform is a business application platform that allows users to create and deploy applications with the help of its four components.

The four components of Power Platform

Components of Power Platform

Power Apps

Power Apps provides a rapid low code development environment for building custom apps for business needs.

Key features:

  • Low/no-code platform for building apps
  • Work with data where it lives.
  • Add artificial intelligence to your app with no code

Types of Power Apps:

  • Canvas Apps – Canvas apps are a great option when you want to build an app from a blank canvas. You start by choosing the screen size: tablet or mobile
  • Model-Driven Apps – Model-driven app design is a component-focused approach to app development.
  • Portals – Portals bring the power of no-code solutions to building external-facing websites. You can build an anonymous or authenticated website through the Power Apps interface that allows users to interact with data held in Dataverse.

AIS was recognized as a Finalist for the Microsoft 2021 Power Apps and Power Automate Partner of the Year Award.

Power Automate

Power Automate lets users create automated workflows between applications and services. It helps automate repetitive business processes such as communication, data collections, and decision approvals.

Key features:

  • Automated workflows between applications and services
  • Process Automation
  • Provides Saved Templates

Types of flows:

  • Event-Driven Flows – These are flows that you build with a trigger and then one or more actions. There are many triggers and actions available, thanks to the existing connectors.
  • Business Process Flows – These flows are built to augment the experience when using Model-driven apps and the Dataverse. Use these to create a guided experience in your Model-driven apps.
  • Desktop Flows – These robotic process automation (RPA) flows allow you to record yourself performing actions on your desktop or within a web browser.

Beyond simple workflows, Power Automate can send reminders on past due tasks, move business data between systems on a schedule, talk to more than 275 data sources or any publicly available API.

AIS held an internal hackathon for Microsoft Power Platform to expose our team to the platform, concepts, approaches through hands-on experience.

Power BI

Power BI (Business Intelligence) is a business analytics service that delivers insights for analyzing data. It can share those insights through data visualizations which make up reports and dashboards to enable fast, informed decisions.

Key features:

  • Business analytics service that delivers insights for analyzing data. It helps with the following:
    • Connect to Data
    • Transform Data
    • Visualize Data

Building Blocks of Power BI:

  • Datasets
  • Reports
  • Dashboards

Power BI lets you easily connect to your data sources, clean, and model your data without affecting the underlying source, visualize (or discover) what’s important, and share that with anyone or everyone you want.

Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agents enables anyone to create powerful chatbots using a guided, no-code graphical interface without the need for data scientists or developers.

Key features:

  • Create chatbots using a guided, no-code graphical interface

Minimizes the IT effort required to deploy and maintain a custom solution. We can perform the following tasks:

  • Create a chatbot
  • Test a chatbot
  • Publish a chatbot
  • Analyze a chatbot

Hands-on Links:


Power Platform features offer several features. Some of my favorites on Power Platform are AI Builder, which allows users and developers to add AI capabilities to the workflows. Microsoft Dataverse lets users securely store and manage data from multiple sources, and Connectors enable you to connect to apps and data, and devices in the cloud. We will discuss these in detail in the next blog. Stay tuned!

In May, AIS held an internal hackathon for Microsoft Power Platform to expose our team to the platform, concepts, approaches through hands-on experience and to demonstrate the role Power Platform plays in modernizing legacy applications in the cloud.

The DevOps team automated the portal deployment process using Power DevOps Tools and deployed the solution across three environments (dev, test, prod). Since Microsoft Power Platform does not support source control and versioning, the team used Azure DevOps as the solution repository and version control.


When building apps on Microsoft Power Platform, use Microsoft Power Platform Build Tools to automate common build and deployment tasks. These tasks include:

  • Synchronization of solution metadata (also known as solutions) that contains the various platform components like model-driven apps, connectors, and virtual agents.
  • Generating build artifacts
  • Deploying to downstream environments
  • Provisioning or de-provisioning environments
  • Checking solutions to identify problematic patterns

Our Purpose

We can easily create compelling apps, and automation flows using Microsoft Power Platform. But, regardless of platform technology – how do you package and deploy the solution between various environments? Usually, at least three are for development, one for testing, and one for production. Power Platform is no exception: you should have separate development (dev), test, and production (prod) environments for your solution. So, let’s look at how to automate the deployment of Power Platform solutions from one environment to another.

Architecture Flowchart Diagram

DevOps Architecture Flowchart

Technical Approach


The following picture shows the manual and repetitive steps required to deploy the Power Platform solution from one environment to another. Manual tasks are prone to errors, and actions are missed or incorrectly executed. This can lead to defects and inconsistency across environments.

Power Platform Technical Approach


Azure DevOps and Power Platform Build Tools help automate manual tasks and minimize issues to make the team more efficient. Once there is automation, releases become more consistent and predictable, and requirements move more quickly between environments. This gives the team more confidence plus the ability to release more frequently.

Automate Build and Deploy Solutions
Microsoft Power Platform Build Tools tasks are used along with any other available Azure DevOps tasks to compose, build and release pipelines. Pipelines that teams commonly put in place include Initiate, Export from Dev, Build, and Release.

  • In our application, we used three environments (dev, test, prod). We exported the solution from dev and source controlled to git.
  • Packed the solution from source control and deployed it to test.
  • Exported the managed solution from test and imported it into prod.

Automate Portal Deployment
Portal development involves several configurations and customizations to achieve the desired experience for portal end-users. After the development and configuration of a portal instance are complete, it is deployed in other environments like test and prod. Creating a manual backup of your portal configuration and importing it to different environments is a very time-consuming process. The portal deployment process can be easily automated by installing Power DevOps Tools, an additional toolset available in the Azure Marketplace.

Lessons Learned & Next Steps

  • With the help of Power Platform build tools, we can easily deploy the solution into various environments.
  • We can source control the Power Platform environment.
  • Increase the release frequency.

Thank you to the DevOps team for sharing their experience

  • Vikram Reddy (team lead)

Recommended Content

In May, AIS held an internal hackathon for Microsoft Power Platform to expose our team to the platform, concepts, approaches through hands-on experience and to demonstrate the role Power Platform plays in modernizing legacy applications in the cloud.

The front-end team focused on building the Power Apps Portal for the end-users and a model-driven app for the administrators. The Portal allowed the users to browse through the product catalog, add an item to the cart, place an order, view their past orders, and manage their profile. The model-driven app allowed administrators to manage the product catalog just like the legacy application. The team used Portals Web API to fetch data from Dataverse and used Liquid templates for web pages.

The Front End team had a goal of migrating the legacy E-Shop web application to the Microsoft Power Platform to provide a website for customers to browse through products and place orders. We also require an application to manage backend data. The Power Platform provides app-building solutions with Power Apps. We developed two applications for our app modernization effort – a Power Apps portal and a model-driven app. Read more to learn how we did it.

Our Approach

We used a Power Apps portal to build an external-facing, responsive website for customers. This portal replaces the front-end of our legacy application. The selling point of the Power Apps portal is the capability to securely target an authenticated user and the flexibility of catering to anonymous users, all in the same product. In addition, the portal app integrates with Microsoft Dataverse, a feature-rich data storage solution.

For data management, we developed a model-driven application. A model-driven app follows a data-first approach and provides a customizable interface, including views, forms, charts, and dashboards, to manage data present in Microsoft Dataverse. This application is only shared with internal users, i.e., users who exist in our Azure Active Directory. The app allows the internal user to create, update, or delete products from the catalog; these catalogs and products are shown on the Power Apps portal.

Technical Approach

Power Apps Portal

The Power Apps portal allows users to browse through the product catalog, add an item to the cart, place an order, view past orders, and manage their user profile. A default domain is provided for the Power Apps portal but can also be set to a custom domain.

The authentication method used is Azure B2C, which is Microsoft’s preferred method of authentication. An extension of the Azure Active Directory model enables external customers to sign in with either local credentials or through a choice of several common social identity providers. Each authenticated portal user associates to a record in the Contact table in Dataverse.

A key concept of the Power Apps portal is building reusable web templates. They come in handy when multiple web pages need a standard template. For this portal application, we created two templates – header and footer are used by all web pages. We used HTML and Liquid programming language for design. Power Apps portals can be further customized with CSS and JavaScript where needed.

The portal app consists of multiple web pages to provide different abilities to users, and each page’s relationships to other web pages form the website’s hierarchy. Permission can also be set up for which pages each web role has access to. The web pages created for this portal app:

  1. Home: Displays the product catalog, which allows users to filter products by brand or type and add a product of their choosing to the cart. This page is accessible to all users who visit the portal.
  2. My Cart: Displays the product(s) added to the cart, accessible only to authenticated users.
  3. My Orders: An authenticated user can see previous orders and further drill down to get the order details.
  4. Profile: Authenticated users can edit their profile information if needed.

When a user checks out and places an order, each product is associated with an order ID for tracking. Since all the data is stored in Dataverse, the portal’s web API interacts with this data. The portal Web API can be used to perform CRUD operations across all Microsoft Dataverse tables from portal pages.​

AIS was recognized as a Finalist for the Microsoft 2021 Power Apps and Power Automate Partner of the Year Award!

For security, table permissions and web roles are implemented to ensure the privacy of the data from unauthorized users. Users are assigned web roles to determine their level of access. There are three out-of-the-box web roles available- Administrators, Authenticated Users, Anonymous User (Unauthenticated User). Users are automatically assigned the Authenticated user web role once registered with the portal making user roles easy to maintain.

Table permissions are enabled, which allows showing records based on user context. For example, users can only see their order(s) if they are authenticated and no other user’s order information is available. Table permissions are also used to show products within the order, based on the product’s parent/child relationship to the order.

Model-Driven App

The model-driven app is used for catalog management and serves as the back end for our application. It contains a custom form where users can add, delete, or view details of products and catalogs. Active (referring to status) products and catalogs are displayed on the portal app. When a product is no longer available, it can be deactivated, which refers to soft deletion. I.e., the product is no longer be visible on the portal website but is still part of Dataverse.

The model-driven app also allows users to view relationships between data and tables, add personal views of data, and make additional customizations to the app based on the permissions of the user’s assigned security role.

Lessons Learned

We can use a Power Apps portal as a modern low code alternative to create websites and interact with data in Dataverse.
Model-driven apps provide a rich no-code design environment and can also be distributed as a solution.

Thank you to the Front End team for sharing their experience
Ritika Agarwal (team lead)
Devyanshi Tiwari
Pooranendu Patel

Next steps

PowerApps Portal supports many languages, so in the future, we can make this website available in multiple languages.

We will be diving deeper into each team, so stay tuned for more blog posts around our AIS Internal Hackathon!

AIS provides employees with opportunities to learn and grow in their careers. Won't you join us?

Recommended Content


The data team of the internal AIS Microsoft Power Platform Hackathon used 3 different data movement techniques to solve the hackathon use case: Dataflows, Power Query, and Power Automate. Read on to learn how we did it. There are several ways to import and export data through Microsoft Dataverse, the data backbone of Microsoft Power Platform.

What is Dataverse?

Dataverse is designed to work with any data and incorporates all the significant data technologies that any organization needs – relational, non-relational, file, image, search, and data lake. Dataverse helps to store and manage data securely. Dataverse includes a set of visual designers to create, edit, and interact with data. In Dataverse, tables are used to model and manage business data. To increase productivity, Dataverse includes a set of tables known as standard tables.

We used Dataverse as a place to store all our data related to catalogs and imported and exported data as per the scenarios.

Our Approach

Our hackathon team was tasked with migrating the data of a legacy application into Dataverse. The legacy application data was created from the eShopOnWeb project and was hosted in Azure SQL. Our approach was to break this use case down into two problems:

  1. Migrate the tables (schema)
  2. Migrate the data

The Power BI Model View of our data structure in the screenshot below shows the entities and their relationships we needed to migrate. The schema did not need to change during the migration, representing both the source and destination data model.

Power BI Model View

Accelerate your data migration project with our free white paper download.

Migrate the Tables

We evaluated 3 techniques for migrating the tables into Dataverse. 

  1. Create the tables automatically during the data migration when using Dataflows 
  2. Write an application that creates the columns through the Dataverse Web API 
  3. Manually create them in the portal 

Option 1: Dataflows
Tables can be created in the process of moving data into Dataverse using Dataflows. This is only an option if you do not need to modify the schema and migrate the data.

Option 2: Dataverse Web API
The Dataverse web API provides a RESTful web service to interact with data in Microsoft Dataverse using a wide variety of platforms & programming languages, such as C#. This is an excellent option to consider if you’d like to programmatically migrate the schema but need to change the data model in the process.

Option 3: Manual
Manually creating tables in the portal is the simplest of the three options but could be time-consuming and error-prone if you make many tables or migrate the same schema into multiple environments. However, given the time constraint of our hackathon and the simple use case, we chose to use this option.

Migrate the Data

Once the tables are in place, Dataverse is ready to receive data from the source system. We evaluated four options to migrate data from the legacy application to Dataverse.

  1. Import from a CSV file
  2. Use Power Query
  3. Use Dataflows

Option 1: Import from CSV
You can load data in Dataverse by importing data from different files like Excel or CSV. This is an excellent option if you need to do a 1-time import of data that does not need to be transformed and does not include any unsupported data types, such as timezones, images, or multi-select choices. We connected to the legacy SQL database using SQL Server Management Studio and exported the data to a CSV during the hackathon. We then completed the import process using the portal to upload the CSV and map the source and destination columns.

Map source to destination columns

Option 2: Power Query
Users can filter, transform, and combine data before loading it into a new or existing Dataverse table. The target data source can be online and on-premises sources, including SQL Server, Salesforce, IBM DB2Access, Excel, or a Web API. Use this option if you are moving a large volume of data or if the data being moved needs to be reshaped during the migration.

Option 3: Dataflows
Dataflows are built upon Power Query, so they have all the same benefits but bring the added advantage of letting users trigger the migration on-demand or automatically on a schedule.

We will be diving deeper into each team, so stay tuned for more blog posts around our AIS Internal Hackathon!

Authored by Jagrati Modi (team lead)
Thank you to the Data team for sharing their experience:

  • Jagrati Modi (team lead)
  • Souradeep Banerjee
  • Nikhil Grover
The identity team of the internal AIS Microsoft Power Platform Hackathon delivered a flexible solution that could handle any of these use cases. Read on to learn how we did it.

Power Apps Portals are external-facing web applications that allow external users to interact with Microsoft Dataverse. It often serves more than one set of users, such as customers, employees, and partners. Therefore, it is critical to have a good authentication scheme and identity management for the Power Apps Portal applications.

Options Considered

We explored two authentication options to solve our app modernization challenge.

  1. Power Apps Portals authentication features
  2. Azure Active Directory B2C

Power Apps Portals provide a simplified experience to create and manage authentication settings and identity provider configuration. Besides providing access to internal users through Azure Active Directory, it supports various third-party identity providers such as Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn through authentication protocols like OpenID Connect and OAuth.

It also allows other authentication mechanisms such as SAML 2.0 and WS-Federation. All in all, it covers many use-cases of user access control to the portal application.

Azure Active Directory B2C
is an Identity and Access Management (IAM) service that provides business-to-customer identity as a service. It enables customers and partners to use their preferred social, enterprise, or local account identities to get single sign-on access to business applications.

Azure Active Directory
Figure 1: Microsoft Azure Active Directory B2C Architecture

Rather than using Power Apps Portals authentication and managing a different set of user identities in the application, we chose to delegate this responsibility to AAD B2C. We made this decision because AAD B2C:

  1. Provides centralized change management
  2. Decouples identity from the application
  3. Has support for advanced security use cases

Centralized Change Management

If every portal application configures authentication providers separately, it duplicates their effort, and managing different providers multiple times can be cumbersome. Instead, we can centrally configure the identity providers using AAD B2C. In addition, AAD B2C gives us the flexibility to make all changes concerning identity, security, and access control in one place.

If the security need of these applications differs, we can define them in custom policies. Applications with the same security need can reuse the same custom policies. This flexibility enables us to define and modify identity experiences with minimal to no changes to the applications.

Application Identity
Figure 2: Application Identity configuration Vs. Centralized Identity Management using AAD B2C

Decouple Identity from Applications

Using AAD B2C removed the responsibility of user administration from the portal application. Decoupling IAM capabilities from applications mean the developers can focus on delivering business value. However, this does not mean the developers can ignore the security aspect of the application. Instead, it means IAM is a pre-condition to access the application, and it is being handled separately by the IAM provider.

As a single responsibility principle, developers should focus on applications, and security experts should focus on IAM. Power Apps Portal integrated with AAD B2C does just that.

Experience hackathons, boot camps, lunch and learns, and more at AIS.

Advanced Security Features

AAD B2C provides state-of-the-art identity and access management capabilities. Using Azure AD B2C as the authentication provider, we can leverage some of the advanced security features mentioned below.

Custom Policies

Custom policies are configurations that define the behavior of the AAD B2C tenant. We can use these policies to a custom trust framework for our organization. These policies can help to customize various aspects of our AAD B2C identity platform, including:

  • A tailored experience for sign-ups, sign-on, profile & password management process
  • Interact with each step in the login process.
  • Set custom claim
  • Custom validation of Technical profile.
  • Integrate with external systems using REST API

It can improve organizational security by requiring end users to go through a workflow to use an additional authentication method. These policies also allow organizations to address security concerns on an application-by-application basis.

Conditional Access

This feature allows applications to fine-tune user access based on contextual factors such as user type, device, location, and session and then decide whether to allow, deny, or restrict user access. In addition, the conditional access feature provides high security to the applications that demand it. These policies give greater control over how and when our users access corporate resources.

For example, we can enforce a conditional access policy where users can access an application within a geographic region, but they need to provide multi-factor authentication (MFA) otherwise.

Identity Protection

AAD B2C also protects against risks by automatically detecting threats based on the always-on monitoring access behavior. The security teams will receive notifications whenever there are any suspicious activities. They can use automation and custom policies to block or restrict the access of such users. Applications protected with this feature will be more secure.

B2B Collaboration

Through AAD B2C identity providers, we can onboard multiple partners or vendors for business-to-business collaboration. We can securely share the enterprise applications with guest users from any other organization while maintaining control over their access. It works safely and securely with external partners, even if they do not use Azure AD. Whereas managing multiple B2B settings in the Portals app will be cumbersome, if not impossible.

Configuring Azure AD B2C Authentication

We used the techniques described below to configure AAD B2C authentication when modernizing our legacy application to MPP. At a high level, it requires two steps:

  1. Register an application in Azure AD B2C
  2. Use the registered application in the Portal app.

Registering an App in Azure AD B2C

First, we should create a new app registration in the Azure AD B2C tenant. We can use an existing app registration as well. Refer to this link for detailed instructions.

The app registration should be of a Web Type, and we should set its Redirect URI as the portal URL. We should then create a User flow for Sign-up and Sign-in. Optionally, we can create a password reset user flow as well.

Redirect URIs Web

After setting up these configurations on the Azure AD B2C tenant, we should have the following things handy.

  • Authority: The issuer URL defined in the metadata of the sign-in and sign-up policy flow
  • Client Id: The unique Id associated with the application created in the Azure AD B2C tenant.
  • Redirect URL: The URL where the Azure AD B2C will send the authentication response.
  • Policy Id: The Id associated with the default sign-up and sign-in User flow.

Using the App Registration in the Portal App

After creating the application registration in AAD B2C, the next step is configuring our PowerApps Portal to interact with Azure AD B2C. We can select the portal application and navigate to the authentication settings and select AAD B2C as the provider.

Identity Providers
Figure 3: Identity providers supported in a Power Apps Portal Application

Save the authentication settings after setting the values collected from the previous steps (as shown in Figure 4). At this point, the portal application is configured to use AAD B2C for authentication. Refer to Microsoft documentation for more detailed instructions.

Azure AD B2C configuration settings window


There are definite benefits of using Azure AD B2C as the authentication provider for portal applications. It provides seamless and centralized user access management with additional security features. At the same time, it decouples the business applications and their developers from the hassle of user access management.

Thank you to the Identity team for sharing their experience:

  • Lav Kumar (team lead)
  • Davood Khan

Recommended Reads

How We Modernized a Legacy App using Power Platform

In May, AIS held an internal hackathon for Microsoft Power Platform to expose our team to the platform, concepts, approaches through hands-on experience and to demonstrate the role Power Platform plays in modernizing legacy applications in the cloud.

The Microsoft Power Platform Hackathon was an opportunity for our enthusiastic team to modernize a legacy e-commerce (E-shop) application using Microsoft Power Platform. The legacy application, the deployment of eShopOnWeb, helped users find a product of interest by browsing and filtering. Users could also add products to their cart and checkout. The app also provided an interface for administrators to add, update, or delete products from the catalog. The idea behind this hackathon was that we could build this application on top of the Microsoft Power Platform or Low Code application platform instead of using classic ASP, ASP.NET, and GSP. We wanted to write the application using Power Portal to drag and drop to use existing components. 

A new system was developed to replace the legacy e-commerce application with the complete feature parity. The solution included a Power Apps Portal with the same “look and feel” functionality. We used Dataverse as the persistent layer instead of SQL server and integrated it with new communication methods such as sending emails and text messages to users. Additionally, we used a Web API to communicate with Legacy Reporting Systems using Power Platform Connectors, providing secure access to the new system using Azure Active Directory B2C.

In addition, the team explored ways to backup and source control the solution and automate the deployment from one environment to another. The diagram below represents the architecture of our final solution.

Final Power Platform Blog

It is named ‘Work Less, Do More,’ Power Platform replaces the work that might take many days or months to a few hours. So let’s dive in and learn how we arranged all these pieces and modernized the legacy application using Microsoft Power Platform.

AIS provides employees with opportunities to learn and grow in their careers. Won't you join us?

Technical Approach

Our main motivation was to identify the appropriate approach to bring applications to scale. Our innovative approaches and technical depth have earned us the privilege of experience in designing, implementing, and modernizing some of the most complex cloud solutions. The application was divided into different components, which were developed by individual teams.  All the components were then pulled together to provide the complete Power app solution.

When dealing with legacy applications, we looked at past examples of our approaches from experience and have outlined them below: 

  • Rehost: A direct cloud lift and shift. This is a faster, less resource-intensive migration that moves your apps to the cloud without any code modification. The rehosting approach to app modernization is capturing the on-prem environment that runs an application (the servers) and directly moving that to the cloud as virtual servers. In this approach, the environment hosting the application is modernized, but the core application itself is not significantly offered.
  • Refactor: This approach is about modernizing legacy applications by rearchitecting to target cloud-native “serverless” technologies where possible. Refactoring typically requires more significant recoding of the existing application, however, this method takes advantage of the best of what the public cloud has to offer – managed offerings for all application components. In this approach, we re-architect existing applications and deploy them as Platform as a Service (PaaS).
  • Replatform: Essentially, this approach is somewhere in between Rehost and Refactor, because the entire VM is not moving to the cloud. This application will be containerized and run on top of Kubernetes.
  • Reimagine: This is typically thought of as a Greenfield cloud-native rewrite, which is why code changes are high, even though you will eventually end up with a low operating cost.

The idea of Power Platform and low code applications is that you can get to the Reimagine approach without having to spend a lot of effort in building a cloud-native application.

In this section, we are going to highlight these components and how they were implemented in our solution:

The front-end team focused on building the Power Apps Portal for the end-users and a model-driven app for the administrators. The Portal allowed the users to browse through the product catalog, add an item to the cart, place an order, view their past orders, and manage their profile. The model-driven app allowed administrators to manage the product catalog just like the legacy application. The team used Portals Web API to fetch data from Dataverse and used Liquid templates for web pages.

The data team focused mainly on using Microsoft Power Platform Dataverse as the persistent layer for both the Portal and the admin app. They also migrated schema and data from legacy datastore to Dataverse by exploring various techniques, including Dataflows, CSV imports, and custom code.

The integration team focussed on leveraging existing Power Platform connectors to add new functionality to the system. For example, the system sends the order confirmation email to the user using the Office Outlook connector in the Power Automate Flow. Similarly, it sends text messages to users through the Twilio Connector. The team also leveraged SQL Server Connector for data sync so that the legacy reporting systems remained unaffected.

The DevOps team automated the portal deployment process using Power DevOps Tools and deployed the solution across three environments (dev, test, prod). Since Microsoft Power Platform does not support source control and versioning, the team used Azure DevOps as the solution repository and version control.

The identity team focused on providing secure access to the Portal to a different set of users. The team used Azure AD B2C to decouple identity and access management from the Portal application.

Stay tuned! We will be publishing a blog for each team for a deeper dive into their individual focuses for this hackathon.

Lessons Learned

Ultimately this hackathon proved that Power Platform is a great app modernization solution for the following reasons.

  • We can use Portal as a modern low code alternative to create websites and interact with data in Dataverse.
  • Model-driven apps provide a rich no-code design environment to create applications and share quickly.
  • We can quickly build secure apps using connectors.
  • Innovate and improve business, as these connectors are easily customizable, and end-users can easily change or create the content for Email or SMS Templates.
  • With the help of Power Platform build tools, we can quickly deploy the solution into various environments. Increase the release frequency.

AIS architected, developed, and deployed a secure global health solutions management application and digital marketplace built on Power Platform.

Thank you to the Internal Power Platform Hackathon Technical Deep Dive team
Authored by Lav

Covers experience from all teams:

Front end
Ritika Agarwal (team lead)
Devyanshi Tiwari
Pooranendu Patel

Jagrati Modi (team lead)
Souradeep Banerjee
Nikhil Grover

Kranthi Kiran (team lead)
Varalika Bishnoi
Sravan Kumar
Pavan Bandi

Vikram Reddy (team lead)

Lav Kumar (team lead)
Davood Khan

Recommended Reads

Our team enters the fiscal year 2022 with excitement, intention, and confidence. In 2022, AIS turns 40. We’ve thrived through four decades of IT consulting and continue to achieve record growth numbers while keeping pace with technology advancements.

As we enter another year alongside our partners and teammates at Microsoft, we reflect on and take great pride in our accomplishments and the innovative, dedicated people that help drive them forward.

It is also the time of year we look ahead to what’s next and sharpen our strategy for the next fiscal year. But, even as new technologies and tactics emerge, for AIS, a few things remain constant:

  • Our Focus on Client Success: First and foremost is the success of the organizations we serve. The impact we have on our clients, their employees, and their customers is what keeps us motivated. This dedication to client success is core to the solutions we build and the problems we solve. Speed and scalability are consistent outcomes of our digital transformation strategies.
  • Our Investments in Microsoft: Microsoft technology is in our DNA. As a partner since 1994, we invest in Microsoft’s vision by training our people, working with product engineering, and developing intellectual property (IP) to meet the needs of customers.
  • Our People’s Passion: Our employees are passionate about cloud transformation. Passion is a key contributor to the company’s success and plays a crucial role in gathering input and analysis from a diverse set of disciplines. Just check out our blog to see the wide range of thought leadership from AIS employees.
  • Our Focus on Regulated Industry Expertise: AIS has led many Microsoft firsts in Government, Financial Services, and other regulated industries. We are focused on accelerating our clients’ journey to the cloud to meet mission needs and business goals by addressing roadblocks, such as security and compliance challenges, and leveraging automation and IP for speed and scale.

Looking Ahead

We are just as excited about what is on the horizon. Microsoft closed out the end of the fiscal year 2021 with several announcements, such as:

  • Increasing cross-platform synergy for apps and data (like Power BI and Azure Synapse)
  • Significant investments in business applications
  • Emphasis on security
  • Continued focus on industry and customer success

It’s an exciting time to be a Microsoft partner! The potential results of the collective Microsoft cloud ecosystem and technology and services partners that extend these capabilities are overwhelming.

Vishwas Lele AIS

“We strive to be the most trusted Microsoft partner for technically challenging, enterprise-level cloud adoption, app modernization, and data work.” said Vishwas Lele, EVP and CTO at AIS, Microsoft MVP, and Regional Director. “Our team continues to lead first of their kind design and build solutions on Azure, Power Platform, and M365 in regulated industries. We earned the 2020 Worldwide Partner of the Year Award. We’re seeing amazing convergence across the various solution areas and look forward to driving these new capabilities into the mission space for each of our clients.”

Our Methodology

Outcomes are at the center of our approach. Whether it’s delivering 100% uptime and better performance for a mission-critical defense application or using automation to reduce manual processes and advance a business outcome for a Fortune 500 client, we always work from the outcome first.

Delivering results-based solutions means having an arsenal of skillsets that allow technology to meet the needs of users. It takes all kinds of talent, and AIS provides a range of disciplines (e.g., .NET, SharePoint, Power Platform, Data, UX, Knowledge Management, Change Management, Web Dev, and more).

We believe in multiple “deployment” models for modern, scalable, and intelligent app and data projects. This includes composite applications leveraging Microsoft 365, Dynamics, and Power Platform, with Azure at the tip of the spear.

Fostering a community that cuts across diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and skills is a significant core value at AIS.  The challenges of remote work won’t stop us from getting together, sharing best practices, and staying connected as a community! The growing demand for low code with both new and longtime SharePoint, Dynamics, and Azure customers is exciting to see. The early indicators of swift transformation these capabilities have on organizations are gaining attention from business leaders and promoting valuable thought and solution design diversity.

The AIS core values are rooted in education and knowledge share. We invest in our employee’s education with aisUniversity, boot camps, morning learning series, lunch and learns, self-directed educational materials, certification bonuses, and more. These learning opportunities allow individuals across projects and communities of interest access to new skills and approaches.

We put humans at the focal point of technology. Engagement from all corners of the business world is a sure indicator of what lies ahead with advancements in low code solutions. We’re helping business users, most of whom have no previous technical background, quickly embrace new technology and enable them to scale solutions so we can focus on solving their most challenging technology problems.

Our Investment in People and IP


An investment in people, process, and tooling is an investment in the success of our employees and the organizations they support. Last year, we built the AIS Cloud Delivery Framework (CDF). The CDF provides opinionated guidance and resources which help our clients modernize in the cloud. The CDF combines our experience executing enterprise cloud projects with the techniques presented in Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF).

The CDF includes backlogs, deliverable samples, starter files, project experience write-ups, and much more. On top of this foundation, our teams continue to develop resources for business applications, cloud security/compliance, governance, data & AI, and many more.

These innovations would not be possible without the support of the AIS Cloud Acceleration Hub (HUB). The HUB is a dedicated team of AIS consultants organized to help our project teams deliver successful cloud solutions. The HUB team consolidates knowledge and experience to provide rapid research and guidance services for AIS delivery teams at no additional cost to our customers.

Critical to the AIS growth plan is our culture. We’ve added an essential role to our leadership team, VP of Culture and Employee Experience. We are proactively hiring and developing skills around emerging areas of our business (e.g., data intelligence, business applications, RPA, user experience, and knowledge management). We’re heading into the next fiscal year with a vibrant (and growing) team, and we couldn’t be more excited about what comes next.

Check out our career openings at ais.com/careers and apply today.

Partnering with AIS

Microsoft Gold Partner

AIS prides itself on being one of the few Microsoft partners that consistently delivers challenging, enterprise-level work across all Microsoft cloud platforms (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics, and Power Platform). We support the entire Microsoft cloud ecosystem.  We deliver foundational landing zones, security & governance, complex app development and modernization, and large-scale data and AI projects.

With AIS, you get consultants who offer the best possible solution. These consultants will advance your highest priority goals and objectives.

We bring 13+ years of enterprise experience on Azure, global leadership in Power Platform, and unmatched cloud adoption, security, and governance experience in highly regulated industries.

Along with this experience, our customers also get the full backing of Microsoft. Through our 26+ year partnership, AIS and Microsoft have established close relationships across product engineering, account teams, and executive leadership. This partnership offers our joint customers access to all the resources they need for digital transformation.

Work with a team of Microsoft technology leaders to enable your teams and partner with AIS today.

This blog series is for anyone trying to learn how to use the Power Platform. Readers should know software development fundamentals. This blog begins by covering how to create a base Canvas App from an existing table in the Microsoft Dataverse. It reviews all the screens, forms, and changes necessary to make the user interface work as defined in the requirements. By the end of this blog, a fully functioning app will be ready for data entry.

The blog series assumed the following:

  • You have a Power Apps tenant with administrative privileges
  • You have knowledge of software development fundamentals
  • You have completed Part One of this series

Creating the Canvas App

In Part One of this series, I defined our home inventory application, its database, and how its user interface (UI) would look. I also created the underlying tables for our application. With a data source in place, I can create a Canvas App connected to the Microsoft Dataverse. Making and table-based canvas app saves time by creating the base screens. It is also valuable for reverse engineering to understand how to customize the app on your own.

When prompted, use the Items table as this is the focal point of the application.
Focus point of application

This will create a basic Canvas App; the main screen can search for items (there are none at this time of course)
Main screen creating basic canvas app

Clicking the + opens a form to create a new record; at this time, only the Name column is provided.
Creating new record

Expand the EditScreen1 and Select the EditForm1.
Next, add the custom columns that were created in the Microsoft Dataverse to EditForm1.
Adding custom columns created in Dataverse to EditForm1

Pressing the Play button and then clicking + opens the edit form below. The only problem is there are no Item Types, Locations, or Manufacturers yet.

Editing Form with Item Types, Locations, and Manufacturers

Creating the Lookup Forms

Near the top left of the window, click on New screen. Choose Form as the type.
Power Apps Home to create Lookup Forms

On the newly created screen, click on the EditForm element created. On the right side of the screen, select Item Types for the Data source. Click on the LblAppName created and change the Title Property from [Title] to Item Types. Repeat this with Manufacturers and Locations.

Take few minutes to rename the screen and its elements following the Power Apps Canvas App Accessibility Guidelines and the PowerApps Canvas App Coding Standards and Guidelines. This is important for many reasons; for example, screen readers will read these values aloud, and “EditScreen1” would not be valuable to the end-user. Following these guidelines, I have renamed all screens, forms, and controls within the app. For example, these are the names of the screens that I will be using:

Rename the Screen and Elements

Be sure to save if you have not already; click File and then Save (or CTRL+S).

Manufactures Lookup Form

Expand the Manufacturer Edit Screen, select the frmManufacturer, click Edit Fields, and then add the columns Support Phone and Support URL. Delete the Created-On column if desired.
Click the Advanced tab for the OnSuccess action, enter

Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen,’ ScreenTransition.Fade)

Note: This tells the form to navigate back to the Item Edit Screen when this form is complete. For more information, see Back and Navigate functions in Power Apps.
Insert and edit the Manufacturer

Select the cancel icon (X) and change the OnSelect function to:

      ResetForm(frmManufacturerEdit);Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Note: This tells the form to clear its columns and navigate back to the Item Edit Screen. For more information, see Reset function in Power Apps and Back and Navigate functions in Power Apps.

Creating columns to navigate back to the Item Edit Screen

If necessary, rearrange elements; the form should look something like this:
Rearrange Elements to customize form

Locations Lookup Form

Since the Location table only has the Name column, there is no need to add any columns to it; however, I need to repeat the same steps from the Manufacturers form.
Select the frmLocationEdit and update the OnSuccess action to:

      Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Note: This tells the form to navigate back to the Item Edit Screen when this form is complete.
Select the cancel icon (X) and change the OnSelect function to:

      ResetForm(frmLocationEdit);Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Item Type Lookup Form

Since the Item Type table only has the Name column, there is no need to add any columns to it; however, I need to repeat the same steps from the Manufacturers form.
Select the frmItemTypeEdit and update the OnSuccess action to:

       Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Select the cancel icon (X) and change the OnSelect function to:

      ResetForm(frmItemTypeEdit);Navigate(‘Item Edit Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Completing the Form

Select the frmItemEdit and update the OnSuccess action to:

      Navigate(‘Items Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Select the cancel icon (X) and change the OnSelect function to:

     ResetForm(frmItemEdit);Navigate(‘Items Screen’,ScreenTransition.Fade)

Select the Item Type field (make sure the field is selected, not the Card). Change the Width function to:

     (Parent.Width - 60)*.8

Repeat this for Manufacturer and Location fields.

Creating the Add Buttons

Now I will add the buttons to open the necessary to create a new Item Type, Location, and Manufacturer from the Item form. I will be selecting the data card for Item Type, Location, and Manufacturer and adding a button to it during this process. Any property not mentioned will use the default value. Each of the three buttons shares these properties:

  • Width: (Parent.Width – 60)*.1
  • Text: “+”
  • Size: 48
  • All Padding Properties: 1
  • All Radius Properties: 0
  • Position: 528,63

Select the Item Type card, click on the + button on the far left, expand Popular and select Button. Select the new button, set the shared properties, and then set OnSelect:

 NewForm(frmItemTypeEdit);Navigate(‘Item Type Edit Screen’, ScreenTransition.None)

For more information, see EditForm, NewForm, SubmitForm, ResetForm, and ViewForm functions in Power Apps.
Creating Popular navigation
Customize Padding Elements

Select the Manufacturer card, click on the + button on the far left, expand Popular and select Button. Select the new button, set the shared properties, and then set OnSelect:

NewForm(frmManufacturerEdit);Navigate(‘Manufacturer Edit Screen’, ScreenTransition.None)

Select the Location card, click on the + button on the far left, expand Popular and select Button. Select the new button, set the shared properties, and then set OnSelect:

NewForm(frmLocationEdit);Navigate(‘Location Edit Screen’, ScreenTransition.None)

The form should look something like this:
Creating custom forms

Items Screen

Expand the Items Screen and then select the galItems. Notice that the Layout property is Title, subtitle, and body. Now, click on Edit by the Fields property. I want to change ours to Serial Number for lblSerialNumber, Model for lblModel.
Expending Item Screen

Item Details Screen

The last thing that I need to do is complete the Item Details Screen to show a read-only version of the Item record.
Expand the Item Details Screen and select the frmItemDetails. Click on Edit Fields and add the custom fields created in Microsoft Dataverse.
Detailed Item Screen

Next, rearrange the field to match our edit form. Delete the Created-On field if desired.
Customize Field to match Edit form

Click on the Date Purchased value, click Advanced, and Unlock. Change the Text value to:


This will hide the time as it is not relative. For more information, see DateValue, TimeValue, and DateTimeValue functions in Power Apps.
Adjusting Date Purchased capability

Testing the User Interface

Now, I can test out the implementation:

Next Steps

With our base UI in place, I can enter data; however, there are a couple of final touches that need to be completed. In part three of the series, I will be adding the ability to add item images and barcode scanning.

Power Platform is Microsoft’s newest pillar in its cloud platform stack, steadily growing in popularity as more and more organizations realize the capability of the tool. Put into the hands of experienced developers, the Platform can expedite the development of highly complex organizational applications. Provided to citizen developers, the Platform connects them to organizational data and allows them to automate personal and team workloads. At an organizational level, IT has insight into who is doing what where and for whom – and the ability to secure, manage, and govern it. It is a first-class platform.

So, why has it taken so long to be recognized as such? Part of the problem is a misunderstanding around what “low code” means.

When you hear the phrase “low code,” you shouldn’t be thinking “low thought” or “low quality.” Rather, think of low code as short-hand coding. The team at Microsoft has done a large chunk of the pre-work by setting up your Azure database (that’s right – the Power Platform is built on Azure!) so that you can focus more on the parts of your solution that are unique to your organization and less about the base architecture that is consistent between solutions.

The Platform offers several drag-and-drop features, many templates, and hundreds of premade data connectors you can utilize to get apps into minimum viable product (MVP) shape quickly. It also lets you use traditional coding to beef up these apps, allowing highly customizable experiences designed to fit your precise business use case. It democratizes the ability to create apps by having both ends of the spectrum covered, allowing a community to exist globally (and organizationally) between citizen developers who just want to make their jobs a little easier and professional developers whose full-time job is building.

It is this unique feature – the diverse community the Platform is capable of supporting – that really changes the game. The Platform is allowing organizations to rapidly scale their modernization efforts by leveraging resources both in and beyond their IT shops.

The base of most Power Platform solutions is built within the Common Data Service (CDS) – a data model that shapes your model-driven apps, is fed by your canvas apps, and provides a wealth of information to reports published with Power BI. Organizations can deploy multiple solutions to an environment’s CDS, meaning that you can package up a “base solution” – a solution that sets up the common entities that make up the core of your enterprise – and deploy it to all of your Platform environments as a starting point for your developers. Then each app can be packaged up as its own solution and stacked on top of this base, modifying it as needed and even furthering the expediency at which a new solution can be deployed.

The CDS not only contains the data model but also stores the data itself. That means that when you build multiple apps in one environment, you’re creating a single source of truth for all of the applications touching that CDS; pull out processes and data points specific to one business unit but allow them to share the data with other units in the background. Connect your CDS-built apps to other data sources (Azure SQL database, Outlook, or even competing software like SalesForce) using the hundreds of existing data connectors, or create custom connectors, to further utilize existing data and reduce duplicative sources (and the source control issues that go along with it).

Common Data Service

Expanding on the need for control of your organization’s data, the Power Platform offers a familiar experience for the system administrators of many organizations by using Azure Active Directory to authenticate users and the O365 Admin Center to manage licenses. Further, the management of the Platform is fortified by the installation and use of the (free!) Center of Excellence Starter Kit. This toolkit provides a starting point to gain organizational insight into the details of how the Platform is being used – locations, environments, flows, makers, connections, apps, and more can be administered with the kit. Drill into each application, tag it, track it, and monitor its usage. Customize the COE Starter Kit and bring a whole new light to what once might have been considered “rogue IT.”

So now that we understand that low code is a good thing, let’s recap what you’re getting with the Power Platform:

  • A way to maximize your resources – the low code features enable citizen developers to migrate their own work, and the pre-built features and “short-hand” coding allow your professional developers to focus on the most important and unique features of your organization’s workloads.
  • A system meant to scale – built on Azure and backed by Microsoft SLAs, this tool is meant for enterprise use and has the speed and reliability to back it. Enable your citizen developers to modernize their own workloads to speed up your cloud overhaul. Develop & leverage a custom, organization-wide base solution to start every new project with a bulk of known entities already installed and scale your implementations even faster.
  • A new level of visibility into your business – the Center of Excellence toolkit allows you to see all of the makers who are building, the apps they’re developing, the connections being made, and more, providing an entirely new window into (and set of control over) citizen development that might have once been seen as “rogue IT.”

To paraphrase Andrew Welch, a Principal Author of the PPAF, on the subject: some business challenges can be solved with custom software development. Some business challenges can be solved with COTS solutions. Everything else is a missed opportunity to transform and modernize in the cloud – for which low-code cloud transformation with the Power Platform is the answer.

AIS is a Microsoft Partner, the premier developer of customer Power Platform solutions, and the publisher of the Power Platform Adoption Framework.

AIS can help you when beginning your enterprise adoption journey with Power Platform.