Changes to storage costs for the Common Data Service

Storage Costs for the Common Data Service

Starting April 1st 2019, a new pricing model is available for storage costs for the Common Data Service (this applies to PowerApps that use the CDS and Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement plans and apps).

This article describes the "old" and "new" models.

Old Model

Under the old model, all storage is charged at the same price per Gbyte (USD $5 per Gbyte per month) regardless of the type of data that is stored.

Many companies were surprised at how much storage they needed for their Dynamics instances. Examining the usage showed unexpected large amounts of audit logs, file attachments or system logs - all of this data counts towards the storage requirement.

Included Entitilement

Every subscription to Dynamics 365 customer engagement has a base entitlement and incremental entitlements.

Base Entitlement:

  • 10Gbytes storage (this was an increase from 5Gbytes in earlier versions)
  • 2 database instances (one production and one sandbox)

Incremental Entitlements:

  • For every 20 full licence users, an additional 5Gbytes of storage

Additional instances over and above the two included with a subscription can be purchased as can additional disk storage.

New Model

In the new model (introduced in Apr 2019), storage is now classed as one of three types:

  • Files (attachments to emails and notes)
  • Audit Logs
  • SQL database (everything else)

The three types are charged at different rates with SQL database being the most expensive.

Base and Incremental Entitlements

The entitlement has also changed. There are still base and incremental entitlements.

The table shows the entitlements per tenant

Storage Type Included Entitlement Price ($ per GB per month) Additional Entitlement per user
Files 20GB 2 2GB
Logs 2GB 10 None
Database 10GB 40 250MB

The incremental entitlement for database storage is effectively the same as the old model (5Gbytes per 20 users) but the additional storage is now provided for each user instead of every 20 users.

Files will actually be stored in Azure file storage and moved out of the SQL database. But that is a "behind-the-scenes" process that Microsoft will manage. There is no change to the user interface or SDK calls for working with files. And no you can't get at the Azure file storage directly.

Instances

Perhaps the most interesting and beneficial change is that in the new model there is no charge for instances. You may provision as many additional instances as you need at no cost. The only consideration is that an instance uses 1Gbyte of database storage, so an instance can only be provisioned if you have sufficient storage available.

15th May 2019: Provisioning additional instances under the new model at this time requires a support call. Of course the plan is that you will be able to provision instances in the Power Platform Admin center but not yet.

Comparing the models

I guess many people are wondering whether they will pay more under the new model. The answer depends on your usage pattern. If you have many instances to support development, testing and so on then you might end up paying less. But a business that has no additional instances and a large database could easily pay more.

I wonder if the change to instance pricing is to encourage more business to adopt a more formal ALM model for managing development.

Spring clean

Now is a good time to examine your databases and give them a "spring clean". In particular, check the following areas:

  • Attachments - Tracking emails to store them in Dynamics is generally a good idea, but have users gotten a bit too keen and tracked emails with really large pdf (and other formats) files? Do you really need xxx copies of the company brochure that contains high-res photos stored in Dynamics?  Whilst it is difficult to remove attachments from stored emails and keep the email, use Advanced Find to identify such emails and see if anything can be removed. Under the new model though, the charge for attachments will be lower and there is what appears to be a generous allowance. If you are using tools to remove files from Dynamics and move them to say, SharePoint you might find that you no longer need to do this.
  • Audit logs - do you have auditing switched on?  Do you really need to audit all the components that are enabled for audit? Do you really need audit files from more than a year ago? And before you say yes, who actually looks at the audit logs? You could save a lot of space here.
  • Database - this is probably the hardest area to make space savings but it is worth reviewing what you have stored to see if the data is still useful. For example, if you use a marketing add-on such as ClickDimensions, do you really need to store page view records (visits to your website) from more than a year or so ago? Have a look at the database and consider critically whether you still need records from years ago. Perhaps you do, but it is worth spending some time validating your decision. It might make sense to take data out of Dynamics into an archive. You could do this using the Data Export service or other tools.

Reporting - how do I know what I'm using?

A storage capacity report to show a detailed overview of your entitlement and use by the storage types is available in the Power Platform Admin center under Capacity. This report shows usage even if your subscription is using the old model in which case it is for your reference.

When does the change happen?

The new model is available as of April 1st. For existing subscriptions, there is a transition period until December 31st 2019 where renewals can be on the new or old model.

One thing I'm still trying to find out is whether it is possible to proactively switch to the new model (ahead of renewal) should the pricing be more favourable.

Microsoft Licensing Guide

As usual, for details on Dynamics 365 licensing, have a look at the Microsoft Licensing guide at https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/. On that page, click on the link DOWNLOAD LICENSING GUIDE. At the time of writing, the latest guide is dated April 2019.

 


The information in this article represents the author's understanding of the changes. Before making any decisions, please work with your partner or Microsoft.

 

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