How To Use Power Platform Pipelines

Jon Manderville
February 19, 2024

In the ever-evolving world of digital transformation, the ability to streamline processes and ensure consistency across environments is crucial. Power Platform Pipelines are a pivotal tool in achieving this, particularly when it comes to deploying solutions from development stages to production.

In this post, we dig into why Power Platform Pipelines are valuable and outline the steps to implement a pipeline, using the transition of a solution from a default to a test environment as our guide.

Note: At the time of writing, there is a requirement for the use of Pipelines to have your target environment set up as a "Managed Environment". This means there is additional control over that location. However, putting this in place is only possible with the right licence position also being in place. Find out more HERE. Put simply, if you are embarking on more formal ALM using the tools available, you will need Per-User or Per-App licences for your flows or Apps and to enable this feature.

Why Power Platform Pipelines Are Useful

Power Platform Pipelines serve as an automated conveyor belt for your solutions, moving them smoothly from one environment to another. This automation not only saves time but also minimizes human errors, ensuring that your solutions are deployed consistently and securely across environments. Pipelines also facilitate a more structured and controlled deployment process, aligning with best practices in DevOps and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) methodologies.

Implementing a Power Platform Pipeline: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Define Your Environments First, clearly define your environment strategy. Typically, this includes at least a development (default), test, and production environment. Ensure these environments are properly set up and managed within your Power Platform admin center. This segmentation allows for a controlled development lifecycle, from initial creation to testing and, finally, production deployment. Note: to properly implement a pipeline, you need to use Solutions. You will also need to be happy that your environment are managed (this means that you will not be changing Solutions once they are deployed to these environments)

Step 2: Use Connection References in Your Solutions Before moving your solution, ensure it utilizes Connection References for any external connections. This is crucial because it allows you to easily swap connection details between environments without modifying the actual solution. As your solution moves to the new environment, the Pipeline process will automatically re-connect to the required Connections so long as they exist in that environment.  References ensure your solution remains flexible and secure throughout the deployment process.

Step 3: Create Your Pipeline With your environments and solutions properly prepared, the next step is to create your pipeline. This involves using Power Platform's built-in tools (there is an app you install for this purpose in what is called an "Orchestration" environment - a special environment set up for the purposes of hosting the controller app for your Pipelines). Using the Power App for Pipelines, you  define the steps necessary to move your solution from the default environment to the test environment, and eventually to production. You also declare the Environments where your pipelines are operating along with permissions on who can run and change pipelines. 

If you want to know more about this setup process, you can ask the Academy coaches for support. Just pop a message into the Academy (mention @jon manderville in a Direct Message to get help)

Step 4: Test Your Pipeline Before full implementation, test your pipeline with a non-critical solution to ensure that the process works as expected. This phase is crucial for identifying any potential issues in your pipeline setup and ensuring that your solution deploys correctly across your defined environments.

The Need for Managed Environments

A crucial aspect of successful pipeline implementation is the management of environments. Each environment should be configured with the necessary resources, security roles, and settings to support the solutions being deployed. Proper environment management ensures that solutions can be tested accurately in conditions that mirror the production environment as closely as possible.

Your Next Steps

Power Platform Pipelines represent a significant advancement in how solutions are deployed within the Power Platform ecosystem. By automating the deployment process, organizations can achieve faster release cycles, improved consistency, and higher quality solutions. The use of Connection References and the careful management of environments are foundational to this strategy, ensuring that solutions can move seamlessly and securely from development to production. As you embark on implementing Power Platform Pipelines, remember that the journey toward automation is a step towards a more agile, reliable, and efficient development lifecycle.