What Are Connection References Within Solutions?

Jon Manderville
February 18, 2024

In the intricate web of digital transformation, managing connections efficiently across various services and platforms is paramount. It forms an integral part of an Application Lifecycle Management process for any organisation adopting and using the Power Platform.

Connection References unlock efficiency, security, and cost-effectiveness in your use of services that are interconnected within Microsoft 365 tenants. Let's dive into why embracing Connection References is not just a good practice but a strategic necessity for teams navigating the Power Platform ecosystem.

Understanding Connection References

At its core, a Connection Reference is a bridge between your Power Platform solutions and external services, databases, or APIs they interact with. Instead of embedding connection information directly within each app or flow, Connection References allow you to define a single, reusable connection point. This approach not only simplifies management but also enhances the maintainability of your solutions.

The Strategic Advantages of Connection References

1. Centralized Control Over Connections

The first major win with Connection References is the centralized control they offer. In environments where connections were previously created willy-nilly, Connection References are a game-changer. By centralizing connection management, you effectively put a stop to the unregulated sprawl of connections, ensuring every app and flow uses the approved, secure connections set by your team. This level of control is invaluable for maintaining a clean, organized, and secure environment.

2. Enhanced Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are non-negotiable in today's digital landscape. Connection References bolster your security posture by allowing administrators to lock down connection settings, ensuring only approved connections are utilized. This approach mitigates risks associated with unauthorized access or data breaches, keeping your solutions compliant with both internal governance policies and external regulatory requirements.

3. Cost Efficiency with Centrally Licensed Accounts

Perhaps one of the most compelling benefits of Connection References is the cost efficiency they bring to the table. By enabling the use of a centrally licensed account for all your apps and flows, you sidestep the need for individual licenses for each connection. This not only simplifies license management but also significantly reduces costs, particularly in large organizations where the number of connections can quickly escalate.

Implementing Connection References: A Step Forward

Implementing Connection References begins with a thorough audit of your current connections and understanding the external resources your solutions interact with. Once mapped, transitioning to Connection References is straightforward, with Power Platform providing the tools and guidance needed to make the switch seamlessly.

If you are unsure where to turn or need a help, reach out to Jon Manderville at the Academy. He will be happy to help guide you on the next steps. 

A Real-World Impact

Consider the case of a financial services firm that transitioned to Connection References across their Power Platform solutions. Previously, each department created its own connections, leading to duplication, increased costs and compliance headaches. By centralizing connections through Connection References, they not only streamlined their operations but also saw a notable reduction in licensing costs, all while enhancing their security posture.

Should You Implement Them?

The strategic adoption of Connection References in your Power Platform solutions offers clear advantages—centralized control, enhanced security, and cost efficiency. The approach which encourages their use (having a solid ALM) not only aligns with best practices in digital solution management but also prepares your organization for scalable, sustainable growth.

Evaluate your Power Platform environment today. Are you maximizing the benefits of Connection References? If not, it's time to consider integrating this powerful feature into your digital strategy. For guidance and best practices, don't hesitate to reach out to the coaches at the Academy or leverage the wealth of resources available there. Embrace Connection References, and take a significant step towards a more efficient, secure, and cost-effective digital ecosystem.