The price point for Power Pages has long been a tricky discussion point. The pricing model has changed a few times over the years, and organizations can feel frustrated if they are on the wrong end of who ends up paying less and more when the model changes. In this blog post, I’ll review the history of the pricing for the product, and provide my opinion on whether I think the cost is justified by the value.
Before the acquisition by Microsoft of the product, Adxstudio’s pricing model wasn’t tied to the number of users. Instead, you paid a certain amount (in the $10k-20k range) to acquire the product (effectively per Dynamics CRM production environment), and then annual maintenance after that. But you were on your own for hosting – the license fees were only for the software. Adxstudio also had a Software-as-a-Service (SasS) model that it introduced near the end, that somewhat foreshadowed what Microsoft would do, where you paid a monthly fee for the service, and it included hosting.
Once Microsoft acquired the product, the licensing model changed. Because they moved to a pure SaaS model, they moved to a monthly price per website. And, if you had a certain number of Dynamics CRM licenses, you actually got a portal for free. However, additional portals, including for lower environments like development and QA, cost $500 per month. But still not tied in any way to the number of people that were using the website. Many organizations chose to work in their single, free environment, which of course is a risky decision, but meant there was no cost for their portal.
Then in 2019 Microsoft announced Power Apps Portals, which was the latest generation of the product, and with it, new licensing. This is where things went a bit sideways. The pricing was now based on logged in users, so the cost for organizations with heavily used sites could see a significant increase in licensing costs. Also, there was no longer a free tier, so organizations who were using a single portal could go from paying nothing, to paying a lot.
This pricing model was definitely the most challenging that we’ve dealt with for this product. Not only did you have to pay per login, but it was a daily login, so a user logging in every day in a month would need 30 licenses.
Making matters even worse is that it is incredibly difficult to estimate how many daily logins portal might have. What I saw was organizations using worst-case scenarios to estimate licensing costs, and then the price was blowing them out of the water. It seemed like every organization thought their portal was going to be so great that users would be in there every day, and with a login costing $2 per day, they would be paying $60 ($2 x 30 days) per user for their portal. That is crazy, considering that Power Apps licensing for internal users was more like $5 or $10 per month.
The reality is that 99% of portals don’t have that kind of usage. But when you ask customers to estimate, they want to protect themselves, and the easy answer is to just stay away from the product because the licensing was seen as risky.
Thankfully with the introduction of Power Pages, the licensing model was changed to monthly active users, not daily. The price per user remained the same, but instead of it costing each day for a user, a user got a whole month for the same price. Monthly active users is a much easier thing to guess. With this new licensing model, having a licensing conversation about Power Pages is no longer something I dread.
So as I said, I think the pricing model makes sense. But is it cheap? No. Not many licenses for Microsoft products are “cheap”. But is it worth it? Of course, that depends, but I think often the answer is yes.
Pricing starts at $2 per user per month. At larger volumes, the published price goes down to as low as $0.50. And you never know what sort of pricing you can get when you ask Microsoft nicely! But let’s consider the worst case scenario of $2 per user per month, which is the licensing for up to 10k users.
Is Power Pages worth it for $2 per month per user?
This is a question that I get asked a lot. I usually turn this question around and say this: if the portal you are building doesn’t provide at least $2 of value when that user logs in each month, I would argue that you shouldn’t be building that portal. In fact, I think the ROI should be many multiple times that.
Consider a simple help desk scenario. How much do you save as an organization by replacing phone calls and email chains with a help desk portal? I would think way more that $2 for each user that uses it. If not, you probably don’t need that portal.
Many of the Power Pages sites we see aren’t revenue generators (although that’s not always the case!). Instead, they are seen as a cost of doing business. So of course, organizations want to keep that cost down. And that means looking at all technology options. And of those options, Power Pages probably won’t be the cheapest in terms of licensing. And so I agree that it’s important to evaluate all the options, I also tend to see that the comparisons aren’t as easy as some people make it out to me.
One common comparison is to a platform like WordPress. I’m a big fan of WordPress – we use it for a lot of our clients, including those that need a portal integrated with Dataverse (shout out to AlexaCRM). But if you’re going to compare the cost of WordPress (no licensing fees, and minimal hosting costs) versus the cost of Power Pages, WordPress is going to win every time. But there is more to it than that.
WordPress is an open source tool. If something goes wrong, you don’t really have a single throat to choke. As the old adage goes, no one every got fired for picking Microsoft. Microsoft has a solid reputation for security and reliability.
The same argument goes for other low code web platforms. There are a tonne out there, many of which I’ve never heard of. I’ve always said that Power Pages is best used in scenarios where the data was already going to be in Dataverse. Can you integrate Dataverse with other low code web development platforms? Of course you can. Are there cheaper options out there? Of course there are. Is Power Pages always the right fit? Of course it isn’t. The decision to choose Power Pages should be made like any other technology decision – after careful review of the options.
But, if paying $2 per user each month for your portal is too much, I’d strongly recommend that you reconsider if you need a portal, since a portal should deliver way, way more value than that.