Logic Apps is an Azure cloud-based service that enables us to develop and deliver integration solutions with ease. It also helps us build, schedule, and automate processes as workflows so we can integrate apps, data, systems, and services across enterprises or organizations. On the other hand, Power Automate is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, for automating workflows across applications and SaaS services.
Now, another fact that might add a little more confusion here is that Power Automate is built using Logic Apps itself; in other words, Power Automate is an abstract of Logic Apps (which is running in the background) and by definition they both look similar and do almost the same thing, so choosing which to use and when could be a very confusing task! However, you are in luck if you are reading this because we are about to simplify – as much as we can – the task of when to use what.
Understanding Feature Differences
First, before we dig deep, let us cover some differences between these two tools.
Logic Apps is intended for integrators and developers, IT Pros, while Power Automate is intended for Office workers, business users, and SharePoint administrators.
Logic Apps is meant for advanced Integration scenarios, while Power Automate is meant for self-service scenarios. That does not mean that they cannot be swapped between scenarios, but if we wanted to use them to their full intended capacity and value, then these are the guidelines.
Logic Apps has many ways to design workflows, varying from In-browser, Visual Studio to Code view (JSON Editor), while Power Automate has In-browser and mobile app design (UI only) meaning that Power Automate has no code view designing tool.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
Logic Apps has DevOps possibilities just like any other Azure service, such as source control, testing, automation, and manageability in Azure Resource Management. For Power Automate, you are supposed to design and test in non-production environments, then promote to production when ready. However, we have to mention that Microsoft is working on the ALM possibilities for Power Automate, whereas “Solutions” is a great feature to bundle “Power Automate” Flows and “Power Apps” apps alike, I personally believe it still needs some work, whereas connectors requires reconfiguration (unlike Logic Apps) once a solution is deployed to a new environment/tenant.
Logic Apps can be administered through managing Azure Resource Groups hosting our Logic Apps workflows and its connections. Connector connection definitions are treated as a separate entity and can be administered as such. Pretty much like any other Azure service, access management and logging can be administered on the resource group and entity level. On the other hand, “Power Automate” Flows are managed and bundled through environments, while connectors are administered with Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies.
Logic Apps has the security assurance of Azure! From Azure security, Security Center to audit logs. Again, pretty much like any other Azure service. While Power Automate has the Office 365 compliance and audit logs in addition to Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies. However, both services share the same data security feature; this is implemented through securing inputs and outputs on the operation (action) level.
When to use what
Now that we have gone through the major differences, lets jump into when to use what! As mentioned earlier this could be a very daunting task, so we will split the guidelines into four areas.
Note that the following are generic guidelines and they might NOT apply for all cases; meaning that some cases could be evaluated in isolation from these guidelines, or some areas might be considered only partially.
If our solution needs B2B or enterprise integration connectors like EDIFACT, Liquid or SAP then it is Logic Apps definitely. If our solution needs approval process management, needs to be trigged on selected items (SharePoint), or needs integration with a native mobile application on iOS and Android (e.g. Flow buttons) then it is Power Automate definitely.
If our solution is already (at least in part) deployed in Azure, then it is highly recommended to use Logic Apps. However, if our solution integrates with Office 365, Dynamics 365, or Power Apps, then it is recommended to use Power Automate.
Development & Deployment
If our solution requires to be developed with Visual Studio locally and then manage its files in a source control system then it is Logic Apps definitely. If our solution is a self-service scenario and it could be designed and tested in non-production environments, then promoted to production when ready, taken into consideration that it doesn’t need B2B or enterprise integration connectors, then it’s Power Automate in this case.
Licensing is a crucial driver of the decision, and in some cases, it could nullify all three previous areas! This decision is usually made by the customer, based on calculating the cost of service consumption. So, whether it is an Azure service license or a Power Automate license, that is up to the customer/project budget. This area has been commonly a major influence on the tool selection, especially after the recent license changes made on the Power Platform generally and Power Automate specifically!
In conclusion if we are looking for a decisive answer of which is a “better” tool, we will not find it here (in this post) nor anywhere else! Ultimately, each service provides great benefits. Ideally, what we really need to look for is to identify how to use each tool to deliver value and impact to the organization/project. At the end of the day, we should consider desired business outcomes first, and then figure out what is the best tool that helps achieving those outcomes!
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