Earlier this year, Project Oakdale was revealed at the Microsoft Inspire event – an update that delivered a built-in, low-code data platform for Teams.

With this update, businesses could use Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents to build and deploy apps and intelligent chatbots in Teams, delivering an enhanced user experience for employees.

Introducing a range of new features, Project Oakdale has been one of the service’s most exciting developments in recent times, especially given the importance of Teams in facilitating widespread remote working during the pandemic.

Given the significance of the update, we’ve taken a closer look at some of its key capabilities, analysing the impact these have had on our clients and the benefits they deliver.

Data capabilities

From a data perspective, Project Oakdale supports relational data and includes capabilities to find, filter and sort information as required. This includes support for basic data types, as well as complex types like images and files.

Based on the sophisticated Common Data Service (CDS), the update introduces a range of familiar features for users, including a version of the currency data type and the ability to create roll up and calculated fields, which have been tailored specifically for Teams.

In Project Oakdale, the new editable grid allows users to quickly create and populate tables with their data, with the user table based on the Common Data Model (CDM) and plans to roll out additional support later in the year.

Some CDS features, like the Activities and Activity Feed tables were not included in Project Oakdale as similar concepts already existed in Teams.

These capabilities have given users greater control of their data, allowing them to harness information and uncover business-enhancing insights.

Application and solution development

In recent months, Teams has become the service of choice for organisations looking to enhance collaboration between colleagues in different locations.

In Teams, users work together on documents in various ways, and with Project Oakdale, this support has been extended to building and using apps, chatbots, flows and data.

The update includes a solution that can be used for developing low code and no code applications directly in Teams, whilst users can discover, install and customise solutions and templates from other trusted sources.

It’s important to note that Project Oakdale is focussed on low code/no code development, so certain sophisticated developer capabilities are still only accessible within the Common Data Service.

However, this update gives users the ability to collaborate and build apps together, in the same way they would usually edit and create written documents.

Environments and security

In order to keep data secure, Project Oakdale creates a single environment for each Microsoft Team where users can create apps, chatbots and workflows.

Supporting backups, point-in-time restore and disaster recovery, the environment is responsible for storing all types of data with 2gb capacity afforded to each team.

To make data management easier, the lifecycle of the Project Oakdale environment is connected to that of the associated Microsoft team, so if you decide to you delete a team, its associated environment is removed too.

Meanwhile, Project Oakdale is built with a sophisticated security model that ensures collaboration between internal and external parties remains secure, with pre-configured security access based on a person’s role.

The feature also includes support for activity logging, allowing businesses to keep track of its employees and their actions.

Embracing a new age of collaboration…

Updates like Project Oakdale are designed to enhance collaboration in Teams, providing users with additional capabilities that allow them to work together more effectively.

Designed with powerful integration capabilities, this update allows users to unlock some of the key benefits associated with the Common Data Service, bringing more flexibility to the Teams experience and the way in which employees communicate.

With Microsoft promising additional support over the coming months, Teams users can expect other exciting features to be introduced, offering more incentive for those organisations not yet using Teams.

If you need help finding a Teams solution that meets the unique requirements of your business, then contact our in-house team for guidance.