Using Power Automate across different environments without resetting the connections for each action


This blog will explore Microsoft’s new connection reference to help move Power Automate to a different environment. While doing so, the main task is to update the connection setting. However, the new public review, i.e., “Connection Reference,” only needs to be done once for the primary connection. Additionally, the referenced connection is work-appropriated across the environment. 

Problem Statement

For deploying Multiple Power Automate options to a different environment, we can utilize the solution packaging and then use a solution to deploy it to the higher environment. This solves the problem of importing each Power Automate to the desired environments. 

The next hurdle after deploying the Power Automate is the connection we use in these. If we use something other than a CDS current environment connector, we need to reset every connection and re-authenticate across environments manually.   

Power Automate Connection Reference

For the issue mentioned earlier, Microsoft just announced a “Connection References” feature, which is helpful while moving the Automate across environments, automating secure deployment pipelines, updating flow definitions, and healthy Application Lifecycle Management.  

A “Connection References” is a pointer for the connections, or we can say that it is a solution component containing information about the connectors.  

Before we can dig deeper into the concept, this feature is currently only available for “Solution-Aware” Automates. This is because connection references depend on the solution framework given in the Common Data Service instance.  

We will now understand how Automates and connections are associated with each other.  

Each action in the Automate is currently bound to a specific connection utilized to “execute” that particular action. Therefore, to move the Automate across the environment, a user must rebuild or reset every operation’s connection.  

Connection reference now provides an abstract layer consuming the framework from CDS between resources such as Automates and canvas app, and so on. It also provides us with the connection used to communicate data operations. Using this, we create or set up the connection once in the environment, and then its reference is used for the other similar connections.  

This approach’s benefit is that once the connection is set in each environment, it can be utilized across the whole environment. Additionally, if we ever need the connection to be swapped out, we only need to do it once, and all the references for this connection will be updated.

Further Reading: How To Use Power Automate To Enhance Power BI

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How To Use Connection References:

If we create a new solution, the Connection references are automatically maintained for the solution-aware Automate. 

We can also create connection references independently by clicking on the New button in the menu, as shown in the below image.

This image shows How To Use Connection References


  • We can only utilize connection references for the solution-aware flows.  
  • Old solutions need to be reimported to utilize connection references. We need to export and reimport the unmanaged solution in the same environment. This will automatically create the connection references, which we can utilize in the Automate.  
  • The import of a Classic solution does not support this feature.  
  • As in the preview, the limitation for reusing the connection reference is up to 16 flows only.

Further Read: Microsoft Power Automate: A Low-Code Solution For Automating Your Processes  

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Connection Reference is a new concept in the preview. It is available for the solution-aware flows to provide healthy ALM for resources using connections within the solution framework. Hence, updating the values in the connection reference will automatically update the flows using these connection references.

I hope this blog has clarified your understanding of Power Automate and how to use it without resetting the connections. If you have any questions or insights, feel free to comment below! 

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