Easily Scale Your Desktop Automation With Hosted RPA Bots

Virtual machines, fully managed on your behalf.

Anyone can set up unattended bots.

You asked for more flexibility to set up Hosted RPA bots.

Watch our video here.

Video Transcript:

Welcome to Microsoft Mechanics. Today I’ll show you how you can automate repetitive mundane tasks across legacy and modern systems at scale using Power Automate’s new hosted RPA bot service. Hosted RPA bots are virtual machines running in Azure that run your automation flows unattended and can scale to run simultaneously on multiple Windows VMs for even the most challenging tasks. And if you’re thinking this is something you’ve been able to do before, I’ll show you how now it’s much easier. Instead of having to set up Azure Virtual Desktop infrastructure yourself, now anyone with just a few basic parameters and even without an Azure subscription can get started with unattended bots running large scale automation in minutes. And today I’ll demonstrate how. In this scenario, my company continuously receives sales orders attachments as PDF files in email. A cloud flow is used to extract the necessary information from these PDF files, leveraging artificial intelligence along with optical character recognition. It will then pass that information to our hosted RPA bots, which use a desktop flow to enter the information into a web-based form. Now imagine that we’ve been receiving hundreds of sales orders in email every day and at all hours. My Power Automate flows need to be able to run 24/7 with enough virtual machines to handle the scale. So let’s create a few hosted RPA bots. First, you can sign up for a free trial at aka.ms/TryHostedRPAbots which gives you access to two machines to get started. In my case, I have 10 available in my environment. Here I am in Power Automate. Because I already have a working automation that I’ve tested and used with unattended RPA, I just need to set up additional Windows machines to run it. Now to create my bots, I’ll expand monitor, and then go to the virtual machines page. Here I can see the status of any machine I currently use to run my desktop flows. I’ll select New machine, I’ll choose a Group. Here I can see the option to create hosted RPA bots. I’ll select it. These are virtual machines fully managed on your behalf and configured to run your automation as well as automatically scale to match demand. Now, I just need to enter a few parameters. First, the machine group name: Sales order bot. I’ll paste in a description from my clipboard. Here, I can use this slider to choose the maximum number of bots in my group, which again is 10. I’ll choose three in this case, because that’s what I estimate is needed for my automation scenario. And note that the maximum of 10 here is the total number of machines available in my broader organization, so there are seven remaining for the rest of my team. Now for the image source, I can use a default Windows image for the virtual machine, which is perfect for things like web form filling using inbox Windows apps. I can also use a custom image hosted in your Azure compute gallery, which you would use in cases where custom desktop apps are needed for your automation. In my case, since the web form entry is happening in the Edge browser I’ll stick with the default Windows image. Next, I just need to create a local username and then a password and confirm it for the virtual machines. From there I can create my machine group. That just takes a few seconds. Now I just need to make a small edit to my cloud flow running the automation so it can send jobs to my newly created machine group. So I’m in my cloud flow and here’s a step that runs my desktop flow. I’ll click in to expand it. The run mode is already set to unattended. Now I’ll open the menu from the ellipse, I’ll select new connection reference. In connect, I’ll keep the directly to machine option. Then I’ll choose the machine group I just created: sales order bots. Enter the account credential for the virtual machine login and confirm: that’s it. By the way, this is the same scenario I showed in a previous Mechanics episode using desktop and cloud flows. In fact, if you watch the episode at aka.ms/RPAatScale, you’ll find even more details about the steps in each flow. Next in the background to save time, I’ve already triggered this automation to run by sending a few dozen emails with sales order attachments. When I come back to my machine group’s page in the run queue I can see the runs that are in process and queued. Notice that all three of my RPA bots are processing orders and there are additional orders waiting. Something else I can do while I’m here is to promote high priority desktop flows to the top of the queue if I need to. In this example, I have a second order adjustment flow using this machine group that I need to prioritize. All I have to do is click on the ellipse and either change its priority or choose move to the top. And you see that run is now the next in queue and has been prioritized. Now the hosted RPA bots will continue to run until orders stopped coming in. And if I want to see if everything succeeded or anything failed, from the Overview tab you’ll see the status of the last 10 runs. And in See all runs, you’ll get a complete history. It looks like all of these were successful and nicely spread across my three bots. If traffic increases or decreases over time, it’s also easy to add or remove the maximum number of bots in the machine group. At any time, you can choose to limit the number of bots for each team to ensure others have capacity to meet their demand. To do that, I just need to go to my machine group. From here, I can edit its details. I’ll reduce the maximum to one. And of course I can delete my group of hosted bots if they’re no longer needed. So that was a quick demonstration of how you can easily set up and use hosted RPA bots to automate your repetitive tasks at scale. Importantly, coming soon to give you more flexibility and make it easier to integrate with your authenticated sites and experiences, you’ll be able to use an existing work or school account, like you would use for Office 365 or the Power Platform, as credentials for your bots. And we are just getting started. We’ll continue to add more capabilities based on your feedback. In fact, let us know what you think in the comments below. And to learn more check out aka.ms/HostedRPAbotsdocs. And again, you can try it for yourself by signing up for a trial at aka.ms/TryHostedRPAbots. And be sure to subscribe to Microsoft Mechanics for the latest tech updates and thanks for watching.



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