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Hybrid Integration for the Enterprise with Azure Integration Services

This blog is an extraction of the session “Hybrid Integration for the enterprise with Azure Integration Services” presented by Jon Fancey, Matthew Farmer, Matthew Fortunka.

It gives a detailed overview of how to seamlessly connect on-premises and cloud applications using 200+ out-of-the-box connectors including SAP, Salesforce, Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics. Azure Integration Services brings together Logic Apps, API Management, Event Grid, and Service Bus which makes it easy to integrate applications, data, and processes across the enterprise.

Introduction to Azure Integration Services

Things are changing fundamentally in the world of integration. A decade, there were architects and integration specialists who had integration as their primary job. Now, things are transforming in the integration space and it is being driven by the need to increase the rate of change of business i.e. Digital transformation.

Business depends on all kinds of mission-critical applications. Azure is built to handle mission-critical workloads with ease. Fortune enterprises started implementing Azure to handle their mission-critical operations. For example, Confused.com uses Logic Apps to manage their mission-critical applications.

The value is lost when applications cannot integrate with each other. The capabilities and integration services provided by Azure platform give enormous value to the customers internally and externally.

Application Integration is the backbone of Digital transformation

Recently, the statistics shared by the Gartner says nearly two out of three organizations would have implemented a hybrid integration platform in the near future. Due to this transformation, the enterprises will be able to pace their efficiency, time to market and many more.

Integration scenarios

There are four major integration scenarios,

  • Application to Application
  • Business to Business
  • SaaS
  • IoT

Each one of these integration scenarios come with many challenges. The following points are the key challenges you may face while doing integration,

  • Each system would have different interfaces, API’s, data sources and formats.
  • Some of the services are Service-oriented and others are distributed.
  • The services may reside either in the cloud or on-premise.

The solution to the above-mentioned problem is IPaaS – Integration Platform as a Service. Over the last two years, companies are moving towards IPaaS. It provides numerous benefits besides making integration easier.

Major integration components of Azure

There are four major integration components which are essential to building solutions. The four major components are as follows,

APIs – API Management: Publish your APIs securely for internal and external developers to use when connecting to backend systems hosted anywhere.

Workflows – Logic Apps: Create workflows and orchestrate business processes to connect hundreds of services in the cloud and on-premises.

Messages – Service Bus: Connect on-premises and cloud-based applications and services to implement highly secure messaging workflows.

Events – Event Grid: Connect supported Azure and third-party services using a fully managed event-routing service with a publish-subscribe model which simplifies event-based app development.

Azure Integration services

With Azure integration services, you can connect applications within your business to accelerate time to market and enhance productivity. Also, connect applications between businesses (B2B) to strengthen relationships, facilitate collaboration, and many more.

Azure API management

This service is available in the Azure portal for more than four years now. Azure API Management allows you to publish APIs safely and connect to the backend systems which can be hosted anywhere.

Advantages

  • Work with any host, API, and provides scalability
  • Attract more developers
  • Secure and optimize your API’s
  • Gain insights into your API’s

Azure Logic Apps

It allows you to automate workflows and orchestrate business processes easily.

Advantages

  • Out-of-the-box connector reduces the integration challenges
  • Connect and Integrate data from the cloud to on-premises
  • B2B and enterprise messaging in the cloud
  • A powerful web-based workflow designer

Azure Service Bus

It is a scalable and reliable cloud service that provides Messaging as a Service (MaaS). You can upload the objects into the Queue and process it as necessary. Also, the messages can be duplicated for disaster recovery.

Advantages

  • Simplifies enterprise and cloud messaging
  • Builds reliable, scalable cloud solutions
  • Implements complex message routing based on the information it contains

Azure Event Grid

This is one of the new entrants in the Azure portal. It simplifies the event-based application development with a Publish-Subscribe model.

Advantages

  • Simplify HTTP based event delivery
  • Build better and more reliable applications through reactive programming
  • Focus on product innovation

Other services of Azure Platform

There are a lot of other services available in the portal like Azure Functions, Blob storage, Cognitive services and many more. The components discussed above can also be integrated with the services listed in the picture here.

other-services-of-azure-platform

These components can also be integrated with the applications which are in either cloud or on-premise or with partner data centers.  

Scenario: Order processing

scenario-order-processing

Initially, there is an API Management which triggers a Logic App. The Logic App processes the order and sends the order information to the Service Bus Queue. On receiving the message in the Queue, the Event Grid listens to this event and triggers another Logic App. Here, the Event Grid acts as the glue between Logic App and the Service Bus Queue. Having separate Logic Apps for different business scenarios gives flexibility. Now, the Logic App will perform the defined operations and sends the order information to a different system like SAP, Office 365 and Azure.

The main vision of the Azure Integration Services is to provide a complete, industry-leading integration platform where everything works better together. It is completely reliable and integrates the service anywhere. Microsoft was recognized as the leaders of 2018 for Integration Platform as a Service by Gartner.

 A closer look at Logic Apps

Azure Logic Apps is a cloud service that helps you automate and orchestrate tasks, business processes, and workflows when you need to integrate apps, data, systems, and services across enterprises or organizations. It offers Visual Designer for fast integration and to make the workflow design easier. There are more than 200 connectors available to mashup applications, data, and services. Enterprises can use Logic Apps to build mission-critical enterprise integrations. Moreover, the Azure portal provides a few built-in capabilities to create, deploy, manage and monitor the Logic Apps.

It allows you to connect on-premise systems and the cloud through on-premise data gateway. Another way to connect the on-premise system and cloud services is through the Integration Service Environment (ISE). In this case, there is no necessity for on-premise data gateway. It allows you to connect on-premise systems through Virtual Network (VNet).

Introducing ISE (Integrated Service Environment)

ISE as a private and isolated Logic Apps instance within the Azure virtual network. The private instance uses dedicated resources such as storage and runs separately from the public global Logic Apps service. This approach differs from the existing consumption-based plan that takes advantage of pooling customer demands across a shared infrastructure. The benefit for customers is that they only pay for what they use.

Sample ISE based Logic App

logic-app-ise

Out-of-the-box, there is an HTTP trigger which initiates the Logic App. In the next step, there is an SQL (ISE tagged) action which runs the stored procedure and subsequently triggers the Response action and also generates the output.

page-response-chart

In the above chart,

  • The Green color represents on-premise data gateway.
  • The red color represents ISE.

On comparing, the on-premise data gateway and ISE the page response time chart above shows ISE is 4 times faster than the alternate method. ISE can be used to transfer large files efficiently and also to have a high number of concurrent connections.

Here is a free give away from Microsoft – “Azure Integration Services whitepaper.  This gives insight into the available integration services and how they can be leveraged to build solutions better. For a deeper look into ISE and identify some of the opportunities for organizations who may be considering this implementation of Azure Logic Apps, check out our blog here.

Logic Apps extension for VS code

Now, you can create and manage Logic Apps from the Visual Studio IDE. It offers the OS of your choice and provides IntelliSense support to help you add a trigger, actions, and many more.

Logic Apps extension for VS code is now available as open source, download here.

SAP connector

SAP connector for Logic Apps is now in public preview. It provides easy integration as like other connectors. It not only allows you to send data to SAP ECC systems but also to receive data via webhook.

sap-connector

The above picture shows the instance of the SAP connector. Initially, the SAP connector triggers the Logic App on receiving the message. In the next phase, the Liquid action transforms the received XML message to JSON format and also subsequently triggers the Dynamics action which creates a new order.

Announcements for Logic Apps

  • Logic Apps is in public preview in China region
  • SFTP-SSH Connector (public preview)
  • IBM MQ Connector (Generally available)
  • MSI Support
  • Client Correlation ID
  • V2 Functions Support

Wrap up

In this blog post, we discussed the Azure integration services that are available and how they can be leveraged to build mission-critical applications. Also, we discussed a couple of workflows for Logic Apps ISE and SAP connector. Still, there are lots of announcements and feature enhancements that are yet to come. Stay tuned for further updates. Happy Learning!

You can watch the session here.

Author: Nadeem Ahamed

Nadeem is a Technical Product Marketer for Serverless360. He is passionate about blogging on cutting edge technologies. He believes blogs are the best way to share knowledge among the community and his passion for writing will never end till the last day of breath. He always believes in the phrase "Looks so Good on the Outside, It'll Make You Feel Good Inside".