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Microsoft Azure Retrospective 2021

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The year 2021 has ended, and we are now entering 2022. Last year, Microsoft released a few new Azure services and updated others. This blog post will discuss the most exciting cloud integration-related updates and releases.

Azure Functions

Functions are a part of the Azure Integration Service (AIS) portfolio as they are listed as a component that can simplify orchestration problems. However, you can use Functions in many use cases, such as mapping (instead of leveraging an integration account), conversion of CSV to Excel, and DateTime formatting (changing ePoch value to a formatted date-time). Last year Microsoft released a significant update of Functions with 4.0.

Microsoft first announced the public preview release of Azure Functions 4.0 in September and subsequently released it into general availability later in November. Azure Functions are Microsoft’s Function as a Service (FaaS) offering. The release of the new 4.0 runtime includes support for .NET 6.0. Additionally, you can leverage Azure Function 4.0 locally by downloading the Azure Functions Core Tools 4.0 and leveraging the available documentation.

Microsoft Azure New Features

Lastly, more details and guidance on Azure Functions are available on the landing page and Serverless Notes.

Azure Load Testing

You are probably aware of the load testing capabilities through Visual Studio with the 2019 version – which is the last version supporting it. Furthermore, Azure DevOps also offers load testing capabilities that are no longer supported. However, the company now provides the successor with Azure Load Testing in preview, including open-source Apache JMeter support.

Azure Load Testing

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/load-testing/overview-what-is-azure-load-testing 

Through the Azure Marketplace, you can find the Azure Load Testing service, which you can integrate into your continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline at meaningful points during the development lifecycle. These pipelines can be either GitHub Actions or Azure Pipelines.

Next to the load testing in the Marketplace, you can also create an Azure Load Testing resource in the Azure portal as a centralized place to view and manage test plans, test results, and other related artefacts. After the Azure Load Testing resource is provisioned, you can configure the identity and access roles for tests, upload custom JMeter scripts and create load tests.

Guidance and more details of Azure Load Testing are available on the landing page.

Azure Web PubSub

Azure Web PubSub is a new service for building real-time web applications, and it is a fully-managed service that supports native and serverless WebSockets. It was available at first as a public preview in May and went to GA in November.

The WebSockets allow for full-duplex communication channels over a single TCP connection. In your application implementation, you can leverage them to open a two-way interactive communication session between the user’s browser and a server. Moreover, it can be helpful in scenarios where web applications require high-frequency data updates such as gaming, auctioning, or applications that support live-chat cross-platform like chatbots, online customer support, and real-time shopping assistant.

Azure Web PubSub

Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/easily-build-realtime-apps-with-websockets-and-azure-web-pubsub-now-in-preview/

Note that Azure Web PubSub is not the only real-time service Microsoft has in Azure. It also provides Azure SignalR, allowing you to add real-time web functionality to applications over HTTP, supporting similar scenarios. Fortunately, the FAQs guide choosing between SignalR or Web PubSub.

Lastly, more details are available on the landing page for Azure Web PubSub.

Azure Static Web Apps

Another service Microsoft released in preview first in 2020 is Azure Static Web Apps as a new hosting offering in Azure App Service. With Azure Static Web Apps, you can build modern, full-stack JavaScript web apps with static front-ends and optional dynamic back-ends powered by APIs. Furthermore, you can use Angular, React, Svelte, and Vue or static site generators like Gatsby when looking for a simple interface to deploy the cloud resources. In addition, you can move your logic to APIs (Azure Functions) and pre-render static content (including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and image files).

Azure Static Web Apps works are to have an application authored in, for instance, JavaScript and push or create a pull request to a repository in GitHub. Subsequently, the push or pull request triggers a GitHub action, which initiates a workflow – building the assets (content and APIs) with NPM to build and deploy them in Azure as a Static Web App. Note that the deployment of the assets is in at least five servers and regions around the globe.

Azure Static Web Apps

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/modules/publish-app-service-static-web-app-api/1-introduction

Besides integrating with GitHub, the service also features authentication and authorization capabilities, routes, preview in pre-production environments, and custom domains. And later support for Blazor was added, and with the GA release in May 2021, a few other new features were added, such as:

Azure Static Web App provides you with one package that works for Static Web Apps – which Azure manages. And lastly, note that like Azure Functions 4.0, Azure Static Web Apps also supports .NET 6.0. More details and guidance are available through the documentation.

Azure Arc

You might have heard of Azure Arc, a service in Azure that allows you to organize, govern, and secure Windows and Linux servers, SQL Server, and Kubernetes clusters across data centres, the edge, and multi-cloud environments. Since the launch of Azure Arc, the company enabled some of the core Azure services to run directly in these clusters – a small set of data services such as Azure SQL Database at first and later machine learning tools and Kubernetes.

In June 2021, Microsoft announced the addition of App Services, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions, Event Grid, and API Management. This addition helped you deploy Web Apps, Functions, API gateways, Logic Apps, and Event Grid services on pre-provisioned Kubernetes clusters.

For instance, you can integrate your workloads running on Kubernetes clusters using Event Grid Topics. Moreover, you can build hybrid architectures – where events raised by your Kubernetes workloads are available to solutions running on Azure or any other destination to which Event Grid on Kubernetes has access.

Event Grid on Kubernetes supports several event handlers deployed to Kubernetes, Azure, or any hosting environment via Webhooks. An example is an inter-cluster communication, where the system’s state changes happen through publishing events and configuring the routing of those events to event handlers deployed on the same cluster.

Azure Arc

Source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/messaging-on-azure/announcing-the-public-preview-availability-of-event-grid-on/ba-p/2379816

Lastly, more details of Azure Arc and its enabled services are available on the documentation landing page and individual pages: