Enterprise Integration made easy in Azure

Developer Support

In this post, App Dev Manager Deepa Chandramouli explores how Azure Logic Apps and API Management can help with Enterprise Integration scenarios.

Being in the services role and helping customers in their digital transformation journey with Azure, this is a topic that comes up time and again. How do we talk to apps in Azure from our on-premises systems or vice versa. There are really some neat PaaS services in Azure that makes these integrations easy. The most popular ones which customers have been taking advantage of are Azure Logic Apps and API Management. Here is an overview of these Azure services at a high level, most common use cases and how premier developer can help you implement these services for your needs.

Azure Logic Apps

If you want to build an automated workflow process to integrate apps, data, systems, or services across enterprise, then Logic Apps is your answer. It doesn’t matter where the source and the destination apps are. It can be in the cloud or on-premise. Logic Apps will help connect them and process the workflow seamlessly. You can build workflows, connect disparate systems across different environments and communicate with business and organizations using industry-standard protocols and formats such as EDIFACT, AS2, X12.

Most common use cases are:

  1. Retail Industry – Process order information across on-premise systems and cloud services when a new order comes in or notification on sales and promotions from vendors.
  2. Health Industry – Exchange claims information for validation from health care provider using electronic information exchange protocols such as X12 securely with encryptions and signatures
  3. Social Media – Monitor tweets on a specific subject and gather data to analyze twitter sentiments in Power BI or other Visualization tools.
  4. B2B Integrations – Allow businesses and enterprise to share and exchange information using protocols such as EDIFACTS, AS2, X12 by creating partners, agreements and maps within the Integration Account in Azure.

To start with Logic apps, you can choose from 200 or so connectors available for both on-premise, cloud and cloud services including SQL Server, Salesforce, Google, Office 365 and Azure Services. You can find various connectors and their details here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors/.

To start developing a Logic App workflow, all you need is a trigger followed by an action. You can build schedule based workflows or any kind of workflow with an easy to build Logic app designer on Azure portal and using Visual Studio. In many cases you don’t have to write any code. For custom apps, you can create or edit definitions in JSON by working in code view mode. A trigger can be as simple as a new tweet on a certain topic that triggers the Logic app to take certain action. An action can be as simple as an email of the details of the tweet to someone for review.

For tutorial on how to create a logic app on Azure portal go to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/logic-apps/quickstart-create-first-logic-app-workflow

No, Logic apps does not replace BizTalk. BizTalk server is still the best on-premise integration platform available today. Logic apps capabilities are only a subset of what’s available in BizTalk. So companies for whom BizTalk maybe an overkill, Logic apps is certainly the way to go.

Azure API Management

API Management is an Azure service for publishing APIs to internal and external users and partners. This is not to be confused with Azure API apps which is a service to host and deliver your implementation of an API component, whereas API management is an Azure feature that can be placed in front of the API component to act as a proxy to the API.

Businesses can create APIs and associate them to products and expose them via API management for partners and developers to subscribe to the product of their choice to implement the APIs as per their need.

The most common use case of API management is to provide a central gateway for external and internal users access to your APIs based on access rights and needs. The APIs can be on-premise or in any cloud service or both.

Starting with API Management is not complicated and in fact much easier than setting this up on-premise. With API Management you need the 3 main components.

  1. API Gateway – routes the API calls, validates keys and tokens and enforce usage quotas and policies
  2. Azure Portal – This is where you setup the API program with products and APIs and setup policies and quotas
  3. Developer Portal – Where developers can read, subscribe to and access the APIs and also get analytics on their usage

Another important feature is you can monetize your APIs by billing your customers either a flat rate monthly or charge them based on the API calls they make.

You can setup policies to control the behavior of the API through configurations. Most popular one is the rate limiting policy to restrict the number of calls made by a user.

For step by step tutorial on how to use API Management go to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/api-management/import-and-publish

How Premier Developer can help

Your Premier Developer ADM can help explore these services in depth with various types of engagements.

  1. ChalkTalk & Demos – While ChalkTalks are more of a general introduction to the service itself, demos can be more geared towards your environment and use case. 
  2. Proof of concept – developed by the premier developer consultant for the specific use case or a problem you are trying to solve with Azure Logic apps or API management.  POCs can take anywhere between 2-3 weeks and can be time boxed as well.
  3. Hackathons – Hackathon is another great way of prototyping the use case for these services in a joint collaborative effort with the customer development team. Hackathons start with a envisioning session where we identify the use case or application requirements, customer participants and schedule followed by Microsoft team prep and pre-check of  requirements such as access to Azure subscription and Azure storage for exchange of information throughout the hackathon. Hackathons usually runs short for 2-3 days with a specific requirement and goal.

Premier Support for Developers provides strategic technology guidance, critical support coverage, and a range of essential services to help teams optimize development lifecycles and improve software quality.  Contact your Application Development Manager (ADM) or email us to learn more about what we can do for you.


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