The process of integration rarely involves connecting just one application to another. More often than not, it is the complex task of connecting multiple standalone applications or digital systems to work smoothly together. Instead of developing these integrations from scratch, companies procure a cloud-based integration platform, otherwise known as an iPaaS. This technology accelerates the implementation, deployment, and maintenance of integration flows by providing a rich collection of cloud computing services. That’s why Microsoft introduced its own iPaaS solution through Azure Integration Services.
With this platform, organisations can forgo the bumps in the road that accompany crucial enterprise integrations. This article will list a few reasons why you should choose Azure’s service offerings for your company and adopt it as your solution of choice.
What is Azure Integration Services?
Azure Integration Services are a set of tools that can be utilised independently or in combination with each other. When these cloud services are used in conjunction with other cloud technologies, they can handle integrations across cloud and on-premises environments. It has five major constituents that form Microsoft’s integration platform as a service (iPaaS):
- Azure API Management
- Azure Logic Apps
- Azure Service Bus
- Azure Event Grid
- Azure Functions
Apart from these, Azure Data Factory is a service that is jointly used with the iPaaS. Whilst the main services are designed for application integration, Azure Data Factory is valuable for data integrations, including but not limited to the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process in data warehousing.
Components of Azure Integration Services
Taking into account Azure’s consumption-based cost model, the above-mentioned services achieve a standard of integration that is both well-organised and economical. Looking at each service in more detail will reveal how they collaborate with each other in addition to their individual merits.
Azure API Management
Today, most applications operate by exposing their features through APIs. Thus, by leveraging multiple APIs across different applications, organisations can execute complete business processes digitally. But managing APIs is no easy task; some concerns may arise while employing them in practice.
Azure API Management considerations:
- Limiting requests: exposing APIs doesn’t mean that the application can process infinite requests from clients. Thus, setting a threshold on requests prevents applications from being overwhelmed.
- Speed and security: systems must rely on caching to ensure APIs respond swiftly to requests. But increased speed does not mean that security should be compromised. Considering that most applications are hosted on the public cloud, extra care must be placed on the authentication of calls to APIs.
- Documentation: to help developers run APIs smoothly, appropriate documentation must be available to outline its functionalities.
Azure API Management makes it possible to tackle these concerns. API Management implements a facade pattern that works to hide the complex internal logic of backend systems from users (typically application developers) in order to simplify their interactions with the API. Furthermore, it dictates how each API should respond in different situations. This includes caller authentication, blocking calls from specific sources, toggling data caching, converting data formats, and so on.
API publishers use the Azure Portal API Management extension to expose APIs to users, who in turn, request access to them via the Developer Portal. The Developer Portal also has information that aids users in their understanding of the API’s parameters and operations.
Azure Logic Apps
Azure Logic Apps is a workflow orchestration tool that allows the realisation of a business process. Let’s say an organisation has a process that requires an interchange of data with the CRM before it makes some changes to an on-premises database. Instead of depending on programming languages to construct the logic behind these steps from scratch, the organisation can consider implementing Logic Apps. Through its provision of out-of-the-box connectors and workflows that can help automate business processes, Logic Apps ensures seamless and scalable integration results.
Azure Logic Apps components:
- Workflow: a sequence of steps, each signifying a certain action or operation that must be executed to automate a total business process.
- Connectors: built-in actions or operations that can be utilised as steps in your workflows. Connectors facilitate working with data and other services.
- Triggers: these initiate Logic App workflows upon the arrival of an event or data that meets a predefined condition.
- Actions: these are steps that execute upon a trigger.
Logic Apps functions at the core of Azure’s iPaaS technology, easing the ability to connect to other software and services and computerise everyday business processes.
Azure Service Bus
The Azure Service Bus is a way to incorporate asynchronous communication between applications. It enables applications to pass messages through queues; this means that even when applications are not running simultaneously, they can still interact with each other. It follows a publish-subscribe model that gives subscribers the advantage of being selective about the messages that are sent to a particular topic. For example, an application that handles food delivery orders for a restaurant can filter messages based on its proximity to the drop-off point.
Azure Service Bus features:
- Deletes duplicate messages.
- Handles problematic messages.
- Disaster management and recovery of messages.
- Atomic transactions for queue read-write operations.
Azure Event Grid
Azure Event Grid offers another alternative to polling message queues for communication between applications. It paves the way for the usage of event-driven architectures that relay system changes through events. This means that developers can focus on coding their applications rather than worry about the underlying infrastructure. Events can be sent to particular endpoints or broadcast to multiple endpoints at once (assisting large-scale event delivery).
Azure Event Grid features:
- Events are lightweight and eliminate the need for polling.
- Highly scalable, with the power to handle 10,000,000 events per second within a single Azure region.
- Real-time engagement, with approximately 99% of events delivered in under a second.
Azure Functions introduces serverless compute capabilities into an organisation’s IT landscape. This means that developers can direct their attention towards writing code rather than worry about infrastructural elements such as virtual machines—these aspects are handled by Azure Functions instead.
Azure Functions features:
- Automated scaling removes the burden of infrastructure management from the user’s shoulders.
- Supports multiple programming languages including C#, Java, and Python, thus broadening the user’s options.
- Using small amounts of code to represent big architectures.
10 reasons why you should choose Azure Integration Services
While there are a plethora of iPaaS solutions available, there are certain unique reasons why you should choose Azure Integration Services. Here are a few noteworthy characteristics that helps it stand out as a prominent name among the rest:
With no coding involved thanks to the Azure Portal, this suite of tools allows you to size up or down the processing power and storage of your application even when its user base is growing exponentially. Furthermore, Azure’s autoscaling feature typically reduces costs and stops the use of wasteful, unnecessary resources.
Since companies handle high-value data, top-notch security is absolutely essential. This is one of the main reasons why you should choose Azure Integration Services. Azure’s services reflect Microsoft’s strong cybersecurity practices well. Azure ensures multi-level security for all data and resources, whether they are present in the cloud or in a physical state. With Azure, enterprises can also adopt mature IAM capabilities to reduce identity management costs and become more agile, thus supporting innovative business initiatives.
Azure offers a service level agreement that states a 99.99% uptime on many of its services. This ensures that mission-critical applications are running almost constantly and reduces unwanted gaps in business-level operations.
Microsoft holds an immense number of data centres hosted at a variety of geographical regions. Azure incorporates redundancy and fault-tolerance in their data centres to thwart failures and ensure business continuity. This also strengthens Azure’s multinational presence, as users all across the globe can benefit from the same service speed and quality.
The pricing model is another one of the major reasons why you should choose Azure Integration Services. Its unique pay-as-you-go cost model comes in handy when companies wish to curtail costs. Users only pay for the resources they consume, thus allowing great flexibility to scale up or down depending on IT budgets.
Synchronisation with Microsoft ecosystem
Microsoft products are ubiquitous in almost all businesses. By utilising Azure, many companies with a Microsoft-heavy digital environment can maintain a level of homogeneity. It also eases the process of cloud migrations, development, and maintenance.
Since Azure champions Internet protocols and open standards such as SOAP, REST, XML, and HTTP, building applications using its services guarantees an interconnected, well-networked system, even when different components are hosted in differently, whether that be in a single cloud, multi-cloud, or on-premises platform.
Azure’s provision of virtual private networks (VPNs), caches, and content distribution networks (CDNs) increases data mobility and reliability. This also bridges the gap between its existence in on-premises, cloud, multi-cloud, and edge environments.
Azure reduces downtime risks significantly. It excels at providing continuous service delivery. When Azure Integration Services is used with services such as Azure Backup and Site Recovery, it protects companies from data loss, helps recover lost data, and archive important data that is rarely in use.
Training and learning
The amount of documentation, training, and certification materials available for Azure makes it a very accessible platform with a gentle learning curve. Its support for common programming languages and DevOps tools like C++, C#, Active Directory, and Github, as well as common IDEs like Visual Studio makes it an ideal choice for the development and deployment of cloud native enterprise applications.
Azure Integration Services is a robust toolkit with the potential to take your company to the next level of its integration journey. Depending on your organisational objectives, there are many reasons why you should choose Azure. This cloud computing platform offers you the flexibility to use all the five major services within its iPaaS, additional services apart from them, or just a single service that caters to a specific realm of concern. Moreover, from its worldwide availability to its attractive pricing and options for support, Azure covers all the bases that assure a comprehensive cloud-centric solution.
At Chakray, we have the expertise to guide you with your Azure integrations. As an official Microsoft partner, we are well-equipped to point you in the right direction. Feel free to reach out to us; we’re here to help.