Azure Integration Services 101

With the national (and global) domination of Microsoft Azure Cloud across Australian enterprises, we work with a lot of customers in the public and private sector to unlock the power of their technology through sophisticated integration using Microsoft integration technologies.

Being integration experts we’re often ahead of the market with innovative integration technology, it’s what we do best, and where our subject matter expertise lies. With the national (and global) domination of Microsoft Cloud across Australian enterprises, we work with a lot of customers in the public and private sector to unlock the power of their technology through sophisticated integration using microsoft integration technologies.

However, there is often confusion amongst our customers on what Microsoft integration solution is best for their specific use cases, and often misunderstanding on what each Microsoft product, or resource, means (i.e. Logic Apps and Azure Functions ARE NOT the same thing).

In this blog, we outline some simple product groups and use cases for Microsoft integration technologies that we use (and implement for customers) every day.

Why Azure Integration Services?

Azure Integration Services is Microsoft’s product bucket for 4 major integration services in its cloud toolkit that can be used for mission-critical integrations. It provides a serverless compute experience that supports resiliency, latency and efficiency when connecting infrastructure and applications. It’s Microsoft’s version of an iPaaS offering – jam packed with low-code, no-code and heavy code options. 

Given Microsoft Azure and M365 have taken most of the Australian private and public sectors markets, these forms of compute and collaboration will handle most organisations mission-critical cloud workloads. Some examples of mission critical can include aircraft operating systems for the aviation industry, or first responder cloud communication systems for the medical sector, or core banking processing for the financial industry. 

Understanding which tool in the suite and how to apply it to the right scenario is fundamental. Engaging with Azure integration specialists early on will help you to develop a scalable and robust plan that will implement the most suitable tools in the most cost effective way.

Cloud integration challenges most Australian companies face:

When building a cloud platform to host mission critical applications that share data, the most common challenges we see with our customers are:

  1. Each mission critical system is built in different ways, with different code and (sometimes complex) API structures. They also source data from different servers, systems or other cloud platforms.
  2. Mission critical applications are built in one of three ways – Microservices (application services are built in small units and are connected by business-oriented APIs), Service Oriented Architecture (application services can range in size from small or large and can be distributed across multiple servers, clouds or locations) or Monolithic (are huge in size, one standalone application that often is just ‘lifted and shifted’ into the cloud).
  3. Some services and applications have to remain on-premise for various reasons (i.e. compliance or data sovereignty) while others can be in the cloud. 

The four main cloud integration scenarios Australian companies use Azure Integration Services for:

  1. Application to Application integration – involves connecting applications within the organisation to share data locally within, and potentially spit out to monitoring or performance logging systems.
  2. SaaS or IaaS integration – this involves connecting internal business applications to COGS infrastructure or applications. SOAP and REST API interfaces are often used for this. 
  3. Connecting Internet of Things (IoT) – this is becoming increasingly prevalent in manufacturing, mining, construction and medical industries with IoT sensors, alerts and wearables driving day-to-day business operations via complex connectivity and orchestration.
  4. Interoperability – this involves creating an ecosystem by communicating seamlessly with external businesses (e.g. suppliers and customers). An example of this would be within healthcare as part of a government data program to connect digital health records across hospitals, GP’s, clinical specialists and care agents. 

What tools inside Azure Integration Services can help overcome these challenges or support these integration scenarios?

  1. Azure API Management: 

Azure API Management allows you to publish APIs within a safe environment and connect them to infrastructure located anywhere in the world whether on-prem, in an Azure cloud environment or another cloud platform. 

Some benefits of using Azure API Management include:

  • It’s one of the world’s most popular iPaaS interfaces that an integration expert can teach your team how to manage;
  • It works with any scale across geographies and time zones;
  • It launches secure and robust API’s that are less likely to fall prey to ransomware or malicious actors;
  • It gives you performance insights including data ingress and egress.
  1. Azure Logic Apps

Azure Logic Apps is where you can create and run workflows to automate your business processes with little to no code. By using the visual designer and selecting from prebuilt operations, you can quickly build a workflow that integrates and manages your apps, data, services, and systems while also cleaning up manual business processes.

Some benefits include:

  • Reduction of integration challenges with out-of-the-box connectors that are relatively easily implemented;
  • Cloud based interoperability and enterprise messaging capabilities across organisations;
  • Easy integration of cloud and on-prem data;
  • Web based WYSIWYG workflow designer tool that is easy to use and visualise.
  1. Azure Service Bus

Azure Service Bus is a fully managed enterprise message broker with message queues and publish-subscribe topics. It is used to decouple applications and services from each other, for load balancing work across competing applications, and to safely route and transfer data across application boundaries.

The benefits of Azure Service Bus include:

  • Automated load balancing for peak usage timeframes that avoid systems outages;
  • Simplified cloud messaging tracking for sometimes complex message routing systems;
  • Allows you to build scalable and reliable enterprise messaging platforms. 
  1. Azure Event Grid

Events are the data or information travelling through Azure Event Grid that describes the actions that took place in a system. All events have common properties like a source of an event, the time at which the event occurred, and a unique identifier. In general, an event is sent to indicate something that has happened or changed. This makes it easier for other applications to run on minimal compute as they are only triggered into action when a registered event takes place. 

The benefits include:

  • It uses a simple HTTP-based event delivery mechanism as opposed to a more complex and traditional messaging system that is harder to implement;
  • It reduces compute and latency challenges, therefore delivering more reliable data feeds through applications;
  • It allows for product innovation knowing that event triggers are automated upon action.

In an exciting time for our fellow integration specialists, Azure Integration Services has all the tools and components to build new, integrated solutions that connect applications and services on-premises and in the cloud. 

IntegrationWorks is an early adopter and market leader in strategising, architecting and deploying Azure Integration Services (including Logic Apps, Service Bus, Azure Event Grid and Azure Service Bus) across manufacturing, mining, retail, local government, state government, federal government and healthcare organisations in Australia.

For more information, contact us here:

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