Microsoft Azure is now a consolidate technology stack able to offer a large number of technologies, in the last years I saw a lot of changes and a very important revolution inside the cloud.
I like to use any Microsoft Azure stack and I like to combine them in any way, I think this is the real power of that, being focused to use a specific technology can limit our creativity.
Entering in the Azure portal https://portal.azure.com and browsing the features is the best way to realize how many things we can use now, I think is impressive, it’s very important to understand the best strategy to combine them to obtain the best result in fast, smart and best productivity way.
I spent the last ten years using BizTalk Server, I definitely love this framework, this framework has born during the 2000 and with the 2004 version it has opened the way for the new frontiers in the world of integration.
BizTalk Server was the first one able to offer concept like reliability, mediation, adaptation, pub/sub, abstraction and more, all the other frameworks copied the concept and they have got the ideas from BizTalk Server, in the same time Microsoft started extending this idea 8 years ago creating the concept of BizTalk Services, some people still trying to correlate this concept with a specific Azure technology but in my opinion this is wrong.
The concept of BizTalk Services in Azure is a group of technologies and not a specific one, best way to understand the concept is doing a nice exercise translating the BizTalk Server stacks into the cloud.
Below the most famous picture and I love it, the story of integration, what we used for years to explain to people how to integrate technologies and to explain these concepts, the BizTalk messaging flow.
Below how I translate it using the most relevant Azure stacks.
These stacks are the most relevants and I like to call them the Azure Dream Team, below some of my preferred.
API Management is everywhere and it provide anything we need for communication, mediation, security, services management and governance, metrics and more.
Simple to use using the UI and it’s able to solve many complicate problems, for example like security and metrics, in very simple way, Microsoft has done a great job on it.
Service Bus is the door and the internal neural system in the cloud, it covers the communication with relays for example, the messaging aspect, the reliability using queues and the pub/sub using topics.
Service Fabric is the stack which covers the reliability and scalability, all the Microsoft technologies use this stack, starting from Skype for business to SQL Server or the entire Microsoft Azure.
The clever idea in this stack is the possibility to make your code reliable just using specific Reliable Collections and Reliable Queues, if you need to be reliable and scalable this is the stack to use.
Logic App is the way to cover the integration and mediation aspect, not only, Logic App is able to offer a very simple way to build flows in the cloud, this because Microsoft starts using the term Microsoft flow.
Logic App contains a lot of connectors, the concept of mediation and of BizTalk, we can extend the capabilities using the Logic App functions which are the way to provide scripting code in the blocks and the possibility to use maps and transformations as well.
Logic App is the stack we need to use to provide orchestration, mediation, transformation and strictly patterns to drive our processes in the cloud like Web API which is the way to build our application blocks and the Web Jobs for background processing.
About transformations we can also use Stream Analytics, the concept is very clever, receive streams from any other stack, use an internal scripting language based on a very well-known language like TSQL and push the stream to any other Azure stack.
EventHubs is the messaging ingestor, millions of messages a second, the interesting aspect is the possibility to use it as pub/sub engine, it is fast and reliable, for performances reasons the message size limit is 256 Kb and we can use Blobs as temporary message storage, this is for example one of the ways used by GrabCaster to exchange messages between the points.
About devices we can use Azure IoT Hub which covers any specific aspect related to IoT, one of the thing I more like is the easy way to create IoT scenarios in a minute using the internal templates, IoT is a very complex topic and this is the best way to understand how to use this technology in the best way.
There are many other stacks to use for any specific topic, I will write more in the next articles.