Whether it’s top of mind or lower down the priority list, most companies will eventually need an integration solution to properly manage the distribution of data across their enterprise environment. While there are several options available on the market, one that has been successful for many of our clients is Azure Integration Services (AIS).
Azure Integration Services is the umbrella term used by Microsoft to encompass an array of resources used to connect applications and systems within the Azure Cloud Platform. These resources can be utilized independently to overcome key integration challenges or used together to form a complete integration solution.
Azure Integration Resources
We’ve found the following Azure resources to be the most instrumental when effectively and efficiently connecting our customers’ applications, systems, and processes together.
Azure Logic Apps is Microsoft’s integration platform for creating automated workflows. These workflows may simply move data between systems, however, they can also schedule and send emails, manipulate files, perform process approvals, and work directly with on-premises resources.
The key differentiator for Logic Apps is the usage of a robust visual designer, which is a critical feature for organizations that rely on non-technical users to orchestrate workflows. Logic Apps includes a variety of connectors for the most common enterprise-class systems, but it’s surprisingly simple to create your own connectors that allow seamless integration to already defined Application Programming Interfaces (API).
Azure Service Bus is an enterprise message broker used to decouple applications and services from each other. When systems connect directly to one another — frequently the case in many companies’ early integration scenarios — data can be lost when one of the systems is down or too busy to respond. This is where the message intermediary, Service Bus, shines.
Messages passed to Service Bus can remain in a queue until the target service is ready to pick up the message and carry out the intended workflow. Service Bus also enables a robust testing environment since each aspect of the workflow can be tested independently.
Azure API Management is an Application Programming Interface management platform. One major integration concern is the controlled exposure of data to external partners, vendors, and customers. API Management allows organizations to publish, consume, and manage their data-driven APIs using a consolidated cloud platform.
Modern companies naturally have a multitude of APIs that are used to expose data and business processes to other applications and services. With Azure API Management, they can create a single development layer to encapsulate and enforce security, compliance, and usage standards.
Azure Event Grid is a scalable, serverless event broker. It enables resources to publish events, which are small messages that describe something happening in the resource, that other applications, services, and systems can subscribe to.
Event Grid is used to further decouple systems that may or may not need to do something with the received event information. Events rarely contain data payloads themselves; they are designed to provide the target system with only enough information to decide whether to take further action.
Azure Functions is a serverless computing service that enables developers to create custom coding solutions without the normal concerns of provisioning hardware or setting up application environments. Azure Functions is an incredibly appealing resource for integration scenarios due to its ability to automatically trigger custom business processes based on a variety of events.
Also, since it supports a variety of development languages, an organization can use existing development specialists to create integration solutions customized specifically to the needs of the business.
Azure Data Factory
Azure Data Factory is Microsoft’s cloud-based ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) service. Data Factory can be used for both data integration and transformation. While many enterprise systems provide APIs or custom development capabilities, some systems simply don’t offer easy ways to access their underlying data. Data Factory can connect to a wide variety of data sources in near-real time while performing any complex transformations necessary for the integration workflow.
Designing a Complete Integration Solution
Many organizations face complex integration challenges. Overcoming these challenges requires an understanding of each integration obstacle, but also the capabilities of each potential integration solution.
Azure Integration Services includes cloud resources that offer a great balance of core functionality and creative flexibility. This results in the ability for business and technical teams to design an innovative and complete integration solution.
Curious about whether AIS is the right solution for you? Schedule a chat with one of our technology integration experts.
Nathan Renner is a Senior Architect with over 20 years of experience designing enterprise-class solutions.
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