This year was my first time participating IglooConf conference. IglooConf is in their own words “Learning festival for all things Azure”, and indeed there was a lot of interesting sessions across all kinds of Azure technologies. I enjoyed all of them but for me, as a Cloud Solutions Specialist focusing on Azure Integration Services and Azure Data Platform, the most interesting session was reserved for the end of the conference. It was given by Rik Hepworth, who is the Chief Consulting Officee at Black Marble and Microsoft MVP, with the topic “Logic Apps in the Real World for Organisations Large and Small”.
Rik Hepworth and Logic Apps in the Real World for Organisations Large and Small
The aim of the session was to convince the audience that Logic apps can indeed be used in real world integration scenarios big or small. Rik presented us two real world integration scenarios involving Logic apps and other Azure integration components. The first solution was built for a charity organisation, where the main goal was keeping the running costs of the solutions low while still giving reliable solution. The second one was for a large retailer where reliability and high throughput was the key focus (while of course getting most value for money). Rik is a great performer (and a funny guy), I suggest watching his whole IglooConf session here starting at 7:30 [https://youtu.be/qNY5bWF7nt0?t=27009]:
Riks conclusions really resonated with what I have felt while developing integrations using Logic apps and other Azure PaaS components. I can focus more on designing and developing the actual integrations, and spend less time doing arduous development work. This really speeds up the delivery as Rik put in his conclusions. But what is it that really drives this speed of development?
Reasons for using Logic apps
I think that with Logic apps the speed of development is mostly due to the visual low-code/no-code web development environment and the readymade connectors. The web development environment is easy to use, yet powerful for building complex integrations. It also provides internal version control for Logic apps versions for smaller projects, and for larger ones Logic apps also support developing through Visual Studio and choosing for example GIT or TFVC as version control. This also enables CI/CD pipelines using for example Azure Devops. Readymade connectors enable access to data in various platforms and protocols. Using them means that somebody has already spend time and money going through the issues that could come up with developing, for example, an SFTP-connector (like error handling, connection caching etc.). You just get to use the readymade connector to do the stuff you want to do.
There are also couple of other points I have really liked. First thing is when moving integrations to production and operation Logic apps provide good out-of-the-box tools for alerting and monitoring. Error handling is done through a visual tool and alerting can be done through Azure alerts. There are also dashboards for long time analytics. This again enables me to focus more on the actual designing and development and less time wondering how to get alerts to the service desk.
The other thing is the Logic apps pricing, which is compelling, and using readymade connectors very transparent. You just pay for each of the action you do and for the connection the action uses. There are no up-front costs, and it is easy to start to build a proof-of-concept or a pilot knowing that you don’t have to make a large investment up-front.
Things to consider
Logic apps of course have downsides as well. It is important to remember that they are not a silver bullet for every situation, instead we need to plan each integration well beforehand and select the correct PaaS components accordingly. Also, they can be more expensive than developing and running custom Azure functions for example, but again they also require less development effort, are easier to maintain and provide good out-of-the-box error handling and monitoring experience.
I suggest looking into Logic apps and Azure IPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) offering as a whole from here.
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