A lap around Azure Functions, go serverless!

A lap around Azure Functions, go serverless!

Serverless is hot and happening. Hence, it is not a buzzword, but a new interesting part of Computer Science, which is amazing and also a driver of the second machine age, which we are currently experiencing. I read two books sequentially recently: Computer Science Distilled and the Second Machine Age.

The first book dealt with the concepts of Computer Science. And few aspects in it caught my attention like breaking a problem into smaller pieces. Hence, in Azure I could use functions to solve partial of a complete problem or process parts of a large workload. The second book discusses the second machine age around automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and so on. And little repetitive tasks can be build using Functions. Azure Functions to be precise that can automate those little tasks. Thus, why not consolidate my little research of the current state of Azure Functions into a blog post with the context of both books in the back of my mind.

Serverless

Serverless computing is a reality and Microsoft Azure provides several platform services that can be provisioned dynamically. Resources are allocated without you worrying about scale, availability and security. And the beauty of it all is you only pay what you use.

Azure Functions is one of Microsoft’s serverless capabilities in Azure. Functions enable you to run pieces of code in Azure. Cool eh! And can be run independently, in orchestration or flow (durable functions), or as a part of a Logic App definition or Microsoft Flow.

You provision a Function App, which acts as a container for one or more functions. Subsequently, either attach a price plan to it, when you want share resources with other services like web app or you choose a consumption plan (pay as you go).

Finally, you have the function app available and you can start adding functions to them. Either using Visual Studio that has templates for building a function or you use the Azure Portal (Browser). Both provide features to build and test your function. However, Visual Studio will deliver intellisense and debugging features to you.

Function Types

Functions can be build using your language of choice like C#, F#, JavaScript, or Node.js. Furthermore, there are several types of functions you can build such as a WebHook + API function or a trigger based function. The latter can be used to integrate with the following Azure Services and SaaS solutions :

  • Cosmos DB
  • Event Hubs
  • Mobile Apps (tables)
  • Notification Hubs
  • Service Bus (queues and topics)
  • Storage (blob, queues, and tables)
  • GitHub (webhooks)
  • On-premises (using Service Bus)
  • Twilio (SMS messages)

The integration is based upon a binding and trigger, key concepts with Azure Functions. Bindings provide a way to connect to in- and outputs of earlier mentioned services and solutions, see Azure Functions triggers and bindings concepts.

WebHook + API function

A popular quick start template for Azure Functions is WebHook + API function. This type of function is supported through the HTTP/WebHook binding and enables you to build autonomous functions that can be (re)used is various types of applications like a Logic App.

After provisioning a Function App you can add a function easily. As shown below you can select a premade function, choose CSharp and click Create this function.

A function named HttpTriggerCSharp1 will be made available to you. The sample is easy to experiment with. I changed the given function to something new like the screenshot below.

And now it gets interesting. You can click Get Function URL as the function is publically accessible that is if you know the function key. By clicking the Get Function URL you’ll receive an URL that looks like this:

https://myfunctioncollection.azurewebsites.net/api/HttpTriggerCSharp1?code=iaMsbyhujlIjQhR4elcJKcCDnlYoyYUZv4QP9Odbs4nEZQsBtgzN7Q==

And the code resembles the default function key, which you can change through the Manage pane in the Function App blade.

Since your function is accessible you can call it using for instance postman.

The screenshot above shows an example of a call to the function endpoint . The request includes the function key (code). However, a call like above might not be as secure as you need. Hence, you can secure the function endpoint by using API Management Service in Azure. See Using API Management to protect Azure Functions (Middleware Friday) blog post. The post explains how to do that and it’s more secure!

Integrate and Monitor

You can bind Azure Storage as an extra output channel for a function. Through the Integrate pane I can add an extra output to the function. Configure the new output by choosing Azure Blob Storage, set Storage Account Connection and specify the path.

Next you have to update the Function signature with outputBlob parameter and implement the outputBlob.

Finally, you can monitor your functions through the Monitor pane, which provides you some basic insights (logs). For a more richer monitoring experience, including live metrics and custom queries, Microsoft recommends using Azure Application Insights. See also Monitoring Azure Functions.

Visual Studio Experience

Azure Functions can be build with Visual Studio. Now the templates are now available after a default installation of Visual Studio. You need download them.  Visual Studio 2017 the templates for Azure Functions are available on the marketplace. For Visual Studio 2015 read this blog post, which includes the steps I did for my Visual Studio 2015 installation.

Once the templates are available in your Visual Studio version (2015 or 2017) you can create a FunctionApp project. Within the created FunctionApp project you can add functions. Right click the project and select Add –> New Azure Function. Now you can choose what type of function you can build. You will have a similar experience as with the portal.

For instance you can create a ServiceBusTrigger Function (WindSpeedToBeaufort), which will be triggered once a message arrives on a queue (myqueue).

As a result you will see the following code once you hit Create:

Now let’s work on the function so it will resemble the diagram below:

To modify the function that does the above the necessary code is shown below:

And the json.setting needs to be renamed to local.settings.json, the function.json needs modification to:

The connection string is moved to the local.settings.json as depicted below:

Most of all this change is important, otherwise you will run into errors.

Debugging with Visual Studio

Visual Studio provides the capability to debug your custom function. Compile and start a debug instance. A command line dialog box will appear and your function is running (i.e. hosted and running).

To debug our function in this blog a message is sent to myqueue using the ServiceBus360 service.

Once the message arrives at the queue it will trigger the function. Hence, the debugging can start on the position in the code, where a breakpoint has been set.

And the result of execution will be visible in the command line dialog box:

In conclusion this is the debugger experience you will have with Visual Studio. Combined with having intellisense while developing your function.

Deployment

You have build and tested your function to your satisfaction in Visual Studio. Now it’s time to deploy it to Azure, therefore you right click the project and choose publish. A dialog will appear and you can choose AppService. Subsequently, if you are logged in with your Azure Credentials you will see based on the subscription one or more resource groups.

You can click OK and proceed with next steps to publish your function to the desired resource group –> function app. However, this will in the end not work!

As a result you will need a workaround as explained in Publishing a .NET class library as a Function App at least that’s what I found online. However, I as able to deploy it. However, I stumbled on another error in the portal:

Error:

Function ($WindSpeedToBeaufort) Error: Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.Host: Error indexing method ‘Functions.WindSpeedToBeaufort’. Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.ServiceBus: Microsoft Azure WebJobs SDK ServiceBus connection string ‘AzureWebJobsconnection‘ is missing or empty.

Hence, not a truly positive experience. In the end it’s missing a setting i.e. application setting of the Function App.

Anyways, another walkaround is to create add a new function to existing function app. Choose ServiceBusTrigger template, create it and finally copy the code from the local project into the template over the existing code. In conclusion this works as now you see a setting for the Service Bus connection string in the application setting and the reference in the function.json file.

Considerations

There are some considerations around Azure Function you need to be aware of. First of all the cost of execution, which determines whether you will choose a consumption or app plan. See Function Pricing and use the calculator to have a better indication of costs. Also consider some of the best practices around functions. These practices are:

  • Azure Functions should do just one task,
  • finish as quickly as possible,
  • be stateless
  • and be idempotent.

See also Optimize the performance and reliability of Azure Functions.

Finally, be aware of the fact that some features of Azure Functions are still preview like Proxies, Slots and the Visual Studio Tools.

Resources

This blog contains several links to some resources you might like to explore. An excellent starting point for a researching Azure functions is https://github.com/Azure/Azure-Functions. And if you are interested how Functions can play a role in Logic Apps have a look at this blog post: Building sentiment analysis solution with Logic Apps.

Explore Azure Functions, go serverless!

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 7 years.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Logic Apps

Building sentiment analysis solution with Logic Apps

Integrate 2017, a well-organized Microsoft Integration focused event, took place from 26 to 28 of June at Kings Place in London. It attracted 380 plus attendees from 50 different countries and had 28 speakers from around the globe including the Microsoft Product Group. I did a session around Logic Apps from the consumer, end user, and business perspective and used sentiment analysis as for my demo.

Context

To provide you some context. Logic App service was the most prominent technology during the three-day event. This Azure Service became general available a year ago and is starting to build momentum as premier cloud integration capability. Most of all, the service fits rather well in the complete Azure Platform with its connectors to a wide variety of other Azure services and in addition, it connects with SaaS solutions such as Twitter, Zendesk, Salesforce, ServiceNow, PagerDuty, and Slack.

During Integrate 2017 I talked about empowering business with Logic Apps. And my goal was to show the audience the value of Logic Apps for the business. The service is a true iPaaS service according to the definition Wikipedia provides online. And it is a part of Azure, which is multi-tenant, has a subscription model or in the case of Logic Apps it’s consumption based (micro-billing), provides pre-built ready available connectors, deployment/manage/monitoring through the platform.

iPaaS

If you look at how for instance Gartner describes iPaaS then again Logic Apps are a true cloud-native integration platform. Consumers of Logic Apps in Azure can implement data, application, API and process integration projects spanning cloud-resident and on-premises endpoints. I will quote the Gartner report here:

“This is achieved by developing, deploying, executing, managing and monitoring “integration flows” (aka “integration interfaces”) — that is, integration applications bridging between multiple endpoints so that they can work together.”

And the iPaaS capabilities typically include according to Gartner:

• Communication protocol connectors (FTP, HTTP, AMQP, MQTT, Kafka, AS1/2/3/4, etc.)
• Application connectors/adapters for SaaS and on-premises packaged applications
• Several data formats (XML, JSON, ASN.1, etc.)
• Data standards (EDIFACT, HL7, SWIFT, etc.)
• Mapping and transformation of data
• Quality of data
• Routing and Orchestration
• Integration flow development and lifecycle management tools
• Integration flow operational monitoring and management
• Full lifecycle API management

Looking at the above capabilities than Logic Apps in combination with Integration Account and API Management provide those capabilities.

Gartner Quadrant

Logic Apps are positioned in Gartner Quadrant in the Visionaries box, which means that the vendor of the service is able to execute lower than the leaders (in the Quadrant vendors like Dell Boomi and Informatica), have a smaller install base, certain immaturity, timid marketing, reactive sales operation and lack of strategic commit to the market.

My take on that is that Logic Apps is relatively new in the iPaaS market.

  • A year ago it became general available. And it is maturing at a fast pace with new feature releases every two weeks with an expanding set of connectors.
  • Sales representation from Microsoft at Integrate 2017.
  • And finally, the commitment is strong with the Pro Integration Product Group presence at various conferences throughout 2017. This year they have or will attend Ignite, Build, Integrate2017 Europe, Inspire (former WPC), Integrate 2017 US, Integration Bootcamp, Global Integration Bootcamp, Global Azure Bootcamp, and smaller User Group meetings worldwide.

Hence I struggle a bit with the classification of the current state of Logic Apps. I strongly feel the service is close to the border of visionary and leader. It has promised to become a true iPaaS leader.

Benefits

Business can reap the benefits from this service as the attention is towards solving the problem(s) it is facing. Logic Apps is a part of a large Platform. And it can deliver solutions fast as there’s no need for procuring servers, or other infrastructure related capabilities. This accounts for the business that has transformed their business to the cloud and requires cloud-native solutions. That’s what fit for purpose with Logic Apps. And the costs are less and time to market of your solutions is fast.

Use Cases

The connectors provided by Logic App can help you build solutions for various enterprise scenarios. For instance, you leverage cognitive services to identify a person to subsequently grant him access to resources, start an onboarding process, or provide access to a facility. An example of leveraging Cognitive Services is to perform text analysis on tweets, which I will explain in further detail later in this post.

The text analysis can be useful to detect sentiment in a tweet. Particularly on a #hashtag, for instance, a person like Trump, product or service. I mention President Trump here as the current US President uses this social media service quite extensively. And the tweets he produces are evaluated intensively for stock trading.

Dynamics 365

Other thinkable use cases evolve around the Dynamics 365 CRM Online connector. This connector provides connectivity to Dynamics CRM that provides various features like customer service automation, marketing campaigns, and social engagements.

Dynamics 365 has several capabilities or flavors; one is Dynamics for Field Service, which provides a complete Field Service management solution, including service locations, customer assets, preventative maintenance, work order management, resource management, product inventory, scheduling and dispatch, mobility, collaboration, customer billing, and analytics. Therefore, during integrate I talked about leveraging this solution in combination with IoT devices. The picture below shows the data flow from device to the Dynamic Field Service features.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

Data from a device can be consumed by IoT Hub service in Azure and pushed to the service bus queue, which can be read by Logic App. The Logi App forwards the data into Dynamics Field Service through the CRM connector. In conclusion, a Logic App or number of them can be part of an end-to-end solution for various field services.

The previous paragraph discussed one of the many use cases possible including Logic Apps. Moreover, there are many other scenarios thinkable since Logic Apps are a part of a bigger platform, which means you leverage them with other Azure Services or create flows to move data around. With sentiment analysis, you can detect sentiment within a text using one of the Cognitive Services API’s. The way sentiment analysis API functions are that it returns a numeric score between 0 and 1 on a given text. Scores close to 1 indicate positive sentiment and scores close to 0 indicate negative sentiment. A score of 0.5 is neutral. With Logic Apps, you can receive tweets within a certain interval (occurrence) based on filter i.e. hashtag and feed the body into Detect Sentiment action.

Sentiment Analysis Solution

To build a solution leveraging the capabilities Cognitive Services deliver with a Logic App, Azure Storage Account, Azure Function and Power BI you need to set up these services up.

Cognitive Service

The setup of the first is basically provisioning of a Cognitive Service instance i.e. API. In the Azure Portal, you find the Cognitive Service in the marketplace. Subsequently, you click on the service you specify a name, choose a subscription, and subsequently which API you like to use.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

To detect sentiment analysis in a text you need to choose Text Analytics API, which as the time of writing is still in preview. The Text Analytics API is only available in region West US, and pricing of service varies depending on the tier you require. Below you can see the different pricing options.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps
As you can see in the picture above the Cognitive Service provides four features:

• Sentiment Analysis
• Key Phrase Extraction
• Topic Detection
• Language Detection

Once you have chosen the required tier you can create this service.

Power BI

The next service is Power BI, which is a part of the Office365 offering and can be found here: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/. You can sign in and start building datasets, dashboards, and reports. For a solution to visualize sentiment you can create a streaming data set. Go to the powerbi.com and “Streaming datasets”, create a dataset of type API, click next and name the dataset and add fields to the streaming data set like shown below.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

The Solution

In a solution, I build I created four text fields and one number field. The historic data analysis was enabled to build a collection of the data to be used for a report.

Now both Cognitive Service and Power BI have been setup and next step is to create a storage account in Azure. This account will archive tweets in a blob storage container tweets. Provisioning a storage account is easy and straightforward process. In the marketplace find storage account, select it, specify name, deployment model, purpose (choose blob storage), replication, access tier (cold), secure transfer, subscription, resource group, and location.

The final service required for the solution is a function. The Function in our solution will be provided with the input from the Cognitive Service API response (Score). Azure Functions provide a serverless coding capability using a Browser and the piece’s code you write can run in Azure i.e. within a Function App.

For our solution, we add a GenericWebHook-CSharp. We will rename the function to AnalyseSentimentScore. And in the Develop tab, we see some generic default code, which we will change to the code below.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

Architecture

The solution architecture I build looks like the diagram below and resembles a process manager pattern.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

This pattern implies that a trigger message is sent to a process manager (Logic App). The process manager is a central processing unit and determines steps based on intermediate results. A tweet is the trigger message that starts a flow in a Logic App. The body is sent to Cognitive Service (Proc A) and the score is sent to a Function (Proc B), which will evaluate the score. The Tweet is stored in blob storage and a few fields are sent to Power BI to fill the dataset. A diagram of a process manager is depicted below.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

Implementation

The implementation of the solution is slightly different than from the pattern as after the second intermediate step the tweet data is sent to Azure Blob Storage and Power BI dataset.

The Logic App is implemented with a Twitter trigger, authorized to use my twitter account, with the search text #integrate2017 and interval (frequency) of 5 minutes i.e. every 5 minutes tweets with #integrate2017 will be picked up. Subsequently, this trigger is followed by several actions.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

The picture above shows the flow of the Logic App. First, a Twitter triggers then a compose action to create an element part containing the username of the tweet. Subsequently the detect sentiment and the detect key phrases actions. Then the second composes to create a JSON array of the key phrases. And after the second compose the score of the detected sentiment is send to the function, which will return a string (text) of the evaluated score (see also the function). Several tokenized elements are sent to blob storage (see picture below).

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

And the final step of this solution (Logic App definition) is sending some of the tokenized elements to a dataset row in Power BI dataset.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

Now we have walked through the complete Logic App definition and the key actions of the solution.

Integrate 2017 Report

For integrate 2017 I ran the Logic App between 17th of June until the 1st of July. And the event took place between 26th and 28th of June in London. Every 5 minutes the Logic App collected tweets from Twitter with hashtag integrate2017. Over this period of 15 days, 3500 tweets have been aggregated around this event. It started slowly with around 50 tweets until the event started on the 24th with a burst of tweets. Below you can see a report created in Power BI with some visualization of sentiment measured in the tweets.

Building sentiment analysis solution with Azure Logic Apps

Around 2/3 of all the tweets, the sentiment was excellent/good, which can be viewed as positive. 1/3 of the tweets were evaluated as moderate. The Cognitive Service Text Analysis capability was unable to determine negative or positive. And finally, a very small percentage was negative (bad). Hence you can conclude that the event was a great event given the sentiment score.

The benefits of building a solution like described above are that with a relative simple Logic App sentiment can be analyzed leveraging several abilities provided by the Cognitive Service. Probably when a business likes to measure sentiment through Social Media channel it can use Logic Apps. Therefore, Logic Apps provide a quick solution in this manner to provide quick insights with low costs. There are no servers necessary and a pro-integration professional can build this type of solutions within a few hours depending on the complexity. Hence it provides quick time to market.

The costs

The interesting part of this solutions is cost. The breakdown of costs for this solution is:

– Logic App (Consumption)
– Function (Consumption)
– Cognitive Service (Tier)
– Storage Account (Volume)
– Power BI (Enterprise Plan)

The Logic App and Function are consumption based and measured on the execution of an action or function. And in general, it can sometimes be hard to predict the workload these services need to process. Hence you need to be aware of this. A good reference with regards to costs with Logic Apps is a post by Rene Brauwers, Tips & Tricks: Cost savings using Logic Apps.

For the Logic App in this solution, 3500 tweets were processed, and the Logic App consists of 8 actions (including the trigger). Hence 28K action calls costs based on the pricing (First 250K actions = €0.000675 / action) approximately 19 euro. And less than a euro for the executions of the Function.

Next, the costs for the Cognitive Service depends on the tier. The free tier could be an option, however, if the workload is too high then you run into rate limiting issues. The S1 Standard can be sufficient and costs 150 Euro a month. Yet you can turn it off after your campaign of measuring sentiment, which could be a few days. In this solution, the costs are 75 euro. Storage of less than 4 Mb of tweets is neglectable. This leaves the costs for Power BI. For the solution, I build I used the pro version, which is around 10 Euro per month. Thus, in total, a sentiment analysis solution costs around a 100 euro.

Conclusion

Depending what the requirements are and perceived value is, Logic Apps combined with other Azure Services and Office365 (Power BI) can be a good fit for purpose for low costs, agility and time to market. Logic Apps are becoming a leader in the iPaaS. On a short term, it will be able to cross the border from visionary to leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. The Product Group is cranking out enhancements on the service and new connectors every two weeks. And they have kept this pace since the General Availability of the service a year ago. Nevertheless, the competition is strong however I am confident Logic Apps will be amongst the leaders.

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers has over 15 years’ experience as a technical lead developer, application architect and consultant, specializing in custom applications, enterprise application integration (BizTalk), Web services and Windows Azure. Steef-Jan is very active in the BizTalk community as a blogger, Wiki author/editor, forum moderator, writer and public speaker in the Netherlands and Europe. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 5 years.

Stef’s Monthly Update – June 2017

Stef’s Monthly Update – June 2017

It has been an amazing month, June 2017, with Integrate2017 and the momentum towards it. Team BizTalk360 and Saravana did an excellent job. Bhavana Nambiar wrote a great post about it.

Month June

In this month I did two talks one for the BizTalk UserGroup in Belgium, and Integrate 2017. For the BTUG.be session in Ghent at Codit I did a Logic App session.

During the month I prepared my session for integrate 2017 and executed on the 2nd day of the event. It was focussed on the end user/consumer of Logic Apps i.e. business. And I interviewed 30 people around the world to share their views with me.

The event was in my view a huge success. The Pro-Integration team, Service Bus Team and MVP’s were present to give an awesome show!

Around Integrate 2017 and BTUG be I interviewed several people for my talking with integration pro youtube movies:

Music

My favorite albums in June were:

  • Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World
  • SikTh – The Future In Whose Eyes?
  • Anathema – The Optimist
  • Iced Earth – Incorruptible
  • Vintersorg – Till Fjälls Del II

Dublin

After Integrate I went with Kent and Melissa to Dublin. We had to unwind a bit from all the excitement in London.

That’s all folks for this month. Next month I will be on holiday to Portugal (visiting Sandro) and France!

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

Stef’s Monthly Update – May 2017

Stef’s Monthly Update – May 2017

The month May went quicker than as I realized myself. Almost half 2017 and I must say I have enjoyed it to the fullest. Speaking, travelling, working on an interesting project with the latest Azure Services, and recording another Middleware Friday show. It was tha best, it was amazing!

Month May

In May I started off with working on a recording for Middleware Friday, I recorded a demo to show how one can distinguish Flow from Logic Apps. You can view the recording named Task Management Face off with Logic Apps and Flow.

The next thing I did was prepare myself for TUGAIT, where I had two sessions. One session on Friday in the Azure track, where I talked about Azure Functions and WebJobs.

And one session on Saturday in the integration track about the number of options with integration and Azure.

I enjoyed both and was able to crack a few jokes. Especially on Saturday, where kept using Trump and his hair as a running joke.

TUGAIT 2017 was an amazing event and I enjoyed the event, hanging out with Sandro, Nino, Eldert and Tomasso and the food!

During the TUGA event I did three new interviews for my YouTube series “Talking with Integration Pros”. And this time I interviewed:

I will continue the series next month.

Books

In May I was able to read a few books again. I started reading a book about genes. Before I started my career in IT I was a Biotech researcher and worked in the field of DNA, BioTechnology and Immunology. The book is called The Gene by Siddharta Mukherjee.

I loved the story line and went through the 500 pages pretty quick (still two weeks in the evenings). The other book I read was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. And this book is a good follow up of the previous one!

The final book I read this month was about Graph databases. In my current project we have started with a proof of concept/architecture on Azure Cosmos DB, Graph and Azure Search.

The book helped me understand Graph databases better.

Music

My favorite albums that were released in May were:

  • God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
  • Voyager – Ghost Mile
  • Sólstafir – Berdreyminn
  • Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
  • The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic

There you have it Stef’s fourth Monthly Update and I can look back again with great joy. Not much running this month as I was recovering a bit from the marathon in April. I am looking forward to June as I will be speaking at the BTUG June event in Belgium and Integrate 2017 in London.

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

TUGAIT 2017: Integration and Logic Apps

TUGAIT 2017: Integration and Logic Apps

Two more weeks and I will, once again, return to Lisbon for the TUGAIT event. Last year during the 2016 edition Azure MVP’s Sandro, Nino and myself (the three integration animals, see picture below) did a workshop and several sessions on integration i.e. BizTalk, Open Source connectivity (GrabCaster), and Hybrid  And this was no doubt a successful event and the debut of the integration track. Hence this year the track will active again!

TUGAIT 2017

The May 18th until the 20th, a variety of speakers will present on a myriad set of technologies like Xamarin, Angular, DataScience, Agile, Scrum, DevOps, Integration, DotNet, SQL Server, SharePoint, Office365, Azure and IoT.

The integration track on Saturday the 2oth will be packed with session by Azure MVP’s Sandro, Nino, Eldert, Riccardo, Tomasso and myself.

Integration in 2017: Logic Apps

Microsoft has made a leap forward with several of there Azure Services including Logic Apps. A Service that went GA end of July 2016 and evolved rapidly to maturity. Already we see a steady growing adoption of this service within enterprises. Logic Apps is not the replacement of BizTalk, its Microsoft answer to solve integration challenges in the Cloud. The Logic App connectors provide connectivity to other Azure Services and several SaaS solutions like MailChip, SalesForce and CRM online. At TUGAIT 2017 in the Integration Track you will learn more about Logic Apps.

Why attend?

“Nice there’s an integration track, but what if I like to learn about other technologies (too)?

Well you are at the right place as on the 18th there’s a full day of workshops you can choose from. On Friday there are 5 parallel tracks from which you can pick and choose. The same accounts for Saturday, including the integration track!

The event is located in one of the most beautiful, cultural cities of Portugal. It’s three days packed with content, stellar speakers and community leaders you can listen to and grab to ask questions.

Registration

Registration is a few euro’s or even free if you do require lunch (the fee is there to reduce waste and prevent having an abundance of food).

You can register here and I will see you there in Lisbon!

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

TUGAIT 2017: Integration and Logic Apps

TUGAIT 2017: Integration and Logic Apps

Two more weeks and I will, once again, return to Lisbon for the TUGAIT event. Last year during the 2016 edition Azure MVP’s Sandro, Nino and myself (the three integration animals, see picture below) did a workshop and several sessions on integration i.e. BizTalk, Open Source connectivity (GrabCaster), and Hybrid  And this was no doubt a successful event and the debut of the integration track. Hence this year the track will active again!

TUGAIT 2017

The May 18th until the 20th, a variety of speakers will present on a myriad set of technologies like Xamarin, Angular, DataScience, Agile, Scrum, DevOps, Integration, DotNet, SQL Server, SharePoint, Office365, Azure and IoT.

The integration track on Saturday the 2oth will be packed with session by Azure MVP’s Sandro, Nino, Eldert, Riccardo, Tomasso and myself.

Integration in 2017: Logic Apps

Microsoft has made a leap forward with several of there Azure Services including Logic Apps. A Service that went GA end of July 2016 and evolved rapidly to maturity. Already we see a steady growing adoption of this service within enterprises. Logic Apps is not the replacement of BizTalk, its Microsoft answer to solve integration challenges in the Cloud. The Logic App connectors provide connectivity to other Azure Services and several SaaS solutions like MailChip, SalesForce and CRM online. At TUGAIT 2017 in the Integration Track you will learn more about Logic Apps.

Why attend?

“Nice there’s an integration track, but what if I like to learn about other technologies (too)?

Well you are at the right place as on the 18th there’s a full day of workshops you can choose from. On Friday there are 5 parallel tracks from which you can pick and choose. The same accounts for Saturday, including the integration track!

The event is located in one of the most beautiful, cultural cities of Portugal. It’s three days packed with content, stellar speakers and community leaders you can listen to and grab to ask questions.

Registration

Registration is a few euro’s or even free if you do require lunch (the fee is there to reduce waste and prevent having an abundance of food).

You can register here and I will see you there in Lisbon!

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

Stef’s Monthly Update – April 2017

Stef’s Monthly Update – April 2017

The first three months of 2017 was a rollecoster ride, like the trip to Australia and New-Zealand, the very succesful Global Integration Bootcamp, the publication of the labs, the guest blogs I wrote for BizTalk360 blog, and the collobaration with Kent on Middleware Friday. And the Month April was not different in experience.

Month April

The month kicked of with a marathon run in Rotterdam. If there was any marathon in the Netherlands I wanted to do it was Rotterdam. The 9th of April was a very sunny beautiful day, however for running 42K it was a challenge. Yet I made it after 5:05:45.

Besides running a marathon I prepared myself for a trip to Sweden to talk to the Swedisch BizTalk Usergroup in Gothenburg and Stockholm. Thanks to Johan Hedberg we (Eldert and myself) were able to travel to these nice cities in Sweden and do our talks (see Elderts post on the recap of that trip). Moreover, in Stockholm Eldert and myself joined an very interactive architecture session organised my Mikael Sand together with Mikael Hakansson, Johan Hedberg, Robin Hultman, Mattias Logdberg, and Joakim Schütt at Enfo.

We talked about hybrid scenario’s, connectivity, workload driven design, Logic Apps/Functions and exchanged ideas, experiences and thoughts. It was a very useful sessions for all of us.

During the Usergroup sessions I did four new interviews for my YouTube series “Talking with Integration Pros”. And this time I interviewed:

Finally I also wrote an article on LinkedIn about Logic Apps and Functions:

Bet on Serverless: Azure Functions and Logic Apps

Music

My favorite albums that were released in April were:

  • Aryeon – The Source
  • Life Of Agony – A Place Where There’s No More Pain
  • Ghost Bath – Starmourner
  • Novembers Doom – Hamartia
  • Royal Thunder – WICK
  • Deep Purple – Infinite

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Ayreon - The Source

Prague

After my trip to Sweden I went with my family to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. We spend a couple of days here to visit some remarkable areas of this beautiful city. The food, city and vibe was great.

There you have it Stef’s fourth Monthly Update and I can look back again with great satisfaction. The marathon was a challenge, however I am happy I finished and completed my third marathon. I’m looking forward to my trip to Portugal, where I will be speaking at TUGA IT.

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

Stef’s Monthly Update – March 2017

Stef’s Monthly Update – March 2017

March, the last month of Q1 in 2017, a month filled with exciting integration focussed events. After my trip down under I continued my talks at the Integration Monday, SDN Event, my colleagues at Macaw, and the long awaited Global Integration Bootcamp. The latter was a result of months of preparations, and work on labs, meetings and conversations on slack.

Month March

In this month, I wrote a few guest blogs for BizTalk360 blog, which will be published in the next months along with an eBook containing all the labs, we (Eldert, Rob, Tomasso and myself) have created for the Global Integration Bootcamp. The eBook contains the hands on labs for API Management, On premise data gateway, Service Bus, Logic Apps, IoT Hub, Stream Analytics and Event Hub. Basically with this labs, you will touch all the services and products that deal with integration.

Books

Any reading this month, to be frank not so much. I read a lot of new papers, magazines and blogs. However, I do like to mention a new book that has been released on the market about integration that is worth to buy and read: Robust Cloud Integration with Azure.

Music

My favorite albums that were released in March were:

  • Obituary –  Obituary
  • Memoriam – For the Fallen
  • Pallbearer – Heartless
  • Junius – Eternal Rituals for The Accretion Of Light
  • Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
  • Moonloop – Devocean
  • Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

Running

In March I did a couple of runs, including a few half marathons, one being the CPC in The Hague wearing a BizTalk360 running shirt.

There you have it Stef’s third Monthly Update and I can look back again with great satisfaction. The Global Integration Bootcamp was a success, which you can read in my previous blog post of this month. I’m looking forward to my trip to Sweden in April and running the full Marathon in Rotterdam on the 9th of April.

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

The Global Integration Bootcamp 2017 – A successful event!

The Global Integration Bootcamp 2017 – A successful event!

Success has many fathers and with the Global Integration Bootcamp that is a fact. Organizers, speakers, companies hosting the event, the Microsoft Pro-Integration Team, and above all the attendees. This global event showed how passionate, strong and active this integration community is!

The Event

During the Global Integration Bootcamp at the Dutch location at motion10 in Rotterdam I did a few interviews with fellow organizers of this amazing event:

The motion10 has an amazing view over Rotterdam, which you can see in two of the video interviews.

In case you like to learn more about the history and how this great event came its tremedous success do read these two excellent posts:

Start of the day

In holland we kicked of at motion10 HQ at the same time as some of the other locations in Europe. Our friends in New Zealand, Australia and India just completed there day.

Sessions

At motion10 Gijs kick off the day followed by Tomasso presenting on API Management.

After Tomasso session the attendees dive into the first lab. The requirements to do the labs yourself can be found here and the labs will be published soon in an eBook by BizTalk360.

The second session was done by Rob Fox on Hybrid Integration including working with the on-premise gateway.

During the lunch people continued with their labs, followed by the third talk by Eldert, who continued with the hybrid integration story. This story included the connectivity through Logic Apps with on-premise BizTalk Server.

My session, number four, was to showcase some great Azure services like Logic Apps and Azure Functions. It was fun to do as I was able to show my trumpizer demo again.

The final session of the day was about IoT and done by Eldert again.

Acknowledgements

I am proud to be able to be part of this great event and journey to it. Loved the close collaboration with Eldert, who has been a key factor in organizing this event. His passion and drive is amazing and his recent MVP award is well deserved as it is a crown of his dedicated work for the community. And this something that I like to point out as his mentor. Well done buddy!

Thanks from the Dutch speakers #gib2017 and see you next year at #gib2018!

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.

Here it is my revamped blog, Thanks BizTalk360

Here it is my revamped blog, Thanks BizTalk360

Thanks team BizTalk360. Welcome to my new blog. Yes I have a new blog or better yet it has been styled and created for me. Just before I embarked on my trip down under Saravana gave me an offer to revamp my blog. Happily, I accepted his kind offer to create a new blog for me. And to migrate my content from my old blog to this new amazing blog.

Hard working team

The BizTalk360 team took over my blog and started working hard to get this blog up and running. They migrated the content, build the about me page and resources. Great work guys!!!

The old blog

The Azure Thoughts, EAI Challenges blog, I have is over 10 years old. I started this on the blogger.com and the style changed a few times in the past until it reached its current state. Saravana gave me the offer to have a complete new type of blog similar to BizTalk360 blog, Sandro’s and Nino’s new blogs. They all look amazing to me and that’s what I wanted too. A professional looking blog!

Not an UI/UX guy

My expertise is as many of you know Microsoft Integration, Azure and Data Science and I am not a UI/UX guy nor a designer. To have a cool looking blog has been a long time wish and now it was handed to me.

Thank you all!

Thanks, Saravana and the BizTalk360 team for this tremendous effort and work. The blog at WordPress.com is a new experience for me and I love the extra capabilities of this platform that exceeds the previous one I worked on. I hope that you my readers will enjoy this new and more professional layout, which I hope will more appealing you and that it will provide a great user experience. Looking forward to create some new content on this blog.

Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, health care, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 6 years.