Integration Patterns In Azure – Message Router Using Logic Apps

When implementing software, it’s always a good idea to follow existing patterns, as these allow us to use proven and reliable techniques. The same applies in integration, where we have been working with integration patterns in technologies like BizTalk, MSMQ etc. These days we are working more and more with new technologies in Azure, giving us new tools like Service Bus, Logic Apps, and since recently Event Grid. But even though we are working with new tools, these integration patterns are still very useful, and should be followed whenever possible. This post is the first in a series where I will be showing how we can implement integration patterns using various services in Azure.

Message Router Pattern

Message Router Pattern

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Creating event driven integrations using Azure Event Grid

Yesterday Microsoft announced their newest service on Azure, and it is called Azure Event Grid. With this new service, we now have event based serverless routing, from any source, to any destination. Of course, we all love integration, and Azure Event Grid brings a whole new world of possibilities. The service is currently in public preview, and we already have various publishes and event handlers to our disposal, and more will be rolling out over the coming months. In the end, expect every service within Azure to have a connection to Event Grid.

Event Publishers and Handlers

Event Publishers and Handlers

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Writing Azure Functions for Logic Apps using Visual Studio

In this post, I will show how we can use Visual Studio to write Azure Functions and use these in our Logic Apps. Azure Functions, which went GA on November 15th are a great way to write small pieces of code, which then can be used from various places, like being triggered by a HTTP request or a message on Service Bus, and can easily integrate with other Azure services like Storage, Service Bus, DocumentDB and more. We can also use our Azure Functions from Logic Apps, which gives us powerful integrations and workflow, using the out of the box Logic Apps connectors and actions, and placing our custom code in re-usable Functions.

Writing Azure Functions from Visual Studio

Previously, our main option to write Azure Functions was by using the online editor, which can be found in the portal.
azurefunctionsonlineeditor

However, most developers will be used to develop from Visual Studio, with its great debugging abilities and easy integration with our source control. Luckily, earlier this month the preview of Visual Studio Tools for Azure Functions was announced, giving us the ability to write Functions from our beloved IDE. For this post I used a machine with Visual Studio 2015 installed, along with Microsoft Web Developer Tools and Azure 2.9.6 .NET SDK.
visualstudioinstallationoptions
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Integrate 2016 – My take-aways

Last week I attended Integrate 2016 in London, the biggest Microsoft integration event this year, organized by BizTalk360. The outcome was almost 400 attendees, and there were sessions from the Microsoft Product Group, industry leaders and MVP’s.

Vision

The major take-away I have from the event, is that Microsoft now has a great vision on the future of integration, which I felt was missing the last couple of years. Now though, they recognize that even though the cloud is a great asset, on premise is not going away for a long time. Also Microsoft has now officially announced that their on-premise integration solution will be BizTalk, which has not been getting a lot of love lately.

1. Cloud and OnPremise

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IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Service Bus Queues Using Azure Functions

In my my previous post, I showed how we can use a WebJob to process a Service Bus queue and store the data in an Azure SQL database. This was pretty simple to set up, but it did require a good understanding of how to connect with these and process the data. Sometimes however we just want to do a quick integration without needing to set up all this plumbing. Recently Microsoft announced a new feature called Azure Functions, with now makes this possible. Azure functions can be used to create a small function which can run stand-alone, or be called from other applications, for example from a logic app, as has been described here by Sandro Pereira. Azure Functions provide out of the box connections for triggers, input and output to a lot of other Azure features, including Event Hubs, Service Bus, Azure Storage and DocumentDB. In this post I will show how we can process our message from the queue we created in this blogpost, and store it in an Azure Storage table. We will start by creating a new Function App in the portal.

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IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Service Bus Queue Using WebJobs

This is the fifth post in my series on Integration of Things. In this post I showed how you can send messages from a Raspberry Pi 2 into a Service Bus Queue, and in our previous blogpost we have set up a library for connecting to an Azure SQL database. Today I will explain how we can use a WebJob to retrieve the messages from the queue and send them to our database. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

A WebJob is a simple way to set up a background job, which can process continuously or on a schedule. WebJobs differ from a cloud service (which we discussed in this blogpost) as it gives you get less fine-grained control over your processing environment, making it a more true PaaS service.

We will need a Web App to host our WebJob, so lets create one in the Azure Portal. You can create a new Web App by going to App Services, and selecting New.

Azure Web App

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IoT – Integration of Things: Entity Framework Code First And Azure SQL

This is the fourth post in my series on Integration of Things. In this post, we will use Entity Framework Code First to set up an Azure Sql database, which will later on be filled with the data we receive from our Service Bus Queue. As we will want to access this database from multiple projects, we will add it to the DataTypes Class Library we created in the previous blogpost. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

First we will create an empty database in Azure.

Azure SQL Database

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IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Event Hubs From Azure Cloud Service

This is the third post in my series on Integration of Things. In my previous post I explained how you could send and receive data on a Raspberry Pi 2 to Azure. Today I will explain how you can use an Azure cloud service as a worker role for retrieving the data from Event Hubs using the Event Processor Host library. We will save the retrieved data in an Azure Table Storage, which is a great service for working with large amounts of structured, non-relational data. Azure Table Storage is very fast, and cost efficient especially when working with lots of data, which makes it ideal for our scenario. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

The Event Processor Host library will be used to retrieve the data from our event hub, and load it into Azure Table Storage. This library will distribute Event Hubs partitions accross our instances of the worker role, keeping track of leases and snapshots. This library really makes working with Event Hubs from .NET code a breeze to go through. We will need a blob storage for for the table and for the library to store its data, so let’s start by setting one up via the Azure Portal.

Azure Storage

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IoT – Integration of Things: Connecting Raspberry Pi 2 to Azure

This is the second post in my series on Integration of Things. In my previous post I have explained the scenario and architecture, so today I will explain how you can use a Raspberry Pi 2 to act as an IoT fieldhub. The RPi2 is a low power ARM based single board computer at the size of a creditcard, which can run Windows 10 IoT Core, a windows version created specifically for these kind of boards. This also means we can use the .NET framework to set up our solution. The code for this post can be dwonloaded here.

Installation

First we will have to flash your RPi2 with Windows 10. There are some great walkthroughs out there, so I will not explain this here, but instead link you to this site which will explain all the steps to be taken.

After we have flashed our RPi2, it’s time to set up Visual Studio. To develop on Windows IoT Core, we will need to install the project templates. This can be done from Visual Studio by going to Tools, Extensions and Updates, and searching for Windows IoT Core Project Templates. Install these templates, and restart Visual Studio to start creating your own IoT solutions. Don’t forget to enable developer mode on your machine by following these instructions, as this is needed to publish your solution to your device.

Windows IoT Core Project Templates

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IoT – Integration of Things

Last year I did an IoT session at the Dutch BizTalk User Group, and since then I have had several requests for more information on this topic. After having had a couple of very busy months at my client, I finally decided to make a series of blogposts on this topic. IoT is a major growing industry, and gives a lot of really nice opportunities for us integration specialists. All the code and projects I will be creating will be provided along with the posts, and can be downloaded from here. Coming from a nautical background myself, I see more and more scenarios here where IoT might be a real game changer, so this will be the scenario I will be using throughout these series.

Scenario

In the upcoming weeks I will be creating my blogposts from the following scenario. In this scenario an engine supplier for ships, like Caterpillar or ABC, might want to get information about the health and status of their engines. In general, a ship has several engines for propulsion (main engine and bow thrusters), generators, pumps on tankers, etc. All these engines already have a lot of data about their health, like temperatures, oil and filter conditions, or issues that might occur during operations. Currently most of this information is displayed to the crew of the ship, and they have to interpret this information, which often means issues are not noticed until it becomes a real problem, and they have to go in for repairs or adjustments, where every day they are not out working can cost a lot of money, especially if the ship is working under contract. IoT Engine Room

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