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Gluing disparate systems using Flow, Logic Apps, Functions, and WebJobs

Microsoft Cloud Services is a container of different services such as Microsoft Flow, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions, Azure App Service WebJobs. In this article I am going to explain and compare these services which can be helpful to solve integration issues and to help in establishing automation of business processes.

All of these services can define input, actions, conditions, and output. You can run each of them on a schedule or trigger. However, each service adds a unique set of value, and comparing them is not a question of "Which service is the best?" but one of "Which service is best suited for this situation?" A combination of these services is the best way to rapidly build a scalable, full featured integration solution.


Microsoft Flow vs Logic Apps

The first point to discuss about these services is both of these services are configuration-first integration services, which makes it easy to build processes and workflows and integrate with various SaaS and enterprise applications.

  • - Both of them is having a common workflow designer
  • - The Flow is built on top of Logic Apps
  • - The Connectors(an integral part when creating logic apps) that work in one can also work in other.
  1. Flows helps users to perform simple integrations such as getting SMS for important emails without caling developer or IT professional.
  2. Logic Apps on the other hand is able to perform advanced integration tasks such as B2B processes where enterprise-level DevOps and security practices are required. It is typical for a business workflow to grow in complexity overtime.
  3. As per the business requirement you can start with a flow at first, then convert it to a logic app as needed.

The following table shows the capabilities of Flow and Logic Apps for a given integration.

  Flow Logic Apps
Audience office workers, business users IT pros, developers
Design Tool In-browser and mobile app, UI only In-browser and Visual Studio, Code view available
Scenarios Self-service Mission-critical

Admin Experience

https://flow.microsoft.com https://portal.azure.com
DevOps Ad-hoc, develop in production source control, testing, support, and automation and manageability in Azure Resource Management
Security Standard practices: data sovereignty, encryption at rest for sensitive data, etc. Security assurance of Azure: Azure Security, Security Center, audit logs, and more.

 

Sample Templates:

 

Sample Flow Diagram:

 

Functions vs. WebJobs

Both of these code-first integration services are designed for developers. They enable you to run a script or a piece of code in response to various events, such as new Storage Blobs or a WebHook request. Check following similarities:

  • - Both are developer-focused services.
  • - Both support standard scripting and programming languages.
  • - Both the service support NuGet and NPM
  • - Both are built on Azure App Service and enjoy features such as source control, authentication, and monitoring.
     


 

Functions is the natural evolution of WebJobs in that it takes the best things about WebJobs and improves upon them. Check following points:

  • - Pay as per the use, even no need to pay for an App Service plan.
  • - Built-in integration with more Azure services and 3rd-party services like GitHub WebHooks.
  • - Integration with Logic Apps.
  • - Automatic and dynamic scaling.
  • - Streamlined dev, test, and run of code, directly in the browser.
  • - For existing customers of App Service, running on App Service plan still possible (to take advantage of under-utilized resources).

Lets have a look at difference between Functions and WebJobs:

  Functions WebJobs
Scaling Configurationless scaling scale with App Service plan
Pricing Pay-per-use or part of App Service plan Part of App Service plan
Run-type triggered, scheduled (by timer trigger) triggered, continuous, scheduled
C# Not-applicable Not-applicable
Trigger events timer, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Event Hubs, HTTP/WebHook (GitHub, Slack), Azure App Service Mobile Apps, Azure Notification Hubs, Azure Service Bus,  Azure Storage    Azure Storage, Azure Service Bus
JavaScript Not-applicable Not-applicable
In-browser development Not-applicable  
F# Not-applicable Not-applicable
Bash experimental Not-applicable
Window scripting experimental Not-applicable
PHP experimental Not-applicable
Python experimental Not-applicable
PowerShell    experimental    Not-applicable

 

Its all depends on what you're already doing with App Service which confirms to use Functions or WebJobs.

  • - If you have an App Service app for which you want to run code snippets, and you want to manage them together in the same DevOps environment, you should use WebJobs.
  • - If you want to run code snippets for other Azure services or even 3rd-party apps, or if you want to manage your integration code snippets separately from your App Service apps, or if you want to call your code snippets from a Logic app, you should take advantage of all the improvements in Functions.

 

Flow, Logic Apps, and Functions together

Let's have a look which service to use in which situation from the following points:

  • - If you have to deal with simple business optimization, then use Flow.
  • - If your integration scenario is too advanced for Flow, or you need DevOps capabilities and security compliances, then use Logic Apps.
  • - If a step in your integration scenario requires highly custom transformation or specialized code, then write a function app, and then trigger a function as an action in your logic app.

 

Please do leave feedback/comments below including any experience on the same topic that you would like to share. Thanks.

Dynamics365Authority.com is an ultimate source of all the key references on MS Dynamics 365 + Office 365 + MS Azure etc.- please use the CONTACT US form to connect with Urish Arora.

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Posted: Aug 1, 2017,
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