Despite the rapid adoption of cloud-based applications, there will always be a need for an efficient and flexible way to let these systems communicate with legacy software to help create improved business processes.
A hybrid integration strategy enables companies to maintain their technology investments for the systems they rely on, but still take advantage of new functions, improved performance and the lower cost structure of cloud-based applications like Microsoft Azure Cloud.
The following statistic from research firm Gartner highlights the importance of hybrid integration:
To help facilitate hybrid integration, Microsoft introduced Azure Logic Apps–an integration engine that resides in the cloud–which we discussed in a recent blog post. Other IT OEMs also have released similar integration platforms.
Azure Logic Apps vs. BizTalk
But how does Logic Apps differ from other integration tools, such as Microsoft’s BizTalk? Developers may wonder if Logic Apps is a replacement for BizTalk, which also can be used to integrate various applications, help automate business flow, and assist B2B organizations function in adherence to industry standards (EDI, SWIFT, HIPAA, HL7 etc.)
Both offerings address the same area, but BizTalk focuses mainly on Azure on-premise integration and Logic Apps addresses integration needs via Software as a Service (SaaS), although it can be customized with connectors for on-premise applications, LOB, etc.
In other words, BizTalk is a product which you need to buy, procure hardware for, install, build applications on, and manage both (the applications and BizTalk server). On the other hand, Logic Apps is a pay as you use, Platform as a Service (PaaS) managed by Microsoft.
The below image shows how Logic Apps is used as a PaaS. *
The chart below compares capabilities of BizTalk Technology and Azure Logic Apps from a developer’s perspective:
|Native message format||BizTalk is XML based||Logic apps is JSON based|
|Type of solution||Messaging solution (using only schema, maps and ports) and orchestration (workflow) based solution available||Only has workflows.|
|Connecting to other systems/applications||Via Adapters:
||Via connectors (an encapsulation of authentication, data validation in combination of triggers and actions) categorized as:
Technically all connectors are API apps that use a metadata format called Swagger, REST as pluggable interfaces and JSON as the data interchange format.
|Instantiation of workflow||Message creates instance of orchestration||Trigger creates instance of Logic Apps. Trigger types available include:
|Development tool||Only with Visual Studio||Logic apps development can be done in a browser-based Logic Apps designer as well as Visual studio.|
|Promoted/Distinguished properties||Some system properties are promoted by adapters or pipelines and if any content is to be promoted or distinguished, then it has to be explicitly marked so in the schema.||If the schema is defined, the properties are auto promoted, and are available in the workflow wherever appropriate.|
|Exception handling||Exceptions can be handled at port level by enabling failed message routing and in orchestration by adding exception handling shape.||
The developer can check for error conditions of a single action and take the required steps or use a scope to group multiple actions and apply a check on its result using the @result workflow function. Also, it can catch failures with the RunAfter property.
|Long running transactions||Out of the box support for orchestration which can be marked as long running.||It has to be architected during the design phase.|
|Nested Workflow||BizTalk has support for calling or starting an orchestration from within another orchestration.||Logic Apps supports invoking another logic app from within.|
|Deployment||BizTalk deployment on development environments is done via visual studio and on other environments with the use of an MSI.||In Logic Apps, you save a workflow in the browser designer. It gets deployed in the procured Logic Apps instance. It also supports deployment from Visual Studio.|
|Tracking and Monitoring||There’s a provision available to track the artifacts and a group hub page to monitor the events in BizTalk. It also offers support for process monitoring with the help of Business Activity Monitoring (BAM).||Azure diagnostics is used to track workflow events.|
Although their capabilities may be overlapping, BizTalk and Logic Apps are not alternatives but are better utilized together. This is due to the fact that many organizations chose to not move everything in to the cloud because of these and other factors:
- Company policies
- Country policies
- Industry domain specific policies
- Not all functionalities/applications are available on the cloud or are not as robust as those available on-premise, etc.
To keep pace with the cloud revolution and to extend business capabilities, companies need to utilize SaaS services along with what they have on-prem. Many businesses processes needs cloud development and implementation strategies, which can also involve things like syncing a legacy ERP with a cloud-based CRM.
Microsoft offers the following options to enable hybrid integration:
- On Premise Data gateway – to access on-premise resources from the cloud (Logic App, Power BI, Microsoft Flow, etc.)
- BizTalk Connector in Logic Apps – to connect to BizTalk from Logic Apps
- Logic Apps adapter – to connect to Logic Apps from BizTalk
- Service Bus Adapter – to connect to Service Bus on Azure from BizTalk
We hope this high-level comparison of Azure Logic Apps and BizTalk server helps you better understand their functionality and when to utilize them based on your individual needs.
If you need help in deploying them in your current infrastructure, get in touch with our Microsoft Certified Experts and schedule a 15 minute assessment by clicking here.