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Azure Logic Apps: How it compares to AWS Step Functions

Developers can use Microsoft Azure Logic Apps to build, deploy and connect scalable cloud-based workflows. Learn how it measures up to other cloud platforms and AWS Step Functions.

Microsoft Azure supports four workflow creation and serverless orchestration services: Power Apps, Logic Apps, Durable Functions and Flow. You can use all of them as workflow creation and serverless orchestration services.

Microsoft Azure Logic Apps is a managed cloud service that runs in a company's public cloud and helps users introduce scalable, cloud-based integrations and workflows to business processes. Logic Apps is available as a fully managed integration PaaS tool and it provides the user with a visual designer to model their business processes and design workflows.

Microsoft offers three development models for Logic Apps. You can create applications in Logic Apps via the Azure portal, in versions of Visual Studio after 2015 or in templates built by Microsoft.

How does Azure Logic Apps work?

A Logic Apps workflow starts with a trigger, which is fired each time an event occurs or when new data is available. When the application executes this trigger, the Logic Apps engine creates a Logic Apps instance. In turn, this instance executes the actions within a workflow. These actions can include conditional statements, loops and branching.

For example, let's say a trigger fires whenever a record is added to a list. When the Logic Apps engine detects an event that matches this criterion, the trigger sets off a workflow, the app makes data updates and branching occurs as appropriate. The workflow closes by sending an email notification to the list manager of the record update.

Components of Azure Logic Apps architecture

Azure Logic Apps comprises the following key components:

  • Workflows. This is the product of modeling your business processes with the Logic Apps graphical designer.
  • Managed connectors. This component is used to connect to and work with data. Use to connect to a third-party application in order to manage and work with its data.
  • Actions. This is used to represent a step in a workflow.
  • Triggers. This component is used to initiate and create a new instance of a workflow. Furthermore, there are three types of triggers:
    • Poll triggers. A trigger that polls a service at frequent intervals of time to check for new data.
    • Push triggers. A trigger that listens for new data or an event occurrence and then creates a new instance of the Logic Apps workflow.
    • Recurrence triggers. A trigger that instantiates a Logic Apps workflow based on a predefined schedule.

Why should I use Azure Logic Apps?

Logic Apps enables enterprises to connect legacy systems to modern ones quickly and easily. It also handles hosting, management, monitoring and scalability of applications on Azure resources so developers can focus primarily on the business logic of their apps. Developers can configure complex business processes with minimal development effort and build applications with predefined workflows that are part of the Logic Apps template gallery.

Another benefit of Logic Apps is that it doesn't have any upfront setup costs. The pricing model works on a pay-per-use basis, so users are only charged for the actions they execute.

A typical use of Logic Apps is checking the traffic between two places on a schedule. You can also use Logic Apps for SaaS event processing and cloud service integration.

Drawbacks of Azure Logic Apps

Despite the benefits it has to offer, there are some downsides to Azure Logic Apps:

  • The designer used to configure the actions should be improved.
  • Business processes are difficult to visualize using the app.
  • It needs more alerting capabilities.
  • Workflows are complex to configure.

Azure Logic Apps vs. AWS Step Functions

AWS Step Functions -- the AWS equivalent of Azure Logic Apps -- is a serverless orchestration tool that enables developers to build and manage cloud-based multistep application workflows using a visual interface for business-critical processes.

Here are some areas of comparison between AWS Step Functions and Azure Logic Apps.

Serverless workflows

AWS Step Functions enables users to quickly coordinate multiple AWS offerings into serverless workflows. You can use AWS Step Functions to design and run workflows and create tasks that use AWS Lambda.

Azure Logic Apps has a comparable capability with Azure Functions connectors, as it contains prebuilt connectors that can push or pull data to and from your applications. Azure Logic Apps and Azure Functions can be -- and are often -- used together for orchestration.

Deployment

AWS Lambda can deploy source code via zip packages only. This is convenient until a change is needed; then the entire package needs to be deployed again. When using Azure Functions, there are more choices. You can deploy Azure Functions from zip packages, GitHub, Atlassian Bitbucket or an external repository of your choice.

Integration with services

Contrary to AWS Step Functions, Azure Logic Apps can integrate with various services in both Azure and non-Azure environments through connectors. If one of the hundreds of available connectors doesn't support the service or API needed, you can make your own connector or make an HTTP request to the service directly.

Cost and pricing models

Azure Functions provides more flexibility in terms of pricing models, programming language support, built-in HTTP triggers and built-in continuous delivery. Azure Functions lets users pay only for the resources used.

AWS Lambda uses a fixed-price model, which means you pay a fixed rate for every million requests made. In comparison, Azure Functions prices are determined by the number of executions, while the AWS Lambda pricing is determined by the amount of time your code executes.

Programming languages

Azure Functions and AWS Lambda both support numerous languages and runtimes. AWS Lambda supports JavaScript, Java, Python, Go, C#, F#, PowerShell and Ruby, while Microsoft embraces JavaScript, Java, Python, C# and F# code for building Azure Functions.

Hosting plans

The only way to deploy a serverless function when using AWS is by deploying it to AWS Lambda, the serverless function service provided by AWS. The Azure Functions platform, on the other hand, supports several hosting plans to deploy your functions:

Azure Logic Apps vs. AWS Step Functions

Azure Logic Apps vs. Azure Functions

While Azure Functions and Logic Apps both fall under the umbrella of Microsoft's serverless offerings, there are distinct differences between the two. Azure Functions is a serverless compute service, while Logic Apps represents a serverless workflow.

In Azure Functions, the event triggers the code; in Logic Apps, the event triggers the workflow. Overall, Logic Apps enables serverless applications to automate and orchestrate business processes and workflows.

Azure Logic Apps vs. Microsoft Power Automate, Power Apps

Power Apps is another cloud offering from Microsoft that provides a platform on which business experts can build apps without writing any code. It's a powerful framework for quick builds, but Logic Apps is the better choice if you want more control over application workflows.

Azure Logic Apps helps developers quickly connect business processes to any enterprise data source, like ERP systems and data warehouses.

Microsoft Power Automate is a streamlined version of Logic Apps. It's a SaaS offering to automate workflows, but unlike Logic Apps, you don't have access to step through the source code in Microsoft Power Automate. This means the provisioning and management features found in Logic Apps are abstracted in Microsoft Power Automate, and employees can create workflows without developers.

To choose the approach that best fits your organization, think about the user and what they want to accomplish.

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