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How Azure Logic Apps works and when to choose it

Developers can use Microsoft Logic Apps to build, deploy and connect scalable cloud-based workflows. Learn how it compares to other cloud platforms and when it makes sense to use.

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.

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 App 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.

Components of Azure Logic Apps architecture

Logic Apps comprises the following components:

  • Workflows: The product of modeling your business processes with the Logic Apps graphical designer.
  • Managed connectors: Used to connect to and work with data. Use them to connect to a third-party application in order to manage and work with its data.
  • Actions: Used to represent a step in a workflow
  • Triggers: 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 App workflow.
  • Recurrence triggers: A trigger that instantiates a Logic App workflow based on a predefined schedule.

How does Azure Logic Apps work?

A Logic App 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 App 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.

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; Logic Apps represents a serverless workflow.

In Azure Functions, the event triggers the code, but 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. Flow, PowerApps

PowerApps is another cloud offering from Microsoft that provides a platform on which business experts can build apps without writing any code. It is 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 sources, like ERP systems and data warehouses.

Microsoft Flow, on the other hand, is a streamlined version of Logic Apps. It is a SaaS offering for automating workflows, but unlike Logic Apps, you don't have access to step through the source code in Flow. This means that the provisioning and management features found in Logic Apps are abstracted in Flow, and employees can create workflows without developers.

To choose which approach is the best fit for your organization, think about the user and what they want to accomplish. PowerApps enables business people to quickly create apps. Microsoft Flow enables employees to quickly create business processes on their own. Azure Logic Apps helps developers quickly connect business processes to any enterprise data sources, like ERP systems and data warehouses.

Azure Logic Apps vs. AWS Step Functions

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 Function connectors.

Compared to AWS Lambda, Azure Functions provides more flexibility in terms of pricing models, programming language support, built-in HTTP triggers and built-in continuous delivery. Another important feature of Logic Apps is that it contains prebuilt connectors that can push or pull data to and from your applications.

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

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