In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced a public preview of Azure Integration Service Environment (ISE) for Logic Apps, an integration Platform as a Service. ISE provides customers with a fully isolated and dedicated environment for integration services. Isolation is achieved by injecting ISE into an Azure virtual network, which allows for VNet connectivity within Azure and to data centers that are connected through an Express Route or VPN connection.
Since ISE runs within dedicated Azure capacity, customers can expect predictable performance. Kevin Lam, a principal program manager at Microsoft explains:
[Using ISE, customers] avoid the noisy neighbor issue, removing fear of intermittent slowdowns that can impact business critical processes with a dedicated runtime where only your Logic Apps execute in.
Additional capabilities include isolated, private storage where sensitive data is kept private and predictable monthly pricing which includes 1 Standard Integration Account and 1 Enterprise connector, such as SAP.
InfoQ recently had a chance to speak with Jon Fancey, principal pm manager at Microsoft, about the ISE release. Here is what he had to say:
InfoQ: What is Azure Logic Apps ISE and what was the motivation for building it?
Azure Logic Apps Integration Service Environments (ISE) are a new offering now in public preview designed to address the great customer feedback we’ve had over the past couple of years. We heard that customers wanted the ability to connect their Logic Apps directly to their virtual networks (VNETs) for more control and isolation with dedicated resources such as the underlying storage and compute as well as more predictable billing, while enjoying less variance in execution performance. An ISE provides all of this and more, giving more control to our customers while still providing the benefits of a PaaS Serverless-based offering. It’s still just as easy to create a new Logic Apps, instead of choosing which region to create it in, simply select your ISE from the dropdown instead.
InfoQ: You recently completed a Private Preview with a set of customers, what were some of the drivers for those customers to participate in the private preview?
Yes, we were conscious that this was a new offering for Logic Apps so wanted to take the time to make sure we got it right and get as much feedback as possible with the primary goal, as always for Logic Apps, to ensure ease of use. The main driver for customers was to connect to their VNETs, which makes sense, particularly when connecting to sensitive systems and data on-premises.
InfoQ: Based upon the documentation, it looks like some connectors have implementations specifically for ISE environments. What is the nature of these types of connectors?
Correct, ISE customers get two flavors of connector, they get all the 230+ existing connectors, but also get a set designed specifically for ISE usage. These connectors are designed to operate inside of the customer’s VNET so in that context, things like SQL Server, FTP and AS2 make sense because these endpoints are often on-premises. We also have ISE connectors to many other Azure services as well, such as Service Bus, Azure File, BLOB and Table Storage, ensuring network traffic is kept within the VNET. And there are more coming soon including, SAP, on-premises File System access and Oracle DB.
InfoQ: Traditionally, Azure Logic Apps customers were able to access on-premises systems using the On-premises Data Gateway. How does that change with Azure Logic Apps ISE and VNet connectivity?
Great question. The On-Premises Data Gateway is no longer needed with ISE as network resources are directly addressable in the VNET which customers have full control of. Some of our large enterprise customers are already finding that this simplifies their security and network infrastructure by needing fewer components for their hybrid integration needs.
InfoQ: Azure Logic Apps is a serverless technology where customers let Microsoft deal with scaling to accommodate additional load. Are there scaling capabilities in Azure Logic Apps ISE? If so, how does it work?
Yes, customers get the benefits of Serverless as well as more control – essentially the best of both worlds. The way this works is that customers allocate units of consumption with each one roughly equating to a ‘block’ of Logic App action executions. If a customer needs more capacity they can scale up to meet the demand and even set auto-scaling rules to do it automatically. We surface metrics to the customer in the Azure portal to enable them to see the utilization, not in terms of servers, but an abstraction generalizing the compute. A customer can set up their scaling based on these metrics to ensure they always have enough capacity – but only when they need it.
InfoQ: Is there anything different in how developers develop logic apps for Azure Logic Apps ISE?
No, once the ISE is provisioned, creating a Logic App is just as easy as before. Instead of choosing the regional location to deploy to, you simply pick your Integration Service Environment from the same list and click Create. As well as the additional environment monitoring metrics, the only obvious difference is that the ISE-specific connectors are tagged in the designer so that you always clearly know which ones you are using in your logic apps.
Azure Integration Service Enviornement for Logic Apps is available to customers by deploying the resource from the Azure Portal.