Microsoft announces Azure App Service

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Microsoft launched a new open source app services platform for Azure this week. The apps to be developed for the Azure platform will bring seamless connectivity functions and simplify data consumption for users—customers, Microsoft partners and organizations—on the Azure platform.

The App Service is touted as a totally new cloud service that will allow developers to build Web and mobile apps for every platform and mobile device regardless of its operating system or brand. It will function as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) system and provide developers with integrated solutions and the necessary features to automate business processes.

Integrated Solutions

Microsoft explains in a blog post that the new Azure App Service combines multiple abilities from the entire Azure range of offerings—Azure Websites, Azure Mobile Services and Azure BizTalk Services. Meshing these capabilities with new features into a unique integrated platform promises improved flexibility and performance. Azure App Service include the following types of apps:

· Web Apps—build web apps designed to scale businesses

· Mobile Apps—engage people and business on all devices at any time of the day

· Logic Apps—automate business processes across SaaS

· API Apps—developers can build and consume Cloud APIs within apps

This is how Microsoft describes each of the app types in more detail:

Web Apps

Web Apps allow you host any website, web app, and API in the cloud. If you are an existing Azure Websites customer, all of your existing web apps run as-is in App Service with zero changes needed and continue to enjoy the same SLA. You also have access to all of the other app types and features at no additional cost. Your existing web hosting plan, now the app hosting plan, is able to also run mobile, logic and api apps at the exact same price!

Web Apps provide a robust set of developer centric capabilities such as support for multiple languages and frameworks (.NET, Java, PHP, NodeJS, Python, and more), Continuous Integration and cloud debugging. Web Apps empower enterprises through specific capabilities like hybrid connectivity and Active Directory integration while making sure compliance, auditing and data retention requirements are met. Web Apps can auto-scale to meet any needs, and offer high-availability through deployment in several geo-locations with Azure Traffic Manager.

Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps offer a mobile application development platform with a rich set of capabilities. Based on Azure Mobile Services, Mobile Apps provide developers with a comprehensive set of client SDKs including Windows, iOS and Android as well as multi-platform environments such as Xamarin and Cordova. With Mobile Apps, you can easily send push notifications to your app, add login, and store data in the cloud with offline sync to any mobile client.

With App Service, Mobile Apps gain a host of new features such as staging slots for deployment, WebJobs, traffic manager support, better scale options, and more.

Logic Apps

Logic Apps allow any developer or technical user to automate business process execution, all via an easy to use visual designer. Accompanied by a comprehensive marketplace of API App connectors, Logic Apps can integrate your data and services from your SaaS apps like SalesForce, DropBox and Office 365 to your favorite Azure PaaS Services and others from the likes of Twilio and Twitter.

Logic Apps connectivity is built on the foundation of API apps, meaning you can easily bring your own services and functionality to the party. And for enterprise-grade integration needs our connector library includes capabilities from Microsoft Azure’s integration platform, BizTalk Services; including built-in API apps for message validation, transformation, a rules engine, trading partner management and hybrid connectivity, all built-in.

API Apps

API Apps allow any technical user or developer to discover, host and manage API’s and SaaS connectors in the cloud. With API Apps, developers can select from a rich library of existing on-premises and cloud APIs as well as contribute their own APIs easily for public or private use by Logic, Web, and Mobile apps in Azure App Service.

API Apps provide versioning capabilities for you APIs making it easy to manage new versions and automatically update the applications that use them in real time without downtime. APIs can be consumed in a variety of programming languages with tooling that generates SDKs in all the languages supported in App Service (.NET, Node.js, Java, PHP and Python). Determine who can access APIs with simple controls to require authenticated users, public users or just other apps inside App Service. Protect APIs with enterprise grade security using Active Directory including single sign on and social identity using Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft accounts. Consume third party services with built in support for OAuth and a secure token store to store access credentials with no coding. API Apps provide a tightly integrated development experience ranging from the VS IDE to the cloud with tools like cloud debugging, live tracing and Testing in Production (TiP).

App Service Pricing

App Service is available now, but the Mobile, Logic, and API app types are technically still in public preview mode. The App Service offerings is being rolled in to the existing Azure Websites pricing so there is no additional cost involved. For a limited time Microsoft is also letting customers try out Premium tier services.

As a business owner or an app developer, are you excited about Azure’s new App Services for your business? Do you plan to take advantage of the new offering? We’re interested to know how and why you intend to use Azure’s App Service. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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