A team that delivers
The newly-established Microsoft Integration team in Malmö works with a variety of Azure services to provide customers with flexible solutions to managing their data. Coming together to solve problems and learn from others make the sum of the whole greater than its parts.
The idea behind the team came from wanting to take a bold new direction by taking advantage of the strength in numbers. Some of its members had worked together in the past, but this was the first time all six came together to provide customers with both breadth and flexibility.
“The old-fashioned approach to IT consultancy work is to offer one consultant per customer. We believe in offering a team, or pool of experts, instead. There are many benefits: it’s easier to share knowledge, and we can deliver high-quality services faster than before. We can also scale the service up easily, if the customer demand increases.”
Going to the cloud – step by step
The team provides integration solutions in the Malmö area. A typical customer problem involves syncing three to five different systems by joining their information in the cloud. On-prem is also a part of their repertoire, but there is an increasing emphasis on taking advantage of the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of different cloud solutions: you only pay for what you use, and the solutions are scalable based on demand.
“We advise any customer curious about the cloud to dream big while taking a step-by-step approach. You can start small by building new stuff in the cloud before moving your existing processes there. Once that’s up and running, there are no limits to what you can achieve with cloud solutions. And there are no hardware costs.”
To learn fast, it’s crucial to work with real life cases, real data and real demands.
Experts and trusted advisors
Having a strong and varied technical foundation means the team members are perfectly positioned to act as trusted advisors in a rapidly developing industry. These experts are on the frontline of exciting new technologies. “There are lots of cool IoT possibilities that can help you run your business more effectively. For example, we can use the cloud to connect thousands or even millions of devices out in the field so that customers can view their status in real time on a web browser.” Whatever the technology, the key components of a successful project haven’t changed: begin with good specification and have a test plan beforehand.
In a sector where continuous development is vital, the team’s set-up supports learning on the job: while one expert takes the lead in a specific project, others can focus on gaining insight. To learn fast, it’s crucial to work with real life cases, real data and real demands. “We regularly attend get-togethers where we can share knowledge and learn from others – not to mention large events like the Enfo Integration Days.” The team is a perfect fit at Enfo, as integration solutions are needed in nearly everything the company does. “We can work in the background to find areas of value for the customer.”
Improving your day-to-day work
When asked what the best feature of their work is, the word creative comes up. “It’s enjoyable to build new solutions to the customer’s problems. We are developing tools that make others’ everyday work easier, which is rewarding. “You can’t stick to your old ways, you have to keep learning.”
Tools used by the team
- Logic Apps
- Azure Functions
- Log Analytics
- Service Bus
- On Premises Data Gateway
- Event Grid
- API Management
- Integration Account
- Azure DevOps
- Application insights
- Azure monitor
- Blob storage
- EDIFACT in Azure
- IoT hub
Cases by the team
New structure and processes
A customer already doing integration development in the cloud (Azure) needed help with structuring their integration environment and establishing a clear development, build and deployment process.
We helped the customer set up an agile team where the team uses Azure DevOps as a CI/CD tool for handling their integration life cycles. Other than implementing the Azure DevOps tool, in order to achieve this we helped the customer with some architectural decisions, introduced the concept of how to work with infrastructure-as-code in Azure and provided best practices on how to structure your azure environment using the integration capabilities at your disposal.
Establishing a cloud-based integration platform
A customer (product company) that had a product that sends and receives data to and from external sources, but hadn’t had integration as their primary focus, felt a growing need for a structured way of working with integration. The older on-premises platforms have in the past felt unnerving, but now the combination of their own customers talking about the cloud and the rapidly progressing cloud integration area they felt it was time establish a cloud-based integration platform. Azure was the pre-selected platform for the customer since they already had a number of non-integration services running there.
In a role as technical advisor, among other things we helped the customer with:
• Choosing the right development tools
• How to work with Source Control using Git
• How to work with Azure DevOps and CI/CD
• How to structure their integration environment; Resource Groups, Naming Conventions, Key Vault etc.
• Establishing Cloud Development guidelines.
• How to do Documentation
• Implementing an API Based, Proof-Of-Concept integration connected to their product.
Saving costs by going from iCore to Azure
A customer that had business to business integrations in the iCore integration platform using the EDIFACT standard, a data interchange standard developed under the United Nations, wanted to move integrations to Azure. By doing the move the customer will decrease the costs of managing on-premise servers and infrastructure. Azure has great support for EDIFACT using the function Integration Account. This function supports schemas, maps, partners and agreements to facilitate EDI integration setup.
The high level flow will be to receive the EDI message, check its sender and receiver, and the route the message using a Logic App to the recipient. This logic will be developed in Azure. In case the message is created or consumed on a on-premise server, a piece of Microsoft software will be installed on the server that connects the server to Azure in a secure way. ERPs involved in the projects are SAP and AX.
Azure components used: Logic apps, integration account, service bus and blob storage.