BUSINESS IMPACT

Nov 12, 2015

External Data Made Easy with Microsoft Azure Logic Apps

Leo Furlong Posted by Leo Furlong

OK, maybe I am overly excited, but Azure Logic Apps are really cool.  Pulling in external data for our clients' data warehouse or analytics applications used to be time consuming.  Microsoft has released a new solution on Azure that greatly increases the speed of building and deploying our solutions requiring external data sets.  The possibilities are limitless - someone even automated watering their lawn with Logic Apps!

While I am not going to automate watering my lawn, I do care about my clients and their businesses. I want to help them increase sales, reduce costs and understand risks.  Combining data sets, both internal and external, can help provide the insights I need to solve these challenges. Automating external data sources can be painful, and this is where Azure Logic Apps can help.

Azure Logic Apps

Adding Business Value with External Data
Many companies and organizations are now blending their traditional sales and CRM data with external data sources to create more meaningful solutions. For example, sales data can be blended with historical and forecast weather data to find out how weather patterns impact sales in individual stores throughout the day.

If I can find real patterns in the data, I can plan customer service levels in my stores to handle those patterns - whether that means an increase in staff to handle peaks or a reduction to save labor costs. Similar solutions could be created with social media data like Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp to address customer sentiment issues. 

Pulling External Data Made Easy
Azure Logic Apps makes it easy to pull in data from external data sources which are usually provided by RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs). Traditionally, developers had to create .NET applications in Visual Studio to consume APIs, and it was time consuming and challenging to manage.

With Logic Apps, developers can do this with a user friendly drag-and-drop GUI (they can write custom code directly in Azure if needed). Additionally, Logic Apps come with many pre-developed connectors like HTTP, Twitter, SQL Server, and Azure Blob Storage that are immediately available via the Azure Market place.

At BlueGranite we've already started using Logic Apps with our client projects.  In the video below I'll provide a technical walkthrough and give you a quick demonstration of what Logic Apps can do for your big data, advanced analytics, or IOT project.

 
 
 
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What's Next?

In my next blog post, we'll explore working with JSON files and uncover easy ways to add JSON file data to SQL Server. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about using Logic Apps to pull in external data sources, contact BlueGranite today.  

To learn more about watering your lawn with Logic Apps, visit this post from Microsoft's Channel 9.

Leo Furlong

About The Author

Leo Furlong

Leo is a Solution Architect at BlueGranite. He is an experienced Data and Analytics Architect with extensive experience implementing Digital Transformation Strategy, using on-premise and Azure cloud technologies. Leo is also comfortable in Management Consulting roles around Data and Analytics or leading and contributing toward deliverables across the entire project lifecycle.

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