Azure App Service Debuts

Developers can start using the Azure-based App Service apps, with other cross-platform/cross-device services available in preview.

As if echoing the company's "mobile-first, cloud-first" mantra, Microsoft yesterday debuted a new service, called Azure App Service, for building cross-platform/cross-device apps originating from the company's Azure cloud environment.

"App Service is an integrated solution that streamlines development while enabling easy integration with on-premises and SaaS systems while providing the ability to quickly automate business processes," explained Bill Staples, Microsoft corporate vice president, App Platform, Azure Group, in a blog post.

In simpler terms, Azure App Service is a fully managed service for building apps for any device. It's an integration of Microsoft Azure Websites, Azure Mobile Services, and Azure BizTalk Services for a variety of app types: Web, Mobile, Logic and API apps.

Web Apps, available now, is a fully managed service for building Web-enabled apps that can be automatically scaled based on client need. Developers need only worry about which tools to use to build apps, and can turn to a gallery of pre-built modules to quicken the app-building process. Developers can also use familiar versioning, authentication, and performance monitoring tools for building them. Infrastructure specs (even licensing and SLAs) are taken care of by Azure, scaling the app's needs up or down. Web Apps can be deployed globally through Azure Traffic Manager.

Mobile Apps, currently available in preview (as are Logic Apps and API Apps), is based on Azure Mobile Services, and contains client SDKs for Windows, iOS and Android platforms, as well as support for Xamarin and Apache Cordova. It offers a streamlined method for developing device-specific apps that take into account authentication to on-premises and cloud-based services, with offline sync support for sometimes-connected devices. It also comes with more than 40 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) API connectors in its present iteration.

Logic Apps connects data and services of many popular SaaS apps to Azure Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services, and it does so with a visual designer, so it's not really a developer-oriented service (but there are enough developer hooks in it for customizing it). And neither is API Apps, upon which Logic Apps is based. With API Apps, a technical-savvy user (or developer, for that matter), can select from any number of available cloud or on-premises APIs or even customized ones.

Azure App Service supports the Microsoft .NET Framework, Node.js, Java, PHP, and Python languages. Pricing for Azure App Service apps is billed at the same rate as services under the current Azure Websites.

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