These six integrations show that Microsoft is serious about Spring Boot support in Azure

Microsoft doesn’t play favorites. Oh sure, they heavily promote their first party products. But after that, they typically take a big-tent, welcome-all-comers approach and rarely call out anything as “the best” or “our choice.” They do seem to have a soft spot for Spring, though. Who can blame them? You’ve got millions of Java/Spring developers out there, countless Spring-based workloads in the wild, and 1.6 million new projects created each month at start.spring.io. I’m crazy enough to think that whichever vendor attracts the most Spring apps will likely “win” the first phase of the public cloud wars.

With over a dozen unique integrations between Spring projects and Azure services, the gang in Redmond has been busy. A handful stand out to me, although all of them make a developer’s life easier.

#6 Azure Functions

I like Azure Functions. There’s not a lot extra machinery—such as API gateways—you have to figure out to use it. The triggers and bindings model are powerful. And it supports lots of different programming languages.

While many (most?) developers are polyglot and comfortable switching between languages, it’d make sense if you want to keep your coding patterns and tooling the same as you adopt a new runtime like Azure Functions. The Azure team worked with the Spring team to ensure that  developers could take advantage of Azure Functions, while still retaining their favorite parts of Spring. Specifically, they partnered on the adapter that wires up Azure’s framework into the user’s code, and testing of the end-to-end experience. The result? A thoughtful integration of Spring Cloud Functions and Azure Functions that gives you the best of both worlds. I’ve seen a handful of folks offer guidance, and tutorials. And Microsoft offers a great guide.

Always pick the right language based on performance needs, scale demands, etc. Above all else, you may want to focus on developer productivity, and using the language/framework that’s best for your team. Your productivity (or lack thereof) is more costly than any compute infrastructure!

#5 Azure Service Bus and Event Hubs

I’m a messaging geek. Connecting systems together is an underrated, but critically valuable skill. I’ve written a lot about Spring Cloud Stream in the past. Specifically, I’ve shown you how to use it with Azure Event Hubs, and even the Kafka interface.

Basically, you can now use Microsoft’s primary messaging platforms—Service Bus Queues, Service Bus Topics, Event Hubs—as the messaging backbone of a Spring Boot app. And you can do all that, without actually learning the unique programming models of each platform. The Spring Boot developer writes platform-agnostic code to publish messages to subscribe to messages, and the Spring Cloud Stream objects take care of the rest.

Microsoft has guides for working with Service BusEvent Hubs, and Event Hubs Kafka API. When you’re using Azure messaging services, I’m hard pressed to think of any easier way to interact with them than Spring Boot.

#4 Azure Cosmos DB

Frankly, all the database investment’s by Microsoft’s Java/Spring team have been impressive. You can cleanly interact with their whole suite of relational databases with JDBC and JPA via Spring Data.

I’m more intrigued by their Cosmos DB work. Cosmos DB is Microsoft’s global scale database service that serves up many different APIs. Want a SQL API? You got it. How about a MongoDB or Cassandra facade? Sure. Or maybe a graph API using Gremlin? It’s got that too.

Spring developers can use Microsoft-created SDKs for any of it. There’s a whole guide for using the SQL API. Likewise, Microsoft created walkthroughs for Spring devs using CassandraMongo, or Gremlin APIs. They all seem to be fairly expressive and expose the core capabilities you want from a Cosmos DB instance. 

#3 Azure Active Directory B2C

Look, security stuff doesn’t get me super pumped. Of course it’s important. I just don’t enjoy coding for it. Microsoft’s making it easier, though. They’ve got a Spring Boot Starter just for Azure Key Vault, and clean integration with Azure Active Directory via Spring Security. I’m also looking forward to seeing managed identities in these developer SDKs.

I like the support for Azure Active Directory B2C. This is a standalone Azure service that offer single sign-on using social or other 3rd party identities. Microsoft claims it can support millions of users, and billions of authentication requests. I like that Spring developers have such a scalable service to seamlessly weave into their apps. The walkthrough that Microsoft created is detailed, but straightforward. 

My friend Asir also presented this on stage with me at SpringOne last year in Austin. Here’s the part of the video where he’s doing the identity magic:

#2 Azure App Configuration

When you’re modernizing an app, you might only be aiming for one or two factors. Can you gracefully restart the thing, and did you yank configuration out of code? Azure App Configuration is a new service that supports the latter.

This service is resilient, and supports labeling, queryingencryption, and event listeners. And Spring was one of the first things they announced support for. Spring offers a robust configuration subsystem, and it looks like Azure App Configuration slides right in. Check out their guide to see how to tap into cloud-stored config values, whether your app itself is in the cloud, or not.

#1 Azure Spring Cloud

Now, I count about a dozen ways to run a Java app on Azure today. You’re not short of choices. Why add another? Microsoft saw demand for a Spring-centric runtime that caters to microservices using Spring Cloud. Azure Spring Cloud will reach General Availability soon, so I’m told, and offers features like config management, service discovery, blue/green deployments, integrated monitoring, and lots more. I’ve been playing with it for a while, and am impressed with what’s possible.

These integrations help you stitch together some pretty cool Azure cloud services into a broader Spring Boot app. That makes sense, when you consider what Spring Boot lead Phil Webb said at SpringOne a couple years back:

“A lot of people think that Spring is a dependency injection framework … Spring is more of an integration framework. It’s designed to take lots of different technologies that you might want to use and allow you to combine them in ways that feel nature.”

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is a Senior Director at VMware, with a master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Colorado. He’s also a 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud, Pluralsight trainer, lead InfoQ.com editor for cloud computing, frequent public speaker, and author of multiple books on software design and development. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

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