Get started with Azure Event Grid for serverless events

Microsoft extends its serverless Azure platform to handle events via an infrastructureless publish-and-subscribe service

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Microsoft’s Event Grid is an important addition to Microsoft’s serverless options, providing the back end needed to build distributed applications that can work at scale, with minimal management and orchestration. It brings to Microsoft’s serverless tools an event routing fabric that simplifies subscribing to events raised by other Azure services and by external sources.

There’s a lot to be said for using serverless computing models as the basis of a modern cloud application architecture. For one thing, there’s no need to worry about the underlying infrastructure, or even the network you’re using, reducing the management load on your application orchestration tools. But serverless models, like Microsoft’s Azure Functions, are themselves limited, launching on demand in response to events. If they don’t receive the appropriate signals, they don’t fire.

Working with Azure events

So how should you capture events? Traditional event queues are an issue in distributed architectures, because it can be hard to ensure that events are delivered correctly. Ideally, you want messages to be idempotent, delivered once and once only, with that delivery guaranteed. In practice, that’s a hard problem to solve, so you’re more likely to use a system that delivers a message at least once; that way, you can use back-end code to clean up logs and stored data, using event and message IDs to identify duplicates.

With Event Grid, Microsoft has done the hard work of building a publish-and-subscribe system for you, integrating it with notifications from various Azure services. Events are now a first-class object, and your Event Grid configuration can filter and direct events to appropriate services. It’s also scalable, so it can handle simple architectures with one or two sources as well as complex environments with thousands.

At its simplest, Event Grid is a tool for routing event notifications from sources in Azure to Azure Functions. It turns your Azure environment into a notification fabric. Unlike traditional service buses, there’s no traditional workflow model here: An event happens, it launches an appropriate function, and your application is triggered.

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