Back when I was a BizTalk developer I used something called sequential convoys. Two main features that had to be implemented to use that pattern was a timeout shape, and a parallel branch. The flow either received a new message or it “timed out”, executing some other logic, perhaps sending an aggregated batch to a database.
Looking at logic apps the same pattern does not match 100% but there are still very good uses for parallel actions and clever use of the delay action.
Can a Logic App timeout?
The question is quite fair: How can we get a behavior that makes the Logic App send back a timeout if a run does not complete within a given time frame? In order to illustrate this I have set up a Logic App that takes inspiration from the sequential convoy pattern:
Receives a request
Starts a delay (the timeout) in one branch.
Starts a call to an external service in the other branch.
If the service responds back before the delay (timeout) is done, HTTP 200 is sent back.
If the service does not respond back in time, HTTP 504 (Gateway timeout) is sent back.
For demo reasons I have added another delay shape to the “call the service”-branch to make the call take too long, and to trigger the timeout.
The Logic App
If the TimeoutResponse triggers, the Logic App engine will recognize this and it will not try to send the other response. That action will be skipped. If you execute the Logic App and this happens the run will be marked as “Failed” in the run history, which then in turn points to a timeout.
The json for the Logic App can be downloaded here.
Some caveats and perhaps better solutions
Note that in this Logic App, the HTTP call to the service will still be executed, even if TimeoutResponse will execute. That can be fixed using the Terminate action.
Lastly you also should think about why you need to implement a timeout in a Logic App. Can’t the calling client set a timeout on their end? If not, why? Can this be solved in some other way? If there is a risk of timing out, can you rebuild the messaging paths in a more async (webbhook) manor? One call from the client starts one process and another Logic App sends the result when the processing is done.
I might find scenarios when this is very useful. I have yet to find it but it is nice to know that it’s there and how it behaves.
This blog post was updated on September 10th 2019, with the new functionality added to Azure. It is now possible to share Gateways between Azure Subcriptions.
This blog post seeks to fully explain the planning, installation, and maintenance of the On-Premises Data Gateway, by Microsoft, with a focus is on Enterprise Integration usage, and not on other features, like integration with PowerBI.
Out of scope
The post assumes a basic knowledge of the gateway, the technical aspects of how it connects and communicates and how to use it once it is installed.
As it focuses on the enterprise integration using Logic Apps or even Microsoft Flow, the personal edition of the On-Premises data gateway will not be discussed, nor will the workaround for how to run the On-Premises data gateway without an Office 365 subscription or Azure AD as that is considered non-enterprise – more information on how to implement this workaround, can be found here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/logic-apps/logic-apps-gateway-install
The OPG makes it easy to connect to on-premises resources like MS SQL server, web services and even the file system. It is a one stop shop for a lot of different services, that could be exposed using custom code but using only one, easily maintained, clustered service. The ease of configuration comes with a price.
These considerations must be taken into account while planning the architecture of a solution that consumes OPG.
As part of the OPG setup to enable enterprise connections with Logic Apps, it must be registered in Azure – which requires to associate OPG to an Azure region. Once registered, only resources deployed in the same region will be able to access the gateway.
As the gateway is registered during the initial setup process, planning is required to make sure the gateway is registered in the same Azure region as the resources that will consume it.
The OPG service is installed on a server in Europe. The installation registered the OPG in the West Europe Azure region. Any Logic App that plans to consume the OPG must be deployed in the West Europe Azure region.
The OPG service is on a server in Brazil. The OPG registration is setup in the West US 2 Azure region. Any Logic App that consumes the OPG must be deployed in the West US 2 Azure region.
Note that the actual physical placement of the server the OPG service will be installed on does not matter. Where the OPG is registered is important. For better performance, it is recommended that the Azure region selected is the closest to the physical placement to minimize latency. But that will vary from project to project and will take other factors in consideration.
Azure Subscription considerations
To fully get the benefits of the OPG ease of use, you need an AAD (Azure AD) account. This means the Azure subscription where the OPG will be setup must be linked to an AAD tenant. If you are considering using the OPG, chances are that the organization already has AAD activated. So, simply put: You need a special user in AAD to represent the OPG.
You can have several gateways registered in the same subscription, or several gateways registered in several subscriptions, using either the same or different users, so it is very flexible depending on your needs. A later addition to the feature-set is that registered gateways can be shared between subscriptions. This impacts security boundaries but makes it easier to reuse one installation many times from several different projects/subscriptions.
You can only install one on premise data gateway service per server. This means that if you want to have several Azure subscriptions, using separate AAD users, pointing to the same data source, you need to install one On-Premises service per subscription, each on a separate server.
You can, however, share On-Premise Gateway registrations between subscriptions. This may have implications on isolation between different environments (Dev, test and production). More on that later.
The same consideration is valid if you need to consume the same data source from different regions in the same subscription, since a registration is only valid for one region.
More information on this is available in the architecture and scenario below.
For OPG to be able to connect to Azure, the following pre-requisites must be setup in advance:
Configure firewall outbound rules
A valid AAD/Office 365 account.
Also note that some connectors need additional software to be installed, like the NCo 3.0 for the SAP connector or additional code for the PostgreSQL connector.
Firewall outbound rules configuration
Configuring a firewall to allow a service that can avoid firewall changes to work seems counter intuitive, but this configuration helps OPG to function with the best performance
Only used to download the installer
Used to communicate with the Azure Relay, Azure Login and much more.
Used in AMQP scenarios
Used to communicate with the Azure Relay over TCP. Used as default
For some networks, the firewall might already be open on port 80 and 443. The gateway needs some additional ports to function as efficiently as possible; 5671 and 5672 as well as 9350 to 9354.
Note! This IP-list is updated every week, so you need to make sure your firewall is updated accordingly.
The other way of limiting the impact of the gateway on the firewall is to force the gateway to use HTTPs and not use direct TCP. There is a setting in the gateway application for this. The upside is that you only need port 443 to be opened. The downside is that the performance of the gateway may be greatly reduced.
Note! If you enable this, you do not have to worry about other ports, besides 443.
AAD or O365 account
Depending on your needs, you might need more than one account. The important thing to remember is to have at least one account per subscription. It is possible to have the same account for several subscriptions, but the isolation of different account for production and non-productions, calls for at least two.
The new account must be part of the Contributor Role for the subscription you will use it in. This is only needed during the installation and registration process. After that step, the account can be downgraded.
The account should be treated as a service-account and if you can exclude it from password changing policies, be sure to do that. Create a very secure password to mitigate the risk of the password policy exclusion.
There are a lot of features in the On-Premises data gateway, but one needs to be understood in order to plan the architecture: clustering.
The gateway service supports clustering, not the classic Windows cluster, but a cluster of services that can talk to one another. When you install a service on a server, you are creating a single point of failure. This means that if that server is lost, the integration is lost. Even a restart might impact your integration capabilities and availability. To support a 24/7-scenario you need to mitigate this risk.
When planning for enterprise use of the On-Premises data gateway, you must consider using two separate servers for the On-Premises part of the On-Premises data gateway. The details on how to install the gateway as a cluster will be explained below.
Enterprise level architecture
The On-Premises data gateway is a very good fit for small businesses and individual developers and accounts, but the demands of scaling to the enterprise level makes planning the installation key to success. This article sets up an architecture that, might be a common scenario.
The solution architecture for traditional enterprise level isolation
The company Contoso is aiming to leverage Azure for exposing SAP data to the cloud and its more cloud centric vendors and customers. Contoso has been running SAP as its main ERP for years and do not feel the need to move into the cloud, at least for now.
Contoso is using a very traditional division between different environments: a fully isolated production environment, maintained mainly by IT professionals and SAP administrators. The next layer is a test environment, used by both developers to do system tests but also integration testing. The last layer is the dev environment, which is used by SAP developers and some limited testing.
Contoso want to have the same division of responsibility in Azure and that results in three different subscriptions: dev 1, dev/test and prod. The dev 1 subscription could potentially be replaced by other subscriptions or there might be new dev subscriptions added later. The dev/test subscription is to be used by both developers doing system tests, and testers doing integration tests. The solution must be able to shift back and forth between the SAP DEV and SAP TEST environments, depending on the type of testing to be done.
This results in the following setup:
The drawing shows the three different environments: prod, test/dev and dev and how they connect to the different SAP environments.
Looking at the production side, to the left, there is one AAD account for production. This account is also used on the two production servers to register the same gateway on two servers, making that gateway clustered. The gateway registration in Azure can be accessed by several Logic Apps, if they are in the same region. Contoso has chosen North Europe as their main location and therefore the gateway is registered there.
This environment is in North Europe as well. The subscription has its own AAD account but the difference here is that the account is used twice, on two separate On-Premises servers. This is because Contoso wants separation between test/dev and development environments.
The gateway could be installed on one server and then point to either the SAP TEST machine or the SAP DEV machine. The Contoso policy on separation of environments does not allow this, so a separate machine is needed to be able to point to SAP DEV from the dev/test environment.
This gives two different gateway registrations in Azure, which makes it easy to find what gateway to use and makes it easier to be sure the right SAP environment is accessed.
This is the first, of possibly several development subscriptions. It is in another region, and even if the Contoso SAP servers is in northern Europe, the developer has chosen to register the gateway in West US 2. The gateway service is still installed at the same On-Premises datacenter as the others, illustrating the flexibility of the gateway registration.
The AAD account is unique to the subscription. It could potentially be used by all Logic Apps in the same subscription and region. However, should another dev subscription be set up, that cannot use the same gateway installation, but the AAD account could be reused. The ADD account could basically be the same for all development subscriptions.
The solution architecture for minimal installation
The company Fabrikam is moving quickly in the cloud space. Being able to shift focus quickly is important. They wanted a “fix all” solution with a minimum of implementation effort. They are using three different environments for SAP On-Premise and connected the gateway during development.
Basically, they wanted minimal effort, despite the risks.
VM1 in OnPremise network
The OPG service is installed on this, one, server. It can be used by its corresponding OPG registration in Azure. The service on VM1 is able to reach all implementations of SAP.
OPG registration in Azure
This is installed using an AAD account. The registration can be reached from all Logic Apps independent from which environment should be used. The registration has been done in the DEV/TEST subscription but could just as well be installed in production, and the used from Logic Apps in TEST/DEV as well.
The OPG registration should probably be moved to production, where a more stringent rule system could stop people from accidentally changing or deleting it.
The different SAP environments have different addresses and username/password combinations, so even if the production environment can be reached from the development area, the developer still needs the right credentials.
The solution for the recommended minimal installation
There is a lot of flexibility in how the OPG can be installed and configured. Taking both the scenarios into account, and finding a minimal, viable solution we arrive at this:
Division between DEV/TEST and Production
The most notable difference between this solution and the minimal one is a clear division between DEV/TEST and production. Even though the ability to use one gateway registration over subscription boundaries, the distinction between production and non-production should always be a priority.
Achieving this division is done by:
Install the OPG service on separate servers
Using this strategy, a division of network related boundaries can be respected.
Register the installations using different AAD accounts
Using different users for production and non-production systems is just a very good habit.
Isolating the OPG server
This is usually a good thing. If the server can be isolated using a firewall or routing, that should be done. This is usually something the integrator has no power over.
This is optional, but the SLA for an integration platform is only as good as the cumulative of its parts. If the GW server is down, or needs to be patched, all integrations using the OPG server is also down. The simple cluster solution of OPG is light weight and easy to use.
Planning the installation
In either scenario above, there are quite a lot of activities that needs to be completed. This is a list of all the activities in, somewhat, chronological order. Add or remove activities based on your scenario.
Create an AAD account for development
Create a user in SAP for the integrations. Make sure the user has access rights.
Make an On-Premises server available for installation
Make sure the installing technician has proper access rights to install the OnPremise Data gateway service.
Request opening the firewall for 443, and ideally the other ports as well to the Azure region of choice.
Make sure the On-Premises server can access the On-Premises resources, in this case SAP. Test using PowerShell.
Install the OnPremise Data gateway in the On-Premises server
Configure the OnPremise data gateway
Register the OnPremise data gateway in Azure, using the AAD account.
Test the OnPremise data gateway from Azure using a Logic App and the file system connector.
Test the OnPremise data gateway from Azure and connect to SAP Dev.
Redo all activities for test if you have a separate environment for it
Redo all activities for production. Optionally make sure production uses at least two servers to enable clustering.
Install the OnPremise data gateway on the primary production server.
Install the OnPremise data gateway on the secondary production server, making sure the installation makes it a part of a cluster.
Choose the default installation path, click accept and then Install
Fill in the AAD account in the textbox and click Sign in.
After sign in you need to name your gateway. This is the name it will have in Azure. Also, you need to set a recovery key. This is used for recovering a gateway, should you lose the installation or server. Make sure you store this key safely.
Important! Do not forget to update or change the region! Click the “Change region” link at the botton.
Choose the Azure region that you want to register the gateway in. Click Done.
Now you are ready to register so click the configure button. When the configuration is done the window should look like this The other tabs (Status, Service settings, Diagnostics, Network) can be left as is for now.
Registering the Gateway in Azure
After installing and configuring the On-Premises data gateway, you need to log into the Azure portal to register the gateway. This is for security and ease of use reasons. The On-Premises gateway has registered an endpoint in Azure, but to be able to access this endpoint you must register it in your Azure subscription, to make sure the endpoint can only be accessed from the right subscription.
Login to the Azure Portal using the AAD account you used to register the gateway.
Find the symbol for “On-Premises data gateways”. You may need to use the “All services” menu option in the menu to the left. Just click that, and search for “On-Premises”, then select it.
On the page where the available gateways are listed, click Add.
The blade should autofill. If not, try changing the region. Azure will find its registrations and populate the “Installation Name” dropdown.
Fill in the required properties. The name of the resource could reflect the name of the On-Premises gateway installation. That is a good way of matching the On-Premises installation with the Azure registration.
To test if the gateway is available, log in as a Logic App developer, find the “On-Premises gateways”-list and look for it there.
Installing a clustered instance
By simply installing a single instance of an On-Premises gateway service, you potentially create a single point of failure. One way to mitigate that is to install a secondary instance and have that be a part of a cluster.
Login to the other On-Premises server.
Download the same installation program as before.
Install it the same way as before.
Sign into the gateway using the same account as before.
Give the installation the same name (not needed for functionality)
Tick the “Add to an existing gateway cluster” box.
Choose your previous installed gateway in the dropdown. Note! If the dropdown does not populate, make sure you have chosen the same Azure region as the last installation.
Click configure and wait.
Uninstalling the On-Premises data gateway
Since the gateway consists of two parts, the on-premise service and the registration in Azure uninstalling the gateway consists of two steps.
Uninstall the service
The easiest way of doing this is to simply use the Remove programs feature in Windows control panel.
Open the Control panel.
Choose “Uninstall a program”.
Right-click “On-premises data gateway” and chose “Uninstall”.
Repeat for every clustered instance.
Unregister/Delete the Azure registration
You can delete the registration directly from the portal
Log into the Azure Portal using your gateway O365 account.
Find the gateway and bring up the overview blade.
Click delete right at the top left of the blade.
Fill in the name of the gateway
Delete the Gateway cluster registration in Azure
Behind every Gateway registration there is something called a cluster registration, as a gateway is always part of a cluster. To delete the cluster registration, you can only use the PowerBI portal and only delete registrations in the default region of the user.
Go to PowerBI.com
Login using the Gateway AAD user
In the upper right corner, click the settings option, and choose “Manage Gateways”.
In the list to the left, click the three dots next to the cluster you want to remove.
In the popup menu, click remove.
If the gateway cluster does not show up in the list, the gateway was installed a region that is not the default for the user.
Gateway settings and how to use them
If you start the gateway interface, you can easily access four different settings-tabs.
Here you can see if you service is running, and if you log in you can see additional information from Azure.
Here you can restart the gateway, if you do not want to use the services.msc interface or use “net-stop” from the command line.
You can also change the local user account for the gateway. This is usually not necessary as that account only accesses local resources. That account is not used to access external resources, like an SQL server for instance. Those credentials are sent from Azure.
You can make the gateway turn on verbose logging by using the slide-control and the restart the gateway service. This logging option takes up a lot of space and should not be used as default.
You can also export the logs, that will make the gateway create a zipfile with all the logs.
Looking at the logs from this picture. There are three separate logs. The first two files are activity logs. Usually filled with information about the connection pool being cleaned. If you want to debug connectivity issues, this is the log to look in.
The next four files are configuration logs. If you are having trouble during startup of the service, these logs might provide you with useful information.
The last file is a list of properties, like the actual relay endpoint and the gateway guid.
This is a very good place to solve connectivity issues.
The first information tells you if you are connected or not. This is usually “Connected”. If not you might have firewall issues. Click “Check now” to make sure if you are disconnected.
If you have connection issues, or if you need to, you can also turn on HTTPs mode. The reason for this, and the drawbacks are listed under “Open the firewall” above. If you turn on HTTPs mode, you need to restart the gateway service. If the gateway connects after you turn on HTTPs mode, the firewall is only opened for port 443.
If it still does not connect, make sure you actually have an open firewall by executing these PowerShell commands:
This is very focused on SQL server and OLEDB but the most important metric is CPU usage and memory usage. Make sure they do not spike. Having the CPU run up to 100%, or seeing a high memory usage, when using the OPG service, might point to either badly designed integrations, or the server being too small.
Making sure the service can auto-restart after a server restart and monitor the service status is also key.
You need to call a SOAP service that returns XML and you want to use Liquid templates instead of XSLT, because it is new and fresh and fun. You use the SOAP passthru as it is the most flexible way of calling a SOAP service.
The colon is a special char in Liquid templates and I found no way of \"escaping\" it.
The way I solved this was by using the [ and ] characters to encapsulate the name, as a string, of the property I wanted to access. That way you can access the property or object using whatever string you like. This means you can access the unitprice above like this:
Accessing properties deep in a document can be quite tasking if you need to use a sting like that to get property values in your Liquid template. Use the ability to assign an object to a variable. This means that you can get a Liquid template that looks like this for assigning prices using the payload above:
There is always this thing with Logic Apps and network-based security. You need the big ISE version of it to make that happen. The cost of that might be too high for your needs. Instead of giving up on Logic Apps and turning to Azure Functions you should consider the options available to you.
I like keeping things within the SaaS or PaaS layer and if I can steer away from IaaS, I will.
This is not a complete list of ways of securing your Logic Apps, but rather a list of what is easily available to you out of the bix.
Logic apps are publicly available … but
Yes! This is true and is also a very useful feature when you need it. All you have to do is publish a Logic App with an HTTP trigger and you are good to go. You even get a string secured by a signature. If this signature is not formatted correctly the Logic App cannot be called.
However, if that signature gets compromised, you have problems. Giving out complex keys is one way of handling security that we refer to as "security thru obfuscation", and that might not be enough.
Limit the ways the Logic App can be called
In the Logic app settings you can find "Workflow settings":
If you click that you find a page where you can set Access Control and that is what you are looking for.
Look at the Allowed inbound IP addresses, you have a dropdown with three levels: Any IP, Only Other Logic Apps, Specific IP ranges. Lets take a look at what you can do with these.
This is fairly obvious, and it simply allows calls from everywhere. As long at the caller uses the correct signature, an instance is started. This is the default and does not add any security.
Only Other Logic Apps
This is interesting as it only allows this Logic App to be started by another Logic App. This means that it is a sub-process of that Logic App. The very useful, and perhaps not that obvious, feature of this is that it only allows calls from the same Azure Subscription. This means that even if someone has the full signature and calls the Logic App from their own Logic App, the call is not authenticated. So you can view the boundary of the Azure Subscription as a network boundary.
I colleague and me tested this. I created a simple Logic App that called a Logic App he had outside the same subscription, but we made sure to use the same Azure Region. He then updated the settings to only allow other Logic Apps. This is the result:
We then updated his Logic App to allow from Any IP, and this was the result:
As you can see, I got an error. This error is not a security error though, but rather an error due to me not supplying the correct data in the call. Note that the address clearly points to the public address of the Logic App.
This feature is used in cases where you know, who is calling your Logic App and you are sure that IP will never change. I personally never use this other when calling Logic Apps from VMs that I know will use a particular IP-address. If you need to handle calls and user based on IPs and such, I suggest you use API management in front of the Logic App. The new consumption-based tier fits very well with this scenario.
Calling Logic Apps from Azure API management is easy and a great way to bring some order to your APIs.
However, when you call a Logic App, it returns a lot of headers that contain information that you want to hide from your API consumers. In order to do that, simply add the following to your policy for outbound:
If you want to, you can add it at the API level to override the headers for all operations, or you can set it at an even higher level. Just add it under All APIs just to be sure that you do not send Logic App headers back to the API consumer.