New Development Feature for Azure Stream Analytics

Gaining insights from our data, especially in real-time is an important part of any business. Today I’d like to talk about some new development options for Azure Stream Analytics. If you’re not clear on what Azure Stream Analytics is, it’s a fully managed cloud solution in Azure that allows you to rapidly develop and deploy low cost solutions to gain real-time insights from devices, sensors, infrastructure and applications.

Stream Analytics is part of the Azure IoT suite which brings IoT to life and allows you to easily connect your devices and analyze previously untapped data and integrate business systems. The IoT workspace is expanding as it offers so much capability and information for things like production floors, jet engines and automobiles, just to name a few. I did another blog on some of the features here.

Today my focus is a new feature that allows you to do some local testing within Visual Studio to query logic with live data without needing to run in the cloud. You can test your queries locally while using live data streams from the sources such as Event Hub, IoT Hub or Blob Storage. Also, you can use the Stream Analytics time policies to be able to start and stop queries in a matter of seconds.

This offers a big improvement in development productivity, as you can save a lot time on the inner loop of query logic testing.

Some major benefits are:

  • The behavior query consistency, so you get the same experience when you’re using Visual Studio or the cloud interface.
  • Much shorter test cycles. You normally can expect a lag in cloud development. Now testing queries directly in Visual Studio in your local environment presents the opportunity to show the shape of the data coming in to help you easily adjust the query and see some immediate results.

A couple of caveats with deployment in this new feature:

  • The local testing feature should only be used for functional testing purposes. It doesn’t replace the performance or scalability tests that you would do inside the cloud.
  • It really should not be used for production purposes since it doesn’t guarantee any kind of SLA.
  • Also note, that when you’re on your machine, you can rely on local resources but when you deploy to the cloud, you can scale out to multiple nodes which allows you to add more streams and additional resources in order to process those.
  • Cloud deployment ensures things like check pointing, upgrades and other features that you need for production deployments, as well as provides the infrastructure to run your jobs 24/7.

So, remember, this new enhancement is just for testing purposes to help shorten the query and development cycle and avoid the lag in other testing and development tools. But a cool, time saving feature to investigate, and Microsoft is adding more features to Azure Steam Analytics.

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