July 14, 2014 11 Comments
Microsoft introduced Hybrid Connections a few weeks ago, a [currently] free version of BizTalk Services that allows you to seamlessly connect Web Sites and Mobile Services hosted in Azure to LOB systems residing within your organisation’s network. Similar to Service Bus Relays, there is no need to open inbound firewall ports as a locally installed agent can establish the connection to Azure from within your network. To help support this feature, Microsoft also introduced a free tier of BizTalk Services specifically to accommodate Hybrid Connections.
The most obvious question asked by most is, “Will this replace Service Bus Relays?”. After all, they do seem very similar in concept. Michael Stephenson wrote an excellent blog post addressing this very question and identifying the key differences as well as the situations you would most likely choose one technology over the other.
What has sparked my post here is that the only examples I found highlighting this new feature were aimed at connecting to on-premises databases. While this is certainly impressive and useful (especially since your Azure Web Site can use the exact same connection string you would use for on-premises access!), it left me wondering how Hybrid Connections could be used to expose WCF Services within an internal network – without the need for configuring relay bindings. My interest in this capability has arisen from some recent experiences building hybrid solutions for our clients: