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Azure Scheduler retirement sends IT shops to Logic Apps

Microsoft's retirement of Azure Scheduler next year will mean more manual labor for users of the job scheduler. But the extra sweat will come with some benefits.

IT shops that execute jobs with Microsoft's Azure Scheduler have until late September 2019 to migrate to Azure Logic Apps -- a transition that will require adjustments, but also adds benefits.

Logic Apps provides a foundation for job scheduling, but its overall scope and intent are significantly broader than those of Scheduler. For one, there is a wealth of prebuilt connectors to both Microsoft services and third-party applications, such as SAP and Salesforce. These help customers save time and effort when a job needs to invoke actions from disparate assets in the cloud. Logic Apps also includes a visual designer that customers can use to create automated workflows.

To cite one example of the Azure job schedulers' different approaches, job collections created with Scheduler use a common set of quotas and thresholds to simplify management of similar sets of jobs, but with the tradeoff that job collections are constrained to one Azure region. Logic Apps encompasses independent resources on Azure, which enables more granular deployment and execution. It also supports more time zones, including adjustments for daylight saving time.

Logic Apps is a natural upgrade for job scheduling because of its ready-made integrations across the broader Microsoft stack, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.

For Microsoft, the shift from Azure Scheduler to Logic Apps also reduces redundant code and ultimately provides customers with a single, more advanced means to schedule jobs, added Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

Microsoft urged customers to prepare for the move to Logic Apps now, as it will delete all Scheduler jobs and collections from Azure on Sept. 30, 2019. Migration from Scheduler to Logic Apps will require some manual effort on the part of Azure shops, as there's no universal, single tool, according to a Microsoft FAQ. Microsoft will make various scripts available for users to modify to their needs, but the company only said to "check back later" for the availability of these scripts.

Schedulers are a central function for enterprises that have adopted IaaS as a means to automate their cloud workloads.

Moreover, scheduling apps and low-code workflow apps increasingly overlap, and Logic Apps' exposure of more infrastructure options made Scheduler obsolete, Mueller said.

Azure customers with extensive Scheduler code assets won't be happy, but at least they have the better part of a year to switch to Logic Apps, he added.

They also must examine how the switch will alter their costs. Azure Logic Apps is priced by the execution for actions and connectors, whereas Scheduler costs incur for each unit. Standard units in Logic Apps include 10 job collections and are priced at $13.99 per month; premium units, which include much larger numbers of job collections, cost up to $1,399 per month.

Cloud job schedulers part of IaaS providers' enterprise pitch

The delivery of advanced scheduler capabilities is a key goal for all IaaS providers, as they seek to attract more enterprise customers. Last month, Google Cloud Platform released Cloud Scheduler, a managed service based on the open source cron project.

Microsoft has stated that Azure lies at the heart of all of its major corporate initiatives. The company showcased more than 70 new Azure features and services at its Ignite conference in September.

Scheduler isn't the only Azure service Microsoft has spiked. Just last month, it retired Azure Access Control Service. As with Scheduler, though, Microsoft gave customers about a year to move onto alternatives, such as Azure Active Directory.

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