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What is Azure Service Fabric?

What is Azure Service Fabric?

A notable distinction of Service Fabric is its intense focus on developing stateful services. You can use the Service Fabric programming paradigm or run container-based stateful services written in any language or code.

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Overview of Azure Service Fabric

Azure Service Fabric is an open source project that powers Azure infrastructure and other Microsoft Azure services such as Azure Event Hubs, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure SQL DB, Dynamic 365, and Cortana.

Overview of Azure Service Fabric
  • Service Fabric is a framework for building and deploying microservices-based systems that can handle both stateful and stateless processes.
  • It runs on any Windows system and also has a Linux version, making it portable across many cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, OpenStack, and VMware.
  • Apps built in the Microsoft Azure Fabric environment are composed of granular microservices, which are small bits of code that are uploaded and run individually.
  • Microservice-based applications can benefit from lifecycle management capabilities provided by Service Fabric.

Azure Service Fabric capabilities

  1. Azure Service Fabric is infrastructure-independent and can be deployed on-premises or in any cloud, you can think of – AWS, Azure, OpenStack, VMware.
  2. It supports a variety of developer tools and includes built-in programming frameworks for creating apps easier.
  3. It also enables stateful microservices, in which computers and data are co-located to minimize latency and improve performance.
  4. It is OS-independent, supporting both Windows and Linux.
  5. The software development kit (SDK) development environment is identical to the production environment. This means that the same code which runs on your local development cluster will be distributed to other environments’ clusters.

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Azure Service Fabric Mesh

  • Azure Service Fabric Mesh is a completely managed service that enables you to design, deploy, and manage applications composed of polyglot services running within containers utilizing a “serverless” method.
  • Service Fabric Mesh offers intelligent message routing with software-defined networking (SDN) features developed with Envoy Proxy, allowing service discovery and routing between microservices.
  • Azure Service Fabric has three public offerings: Service Fabric Azure Cluster service, Service Fabric Standalone service, and Azure Service Fabric Mesh service.
  • Service Mesh focuses on being an application platform by abstracting orchestration away from the end engineer and adding sophisticated messaging routing and storage that you can utilize with your apps.
  • The service fabric platform includes a built-in, high availability, low-latency in-memory persistent state store. This store can be accessed by programmatic data structures (Dictionary and Queues) or as associated volume disks.

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Features of a Microservices

Features of a Microservices

Microservice architecture are made up of components/services that communicate over standard protocols and may be deployed, maintained, and scaled independently.

  • Smaller, independent service: Functionality is broken down into smaller, distinct services.
  • Agility and DevOps: Consists of tiny bits of code that may be versioned, deployed, and scaled separately. Smaller, geographically dispersed teams can function autonomously. To achieve the desired agility, a DevOps-based tooling solution is necessary.
  • Interoperability:  Interfaces and protocols (REST method with HTTP and TCP protocols and XML or JSON as serialization format) are specified to interface with other services.
  • Resilient: In the event of a failure, the services remain constant and available.
  • Monitoring: Health events and diagnoses provided by the services assist in making informed decisions, which assists in the development of self-healing services.
  • Scalability: Each service can be separately and substantially scaled.

What is a Service Fabric cluster in Azure?

A Service Fabric cluster is a network-connected collection of virtual or physical computers where your microservices are deployed and managed. A cluster node is a system or virtual machine that is a member of a cluster. Clusters can have thousands of nodes.

Benefits of clusters on Azure

Benefits of clusters on Azure
  • Azure portal: Clusters may be easily created and managed using the Azure portal.
  • Azure Resource Manager: The usage of Azure Resource Manager enables easy control of all resources used by the cluster as a whole, as well as cost tracking, and billing.
  • Integration with Azure Infrastructure: Service Fabric works with the underlying Azure infrastructure to increase the availability and reliability of your applications through OS, network, and other upgrades.
  • Diagnostics: We can integrate Azure diagnostics with Azure Monitor logs.
  • Autoscaling: You can leverage built-in autoscaling capability in Azure clusters via Virtual Machine scale sets. In on-premises and other cloud settings, you must create your autoscaling functionality or scale manually using the APIs exposed by Service Fabric for scaling clusters.

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Benefits of standalone clusters

  • You can host your cluster with whatever cloud provider you like.
  • Once created, Service Fabric apps can operate with little to no modifications across a variety of hosting settings.
  • The ability to create a Service Fabric app transfers from one hosting environment to the next.
  • The operational experience gained from maintaining and managing Service Fabric clusters transfers from one environment to the next.

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Azure Kubernetes vs Service Fabric

KubernetesService Fabric
Runs almost anywhere, Managed offerings like AKS exist in all clouds  On prem (Windows only ) or in the cloud ( Windows, Linux )
Contains only ContainersContainers, Guest Executables, Native Services
Language agnosticLanguage agnostic. Deep integration with Java and .NET
You can bring your own programming modelsBring your own or use built-in strong programming models
No Actor model supportBuilt-in Actor model

Even check out the difference between Azure Availability Set and Azure Zone.

Azure Service Fabric architecture

A microservices architecture that has been implemented using Azure Service Fabric is shown in this reference model. It shows a straightforward cluster architecture that can act as the basis for the majority of deployments.

Azure Service Fabric architecture


The architecture is made up of the following elements:

  • Service Fabric cluster: A collection of network-connected virtual machines (VMs) where you can deploy and manage your microservices.
  • Virtual machine scale sets: You can use virtual machine scale sets to create and manage a collection of identical, load-balanced, and autoscaling virtual machines.
  • Nodes: The Service Fabric cluster’s nodes are the VMs.
  • Node types: A set of virtual machine sizes called a node type deploys a group of nodes. At least one node type is present in a Service Fabric cluster. One must be chosen as the Primary node type when a cluster contains multiple node types. The major node type in the cluster manages the system services for the Service Fabric. These services make the platform characteristics of Service Fabric possible. The seed nodes of the cluster, which are the nodes that keep the underlying cluster functioning, are also members of the principal node category.
  • Services: A service is a separate process that may be started and ended without affecting other services. The cluster nodes receive service instances. There are two categories of services in Service Fabric:
  • Stateless services: A stateless service hardly ever remembers its own state. The data is written to and read from an external store, such as Azure Cosmos DB, if state persistence is required.
  • Stateful service: Within the service, the service state is maintained. Reliable Collections from Service Fabric are used by most stateful services to accomplish this.
  • Service Fabric Explorer: Service Fabric clusters are inspected and managed using the free and open-source tool Service Fabric Explorer.
  • Azure Pipelines: Builds, testing, and deployments are automated via the Azure DevOps Service Pipelines.
  • Azure Monitor: Platform metrics for Azure services in the solution as well as application telemetry are captured and stored by Azure Monitor. Azure Monitor captures and stores metrics and logs, including platform metrics for Azure services in the solution and application telemetry.
  • Azure Key Vault: Connection strings and other application secrets that the microservices utilize must be stored in Key Vault.
  • Azure API Management: In this architecture, Azure API Management performs the role of an API gateway by receiving client requests and directing them to your services.

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The microservices model is currently benefiting hundreds of enterprises. Azure Service Fabric is without a doubt one of the most powerful solutions for lowering the complications of such systems and meeting the needs of a variety of sectors, like manufacturing, financial sectors, gaming, IoT, and any other app that benefits from enhanced scalability and resilience.

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About the Author

Application Architect

Rupinder is a certified IT expert in AWS and Azure, working as a DevOps Architect and specializing in cloud and infrastructure. He designs and builds entire IT setups for important apps in banking, insurance, and finance.