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Working with Azure functions (part 1 – Powershell)

Azure functions, also called Azure function apps, are a great way to build simple components – functions – and run them in the cloud (also called “serverless computing” or FaaS). Those functions are triggered via timer, http trigger, webhooks and many others. The functions itself can be implemented in one of the following languages: C#, F#, JavaScript/Node.js, PHP, Powershell, Python, Batch, Bash.

It’s important to mention, that functions have a timeout of 5 minutes – so if you have an endless running job, then you should go for webjobs. The idea behind Azure functions is, that you execute just a small piece of code. That’s why there is this timeout. Running those small pieces is very cheap. The first 1.000.000 executions and the first 400.000 GB/s of execution are for free. 400.000 GB/s means: Let’s assume you have a memory size for your function app of 512 MB: 400.000*1024 / 512 = 800.000 seconds are for free. So you can execute your function 1 Mio times with an average execution time of 1.25 seconds and it’s still free.

I will use the Azure functions to build two “applications”/functions. One of them will read data from my RSS feed and write it to my table storage. The second one will read all my upcoming events from https://www.meetup.com/ and create an iCal file out of it so that I can add it to my calendar.

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Working with Azure Table Storage and Excel

Azure table storage is a NoSql table and it’s great for storing tons of data, but it’s also good for just a few records. You can connect to the table storage with Excel, Access and – by sure – with PowerBI. It’s easy to programmatically write data to the table storage and with the Excel/PowerBI connection, it’s great to use it for data analysis or for dynamic Excel files.
Additionally, the Azure table storage is very cheap! 1 GB storage + 100.000 transactions = 0.06€ per month. That’s nearly nothing, because it is designed to work with tons of data. Troy Hunt used it with 154 million records – and it worked like a charm! https://www.troyhunt.com/working-with-154-million-records-on/.

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