Learn all about Azure Bot Service and how it relates to creating a chatbot.
If you’ve looked into integrating a chatbot within your organization, chances are you’ve seen Azure Bot Service as a potential solution to your technology stack and architecture. I’m going to share with you an overview of how you can use Azure Bot Service to create an innovative solution to your chatbot needs.
In this post, I’m going to be guiding you through a series of solutions that encompass Azure Bot Service so that you understand the fundamentals of Azure as a whole, how Azure Bot Service fits into it, and what other tools and technologies that can be used with it to create an intelligent, natural language understanding bot.
Here’s the outline of our discussion:
- Microsoft Azure explained simply
- How Other Microsoft Azure solutions that work with Azure Bot Service
- Azure Bot Service explained simply
- Azure Bot Service details
After that, I’ll also link to some recommended guides on how you can start using Azure Bot Service to create your own low-code/no-code chatbot!
Azure Explained in Simple Terms
Azure is a public cloud computing platform from Microsoft that provides a range of cloud services such as Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), Platform as a Service (Paas), and Software as a Service (Saas). Azure can be used for analytics, virtual computing, storage, security, and networking. It lets you create build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive, global network. Bot Service is part of the services that Azure offers on it’s platform.
Close competitors of Azure includes Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. As of February 2020, AWS has 32% of the market, followed by Azure at 17%, and Google Cloud at 6% (from parkmycloud.com).
Azure Solutions That Work with Azure Bot Service
Azure provides the ability to house all the different technology stacks within the same ecosystem, making it easy for developer to build a chatbot.
Explanation of a Bot within Azure Bot Service
A bot is an application that users interact and converses with text, graphics, or speech. Bot Service within Azure complements Bot Framework in order to provide tools to build, test, deploy, and manage intelligent chatbots in one place. Chatbots are used to solve a lot of business solutions around:
- Delivering information (from a knowledge base)
- Controlling IoT devices
- Commerce (create an application to use speech services and mobiel devices)
Benefits of Azure Bot Service As part of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
If you are moving data and applications to the cloud, using Azure will be beneficial as it provides a lot of services, products, tools, and deployment options to make architecting new solutions easier, faster, and simple in the future.
Azure Services Working with Bot Service
Here’s how all of the different tools within the Microsoft ecosystem all work together:
- Microsoft Azure – As the Microsoft cloud computing ecosystem, Azure contains a wide array of services previously mentioned.
- Bot Framework – This is Microsoft’s chatbot development framework. It is a matrix of tools that allows you to connect the bots you build to other platforms and services. Unlike common misconception, it is not a tool where you define your chatbot’s behavior.
- Bot Builder – This is the primary tool you use to define the attributes of your bot. Bot Builder is an open source product and includes SDKs for various programming languages, debugging and visualization tools, CLI tools and webchat.
- Azure Bot Service – Bot Service is a component of Microsoft Azure which provides a comprehensive environment for building your bot, in addition to testing, hosting, and deploying it around the web, plus applying AI features. Bot Framework itself is distinct from Azure Bot Service; however, developers using this service build their bots using Bot Framework within the Azure environment.
- Azure Cognitive Services – This component is also part of Microsoft Azure. Cognitive Services contain tools that make your bot “smart and intelligent.” It’s the Azure Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine that is used to give your bot natural language understanding (NLU) and machine learning (ML) capabilities.
Bot Service Overview and Explanation
Azure Bot Services works with Bot Framework to provide tools to build, test, deploy, and manage bots in one standard place. Architects and developers can use modular and extensible frameworks provided by the sDK, tools, templates, and AI services to create bots that understand NLU through text and speech as well as handling other types of questions.
How does Bot Service and Bot Framework work together?
- Bot Framework SDK is for developing bot and defining the attributes of the bot.
- Bot Framework Tools to cover end-to-end bot development.
- Bot Framework Service (BFS) is a middleware service that translates all the external channels during the conversation so you can integrate with multiple services.
- Bot deployment and channel configuration pages in Azure are used to streamline the process and single place to manage all of it.
Imagine if you have a ton of applications where you want to use the chatbot. Bot Framework Service is a channel that allows you to integrate all of the external channels, translate those channel’s varied and unique conversation patterns in a single message that is understandable by your bot. Bot Service is a unification service for all those channels so they can send whatever they need to send and this translates to a simple message to your bot to handle. This allows you to streamline your code because the code that you write to the bot will be the same for all the various channels.
Bot Framework with Bot Service
The Microsoft Bot Framework comes with out-of-the-box support for a number of channels like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Facebook Messenger.
Bot Service allows you to define which channels are enabled for the bot and handles these communication with the channels. All messages that are received are getting posted to the bot web API, returning the message that the user is getting back.
Important Features and Benefits of Azure Bot Service
- Azure bot service supports 18 languages.
- Azure Bot Service is integrated into Azure, which means 24 x 7 customer service support, integrated billing, and reporting.
- LUIS now supports more than 500 intents and 100 entities.
Common Azure Bot Service Integrations
Azure Bot Service and Bot Framework offers integration with:
- QnA Maker
- Any RESTful service for integration purposes
How to Get Started with Microsoft Bot Service
Bot Builder can be downloaded for free if you wanted to experiment with creating your own chatbot before starting a big project. Once you are done experimenting, you can move forward to try building a bot using Bot Framework or Bot Builder SDKs.
Bot Service with Bot Framework is a very intuitive and easy bot-building option especially with it’s large library of integrated services that it offers. Azure Cognitive Services can help you build an intelligent chatbot with the use of QnAMaker which provides ability to add question and answer pairs as well as LUIS to make your bot smarter at extracting intents and entities from your chatbot.
These tools will help you build an intelligent chatbot in less time as well as enable a lot of new, useful, and meaningful integrations with the chatbot’s audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make a chatbot in Microsoft Azure?
A chatbot can be made using Bot Service with Bot Framework or using Power Virtual Agent.
Azure Bot Service Summary
Azure Bot Service is part of a cloud revolution bringing software to a new level, and providing the ability for availability and scalbility for low development effort and maintenance costs.