Today Microsoft officially announced the discontinuation of Autohosted apps model in SharePoint Online/Office 365 after it has been tested for the last few months. Autohosted apps model provides the ability for your app to be scaled out with Microsoft Azure’s capabilities and Microsoft Cloud service. It sounds like Microsoft gives you a great advantage to interact with their private Azure infrastructure and SQL Azure database. Storage would not be a burden to organizations. Moreover, IT would not have to worry about dealing with backup.
In fact, the Autohosted apps model does not give you entirely access to Microsoft Azure platform. You would only use Microsoft Azure Web Site and Microsoft Azure SQL Database for your app development. For the utilization of Microsoft Azure services, you would still need an Azure-hosted server that would act as a provider being responsible for handling web services. With this model, you cannot access to SQL Server instance. There is also no direct connection string access to your database.
The reason why the model is discontinued would be that it does not really support in real-world business scenarios currently, namely in Office 365 environment. It’s never considered a flexible model. From the security perspective, giving access to Microsoft Azure would be a security threat since Microsoft is investing very much on its cloud platform. In the past I involved in building a subscription based app project. The requirement was that video after captured would be able to be converted and stored in SharePoint asset libraries. We would target to two types of audience: Office 365 user and On-premises user. There was no problem with on-premises user. In Office 365 case, we were thinking that we could use Autohosted apps model along with Microsoft Azure Media service to handle video conversion. Microsoft SQL Azure database would be used to store converted videos. Things sounded reasonable until we had figured out that our expected model was not supporting such an approach. As a result, the project apparently failed.
I have recently been asked by a company needing to migrate their SharePoint on-premises with several workflows to Office 365. What flashed in my mind is that I would use Workflow Manager engine in Microsoft Azure to connect to Office 365 tenant. I haven’t tested this approach though. Now the announcement is going to destroy my mind.
As of the announcement, we only have one model that is provider-hosted. You may be asking the SharePoint-hosted model. Well, both of the two models are very much alike. In SharePoint-hosted model, SharePoint server acts as a provider that handles web services and components to run your app directly in SharePoint. Autohosted apps model is in preview phase. It needs to be improved to give us as many benefits as possible when building app in SharePoint Online that can integrate with Microsoft Azure. For organizations that have used autohosted apps model, Microsoft provides guidance on how to covert to provider-hosted app. Bookmark the following helpful references: