Microsoft launched its Azure Bot Services today to give bot creators the option to move their bots into the cloud and let Microsoft handle server and storage issues, the company announced today.
Alexa Web Service is cloud-based, but until today, none of the big three cloud providers — Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform — have provided a solution for developers to create bots in the cloud.
The service was created, wrote Microsoft FUSE Labs general manager Lili Cheng in a blog post today, to “give you the operational agility to run and handle scale as your bots grow in popularity and you only pay for what you use. Moreover, you also don’t need to worry about provisioning or managing servers that run your bots. Patching and infrastructure maintenance is handled for you — you focus on writing code.”
The Microsoft Bot Framework can make bots that operate on more than half a dozen platforms including Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, and Kik.
Bots that use Azure Bot Service will automatically be added to the Microsoft Bot Directory, Cheng wrote. In an interview with VentureBeat last month, Cheng expressed a desire to create a more robust bot directory or bot search engine with the help of developers and the largest chat apps on the planet.
Azure Bot Service is free up to one million server requests a month, and provides templates like a bot that helps fill out forms or one that utilizes language understanding intelligent service (LUIS), the primary natural language processor provided by Microsoft Cognitive Services.
Developers can use GitHub, BitBucket, and other services to share code with Azure, Cheng wrote.
In a coming-out year for bots and intelligent assistants, it’s been a week of significant firsts. For example, on Monday, Facebook became one of the first of the tech giants with a bot platform to offer analytics for everyone with a Messenger bot.