European BizTalk Summit 2014 – Day 1
I just arrived back home from London, where I attended the European BizTalk Summit. Saravana (BizTalk 360) did a great job organizing it and had all these speakers fly in from all over Europe and beyond, and of course Guru (let’s call him the BizTalk boss) was also there to talk about BizTalk’s latest. Speakers where mostly non-Microsoft, which resulted in a mix of praising Microsoft on a job well done, but also enough critisism. Overall it was a joyfull two days in which I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of new people!
Here’s my view on the first day. Day 2 can be found here!
BizTalk 2013 R2 and WABS (Guru Venkataraman)
No BizTalk summit is complete without the presence of Guru. Not BizTalk.guru, Guru Venkataraman, the Product Group manager. Good to hear him talk about furture BizTalk releases and the on-premises vs cloud strategy. According to Guru on-premises is present, it’s a fact and it will stay a fact for years to come. Cloud is future, companies are just moving to the cloud, but will still have a lot of on-premises systems. It’s important to understand that BizTalk on-premises is just as important to maintain as expanding cloud capabilities. One important thing about cloud is that the product Team had the opportunity to think things through, start over and they did. How would you do it now? On premises has to support every implementation since 2004 and is thereby locked by backward compatibility, which is not yet the case in the cloud. So BizTalk in the cloud (WABS) will be different from on-premises, period. Then we have a few new features in BizTalk 2013 R2, releasing probably in the second half of this year. They just checked in the code and now have to run approx. 78,000 tests and it takes about 4 months. BizTalk 2013 R2 will include support for JSON (generate an XSD from a JSON message), reading AND writing to Azure’s servicebus and some updates on HL7. Especially the last one, since my current client is a hospital, is interesting.
Windows Azure BizTalk Services [WABS] (Harish Kumar Agarwal)
For me as a none-EDI guy the next session was a little bit out of my league. EDI is pretty big and I just kept wondering why I didn’t come accross an EDI implementation yet. I have fiddled with it at a client, but not really big EDI implementations. But now to Harish Kumar Agarwal’s talk. It was primarily focussed on what’s new in Windows Azure BizTalk Services, mainly EDI and learned about the fact that custom EDI coding will come pretty soon (you know nobody’s really compliant with standards). The main focus for the future is to get integration features added, JSON support, BPM support of some sorts etc. Let’s hope some features get added soon, because some of the competition is already pretty busy in the cloud.
How to move to BizTalk Services (Jon Fancey)
This was a pretty interesting talk. How do you actually move your on-premises junk to the cloud? Jon Fancey took the stage to address the issue. The problem is that there are still key features missing in WABS. You can’t use orchestrations yet, or do any sort of workflow implementation in WABS yet. But there are workflows we can use in a cloud service. And you know what, Jon had a tool to convert an orchestration to a workflow, really, he had. He will be releasing it later this year. Other things he talked about are the pros and cons about moving to the cloud (less costs, flexibility etc) and converting other stuff as well, like you maps (there’s functionality in Visual Studio for that). But also maps aren’t always converted perfectly and need some effort in correcting and we also asked ourselves if the new mapper tool is better than the old one. Only time can tell!
BizTalk Server Operations and Monitoring using BizTalk360 (Saravana Kumar)
Of course we accept the fact that Saravana would be promoting his own product. He did a fantastic job organizing this summit and we can be pretty brief on BizTalk360, it’s just a great product. It is really added value to every BizTalk implementation. It enables you to monitor BizTalk way better than the tools that are available out-of-the-box. From knowing your exact flow to alerts, it is there. Last year finally an HTML5 version, because Silverlight is definitely on its way back. It had a good run, but now, just use HTML5 🙂 Anyway, good product, good value.
When to use What: A look at choosing Integration Technology (Richard Seroter)
I enjoyed Richard’s talk a lot. It was about a fairly boring subject: integration patterns. But Richard found a way to discuss this topic in a fun way, very lively. With the increasing cloud technologies, more and more integration patterns become available and how do you decide which patterns to use. Richard came up with a set of criteria (requirements, strategy, design etc). His presentation ended (well, he began the ending half way through) with a discussion on Microsoft technologies, whether it would be a buy, a hold or a sell.
What if you mess up the configuration (Tord Glad Nordahl)
Tord is best described as The Administrator 666 (sorry an In Flames reference here). Very fun to listen to and in most cases The Administrator from Norway was just right about a lot of things. Of course pushing the envelope with 90% developers in the room… What do we all forget as developers, or what do you forget in general when it comes to BizTalk administration. Isn’t everyone an administrator then? And what about those SQL Server Jobs? Never heard of it. But hey, just deploy the DLL in the GAC and we’ll see what happens. A very good talk addressing many issues I have come across as well at many companies. Of course Tord would suffer the rest of the summit with “drag-and-drop” developers countering all his accusations during their talks.
BizTalk 2013 in Windows Azure IaaS (Stephen Thomas)
Last but not least the real BizTalk Guru took the stage, talking about Azure’s virtual machines in the cloud (IaaS). You can already run BizTalk in the cloud, so much is clear. Just spin up a virtual machine and configure BizTalk (there are sys-prepped images available in the portal). He went through an insane Powershell script that took him 3 full weeks to construct, geez J The script can be used to spin up a pre-prepped machine automatically. Of course making the scripts available to the community when ready 🙂