European BizTalk Summit 2014 – Day 2
So, this is the second part of a report I am doing on the European BizTalk Summit 2014. I will discuss the second day in this post, the first day is to be found here. The second day was just as fully packed as the first day, lots of talks, lots of people and a great lunch.
Exposing Operational data to Mobile devices using Windows Azure (Kent Weare)
Kent Weare took off at 9 in the morning making sure Johan lived up to his bet, wearing the Canadian’s national hockey jersey in London if Canada won the Olympics hockey final. Everybody could have known Canada would win this round, so it was a pretty stupid bet 🙂
Kent’s talk was about Azure’s Mobile Services and BizTalk Services and can you combine the two? It was pretty interesting since I am a Mobile Services user myself. I use it for my apps in the Windows (Phone) Store and it’s pretty powerful. I hadn’t used it for a while and now all these new features were added (and that’s what I love about Windows Azure, such a fast release cycle!).
The most important message Kent tried to draw the attention to, was the fact that mobile developers just don’t know what integration is. They know how to call a service and use these services to build up their application. Surely this does the job in small implementations, but what about corporate apps? So, apps that leverages more than just an RSS feed? How would you handle that as a mobile developer? And that’s where we should come in, as integrators.
Kent used a nice example of applications working together through Mobile Services and WABS, also using Mobile Service’s ability to send out push notifications.
Manageability of Windows Azure BizTalk Services (Steef-Jan Wiggers)
Luckily for Steef-Jan there was no German MVP he had made a bet with (having him wear a German soccer jersey that is, because we always loose a match against the Germans), but he dressed up as a manager for the occasion and talked about manageability of WABS. Something that seems to be pretty difficult. Where can you find all the information you need? How can you leverage this information? He went from application to application to the browser and so on to be able to manage WABS. Of course WABS is still at the beginning of its existince and will grow over the upcoming years to come. Hopefully adding better features in managing WABS than are available at the moment.
Real world Business Activity Monitoring (Dan Rosanova)
BAM, the most undervalued product in the BizTalk suite. Not only according to me, but a lot more developers in the crowd. The product really hasn’t been updated since it was first introduced. It uses this old Sharepoint 2003 interface for its portal and you need SQL Server Notification Services 2005 to be able to send out alerts?! Dan gave a refreshing talk for me on BAM, reinforcing the fact why people should be using it. I have used a few years ago, but haven’t used it since. It can be really powerful to get more insights in your BizTalk environment itself, but also in business processes flowing through BizTalk. Business people can read the data themselves and do with it what they want, enabling them to really start managing. And don’t forget, it will eventually save us a lot of work diving into this data and will also help the adoption of BizTalk within the organization, because it really adds value to the business.
Examining Master Data integration using BizTalk Server and SQL Server Master Data Services (Johan Hedberg)
Now the Swede, or was it a Canadian (I couldn’t tell because of the jersey) – took the stage and tell us something about SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS). I didn’t know MDS before Johan’s talk, I may have come across it briefly somewhere, but never used it. Johan started with the architecture and then dove into a demo to show of all the capabilities. One capability it lacks, is support for 640×480 resolution though, since his computer thought that was a nice resolution to demo on :). Whilst scrolling, the MDS portal also seemd to share some similarities with the outdated BAM portal, hmz… that makes you think. This underlines the main problem, Microsoft has not really done anything important with MDS the last few years and it even has been silent around the product the last couple of years.
MDS really comes to use to get business data scattered around on desktops of employees and get them structured into a SQL server environment, but still manageable through a central hub, ensuring data integrity. And that’s exactly what Johan demoed, going from Excel to a structured and safe datasource in SQL Server.
Thinking like an Integration Person (Nino Crudele)
What should I say about Nino? He is Italian… and did I say crazy? One of the most entertaining presentations I have seen in quite a while! Nino being himself on stage, works perfect to entertain the crowd. He developed some powertools (“NoS tools”) for BizTalk in Visual Studio 2012 over the past 4 months. 4 Months of working in the train, during meetings, even on toilets. And I must say, the result is just as crazy as Nino himself, damn did he do a great job.
Introducing new terms like Jackhammering and pronouncing dependencies in a way I never thought of, these tools really add value to developing for BizTalk in Visual Studio. The tools enable you to find dependencies in your projects, finding resources or even test pipelines without having to deploy them. Then he threw in the jackhammer and explained how production artifacts could be compared to your development artifacts, using reflection. You can even pull your production orchestrations back into your development environmen if neededt! Just insanely great (sorry Apple haters, it just was!). You can argue about the design, the icons, etc, but that’s what makes these nerdy powertools, nerdy powertools.
Fantastic talk about fantastic powertools, which he will be releasing for the community somewhere soon. Guru even suggested to make these tools part of the BizTalk 2013 R2 release, of course making our Italian sweat. We are developers, we don’t test, it’s not production material 🙂 And of course there’s something to be said about the fact that the effort was made by a developer for developers around the world. Te NoS tools is something Microsoft should have done itself years ago.
BizTalk Mapping Patterns and an Introduction to WABS maps (Sandro Pereira)
Now Sandro had the hard task to do a talk after Nino… and also about a pretty boring (but also interesting) subject: BizTalk mapping patterns. Sandro will be releasing a book soon with all the mapping patterns and he took us through a number of the patterns presented in the book. A free e-book i must add! It got my attention, because I’ve seen patterns I’ve never used or seen before. But then again, it’s an interesting, but boring subject, especially after Nino’s interactive presentation. Just be sure to check out his book when it’s released!
Workflow manager: Running durable workflows in the cloud and on prem (Sam Vanhoutte)
Sam with his demos, always with the demos 🙂 He never makes a simple demo, he really takes demoing to another level. This time showing off some workflows in the cloud, combining this with WABS, Azure Service Bus, on-premises BizTalk and uhm, probably some other technologies as well. Since .Net 4.5, workflow manager also supports building state machines. Sam built a state machine workflow in combination with Twilio, which is a phone service you can use as a company (“press 1 to do this, press 2..” etc etc). He used the state machine to handle the decisions made during a call and ended with a competition. Everybody could call a toll-free number and try to get to a “golden egg”, anybody who got there first may – or may not – get a prize. Thomas got there first by the way 🙂
So, to conclude the blog post series, the summit was fun, I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of new people. Saravana did a great job organizing it and I hope next year will be just as powerful as this year (good luck on that one :P). I think the usergroups in Sweden and The Netherlands got a nice update of the summit as well the next two days. See you next year!