Wrapping up Integrate 2016
As you’ve probably noticed (or not), I didn’t write a blogpost on Integrate 2016 day 2, nor did I do that for day 3. I did write a Day 1 recap though. The reason is that Day 1 is traditionally a whole lot of Microsoft talk. It’s all about new and updated stuff, things that really need to get out to the world. That doesn’t mean day 2 and 3 are less interesting, it’s just more about inspiring people, experience from the field, real life scenarios. I decided to include some content of those last 2 days in this recap. With talks by Clemens Vasters and Dan Rosanova, that shouldn’t be a problem!
I also want to thank BizTalk 360 once again for a very well organized conference, with tons of inspiring content!
Microsoft’s message: Integration? We are on it!
The thing I noticed during those few days in London was the fact that Microsoft finally seemed to get their message on integration straight. I don’t know whether it’s the new blood running through the integration division, but it seems they made some harsh decisions. BizTalk is Microsoft’s on-premises integration solution and is investing heavily in the product again. In Azure though, or cloud in general, everything is integrated and should be vastly scalable. Azure’s approach is full-on microservices and thus BizTalk doesn’t fit the picture.
BizTalk is our on-premises solution for integration and we are fully committed to the product.
After a couple of years with just a few people keeping BizTalk on life-support, it seems that Microsoft pulled the nails from its coffin. The on-premises story was full-blown BizTalk again. Something ignited the product again and I guess all the new blood running through the integration team has something to do with that.
On-premises integration is different from cloud-integration. Use cases and requirements are different. BizTalk suits the on-premises integration story well, so why get rid of the product. Judging from the Azure Advisors group, I can also see the team is really committed to ship a better product, also for developers. BizTalk always had these minor, mainly runtime, updates and development tools was one of its last priorities. Resizing some windows that shipped first in 2004 is impossible for instance and why could I still save just one message from the admin console and not all the selected threads? Well, those are some small, but important improvements that are included in BizTalk Server 2016. Microsoft also showcased they are overhauling its BizTalk’s design elements a little bit.
No logic apps in Azure Stack
With BizTalk being the on-premises story, Microsoft apparently also decided to drop Logic Apps from Azure Stack. With this decision the team wants to take away any confusion between the products, but it also holds an important message: we are committed to BizTalk.
Cloud: Logic Apps, Servicebus, API Management etc.
In Azure a lot of integration-related products have been launched over the last couple of years. But cloud is all about integration and it should be all scalable. Azure API apps can be used to expose an API service, Azure Functions is capable of doing the really small pieces of work, Azure Servicebus is a first-class queuing solution and Logic Apps is the glue that holds all these parts together. Put Azure API Management on top of that and you can actually gain control over your APIs.
And the products I have mentioned above are just a few of Azure’s capabilities. There is so much choice in Azure and just as many ways to skin a cat. It all comes down to making the right decisions. And that’s where we – as integrators – come in. We have to make those decisions. So I’d better get my priorities right and keep myself updated with all that’s happening in the cloud.
The challenge when it comes to cloud integration is all about making the right decisions
And uhm… what about BizTalk Services?
Yah, that is going away. No doubt about it. They didn’t say it in so many words. But to me it’s clear. The stuff you could do with BizTalk Services will be supported by Azure Integration Pack and that’s where all your EDI integration, maps and schemas are going to reside.
Integrate Day 2 & 3
Then I still have to get to Integrate day 2 & 3.
The 2nd day of Integrate started of with Chris Anderson talking Azure Functions. This is something I am quite enthusiastic about and I have blogged about it before. It was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I finally got the little stuff done in the cloud as well. Azure Function is all about server-less apps and it’s fairly intuitive to use. Just give it a try at http://functions.azure.com.
Azure Messaging – Servicebus, AMQP and more
Then Dan Rosanova. How I always enjoy his talks! His message is always clear and the guy knows how to entertain. He talked about his love of BizTalk. And when I say love, i mean… Love 🙂 He actually went into what he likes, what he dislikes, what he seemed to do wrong, but also everything he got right.
Since he started working at Microsoft, he has been working with the Azure Messaging team and showed some impressive numbers. Its insane how much traffic is already flowing through the system, just imagine the amounts in a couple of years. And it’s fast, really fast! But even with a 99.9984% success rate, it still means 40 million messages are lost somewhere in the process. Mindboggling. Have a look at the second slide below. An interesting takeaway!
He also went into the Premium tier for Azure Messaging. This tier will actually give you isolation and dedicated power. This will come at a price though, no doubt about that 😉
Clemens picked up where Dan left off. Dan’s talk was all about delivering a message. Clemens – of course – did a fairly deep-dive in everything messaging and AMQP – and even more. This meant a lot of slides, a lot of numbers and basically a lot of very interesting and theoretical stuff. A very interesting insight on Azure Servicebus and where AMQP is going.
The MVP sessions
After this all the MVPs where up with their views on Microsoft integration. A lot of interesting talks! These guys always have their own views and give me new perspectives. I always take in all the information the MVPs have to share and create my own best practices. Which everybody actually should do! Just keep an open mind on things and listen to people sharing information. It may help you in the future! Below is a summary of some of the content presented by MVPs.
Open Source Messaging
Richard Seroter did a talk on open source alternatives to what Microsoft has to offer. This is also falls in the same category to keep an open mind. Maybe another – open source – product suits your situation better. He focused on Kafka, Rabbit MQ and NATS. All products have their own strengths and shortcomings. Just don’t rule them out!
Architecture: something you do together
Michael Stephenson explained to us all that architecture is something we need to achieve together with all developers. Integration teams should focus on assisting other teams getting their integration done and not keep doing their own thing. Something we are moving towards more and more.
The GrabCaster Adapter
Nino Crudele and Sandro Pereira basically plugged their GrabCaster adapter and how it can help you getting integration done faster.
A real world example on Event Hubs
One very good talk was done by Kent Weare about Event Hubs. His solution consisted of a lot of stuff we’ve seen the last two days. They used Logic Apps, Event Hubs, Power BI, Stream Analytics and BizTalk Server (on-prem) to get telemetry data from energy plants. This talk visualized the things you can do with cloud integration.
This year’s Integrate conference was just really good. Better than the last few I attended and it was mainly because of the clear message Microsoft is sending out right now. Let’s hope they will keep doing that and I am already looking forward to next year’s conference!