Integrate 2014 Summit: “Microservices” is the Word

Thanks to the generous investment of my employer Mexia, I had the enormous privilege of attending the Global BizTalk Summit in Redmond last week, organised by BizTalk360 and Microsoft and entitled “Integrate 2014”. As with all these events, I treasure thePass opportunity to meet face to face with the top minds and achievers in the Microsoft integration industry, catching up with old acquaintances and making many new ones.

In case you haven’t already heard, there was a jaw-dropping revelation to most of us in the room during the second presentation by Bill Staples. Most of us were anxious to hear about the anticipated new release of Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS). Version 2.0 was expected to include a greatly enhanced Visual Studio design surface, workflow (orchestration), a business rules engine, a framework for building custom adapters, and much more.

But all of that changed when Bill showed a slide that revealed the new cloud App Platform with “BizTalk Microservices” at the core. So what exactly are “BizTalk Microservices”? Answer: a set of discrete reusable components with a HTTP/REST endpoint that can be assembled as needed into composite services. It is essentially, “build your own integration app” by choosing from a wide selection of microservices from the gallery and/or building your own. The services are hosted in the same app containers used by Azure Websites today, which promises all the mature scalability features afforded by that platform.

imagePretty much every feature we are used to employing with BizTalk can be implemented as a microservice, including validation, debatching, transformation, workflow, business rules, EDI, etc., and we can expect that the gallery will come fully stocked with all the basic elements when the preview of this new platform reveals itself in March/April 2015 – including connectors for most common protocols, enterprise apps, and enterprise SaaS.

So… is BizTalk Services Dead?

In a word… no. It’s just being re-packaged. While we’re not sure what the final name for this platform will be, the community seems to be adopting “Azure BizTalk Microservices”, or “ABMS”.

This slide from Sameer Chabungbam‘s EAI presentation shows how the new workflow fabric mirrors the existing MABS bridge construct. Only in this case, you get to choose the components individually rather than having them pre-packaged within a closed component:

image

Furthermore, we have been assured by the product team that existing solutions based on MABS 1.0 will continue to be supported for a considerable length of time – a big relief to our customers who have already invested in this technology!  In fact, Microsoft IT has heavily invested in the platform.

But it is clear that we need to start thinking about cloud-based integration in a whole new way.

What About BizTalk Server?

Senior Program Manager Guru Venkataraman made it absolutely clear that BizTalk Server 2015 is still on the road map, consistent with Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to a regular 2-year major release cadence. Microsoft is ReleaseCadencewell aware of the importance of on-premises integration and the power of hybrid solutions. We can expect that new versions of BizTalk Server will include further enhancements to facilitate the implementation of hybrid integration solutions. We can also expect that the Microservices App Platform will be available via an Azure Pack – so you can employ the same technology both on-premises and in the cloud.

What’s Next?

We wait for the preview, due within Q1 of next year. Meanwhile, you can read a number of blog posts by several MVPs and other prolific integration experts to find out more about the microservices vision and their reactions to the Integrate event. Here is a sampling:

My Thoughts?

Personally, I think the move to microservices is an excellent architectural approach in terms of the flexibility, scalability, and customisation opportunities it affords. It also seems like a way to bridge the current gap between the on-premises and the cloud integration platforms, by way of the Azure Pack. And finally, although we have no visibility to the pricing model yet, I expect that this will make it feasible to bring some of the more commonly used BizTalk components onto the playing field for lightweight integration scenarios without incurring the heavy cost model incurred by the present offerings.

I do have two concerns though:

  • After touting BizTalk Services for a year and a half, the sudden change in direction might rattle customers’ assurance in the steadfastness of Microsoft’s integration vision and their commitment to the BizTalk brand. It has taken years to recover from the “BizTalk is dead” rumours that spread throughout the industry a while ago; we must be careful to manage the introduction of this new approach so that this mistaken perception does not proliferate again.
  • Based on what we saw in Redmond last week, the platform still has a long way to go before it is “production ready”.  If the initial release of the platform is lacking in too many features,  it will undermine the confidence of our customers and make it difficult to sell even as the product matures over time. Fortunately, the product team seemed highly receptive to our comments and no doubt will take onboard all the feedback it has received from the event last week.

In any case, it is an exciting time in the world of Microsoft integration!

Acknowledgements

Finally, I’d like to express my congratulations and gratitude to BizTalk360, Microsoft, and the co-sponsors who made Integrate 2014 possible. It took countless hours to organise this event, and the results were highly impressive. I look forward to seeing many of these folks again at next year’s Australian BizTalk Summit!

About Dan Toomey
Husband, father, Enterprise integration geek, Microsoft Azure MVP, Pluralsight author, Brisbane Azure User Group leader (@BrisbaneAzureUG), MCPD, MCT, MCTS & former professional musician.

3 Responses to Integrate 2014 Summit: “Microservices” is the Word

  1. steefjan says:

    Hi Dan, It was greate meeting you again this year. I loved Integrate and this years BizTalk Summit in Australia. It was a dream come true and hope to return next year in 2015!

  2. Pingback: Integrate 2014 – Impact on Integration Consultants | Jean-Paul Smit – Didago IT Consultancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

John Glisson - Geek of the Cloth

Thoughts on integration, technology and what-not...

prashantbiztalkblogs

My BizTalk Experiences

The CRUCIBLE

THINK: It's not illegal....yet.....

paulbouwer.com

life and technology

Abdul Rafay's BizTalk Blog

My experiences with BizTalk related to architecture, development and performance in my enterprise.

Mike Diiorio

Connected Systems and other thoughts

BizTalk musings

Issues, patterns and useful tips for BizTalk development

EAI Guy.net

Enterprise Applicaiton Integration and SOA 2.0

Connected Pawns

Mainly BizTalk & Little Chess

Man Vs. Machine

Why can't we all just get along?

Adventures inside the Message Box

BizTalk, Azure, and other tools in the Microsoft stack - Johann Cooper

Biz(Talk)2

Talk, talk and more talk about BizTalk

Richard Seroter's Architecture Musings

Blog Featuring Code, Thoughts, and Experiences with Software and Services

Sandro Pereira BizTalk Blog

My notes about BizTalk Server 2004, 2006, 2006 R2, 2009, 2010, 2013 and now also Windows Azure BizTalk Services.

BizTalk Events

Calendar of BizTalk events all over the world!

Mind Over Messaging

Musings on BizTalk, Azure, and Enterprise Integration

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: