Following the Roadmap to Microsoft Integration

Microsoft has just released a document detailing their roadmap to integration. With all of the recent activity in the cloud around integration – including the release of Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services two years ago, followed by a seemingly different change of direction with Azure App Service announcement earlier this year – there has been much confusion about where Microsoft was headed in the integration space. This has been challenging for partners and customers who want to ensure that they invest in the “right” technology when building out their enterprise integration capability.

I am pleased to say that this document finally delivers some much-needed clarification in this respect. Aside from reinforcing that “BizTalk is not dead” and confirming some key new features in the much-anticipated BizTalk Server 2016 release, it also shows how Microsoft is aiming to close the gap between traditional on-premises integration afforded by the server product and the modern API-based approach offered in Azure:

convergence

This excellent diagram underpins Microsoft’s understanding that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to integration, but rather highlights the necessity to promote flexibility in terms of hosting options. Enhanced integration with API connectors and the (long overdue) support for High Availability in Azure IaaS now means that customers who have invested heavily in the on-prem BizTalk Server product can embrace the possibility of moving these solutions to the cloud, thereby leveraging the scalability and cost savings of Azure. Moreover, Azure Stack promises to enable hosting modern Logic App solutions on-prem where requirements dictate that they reside within the corporate network.

The roadmap also stresses an understanding that integration is a complex problem to solve and requires specialist skills to wield powerful platforms like BizTalk Server. However, the requirements themselves are often very basic (e.g. connect an Azure website to an on-prem database). By simplifying the tooling, Microsoft hopes to “democratise” access to the “Citizen Integrator”, enabling developers to build these more basic solution themselves where they weren’t before. At the same time, the power to build more complex solutions remains available to integration experts who know how to leverage these capabilities:

image

On-Premises Integration

No matter how much cloud capabilities improve and expand, there will always be a need for server-based integration within the corporate network – either supporting a fully on-prem EAI solution or as part of a hybrid solution. BizTalk Server continues to be the premier Microsoft offering in this respect, and the enhancements planned in the 10th edition to be released in 2016 will ensure this product’s place within the industry:

  • Platform alignment to SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2016, Office 2016 and latest the release of Visual Studio
  • Support for SQL 2016 “AlwaysOn” Availability Groups both on-premises and in Azure IaaS to provide high availability (HA)
  • HA production workloads supported in Azure IaaS
  • Tighter integration between BizTalk Server and API connectors to enable BizTalk Server to consume cloud connectors such as SalesForce.Com and O365 more easily
  • Improved SFTP adapter,
  • Improved WCF NetTcpRelay adapter with SAS support
  • WCF-SAP adapter based on NCo (.NET library)
  • SHA2 support
  • New and improved BizTalk adapters for Informix, MQ & DB2.
  • Improvements to PowerShell integration and installation and configuration

Cloud-Based Integration

Although there are no concrete details outlined in the roadmap, it does specify the following in terms of  planned Auzre integration improvements:

  • Updates to Logic Apps to preview in Q1 of 2016, with a General Availability in Q2
  • Enhance Logic Apps to provide same capabilities as BizTalk Services
  • Bring the rich messaging capabilities and industry verticals support  in BizTalk Server to Logic Apps
  • Make Azure API Management available as part of App Service by end of 2016

Questions

While it is great to see some transparency here in terms of Microsoft’s commitment to the future of integration, it does leave me with a few unanswered questions:

  • Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services – The document makes clear that Logic Apps will be expanded to eventually, provide all the capability of MABS, and even states that “for new integration solutions we recommend customers target Logic Apps for their cloud-based integration workloads.”  But what about customers who have already invested in MABS? How long will they be supported?
  • Hybrid Connections – Since the current “free” version of this is still in preview and is hosted in MABS, what will happen to this as MABS is (most likely) phased out? While it is true that some API connectors offer a different brand of Hybrid Connection, they do not offer the same flexibility and simplicity as the original version. Will this be migrated to App Service, and if so what will it cost to us it? Or will it just disappear?
  • Logic Apps – What will the GA version look like in Q2 next year? Will it be stable and robust enough to support real-life production scenarios? Will constant updates that introduce breaking changes undermine customer confidence in the platform?

Further Reading

In addition to downloading the roadmap and reading the material first hand, I’d also encourage you to read these excellent blog posts from Integration MVPs who have expressed their thoughts about the roadmap:

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.

4 Responses to Following the Roadmap to Microsoft Integration

  1. Pingback: User Group Presentation on Integration Roadmap | Mind Over Messaging

  2. Pingback: Microsoft Integration Roadmap – My Op-ed – Slightly Cloudy

  3. Pingback: Why Did My BizTalk Services Stop Working? Check Expired ACS Credentials… | Mind Over Messaging

  4. Pingback: Integrate 2016 – What an Event! | Mind Over Messaging

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