User Group Presentation on Integration Roadmap

Dan PresentingLast night at our Brisbane Azure User Group meetup, I had the privilege of delivering a short presentation on the Microsoft Integration Roadmap that was revealed on Christmas Eve last year, and which I previously blogged about. I couldn’t find any “official” slide deck from Microsoft yet, so I put together a rough deck of my own incorporating some screenshots from the roadmap PDF, a few slides from previous Microsoft decks, and a couple of handmade ones of my own. Feel free to download this from SlideShare and use it if you like.

My presentation was preceded by an excellent session on Azure Application Insights given by Microsoft Solution Architect Todd Whitehead. Amazing to see how easy it is to get so much telemetry from Azure! Looking forward to using this feature more & more.

More photos and details of the Meetup can be found here.

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

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Load Balancing with the Azure App Service File Connector

The File Connector is one of the built-in protocol apps that are available in the Marketplace when you go to provision and API App. Through configuration only, this app allows you to perform file-based operations from a Logic App in Azure, bridging the boundaries of your corporate network:

image

The documentation from Microsoft clearly explains how you can configure the app and then download a listener agent to install on your on-premises server associated with the file(s). In most cases, this would be a single server – but I got to wondering what would happen if you installed the agent on multiple servers? So I tried it out using both  the “Get File” and “Upload File” operation.

Turns out that the File Connector will talk to all of those servers, provided that you have set up the same base directory path on all of them. This path is configured at the time you provision the API App – not when you use it within a Logic App. The configuration of the “File Path” property within the instance of this app only defines the sub-directory within the base path, as well as the file name. Incidentally, if this sub-directory does not exist at runtime, it is automatically created for you in the case of the “Upload File” operation.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with the base directory – if that doesn’t exist you get a rather meaningless 500 error recorded in the tracking log:

The requested page cannot be accessed because the related configuration data for the page is invalid.

In any case, I set up a simple Logic App and decided to test using the “Get File” and ‘Upload File” methods respectively to fetch and store files from assorted VMs hosted on my laptop. Once I had the syntax down for specifying the file path (this post by Saravana Kumar proved very helpful), then I was amazed at how easy it was to get this working! Here is my Logic App:

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Collection of Microsoft Integration Stencils for Visio 2013

Great new set of Microsoft hybrid integration Visio stencils from Sandro Pereira – includes BizTalk, BizTalk Services, Azure App Service, PowerBI and more!

Sandro Pereira BizTalk Blog

In my two previous editions (here and here) I published some shapes to represent BizTalk Server physical architectures, Integration architectures (Cloud or Hybrid scenarios) or solutions.

In this resource I change the name of my Visio 2013 Stencils resource, now is called “Microsoft Integration Stencils for Visio 2013”, to include almost the Microsoft Integration Stack.

This package contains a set of symbols/icons (258 shapes) to that will help you visually represent Integration architectures (On-premise, Cloud or Hybrid scenarios) and solutions diagrams in Visio 2013. It will provide symbols/icons to visually represent features, systems, processes and architectures that use BizTalk Server, Microsoft Azure and related technologies.

  • BizTalk Server
  • Microsoft Azure
    • BizTalk Services
    • Azure App Service
    • Event Hubs
    • and so on
  • PowerBI and devices
  • Infrastructure
  • And many more…
BizTalk Server

BizTalk-Server-Stencils-Visio-2013-01

BizTalk Services

BizTalk-Services-Stencils-Visio-2013-02

Azure App Service

Azure-App-Service-Stencils-Visio-2013-02

Azure

Azure-Stencils-Visio-2013-04

Infrastructure

Infraestructure-Stencils-Visio-2013-05

PowerBI and Devices

PowerBI-Devices-Stencils-Visio-2013-06

That you can use and resize without losing…

View original post 124 more words

Hello to the New Cloud Integration Platform: Azure App Service

Following Scott Guthrie’s & Bill Staples’ Azure Announcement this morning, I published this post on Mexia’s blog giving my overview of Azure App Service, the new Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering for web and mobile apps that allows you to quickly and easily build powerful new integration solutions at an enterprise scale.

App Service Overview

Rolling the existing Azure Web Sites, Mobile Services, and BizTalk Services into a single platform makes a lot of sense on many levels, not only from the rapid development perspective and the leveraging of existing enterprise capabilities such as auto-scaling, etc. – but also introduces a significant cost savings with the new pricing model!

But rather than ramble on here any more about it, I’ll point you to some excellent write-ups by some of the top integration experts in the world. Here you will find four different perspectives with lots of detailed information:

Or, check out these links directly to Microsoft resources:

You can try it all out for free right now… so why not have a go?

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. Read more of this post

Testing for Empty/Nil/Missing Source Nodes in BizTalk Maps

Re-posted from another blog – original publish date 27 Aug 2012

Scenario: You are mapping an optional node in your source schema to an optional node in your target schema. But… the target schema has stricter validation rules and cannot accept empty or “nil” nodes, whereas the source schema can.

By default, if the source node doesn’t exist, it won’t be output in your target. No problems there. But… what if the source node is empty or null?

Let’s look at this mapping example:

BadMap

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MABS: Lessons in Configuring a (Service Bus) Queue Source

An excellent tip by Mark Brimble on how to avoid this trap when integrating Service Bus with MABS.

Connected Pawns

This weekend I keep on getting this error when I tried to deploy a Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services solution;

“COQueueSource deployment failed at ‘https://biztalksoa.biztalk.windows.net/default/COXmlOneWayBridge/sources/COQueueSource’.
Failed to connect to the ServiceBus using specified configuration.”

image

I also observed this error in the MABS tracking portal.

image

This error had me stumped for awhile;

  1. This had worked months ago when I had followed a post by Steef-Jan Wiggers. I had followed his pattern to the letter.
  2. I could use the same connection string in the Service Bus Explorer to connect to the same queue without issue.

The default authentication mechanism for Service Bus namespace has changed from ACS to SAS since I had last tried to use a Queue source and I wondered if this was the cause. I had created the service bus using powershell commands to make sure that the queue source could use ACS in its connection string…

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Logical Functoids Cannot Connect to XML Attribute Nodes

After working with BizTalk Server for over ten years, I was amazed to discover only today that the BizTalk 2010 Mapper does not allow you to connect a logical functoid to an XML attribute node!

Logical functoids are “special” in that they don’t output values when connected to a node in the target schema. Rather, the Boolean value that they do emit is often used as a conditional flag for determining the connected node’s appearance in the result. If a logical functoid connected to a record or an element evaluates to “false”, then the record/element will not be present in the output.

The question is… why doesn’t this work for attribute nodes as well??  Try to connect a logical functoid to one and the cursor turns into the dreaded “No you don’t!!” symbol, as shown in this screenshot:

MapToAttribute_NOT_v2

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Using BTDF to Deploy Pure WCF Services

The BizTalk Deployment Framework (BTDF) is widely used as a tool for managing the complex deployment requirements for BizTalk Server integration solutions. With each iteration, it gets better & better. The latest version (still in Beta) now supports BizTalk Server 2013 R2.

Of course at Mexia we use this tool quite regularly for our clients, enjoying the simplicity it affords in automated deployment and management of environment-specific configuration. However, the ESB that we often provide our customers includes more than just BizTalk applications; it includes some services implemented in pure WCF. Although these services do utilise BAM for tracking and SSO for configuration management, those features do not require the empty BizTalk application that is generated from using the BTDF.

After consultation with BTDF author Thomas Abraham and some helpful tips on this thread, I spent some time putting together a BTDF project file that would deploy just the bits that are needed for WCF – and nothing more. It has been very successful so far, providing for a consistent build definition and deployment process across the entire ESB platform.  I’d like to share it with you here.

But before we go into the details, there are a few things you need to be aware of regarding this solution: Read more of this post

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