INTEGRATE 2016 – A Recap of Day 1 & Announcements from the Product Group

May 12, 2016

After all the hard work from the team for the past 2 months, it’s finally INTEGRATE 2016 time. It was a murky day at ExCeL London with temperatures hovering around the 15 degree mark and light showers. However, the showers weren’t light enough at London City airport (the airport closest to the event venue), which meant that flights in and out of LCY were delayed. Few of our attendees who had planned to take the morning flight to the event had to expect delays reaching the event venue – more to it they had to miss almost the entire morning session. We did the best from our side to issue them Live Streaming codes so that they could catch up with the sessions over the airport Wi-Fi.

The INTEGRATE 2016 event has speakers from Microsoft BizTalk Server/Azure Logic Apps, Azure API Management, Azure Functions and Azure Service Bus Cloud Messaging teams and Integration MVP’s from the integration space.

Welcome Speech at INTEGRATE 2016

The event kicked off sharp at 0845 with Saravana Kumar, Founder/CTO of BizTalk360 welcoming the attendees. The statistics of this year’s INTEGRATE 2016 event stood at 380 attendees, 187 Companies from 22 different countries. The key highlight of the welcome session was the announcement of the availability of a printed version of “BizTalk Mapping Patterns” book by Sandro Pereira.

INTEGRATE 2016 - BizTalk Mapping Patterns Book

Keynote

Saravana Kumar handed over to Jim Harrer, Principal Group Program Manager to deliver the INTEGRATE 2016 keynote session. Jim started off talking about Microsoft’s vision, strategy, goals, integration road map and within the first few minutes, came the confirmation of BizTalk – “BizTalk is not dead!”. It became very clear that Microsoft’s vision was aimed & focused towards delivering a unified integration experience across on-premise, hybrid cloud and cloud.  This is a more robust vision from Microsoft and delivers the feel good factor for the #msbts community.

Jim continued his talk and stressed that “BizTalk Server and Logic Apps is the core of Microsoft’s vision into the future”. The vision is more towards achieving a balanced view on integration instead of “all in the cloud”. Then came the most photographed slide in the session – Microsoft’s vision for Integration that explained what Microsoft is planning to have in its arsenal to provide the unified integration experience both on-premise and cloud.

INTEGRATE 2016 - Microsoft's vision for Integration

Key Highlights from INTEGRATE 2016 Keynote – Summary

  • BizTalk and Logic Apps form the core of Microsoft’s Integration vision
  • BizTalk and Logic Apps combined together will deliver hybrid integration scenarios much easier
  • Out-of-the-box two-way communication between BizTalk Server and Logic Apps. Logic Apps can call/post message to BizTalk receive location.
  • Enterprise Integration Pack: one of the first add-ins to Logic Apps – premium offering with support for EDI/TPM, maps and schemas
  • New Integration Accounts (place to store schemas, maps, certificates, and TPM agreements) will enable Flat File assembly/dis-assembly in Logic Apps
  • Positive signs of development teams growing within Microsoft. Microsoft is hiring engineers for both Logic Apps and BizTalk Server development teams

During the session, Jon Fancey introduced the Logic Apps adapter in BizTalk and a BizTalk connector within Logic Apps with a short demo. What this means is that with the BizTalk Server connector inside of Logic Apps, customers can easily integrate their Line of Business (LOB) systems with cloud-based SaaS platforms. Jim signed off the keynote by talking about Microsoft’s Roadmap and plan for integrations and API management.

INTEGRATE 2016 - Microsoft Roadmap

BizTalk Server 2016 – What’s New?

Jon Fancey continued his talk on what’s coming up in the CTP 2 of BizTalk Server 2016, and the timelines for GA of the product. Microsoft announced the availability of CTP 1 of BizTalk Server 2016 in April. The CTP2 is expected this summer. The primary focus for CTP 2 are –

  • HA Improvements
  • Platform Refresh
  • Addressing customer requirements and pain points
  • Cloud connectivity

INTEGRATE 2016 - Customer Driven Improvements

Jon Fancey announced that the BizTalk Logic Apps adapter will be available as a part of CTP 2 and RTM.

In addition, the Logic Apps BizTalk connector and actions will also be made available so that you can easily connect and consume the BizTalk functionality. This will provide seamless integration between Logic Apps and BizTalk.

Jon touched on the point about the “UI Refresh” in BizTalk Server 2016, and he addressed it as “Repaint”. The Repaint will give a modern, consistent look and feel to the product.

The integration between BizTalk server and Logic Apps will bring together a world of new possibilities such as –

  • Patterns – Solicit/response, request/response, fire-forget
  • Polling HTTP Endpoints – This is a welcome break for developers as they no longer have to use Schedule task adapter for this purpose
  • Run Logic App on a configured Schedule
  • Consume BizTalk Capabilities – Call into and augment existing BizTalk processes, existing capabilities like Rules and so on

Jon wrapped up the session with the CTP 2/ RTM schedule and the feedback/ways to reach the product team. It was time for a coffee break on Day 1 at INTEGRATE 2016.

Powerful Integration and Workflow Automation

It was time for Kevin Lam and Jeff Hollan to talk on Powerful Integration and Workflow Automation. The key highlights of the session were –

  • Out of the box connectors available with Logic Apps – the list keeps growing every week
  • Upcoming connectors
    INTEGRATE 2016 - Connector options available & upcoming
  • Visual Studio Integration for Logic Apps. The Logic Apps Designer will be made available in Visual studio
  • Nested Workflows, switch statements, scoped flows, and many more
  • Microsoft Operations Management Suite to get a holistic view of what’s happening within your Logic App

Jeff Hollan continued the session talking on “Advance Integration Statistics” –

  • Jeff introduced Howard Edidin to talk about a real-world integration scenario with Logic Apps for a healthcare organization
  • Integration patterns for Logic Apps
  • More mature Release Management

Enterprise Functionality Roadmap

Post lunch at INTEGRATE 2016, Kevin Lam and Jon Fancey started their talk on Enterprise Functionality Roadmap. Few highlights from the session –

  • Enterprise Integration Pack Preview – Companies can centralize their artifacts when integrating with trading partners. These artifacts can be directly used from Logic Apps in conjunction with AS/2 and X12 Decoders
  • Integration Account
  • Creation of VETER (Validate, Extract, Transform, Enrich, Route) Pipelines as a Logic App
  • New Compose function
  • X12 and AS/2 support  to be added. EDIFACT will be added down the road, together with TPM and party resolution

Integrations Made Simple – Microsoft Flows

Charles Lamanna introduced the concept of Microsoft Flows. Immediately when the concept was shown, the Twitter feed of #integrate2016 started to say Microsoft Flows is very similar to IFTTT offering from Microsoft. Flows is aimed at non-developers (business users) and it sits on top of the Logic Apps engine. Flows is mainly intended for light weight use case scenarios where there is a possibility to automate routine tasks. For example – Copying tweets from twitter to Dropbox, SharePoint to SalesForce integration, and so on. Currently, Microsoft Flows has a template library that allows users to get started with using this functionality.

INTEGRATE 2016 - Microsoft Flows Templates

Towards the end of the session, Charles mentioned the point that any Flow can be converted to Logic Apps in a single click, coming later this year. Something along the lines of “LogicApps as a Service (LaaS)” as someone pointed out on the #integrate2016 twitter stream.

After Charles, Vladimir Vinogradsky from the Azure API Management team spoke about API Management offering from Microsoft. Few highlights from the session –

  • Use of Policies and Expressions
  • Azure Functions can be used in Azure API Management

The final session of the day was an interactive one by Jim Harrer and Jeff Hollan. Jeff asked few multiple choice questions and requested the audience answer them by texting to a particular number with their choice. What actually happened in the background was a Logic App received the text message, sent it to an Event Hub which sends the data to PowerBI using Stream Analytics. The resulting data was shown live in Power BI with the number of votes for each option. This was a real cool way of collecting user feedback, and at the same time demonstrating the power of Logic Apps. Jim also gave information about Microsoft Integration Partner Program, and further details would be made available on the monthly newsletter

This wrapped up the day of extensive, technically loaded sessions at INTEGRATE 2016. It was time to chill out with a beer and network with the attendees. BizTalk360 had a fun photo booth set up for the attendees to get a picture of them.

INTEGRATE 2016 - Drinks and Networking

With this we wrap up the summary of Day 1 at INTEGRATE 2016. Stay tuned for the updates from Day 2, and Day 3. Take a look at the pictures from Day 1 of INTEGRATE 2016 here.

Special thanks & mentions to our live streaming crew (Karma), our Photographer (Tariq Sheikh), and our videographer (Nigel Camp) for their excellent contribution at INTEGRATE 2016.

Author: Sriram Hariharan

Sriram Hariharan is the Senior Technical and Content Writer at BizTalk360. He has over 9 years of experience working as documentation specialist for different products and domains. Writing is his passion and he believes in the following quote - “As wings are for an aircraft, a technical document is for a product — be it a product document, user guide, or release notes”.

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