This must put an end to the debate going on for the past two years “BizTalk is Dead”. Both as a consultant in the past and founder of BizTalk360 I meet lot of customers who invested heavily on BizTalk server. For the past couple of years with the innovation going on in the cloud space, some of them got the impression Microsoft is moving toward the cloud and BizTalk is dead.This statement is not true, we been working with some of the top executives in the BizTalk product team and they themselves are sometimes puzzled how this message got into the market.
Keeping that message aside, it’s very clear from the commitment made by Microsoft to deliver one major release roughly every 2 years. They kept the promise going from 2000 (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2006 R2, 2009, 2010 and now 2013), not sure what else you can ask for from a product vendor. BizTalk Server 2013 is not just a platform alignment, there are big investments in various areas of the product.
- Integration with Cloud Services – BizTalk Server 2013 Beta includes new out-of-the box adapters to send and receive messages from Windows Azure Service Bus. It also provides capabilities to transfer messages using different relay endpoints hosted on Azure.
- RESTful services – REST adapter that comes out of the box helps to both consume and expose restful services. We have couple of posts explaining this topic from the CTP releases REST (WCF-WebHttp) adapter in BizTalk Server 2010 R2, Consuming JSON endpoint with BizTalk 2010 R2 REST WCF-WebHttp adapter
- Enhanced SharePoint adapter – Integrating with SharePoint using BizTalk Server 2013 Beta is now as simple as integrating with a file share. We have removed the need for dependency on SharePoint farms, while still providing backward compatibility.
- SFTP adapter – BizTalk Server 2013 Beta enables sending and receiving messages from an SFTP server.
- ESB Toolkit integration – With BizTalk Server 2013 Beta, ESB Toolkit is now fully integrated with BizTalk Server. Also, the ESB Toolkit configuration experience is vastly simplified to enable a quick setup.
- Dependency tracking – The dependencies between artifacts can now be viewed and navigated in Admin console.
- Improvements in dynamic send ports – BizTalk Server 2013 Beta provides the ability to set host handler per adapter, instead of always using the default send handler of the adapters.
Note: The above snippet is more or less from the download page.
Microsoft in general is a fast phased company, everything moves very fast (Windows, SQL, Visual Studio etc.) and BizTalk team has done a tremendous job in keeping to that phase and delivering the promises. BizTalk Server 2013 is supported on the following platforms.
Few weeks ago after Windows 8 release, I installed Windows 8 on my main laptop, with all the other tools like Visual Studio 2012 and SQL 2012. After that I was bit stuck, I can’t use the the laptop anymore for BizTalk development, because you cannot install BizTalk Server 2010 on that platform. But now that problem is resolved, I can install BizTalk 2013 BETA in that laptop and carry on working with BizTalk stuff. Also it’s important to know, you can do an in-place upgrade from BizTalk Server 2010 to BizTalk Server 2013. You do not need to manually migrate your stuff to the new platform.
One of the mistakes I have seen companies doing is leaving their platform few versions behind. Example I’m sure there still customers out there on BizTalk Server 2004 and 2006 and when it comes to migrating to new platform it becomes a huge project in itself. Companies should come out of the mindset of “If it’s working, I don’t want to touch it” and try to be either current or only one version behind. Otherwise you are missing out on lot of improvements.
On-premise meets the cloud
“Ready for the cloud” is one of the main themes of this release. One of the biggest innovations in this release is the investments in seamless integration of your on-premise environment with some of the cloud innovations like Azure Service Bus (Queues, Topics etc), EDI capabilities. BizTalk server 2013 comes out of the box with Service Bus adapter.
Kent Weare has done an excellent job in going in detail about SB-Messaging adapter.
- Azure Service Bus Integration–Part 1
- Azure Service Bus Integration–Part 2 Brokered Message Properties
- Azure Service Bus Integration–Part 3 Sending message to Service Bus Queue
- Azure Service Bus Integration–Part 4 Sending Messages to Service Bus Topics
- Azure Service Bus Integration–Part 5 Sending messages to Service Bus Queues using Sessions
BizTalk Virtual machines in the Cloud (IaaS)
One of the biggest announcement in BizTalk Server 2013 is the supportability of BizTalk Virtual machines in the cloud. Moving in the direction of Infrastructure as a service (Iaas). From my experience I know lot of companies rely on some third party hosting companies to host their BizTalk infrastructure. But now you canrun your production BizTalk environment all in the Azure cloud without relying on some third party hosting services. Your SLA’s are governed by Azure VM SLA’s. Even if you are not planning to run your production environment in Azure cloud, it still provides a great opportunity to setup your development and QA environments taking away the pain of long procurement processes in organisation to provision such environments.
I’ve worked in larger organisations where it takes months to sort out a developer environments, procuring the hardware, sorting our various licenses, whether they need to assign MSDN or is it free etc.
There are already few good blog post covering this topic, in fact we have written an extensive 5 part post explaining how we moved our testing infrastructure to the cloud.
- BizTalk 2010 Environment in Windows Azure Virtual Machine (IaaS)
- How did we setup our entire BizTalk Testing Infrastructure in the Windows Azure cloud?
- BizTalk Testing Infrastructure in the Windows Azure cloud (Stage 1)
- BizTalk Testing Infrastructure in the Windows Azure cloud (Stage 2) – Active Directory/DNS
- BizTalk Testing Infrastructure in the Windows Azure cloud (Stage 3) – DNS Setting/Domain Join
You can download the BizTalk Server 2013 BETA here