A new year has just began and at BizTalk360 we are excited to find out what 2018 will bring us as a company. We are delighted that we will release more versions of our flagship product BizTalk360, further evolve ServiceBus360 and bring new products like Atomic Scope and Document360.
Year in review
In this article however, we want to look back at what 2017 brought from a Microsoft Integration space perspective. Although we did not see a new version of BizTalk Server, we did see new features arrive for BizTalk Server 2016, by means of the two feature packs which have been released. Of course, we have also seen new CU’s appear for the currently supported BizTalk Server versions, which are 2013, 2013R2 and 2016.
Note however, that in case you are on BizTalk Server 2013 or 2013 R2, mainstream support will end July 10th, this year! So you should consider upgrading to BizTalk Server 2016. As migrating to another BizTalk platform is not something to take lightly, Microsoft offers the BizTalk Migration tool. Read more about this tool later in this article.
An important move Microsoft made last year, was embracing the Open Source community. Of course, also in the Logic Apps and related technologies a lot has happened. Keep on reading, when you want to read about most important developments in Microsoft Integration space.
BizTalk Server 2016 Feature Packs
The concept of Feature Packs is new to BizTalk Server. The idea of bringing Feature Packs is to bring new features once they are ready, instead of having to wait until the next major release.
For BizTalk Server, these packs can be installed on top of (only) BizTalk Server 2016 and bring new functionality, without breaking existing functionality. As far as we know, there are no plans to bring Feature Packs for other BizTalk version than 2016.
Last year Microsoft brought 2 Feature Packs for BizTalk Server 2016. Let’s have a look at both.
Feature Pack 1
This first Feature pack was released on April 26th. It could only be installed on top of the base version of BizTalk Server 2016 (3.12.774.0), so you could not install it after you have applied any CU’s for BizTalk Server 2016. This issue his been fixed on September 21st, when Microsoft released a version of FP1 which was compatible with Cumulative Update 3 (KB4039664), the most recent CU at that time.
Feature Pack 1 added the following features to BizTalk Server 2016:
- Deploy with VSTS – Enable Continuous Integration to automatically deploy and update applications using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
- New management APIs – Manage your environment remotely using the new REST APIs with full Swagger support
- Application Insights – Tap into the power of Azure for tracking valuable application performance and to better understand your workflow
- Leverage operational data – View operational data from anywhere and with any device using Power BI
- Support for Always Encrypted – Use the WCF-SQL adapter to connect to SQL Server secure Always Encrypted columns
- Advanced Scheduling – Set up advanced schedules for Receive Locations using the new capabilities with Feature Pack 1
More information on Feature Pack 1 can be found here: https://blogs.biztalk360.com/microsoft-biztalk-server-2016-feature-pack-1/
Download Feature Pack 1 here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=55100
Feature Pack 2
This pack was released on November 21st and can be installed immediately on top of the BizTalk Server 2016 Cumulative Updates 1, 2 and 3 and Feature Pack 1.
In this Feature Pack, the following features were brought:
Deployment and Administration
- Application Lifecycle Management with VSTS – Using Visual Studio Team Services, you can define multi-server deployments of BizTalk Server 2016, and then maintain those systems throughout the application lifecycle.
- Backup to Azure Blob Storage – When deploying BizTalk Server to Azure VMs, you can backup BizTalk Server databases to Azure blob storage.
- Adapter for Service Bus v2 – When using the Service Bus Adapter, you can utilize Azure Service Bus Premium for enterprise-scale workloads.
- Transport Layer Security 1.2 – Securely deploy BizTalk Server using industry-standard TLS 1.2 authentication and encryption.
- API Management – Publish Orchestration endpoints using Azure API Management, enabling organizations to publish APIs to external, partner and internal developers to unlock the potential of their data and services.
- Event Hubs – Using the new Event Hub Adapter, BizTalk Server can send and receive messages with Azure Event Hubs, where BizTalk Server can function as both an event publisher and subscriber, as part of a new Azure cloud-based event-driven application.
Analytics and Reporting
- Event Hubs – Send BizTalk Server tracking data to Azure Event Hubs, a hyper-scale telemetry ingestion service that collects, transforms, and stores millions of events.
- Application Insights – When preparing BizTalk Server to send tracking data to Application Insights, released in FP1, you can use the new Azure sign-in dialog to simplify configuration and named instances of SQL Server.
More information on Feature Pack 2 can be found here: https://blogs.biztalk360.com/microsoft-biztalk-server-2016-feature-pack-2-released/
Download Feature Pack 2 here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=56262
In 2017, Microsoft also brought a number of Cumulative Updates for the different versions of BizTalk Server. See below for an overview which contains links to the download pages:
BizTalk Server 2013
NOTE: this version is going out of mainstream support July 10th, 2018
July 28th, 2017 – Cumulative Update package 6 (build 3.10.359.2) – KB4032678
BizTalk Server 2013 R2
NOTE: this version is going out of mainstream support July 10th, 2018
BizTalk Server 2016
January 26, 2017 – Cumulative Update package 1 (build 3.12.796.2) – KB3208238
May 26, 2017 – Cumulative Update package 2 (build 3.12.807.2) – KB4021095
September 1, 2017 – Cumulative Update package 3 (build 3.12.815.2) – KB4039664
Embracing Open Source
In September Microsoft announced that BizTalk Server has joined the Open Source community. This is motivated by the increased commitment that Microsoft wants to provide a better product to their customers.
So far, Microsoft has open sourced the following:
- all schemas which are shipped with the product. These are over 3500 files, which are divided over the following standards:
- the BizTalk Migration tool. This tool is developed to simplify the following migrations:
- BizTalk Server 2010 to BizTalk 2013R2
- BizTalk Server 2013R2 to BizTalk 2016For Host Integration Server
For Host Integration Server (HIS), Microsoft has provided a PowerShell script that helps creating .hidx files, which are used by the HIS runtime to communicate with the backend systems.
The repository which contains above mentioned stuff, can be found at GitHub:
Microsoft’s intention is to continue their open source commitment. Community contributions are more than welcome and can contain artifacts like Schemas, Samples, Adapters, pipeline components or anything else you feel the community can take advantage of.
Azure Integration updates
It is amazing to see what’s all happening on Azure Integration! The Logic Apps team regularly post their updates on YouTube. At our blog, we publish recaps of these updates. Below is a picture of the entire Microsoft Pro Integration team on a bright, sunny Friday morning at Gold Coast, Australia, during #MSAUIgnite.
See below, just a couple of all the developments which have taken place:
Logic App-adapter – this adapter enables you to receive or send messages from BizTalk Server 2016 to your Logic Apps, via the On-Premise Data Gateway
Numerous improvements to the Logic Apps Designer – just a few which are worth to mention: editing Azure Functions directly from Logic Apps, generating JSON schema from sample payload, Parallel creation in the designer, use of Webhooks in Foreach loops, use of variables, batch processing, advanced scheduling of Logic App execution
Cognitive Vision APIs – to be able to use the OCR capability to understand the characters and text within an image
Azure Event Grid – The newest and hottest kid in town; technical preview version was released by Microsoft on August 16th
Azure Event Grid Connectors for Logic Apps – Of course the Event Grid offering is accompanied with a connector
More than 80 new SaaS adapters – few of the added connectors are: Azure Table Storage, Cognitive Services, Outlook – webhook trigger, SQL – dynamic schema for stored procedures, Azure Container Instances , Pitney Bowes Data Validation, Log Analytics Data Collector, ServiceNow, Skype for Business, LinkedIn, Azure Security Center Trigger, MySQL (R/W)
You can follow the Logic Apps team yourself, via their YouTube channel: http://aka.ms/logicappslive
The most recent recap of the Logic Apps update can be found here:
What can we expect in 2018?
Of course Microsoft will keep on bringing new and exciting features and improvements. What we currently know is that we can expect a new feature pack for BizTalk Server 2016, being Feature Pack 3. But also on the Azure side we can expect new stuff and enhancements of existing features.
BizTalk Server 2016 Feature Pack 3
During the first half year, we can expect the release of BizTalk Server 2016 Feature Pack 3. What we currently know, is that we can expect multiple Office 365 adapters, with the following capabilities:
- Send and receive messages using Office 365 e-mail
- Set and update appointments using Office 365 schedules
- Define people and groups using Office 365 contacts
Further, we can expect:
- Web authentication – authenticate with Azure Active Directory and OAuth using Microsoft Enterprise Single Sign-On
- Advanced Scheduling – Set up recurrence on BizTalk Server receive locations with greater precision using hours, minutes, second
Besides that, Microsoft will keep on bringing CU’s for the supported BizTalk Server versions, including the final CU’s for BizTalk 2013 and 2013R2.
Further, Microsoft is also working on BizTalk Server vNext, so we can also expect CTP’s (Community Technology Previews), which will lead to a new release of BizTalk Server and more Feature Packs. However, a timeline towards a new release of BizTalk Server is not yet made public.
In Azure, we can expect of course more adapters. The Logic Apps team has already mentioned amongst others: SOAP Passthrough, Office365 Excel, K2, Kronos, Citrix ShareFile and PostgreSQL.
We’ll also see more improvements in the designer. Features like Complex Conditions within the designer, Configurable lifetime and Degrees of parallelism for split-on and request triggers have already been mentioned by the team.
All in all, we can conclude that 2017 has been an awesome year for Microsoft Integration and we can expect that 2018 will be a fantastic year as well!
You can get to know more about these updates directly from the Microsoft Product Group at INTEGRATE 2018. The dates and the venue for the event has been finalized. The website will be going live by this week. Stay tuned!