Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Flint Brenton, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Charles Araujo

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

BizTalk Server 2004: Too Hot to Handle?

Where to successfully apply BizTalk Server technology

Recent trends in IT such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web sevices, in conjunction with the still-increasing popularity of the .NET framework, put Microsoft's BizTalk Server in the center of attention for CIOs, CTOs, architects, and enterprise developers. Apparently everyone who is involved with the Microsoft platform now wants to implement BizTalk. Frequently we see that BizTalk is not implemented in areas where the benefits of the technology can be maximized. This leads to disappointment about the value of BizTalk, even though the problem is in the application of the technology instead of in the technology itself. In this article I will point out where, how, and when the third generation of BizTalk Server can provide real business value.

BizTalk Server Is Hot
In March 2005 BizTalk Server (BTS) reached an implementation base of 4,000 organizations. Microsoft states that these 4,000 implementations in four years make BTS the fastest-growing integration server on the market. Ever since it was first released, BTS has held a firm spot in the upper right quadrant of Gartner's magic quadrants for application integration and orchestration tools.

It's no wonder BizTalk is the center of attention for anyone who has a Microsoft infrastructure or who develops, designs, or architects Microsoft-based solutions. However to fully grasp the benefits of BizTalk Server, we should know where to successfully apply BizTalk Server technology.

A Brief History of BizTalk Server
To fully understand what BizTalk is and what it can do for you and your company, we should delve into the history of the product.

The first version of BizTalk, BTS 2000, was the result of two separate server products on which Microsoft development teams were working. On one side was the development of the messaging infrastructure and the BizTalk Framework (a.k.a. BTF, a SOAP 1.1 extension and XML framework aimed at integrating e-commerce applications), and on the other side there was the development of an extension to COM+ called COM+ Scheduler, which we now know as the Orchestration Engine. Nine months before BTS 2000's shipment in December 2000, Microsoft decided to merge both development teams in order to create one single solution for application integration and XML messaging.

Fewer than two years later Microsoft released the next version of BTS, named BTS 2002. This version contained a few improvements over the BTS 2000 version, and was generally more for administrators than for developers and end users. Additionally BTS 2002 offered some new functionality such as an HTTP receive function and increased Web service support.

Then, in 2004 (as the name suggests), BizTalk Server 2004 (formerly code-named Jupiter, which Steve Ballmer affectionately termed "BizTalk on steroids") was released. BTS 2004 is the first version that is fully based on the .NET framework, and which is written in fully managed code. The differences between it and the 2002 version are tremendous. Any BTS 2000 developer could learn to operate the BTS 2002 version within a day, but the BTS 2004 version is a different story. Development tools are now integrated in Visual Studio.NET, thereby perhaps adhering less strongly to the principle "code less, configure more" that was used throughout the BTS 2000 and BTS 2002 products.

In today's version, we can still see the two pillars of the product: messaging and orchestration. However a big difference with the BTS 2000 and 2002 versions is that by default, orchestration is used within the messaging tasks, even if the messaging task is straightforward and does not need the advanced options of orchestration. There is a way to work around this, but it is not as straightforward as using an orchestration for this task.

The Road to Choosing BizTalk Server
The key to assessing whether implementing a BizTalk-based solution will help your company is to look at it from an architectural perspective. At Capgemini we have developed the Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF) that defines architecture by means of contextual, conceptual, logical, and physical models, which progressively analyze an architectural need and refine a solution.

The architectural levels of the IAF are:

  • Contextual: answers the "where" question. Delivers contextual information and key principles that define the architecture. Focuses on the company and its environment.
  • Conceptual: answers the "what" question. Defines the architecture on a high abstraction level. Focuses on which business problem the solution/architecture should solve.
  • Logical: answers the "how" question. Defines what services are needed to implement the desired architecture. Focuses on the solution for the problem stated at the conceptual level.
  • Physical: answers the "with what" question. Defines the products and technologies with which the solution can be realized.
Starting from the contextual level, we should analyze all levels of the architecture, and see where and how BizTalk fits into the picture. This should eventually lead to a well-founded choice for the BizTalk platform, or for an alternative.

What we often see is companies deciding to implement BizTalk regardless of whether analysis on the upper levels justifies this implementation. The right order to choose any technology at the physical level is to progressively analyze all levels, beginning with the contextual level. We must first understand the problem before we supply a solution. Now that we have our analytical framework, let's see how we can apply it to BizTalk.

Where
The .NET framework has come a long way since it was first introduced about five years ago. On the eve of the launch of the .NET framework version 2.0, even the open source community has embraced the (unofficial) .NET framework, called Mono. Even though .NET is now available for Linux and Unix, BizTalk is still seen as a product exclusively for the Microsoft/Intel platform. To a certain extent this makes sense, as BizTalk Server 2004 runs only on Windows Server, and relies heavily on Microsoft SQL Server for its internal databases. BizTalk offers great opportunities to connect to other platforms, particularly through the broad application of open standards such as BPEL, SOAP, WSDL, XSD, and HTTP to name a few. Also, there are many adapters available to connect to other platforms. The use of open standards and the broad availability of adapters make BizTalk a great player in heterogeneous, mixed Windows-Unix-Linux environments. However the question remains as to whether it is wise to implement BizTalk as the only Intel-based system in a Unix or Linux environment.

If the where question tends to exclude BizTalk as a serious option, then you must have very strong arguments on the what and how sections to ultimately justify the choice for BizTalk.

What
The what question focuses on the business problem that needs to be solved. It states the requirements for the solution. Typical business problems in these areas may be:

  • "We need to shorten the time to market for new applications or automated support for business processes"
  • "We want to automate the processing of claims"
  • "We need to be able to exchange data with our trading partner"
  • "We want to reduce operational costs"
  • "We want to offer a new service to our customers"
    Also, business problems may already be stated in the form of an envisioned solution:
  • "We need to implement an SOA to provide business agility"
  • "We must use EAI tools to connect our Billing application to our Order application to streamline our procurement process"

More Stories By Loek Bakker

Loek Bakker is a senior consultant at Capgemini, the Netherlands. He specializes in architecture, SOA, and Microsoft.NET. Within Capgemini he is a lead architect for BizTalk-based integration solutions.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Docker is sweeping across startups and enterprises alike, changing the way we build and ship applications. It's the most prominent and widely known software container platform, and it's particularly useful for eliminating common challenges when collaborating on code (like the "it works on my machine" phenomenon that most devs know all too well). With Docker, you can run and manage apps side-by-side - in isolated containers - resulting in better compute density. It's something that many developer...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We view the cloud not as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Archi...