Does Microsoft BizTalk Server Have a Future?

I know that many of you have been wondering if BizTalk is just
going away, and Microsoft has been particularly closed mouthed about their
plans for it of late. After a period of relatively rapid growth, with BizTalk
2006 R2 in 2008, BizTalk 2009 and BizTalk 2010, all in rapid succession there
has been nothing new except a few patches out of the BizTalk team for 2+ years.
Information about the latest
cumulative update for BizTalk Server 2010 is available here.

With Microsoft pushing AppFabric and Azure as they have been,
and with so much of the functionality seeming to overlap with BizTalk who could
blame us for wondering? Many have hypothesized that BizTalk would simply be
subsumed into AppFabric and disappear forever. Why wouldn’t Microsoft push for
just such an agenda? Wouldn’t you rather rent customers their software for an
ongoing monthly fee as opposed to selling the software just once that runs and
runs and runs? Since most BizTalk customers acquire their licenses through an
enterprise agreement, this has effectively already been the case. Moving
BizTalk to a cloud-hosted tool solidifies this arrangement and makes it much
easier to add new customers. This effectively is the concept behind SaaS
(Software as a Service) and the more recent incarnations of PaaS and IaaS
(Platform and Infrastructure as a Service respectively).

The most official communication regarding the future of
BizTalk was conveyed by Tony Meleg last year at various conferences (including
the 2011
World
Partner Conference
). He stated that over the next several iterations,
spaced approximately 2-3 years apart, BizTalk would evolve to become more cloud
based and more integrated into a SaaS type product. This would seem to indicate
about 10 year evolution cycle. Not a bad timeline for a product that has only
been around for about 10 years, (let’s face it BizTalk really started with
BizTalk 2004!)

At TechEd 2012 in Orlando there were two sessions on BizTalk
Server. Oh you say, you missed them? Not surprising as only one had BizTalk in
its name and it was a late entry, and both sessions were scheduled at the end
of the conference; the last two session of the last day (AZR207 and AZR211 if
you have access and want to watch them yourself).

In these sessions Balasubramanian Sriram, Javed Sikander,
and Rajesh Ramamirtham shared several very promising particulars regarding
BizTalk Server 2010 including: of the 12,000 worldwide customers for BizTalk
Server over 79% have already upgraded to BizTalk Server 2010. I take this as a
very positive number since this indicates a strong and interested base. Also,
any future upgrades will be made easier by having 80% of customers ready to go
(historically “in-place” upgrades are only supported for the current version). Of
course for those of us that love BizTalk like I do, we hope to see this number
grow by 100 fold or more! However, that will only come if the product gets
easier, and cheaper for customers to use.

Here is what I took away from these sessions. Microsoft
intends to continue to innovate in the integration space with improvements to
BizTalk server in three primary areas.

1)     
BizTalk
Server on-premises
: Microsoft will continue to support new platforms
including Windows 8 Server, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012, Office 15 and
System Center. The proposed release date for this next version is about 6
months after the release of Windows 8 Server, so late 2012 or early 2013. While
it is currently being called BTS 2010 R2, we have verbal confirmation that Microsoft
understands it would be more aptly named BizTalk Server 2012, or more likely
2013. An R2 probably doesn’t make sense three plus years after R1!

The newest version will include:

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Support of the latest B2B standards including
HL7, Swift and EDIFACT and X12 EDI schemas. Considering the huge uptake in
customers using BizTalk Server for EDI transactions this is a pretty big deal.

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Improved performance for dynamic send ports
including the ability to specify the host to be used, (yay).

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Integration of ESB functionality into the core
of BizTalk Server (installation will just be a checkbox?)

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Better manageability to view artifact
dependencies through the Administration console, for example what map is used
in what port.

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Improvements to several adapters, including
SharePoint, HIS, SMTP and the ability to consume RESTful services directly from
BizTalk.

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And easy integration with BizTalk on Azure

2)     
BizTalk
on Azure (BizTalk IaaS)
: The new on-premise BizTalk will be offered as a hosted
service available “in the cloud” to make provisioning additional servers
faster, easier, and we can only hope, less costly. The time-line for this is
the same as BizTalk on-premise since it is virtualization of the same
technology.

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This would provide the ability to easily move
applications developed for on-premise hosting to the cloud, and vice-versa.

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Initially this will only be available for
development and test but Microsoft will obviously make this feature available for
production relatively soon.

3)     
BizTalk
PaaS: The timeline for this one is a
bit less clear, but it is happening to some extent already. For those customers
that don’t have need of heavily customized BizTalk deployment and maybe don’t
have a volume that would justify a multi-server installation, some BizTalk
functionality will be offered as a cloud-hosted service. I don’t think that
anyone sees this as a replacement for on-premise BizTalk servers however in
messaging only scenarios this makes a lot of sense.

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The primary benefit is for route and transform
functionality where no custom orchestrations would be required. This provides
an easy entry point for customers which will later probably require more power
and will end up with custom BizTalk solutions. For BizTalk to be viable going
forward the customer base must expand from the current 12,000.

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Most new innovation would take place in this
area and then the capability would be moved into the on-premise (or hosted)
versions of BizTalk.

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Best use case here would be companies that buy
BizTalk purely for the EDI capability. Today this requires dedicated hardware
and a development staff when really all they need are the schemas and some
configuration all hosted in the cloud.

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Another likely scenario would be integration
between various enterprise applications where once the schemas are defined the
processing is completely automated.

What all this means is, after an extended period of seeming
inactivity on the BizTalk Server front, I am pleased to inform you that BizTalk
Server is not dead! The “key takeaways” from the sessions sum this up very
clearly:

1)     
Microsoft is committed to releasing a new
version of BizTalk very soon with additional versions to follow on a 2-3 year
cadence as in the past.

2)     
Conventional on-premise BizTalk, plus BizTalk
IaaS, plus BizTalk PaaS is the way forward and it should drive higher adoption
and more innovation in the integration area that we all know and love.

3)     
Continue to bet on BizTalk as Microsoft
continues to invest in BizTalk, (their words, not mine, but I agree).

In several discussions that I have had with BizTalk MVPs,
students, customers and Microsoft employees over the years, my feeling for
years is that as awesome as BizTalk is, it has needed update, a big one, and
that this update would require quite a change in thinking. I am thrilled to see
them releasing more definitive plans that we can tie our futures to.

It looks like we will have several years of
BizTalk development and support ahead! Long Live BizTalk!

BizTalk Environment Graphical Monitoring Dashboard

Our goal here at BizTalk360 is make it as seamless as possible to setup monitoring for your BizTalk server environments without breaking your wallet. The focus for our 4.0 release was purely on improving the monitoring capabilities. We pretty much nailed all the monitoring requirements from a BizTalk environment perspective (still more to come). Here […]
Blog Post by: Saravana Kumar

Jobs@Breeze: Developers Developers Developers.

Jobs@Breeze: Developers Developers Developers.

Hi guys,

 

Great opportunity for .Net Developers to join fast growing company

 

Breeze was recently awarded Microsoft World partner of the Year for 2012 and is looking
for 2 .Net developers to work with the latest cloud technologies in Sydney.

(well if you think about it you could use the latest cloud technologies from anywhere,
not just Sydney)

 

Please contact me or visit us at Jobs
at www.breeze.net
– love to hear from you.

 

(no recruiters please)

 

Have a great day folks,

 

Mick.

 


Blog Post by: Mick Badran

Azure pricing, make sure you know what you are doing – Lessons learnt

Azure pricing, make sure you know what you are doing – Lessons learnt

As you can see from the below picture, this is the bill we are going to pay for this month around £216.78 and we can see this growing by roughly £1.5 every hour.

image

Even though it’s manageable amount you need to be aware things can go out of your control very soon. Still lot of the terminologies are fairly new and it’s very easy to make some wrong assumptions or ignorant of small setting that can cost you without you needing that functionality.

We were so excited when Microsoft announced their IaaS offering last month and we did lot of experiment and blogged quite a bit here

Let me try to explain the things, we learned and hopefully shed some light on people in similar situation to potentially save them some money.

MSDN and BizSpark offers:

Microsoft provides some great free offers for MSDN Subscribers, Microsoft Partners, BizSpark Members and Website Spark member (see the full details here). If you happened to be lucky enough (like us!) to obtain more than one offer, make sure you activate them separately by visiting the corresponding link.

For MSDN click here:

  

image

For BizSpark click here:

image

Activation will create individual subscriptions with it’s own subscription id each with the limits specified in the above link/picture. One important thing you need to remember here is they are not consolidated, you need to stick within the limits of each subscription. This is fine, but the new portal won’t show it clearly. In the old portal, when you click on subscriptions you can see the below details

image

You can clearly spot the problem, we were creating all the instances within a single subscription and exceeding the quota in one subscription and not using anything on the other subscription. The new portal is still in preview mode (BETA), hopefully things should get better.

Do you need Geo Redundancy?

Depending on the nature of what you are doing, it may not be required to enable Geo redundancy, which basically copies your blob storage data to remote data centres for redundancy. In our case 70% of the resources (VM instances VHD) files are used more for experiment/learning and testing purposes. So, it’s not really a big matter if we lose some storage. When you create a new VM (using the preview portal), select the default storage allocation, by default Geo Redundancy is enabled. You can easily switch it off by going to Storage> <Your Blob Account> and selecting “Configure” as shown below

image

Understand the terminology

Since there are tons of new things happening in this Azure/Cloud space and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the reading, it’s so easy to assume something wrong. At least that’s what happened to us. This may be complete ignorance, but it cost us money.

image

With all the free offers we subscribed for, it’s very easy to get confused with the above chart details. The graph says we used 35% of 20 cores. The 20 cores is not your free or subscription allowance, but that’s actually the maximum soft limit set per subscription. You need to pay for every core you are using above your free offer. You can increase this limit by raising a support request, if you got a bigger implementation. This is where things went completely wrong for us, we assumed we got 20 free cores to use as part of our various MSDN/BizSpark offer.

Watch your Hard disk VHD blob storage

Every time you create a virtual machine via the new preview portal, it’s going to create a .VHD file with 30GB. In some case, when you encounter some error in the portal, there is a good chance the .VHD file is already created and sitting in your storage account. The biggest issue here is, the portal (both old and new) won’t show you the contents of the blob account, you need to use the rest api, powershell (may be) or some third party tool like Cerebrata. In our case this is how it is looking

image

There are large number of 30GB files, total of nearly 1 terabyte. We are still not able to delete some of them, looks like its been referenced somewhere and not releasing the lease. We raised a support call. With this huge size and Geo location easily added to our monthly bill.

Watch out your allowance carefully?

With both MSDN/BizSpark, you get 1500 small compute instance hours. A month is roughly 750 hours, so basically you get 2 small compute instance per month free for your MSDN Ultimate subscription. The minimum size for new VM’s is “small”, so if you have created 2 of them, they you are right at the edge.

You also need to watch out the free storage allocation, which is 45GB. A single VM will consume 30GB straight out of the box as we have seen earlier. So creating couple of VM’s will automatically take you to pay something.

Summary

There is nothing wrong in the pricing, as long as  you are aware what you are up to. So better be cautious and be preaparred. It’s worth checking your accounts periodically, at least once a week till you settled down to avoid any big surprises.

/Saravana Kumar

Brand new TFS 2012 Training for the Release of Visual Studio 2012

Microsoft will release to manufacture (RTM) Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server 2012 in the first week of August with the official release planned for September. With the majority of users eligible for a “free” upgrade to the latest version through their MSDN Subscriptions, expect to see many organizations upgrading over the coming six months!

Why not hit the ground running by having your staff up skilled on the many great new features Microsoft have included in this release. Here’s just a sample of some of the new features we cover in our TFS 2012 courses:

  • A completely new web interface to help you interact with TFS
  • New Agile Planning tools to help you create and manage your product backlog
  • A task board to help you see the state of work in progress
  • A new feedback client to help ensure continuous feedback from your stakeholders
  • New exploratory testing features to help your testers create tests from exploratory testing sessions
  • Storyboarding support to allow you to create professional interactive storyboards to show your stakeholders
  • Support for teams within a Team Project with independent backlogs, dashboards and task boards.
  • Support for testing new Windows 8-style applications
  • Much, much more.

Our new range of 6 courses for Visual Studio 2012 TFS can provide your team with all the skills and knowledge necessary to make the maximum advantage from the new features in the 2012 release. Here is our line-up of new courses for TFS 2012:

  1. TFS 2012 Configuration and Administration
  2. Software Testing with Visual Studio 2012
  3. Test Automation, Web Performance, and Load Testing with VS 2012
  4. Managing Projects with TFS 2012
  5. ALM Solutions using TFS 2012
  6. TFS 2012 Developer Fundamentals
Kovai Limited signs strategic partnership with Tallan Inc

Kovai Limited signs strategic partnership with Tallan Inc

Kovai Limited the owner of BizTalk360 based in London, yesterday signed a strategic partnership agreement with Tallan Inc

imageimage

Often times customers are bombarded with information making their life harder to decide on the right tool for their requirements. Partner organisations are the ones who work very closely with the customers, understanding their business requirements. For the past few months we were actively engaged in partnering with right organisation, who got similar vision to ours, "delivering value to Microsoft BizTalk Server customers".

As part of the journey, we are very excited to announce our new partnership with Tallan, Inc.

Tallan is headquartered in Hartford, CT, and has offices in New York, Boston, Tampa, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Tallan provides custom application development and integration services to customers in the financial services, healthcare, retail, government, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Tallan are Microsoft National Systems Integrator (NSI) and Gold Competency Partner in various competencies, especially Application Integration.

You can read the full press release.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see more such announcements from Kovai. We are actively looking for new partners around the world to bring on-board. If you work in the application integration area specializing in Microsoft BizTalk server and interested to become our partners and add value to your customers, please contact us at contact@biztalk360.com

/Saravana Kumar

Difference between 2 dates in C#

Difference between 2 dates in C#

I tried to do a simple DateTime calculation in C#. What I wanted to achieve is to know how many years, months and days where between 2 DateTime variables. Or at least I thought this would be easy. Turns out there is know real out-of-the-box functionality available to handle this in C#.

The only thing available out-of-the-box in C# is using TimeSpan. Unfortuanately the only calculations TimeSpan can return is the number of days, hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds. But how about the years, months and days than?

Here’s a simple method to show the possibilities of the TimeSpan:


public void PrintDateDiffUsingTimeSpan(DateTime begin, DateTime end)
{
TimeSpan span = end - begin;

StringBuilder str = new StringBuilder();
str.Append("Total span: ");
str.Append(span.Days + " days, ");
str.Append(span.Hours + " hours, ");
str.Append(span.Minutes + " minutes, ");
str.Append(span.Seconds + " seconds, ");
str.Append(span.Milliseconds + " milliseconds");

Console.WriteLine(str.ToString() + "\n");


Console.WriteLine("Total Days: " + span.TotalDays);
Console.WriteLine("Total Hours: " + span.TotalHours);
Console.WriteLine("Total Minutes: " + span.TotalMinutes);
Console.WriteLine("Total Seconds: " + span.TotalSeconds);
Console.WriteLine("Total Milliseconds: " + span.TotalMilliseconds);
}

I ended up using a freely available .NET library called ‘Time Period’. The source code can be found here. There’s also an on line demo and documentation available.
Here’s a simple method to show some the possibilities of the TimeSpan:

  public void PrintDateDiff(DateTime begin, DateTime end)
{
DateDiff diff = new DateDiff(begin, end);

StringBuilder str = new StringBuilder();
str.Append("Total difference: ");
str.Append(diff.ElapsedYears + " years, ");
str.Append(diff.ElapsedMonths + " months, ");
str.Append(diff.ElapsedDays + " days");

Console.WriteLine(str.ToString() + "\n");

Console.WriteLine("Total Days: " + diff.Days);
Console.WriteLine("Total Weeks: " + diff.Weeks);
Console.WriteLine("Total Weekdays: " + diff.Weekdays);
Console.WriteLine("Total Quarters: " + diff.Quarters);
Console.WriteLine("Total Hours: " + diff.Hours);
}

There are much more possibilities in the DateDiff class of the Time Period library. There are even much more classes available in the library. To know more of the capabilities of this library I again refer to the documentation.

Source: http://www.itenso.com/en/

Creating a SharePoint BCS .NET Connectivity Assembly to Crawl RSS Data in Visual Studio 2010

Overview
In this post, I’ll walk you though how to create a SharePoint 2010  BCS .NET Connectivity Assembly in Visual Studio 2010.
We’re going to create an assembly that will allow us to Crawl RSS Feeds using BCS. 
Creating a BCS .NET Connectivity Assembly project in Visual Studio 2010
First, create a new project selecting the Sharepoint -> […]
Blog Post by: Michael Gerety