I recently returned back from Europe where I had a chance to participate in two extraordinary events: Bouvet BizTalk Innovation Day (s) in Stavanger, Norway and the 40th running of the Berlin Marathon.

Bouvet BizTalk Innovation Day–Norway Recap

This was a two day event hosted by Bouvet. For those of you who are not familiar with Bouvet, Bouvet provides services in the fields of information technology, digital communication and enterprise management. Bouvet has about 900 employees divided between 14 offices in Norway and Sweden. - See more at: http://www.bouvet.no/en/About-Bouvet/

On day one each of the speakers had the opportunity to present their topic to a crowd of around 70 BizTalk professionals from all over Scandinavia.  The topics ranged from newer technologies like Windows Azure BizTalk Services, Windows Azure Mobile Services, Windows Azure Service Bus and some more universal topics like being proactive when monitoring the health of BizTalk solutions, BizTalk Mapping Patterns, identifying and rescuing a BizTalk Hostage Project and seeing a preview of the next version of BizTalk360.  There was also a special keynote by Paolo Salvatori who works for Microsoft Italy and is recognized world wide for his abilities. All presentations were very well received as indicated by the attendee surveys.

My presentation focused on Enterprise Mobility.  This is a topic that I have been dealing with at my day job so I had an opportunity to demonstrate some of the areas of enterprise mobility that I have been thinking about lately.  It was also an opportunity to demonstrate a ‘reference’ application that I have been collaborating on with Mikael Hakansson.

Some of the core principles that I have taken into consideration when dealing with Enterprise Mobility include:

  • Active Directory Federation: When a person leaves the company and their AD account has been disabled, this “tap” should be turned off for other mobile/cloud based services.
  • Leverage a Mobility platform to reduce the diversity required in supporting multiple platforms.  Windows Azure Mobile Services helps us address this by providing APIs for the popular platforms that allow us to centralize activities like Data access, Authentication, Identity Providers, Custom APIs and Scheduled tasks.
  • Most, if not all, Enterprise Mobile apps need to consume Line of Business (LOB) System data.  Windows Azure BizTalk Services (and the BizTalk Adapter Service) allow us a secure way in and out of our enterprise without poking holes in firewalls.  I should note that these capabilities are also available with BizTalk Server 2013.
  • Accessing On-Premise LOB systems isn’t possible (in my scenarios) without the underpinnings of the Windows Azure Service Bus.  Using this technology to span network layers never gets old. The BizTalk Adapter Service has a strong dependency on these services.
  • Data Storage:  Even though I am leveraging SAP master data in this scenario, I do need to maintain the state of the business process.  In this case I am using SQL Azure to host our data.  We can leverage Windows Azure Mobile Services’ APIs that make getting data in and out of the database a breeze.
  • Finally, we can’t forget about Toast Notifications.  We want the ability to send notifications out to users (in this case approvers) and Windows Azure Mobile Services helps us deal with sending Toast Notifications to a variety of platforms. 

Here is one of the scenarios from my demo that illustrates many of the principles that were previously mentioned.

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A few screenshots of the application running in the Windows Phone Emulator:

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This was one of the more challenging demos that I have ever been involved in.  I had a lot of fun working on this reference app with Mikael and learned a lot in the process.  My complete slide deck can be found here.

Conclusion

Many people work on bringing events alive, but two people who I would like to recognize are Tord Glad Nordahl and Anders Stensland.  They, in addition to the support Bouvet provided, pulled off a fantastic event.  I have had the opportunity to present in Sweden in 2010 and 2011 and I continue to be amazed by the amount of BizTalk interest in Scandinavia.  If you do have the opportunity to attend the Bouvet BizTalk Innovation conference in the future, I highly recommend it.  They did an amazing job.

40th Berlin Marathon

One of my hobbies is running.  I am a pretty average runner but I enjoy the challenges of running and also try to reap the health benefits of staying active.  I have run over 12 half marathons over the past 6 years and finished my first marathon last year in Chicago.  Whenever I have gone to Europe to speak in the past I have always tried to make a side trip within Europe to experience another culture.  In speaking with one of the other presenters (Steef-Jan Wiggers) we had decided that we would head to Berlin after the conference in Norway.  He recommended going to Berlin to experience its rich history.  Having never been to Germany, myself and my wife made plans to join him in Berlin.

I knew that the Berlin Marathon was held in late September.  The Berlin Marathon is one of the 6 major Marathons in the world.  The others include New York, Boston, Chicago, London and Tokyo.  So when I found out that I would be in Berlin on the same day of this historic event, I couldn’t resist the temptation of participating in this event.

The registration deadline had passed but I was able to find a travel agent from Boston who would sell us packages.  With this information, I presented the opportunity to Steef-Jan and he obliged.  He has recently gotten back into running and this would provide a great opportunity to run his first marathon.

The event itself was rather amazing.  Over 42 000 runners participated in the event with an estimated 1 million spectators.  It was an awesome experience and one that I will never forget.  I finished the marathon in 4 hours 34 minutes and 56 seconds which was 4 minutes faster than my Chicago time.

 

A few pictures:

The prize

Medal

 

Before the race.  The garbage bags helped keep us warm while we waited for our turn.

KentBefore

Steef-Jan before the race

SteefBefore

 

After the run

Kent_SteefAfter

 

Celebrating – German style

Celebrating

 

After the race the Adidas store would engrave your time into a running band that was provided as part of your registration.

Timeband

 

 

MVP Profile

One of the best parts of the MVP program is the people you meet and the friendships that you develop.  Without being in the MVP program, this trip would have never happened.  Being part of the program is truly an honor.

Thanks Tord for your hospitality in Norway.  It was a great opportunity to experience my Norwegian heritage and I thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful country. 

Thanks Steef for being an amazing tour guide while in Germany.  Your German came in handy many times and I learned a lot about German history while I was there.  Running the marathon with you was also a great experience.  Next time we won’t do as much sightseeing the day before the race Winking smile.

I also would like to thank the other MVPs (Sandro, Nino, Saravana) and Paolo for a great experience as well.  Talking shop whenever we get together is a lot of fun and always interesting.