Microsoft IT’s Enterprise Integration Platform (EPS) team goes live on BizTalk Server 2016

Microsoft IT’s Enterprise Integration Platform (EPS) team became the first to go-live on BizTalk Server 2016. The platform that is managed by EPS is one of the most critical in the Microsoft ecosystem as it processes over 30 million B2B transactions per month worth in excess of USD 120 Billion annually with 2000 + partners using multiple message formats including X12, EDIFACT, XML, SWIFT spans across all business domains viz., Supply Chain, Finance, Human Resources, Volume Licensing. The initial functional & performance test results of BizTalk 2016 were so encouraging that the team implemented a “critical” trade screening business process that ensures screening of organizations, consumers before Microsoft sells its products and services.

This project is part of overarching initiative to optimize infrastructure costs by adopting Azure’s IaaS & PaaS offerings and completely eliminating on premise footprint. This is where BizTalk 2016 delivers key business value due to its compatibility with Azure IaaS while providing a supported High Availability solution. Yes, that’s right – unlike its predecessor, BizTalk Server 2016 leverages out-of-box SQL Server 2016’s “Always On Availability Group ” functionality to provide high availability solutions on Azure IaaS. This release also provides BizTalk connectors to support hybrid integration scenarios.

While the PaaS story of B2B integration matures with the rapid emergence of Logic Apps, Microsoft was fully focused on this new release of BizTalk Server as it allows existing customers to move to Microsoft supported BizTalk-IaaS solution without having to change existing BizTalk applications. To ensure a defect-free release of BizTalk 2016, Microsoft IT and BizTalk Product Group collaborated to identify top enterprise integration scenarios which need to be tested before general availability (GA) of BizTalk 2016 and be the first customer to adopt BizTalk 2016 on IaaS. To achieve this objective, rigorous testing and validation was performed along the following lines:

  • BizTalk functional testing on IaaS
    • All artefacts, including different adaptors and message types
    • End to end flows which include B2B and hybrid A2A scenarios using the new Logic Apps adaptor.
    • Individual Application data and sanity validation tests
  • High Availability tests
    • Change the backend SQL HA/DR architecture of the SQL WFSC cluster to SQL Always On Availability Group and potential implications/best practices to adhere to.
    • Extreme HA tests, including MSDTC edge case scenarios.
  • Performance & Load testing
    • Performance tests (sustenance, peak load behavior, etc.)
    • Reliability tests (peak load auto-recovery)
    • Scalability tests (ability to handle up to 5X the normal traffic load patterns)

The migration from BizTalk Server 2013R2 was “lift and shift” or as is basis. Existing BizTalk applications from 2013R2 were used as is.

The experience overall with BizTalk Server 2016 on Microsoft Azure IaaS VMs has been exciting, especially with the new set of features including IaaS High-Availability support, Logic Apps adaptor, improved BizTalk Admin UI console and new features which have made administration easier than before. Additionally, due to the migration to IaaS, the team has been able to consolidate and optimize hardware requirement exactly as per use, thereby already showing up to 20% cost savings annually in the initial analysis.