This post was originally published here

I’m finally settling back into the swing of things as we kick off the year 2016! It has been quite a relaxing break, spending Christmas and New Year’s with my family out in the woods of Snohomish, WA. Since getting back to the office, I’ve been catching up on quite the backlog of emails. Among them was an email that called out a file that was uploaded to the Microsoft download site at the end of last month – the long awaited BizTalk Server Roadmap for 2016 or should I say the Microsoft Integration Roadmap (more on that to below).

Continued Commitment to BizTalk Server

The document opens up with a bullet pointed summary of the core takeaways (I for one appreciate that it leads with the TLDR):

  • Continuing commitment to BizTalk Server, with our 10th release of BizTalk Server in Q4 2016.
  • Expansion of our iPaaS vision to provide a comprehensive and compelling integration offering spanning both traditional and modern integration requirements. Preview refresh in January 2016 and General Availability (GA) in April 2016.
  • Deliver our iPaaS offering on premises through Logic Apps on Azure Stack in preview around Q3 2016 and GA around end of the year.
  • Strong roadmap and significant investments to ensure we continue to be recognized as a market leader in integration.
  • The next release of Host Integration Server is planned on the same timeline as BizTalk Server below.

BizTalk Server 2016 Roadmap

That’s right; 2016 is the year where we start to see Microsoft’s integration investments in the cloud start to pay dividends on-premises – with two complementary offerings that each offer their own approach to solving integration challenges while still ensuring that you can build mission critical BizTalk Server integrations on the latest Microsoft platform. Though Microsoft is expanding the integration toolbox beyond just BizTalk Server, the focus is still firm on Integration, and the tools are built on proven platforms with a proven infrastructure.

BizTalk Server 2016 New Features

So what can we expect in BizTalk Server 2016?

  • Platform alignment – SQL 2016, Windows Server 2016, Office 2016 and latest release of Visual Studio.
  • BizTalk support for SQL 2016 AlwaysOn Availability Groups both on-premises and in Azure IaaS to provide high availability (HA).
  • HA production workloads supported in Azure IaaS.
  • Tighter integration between BizTalk Server and API connectors to enable BizTalk Server to consume our cloud connectors such as SalesForce.Com and O365 more easily.
  • Numerous enhancements including
    • Improved SFTP adapter,
    • Improved WCF NetTcpRelay adapter with SAS support
    • WCF-SAP adapter based on NCo (.NET library)
    • SHA2 support
  • Host Integration Server “2016”
    • New and improved BizTalk adapters for Informix, MQ & DB2
    • Improvements to PowerShell integration, and installation and configuration

I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly excited to see this listing. With the death of SHA1 certificates this year, it’s good to see SHA2 support finally coming into BizTalk Server 2016, if for nothing else, then for SHA2 a BizTalk Server 2016 upgrade is going to be a must.

Also, notice the tighter integration between BizTalk Server and API connectors. That’s fantastic! One thing that Logic Apps do really well is provide friendly connectivity to SaaS endpoints. One thing they don’t do as well is content-based correlation and long -running transactions. One thing that BizTalk Server doesn’t do too well is provide friendly connectivity to SaaS endpoints (there is generic REST connectivity, but you’re going to be wishing that you would have built/bought/downloaded an adapter once you start going down that road). One thing that BizTalk Server does really well is content-based correlation and long-running transactions. Here we’re seeing the best of Azure App Service Logic Apps meeting the best of BizTalk Server. That should make anyone happy.

An Integration Taxonomy

One interesting thing found in the roadmap is a brief discussion of an integration taxonomy that makes a distinction between “Modern Integration” – which is usually SaaS and web-centric, based in the cloud, and within the realm of Web and mobile developers — and “Enterprise Integration” – which includes support for industry standards (e.g., X12, EDIFACT, etc…), targets mission critical workloads, and caters more towards enterprise integration specialists.

In a way, this sets the context for the two core integration offerings of BizTalk Server and Logic Apps – defining the persona that might gravitate towards each. However, Logic Apps will offer an Enterprise Integration Pack for the pro developer that wants the power of BizTalk Server with the elasticity of a PaaS offering.

Where Is This Going?

Well, you might be reading this because you’re passionate about Logic Apps; you might be reading this if you’ve been working with BizTalk Server since the year 2000. Either way, you’re in the business of doing integration. MIcrosoft isn’t interested in building up cliques of developers, but instead catering to all while providing an easy to use location agnostic (cloud/on-prem) rock solid, highly scalable platform for mission critical integration.

The focus is on evolving capabilities, it doesn’t matter what brand name is slapped on the side of it (whether it’s Logic Apps, Power Apps, or BizTalk Server), Microsoft is committed to making the world of enterprise integration a better place!