BizTalk Server 2020 Announcement with Hybrid Integration updates

BizTalk Server 2020 Announcement with Hybrid Integration updates


Integrate is the premier integration conference for everyone working in the Microsoft Integration Space. Integrate happens annually in London and this year it happened from 3 to 5 June. The 3-day event, with speakers from the Microsoft Product Group and from the Global Integration Community, is the ideal event to listen to leading Integration Specialists and learn what is coming next in Microsoft integration. This year a lot of newer people were joining the event. Initially, the event used to be a BizTalk Server focused event however, from last few years it expanded the scope to general integration technologies in Microsoft space, including Azure Integration capabilities.

The Value of Hybrid Integration

Paul Larsen, a Principal Program Manager for the Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, presented a session on “The Value of Hybrid Integration”. At Microsoft, Paul leads the Host Integration engineering team to deliver and support Azure, BizTalk Server, SQL Server, Office, and Windows connectors to existing IBM systems. At Integrate, he started the session by explaining the legacy of BizTalk Server and explained the meaning of the word Hybrid with some examples.

BizTalk Server 2020 Announcement

After that, Paul made the big announcement of “BizTalk Server 2020” and he also announced it will be released at the end of 2019.

BizTalk Server 2020 Announcement

Important feature updates in BizTalk Server 2020 are:

  • Integrate cloud Services with built-in adapters for cloud, Logic Apps to On-Premise Gateway, Service Bus, Event Hubs, API Management, O365 Mail, O365 Schedule, O365 Contact, Blob Storage (Dev) API management to all the resources (On-Premise and Cloud)
  • Manage BizTalk Server environments by using the new BizTalk Server REST API’s
  • The Blob Storage adapter is still under development. Using File adapters which are published as a UNC Endpoint is not straight forward, as pluggable. Using Blob storage adapter will be a useful feature that will help administrators to, for example, have the Backup BizTalk Server job write the backups to Azure Blob storage
  • Secure the BizTalk Server Infrastructure settings with Read-only administrator view
  • Deployment with VSTS – Application Life Cycle Management to deploy and update BizTalk Server instances using Visual Studio Team System
  • Transport Layer Security 1.2– Securely deploy BizTalk Server using TLS 1.2 authentication and encryption
  • SQL Server Encrypted Data– Read and write to SQL Server with Always encrypted columns using BizTalk Adapter for SQL Server
  • Advanced Scheduling -Set up recurrence on BizTalk Server receive locations with greater precision using time zones, months, weeks, and days
  • Application Insights– Send BizTalk Server tracking data to Application Insights for extensible analytics, to understand performance and usage of BizTalk Server
  • Event Hubs – Send BizTalk Server tracking data to Event Hubs
  • Power BI Integration – Analyze and report BizTalk Server tracking data using Power BI. BizTalk operational data template, for use with Power BI visualizations and dashboards
  • .NET components continue to evolve over the last release of the .NET MQ Client.
  • A new version of Enterprise Single Sign-On

BizTalk Server 2020 Adapters

BizTalk Server 2020 Deployment

BizTalk Server 2020 Advance Scheduling

Host Integration Services

Host Integration Services has improved a lot in this version of BizTalk Server 2020. In short, most of the packages in BizTalk Server are getting updated in this version:

  1. HIS as add on to BizTalk licensing
  2. New Microsoft platforms
  3. New IBM platforms – integrated feature packs

BizTalk Server Migration Tool

Microsoft IT develops the BizTalk Server Migration tool which they use to migrate their own BizTalk environments. Because the architecture of BizTalk Server is kept common between BizTalk Server 2010,2013, 2013 R2 and 2016, the migration does not affect the underlying layer of BizTalk Components. In addition, as Microsoft makes this tool available to BizTalk users, this tool will be helpful for them on dehydrating the configuration on an old BizTalk server and re-hydrate that configuration to new Azure IAAS or VM.

BizTalk Migration Tool References:

Integrate 2019 USA

Logic Apps IBM 3270 Connector

Currently, the Logic Apps connector for IBM 3270 emulation is available in preview. In short, the Microsoft Connector for 3270 integrates Azure applications with resources available via TN 3270 Screen Scraping.

IBM 3270 Connector

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an Industrial trend in cloud computing which offers screen scraping capabilities. Host Integration Server extends the Integration to the TN3270 connector with Telnet or TCP protocol to connect to IBM Mainframe systems. However, you require an Integration account to be able to connect the IBM 3270 adapters.

After that, Paul demonstrated the Integration of IBM mainframe programs and Azure Cloud application with 3270 Logic App connector. After the Demo, he made a couple of announcements about CICS, IMS screen clients for 3270/5050 connectors and VSAM, DDM .NET clients for IBM file systems.

Logic Apps IBM Connectors Road Map

In conclusion, Paul touched base on the Logic Apps IBM Connectors Road Map beyond the 2020 version. For instance, BizTalk Server vNext version will include improvement on a number of Logic Apps connectors:

  1. 3270 IBM Connector Improvement
  2. Midrange 5250 AS connector
  3. Mainframe SAM Connectors
  4. DB2 and Informix Support

IBM Connectors Road Map


The well-informed reader might have noticed that several BizTalk Server 2020 features also appear in the so-called Feature Packs for BizTalk Server 2016 which have been released by Microsoft. However, BizTalk Server 2020 also helps in aligning with the latest versions of the platform products. So, this release of BizTalk Server will be of use for all BizTalk Server customers.

Secondly, the release of BizTalk Server 2020 is good news for all existing BizTalk users, as it indicates that Microsoft covers them for the next couple of years. Similarly, we notice that customers who are just starting their integration journey, also choose for Microsoft BizTalk Server. In other words, this new release will be very helpful for them as it will help them with both their on-premise integrations, as well with their hybrid integrations.

The announcement of BizTalk Server 2020 was done during Integrate 2019 in London. However, in case you missed the event, there is no need to worry, because at the end of this month, Integrate will also come to the US! So, if you are still not sure if you should attend Integrate 2019 US, then this blog post, written by our CEO Saravana Kumar, might convince you to participate in the world-wide premier Microsoft Integration event.

Integrate 2019 USA

The post BizTalk Server 2020 Announcement with Hybrid Integration updates appeared first on BizTalk360.

Administering BizTalk server using a Chat Bot

Administering BizTalk server using a Chat Bot

Recently on Integration Monday, I presented a chat bot which can be used to administer BizTalk, hosted on premises, using a chat bot, Logic Apps and the On Premises Data Gateway. The session can be found at Administering BizTalk Server with a Chatbot. This blog post is aimed at discussing the session.


For a product company serving its customer, there are few areas where the company executives need to work with their customers. These activities can be broadly classified into two categories:

  1. Customer Service
  2. Brand Loyalty and Awareness

Let us take a brief look at each of these categories.

  1. Customer Service: Executives of the company might need to converse with customers to:
    1. Account management: Help customer manage their services, subscriptions, payments etc.
    2. FAQ: Answer the common questions about the product
    3. Issue Resolution: Solve the issues customers face with the product
  2. Brand Awareness and Loyalty: Executives of the company can converse with customers to:
    1. Seek Feedback: Understand how customers like the product. What the general sentiment for the product is?
    2. New Features/Products: Inform customers about the new features or the products that the company is launching

For the conversation in the customer service category, the general mode of conversation is use of emails, phone calls or support websites. While in the Brand Awareness category it is generally emails and calls.

Now consider what if the conversations are delivered to the customers at their fingertips? This is possible by creating virtual assistants tailored for the functions specific to the product. These virtual assistants, when imbibed with the power of Natural Language Processing and Cognitive services, help customers converse with the company and get their intended work done.

This not only makes conversation available to customers at their fingertips, but also saves a lot of money for the company by automating most of the before mentioned tasks.
This concept of providing “Conversation” as a service to the customers through virtual assistants is generally termed as “Conversation as a Service”.

Chat bots are the starting point of Conversation as a Service as they pave a way to build full-fledged virtual assistants.

What Are Chat Bots?

Now that we have seen what Conversation as a Service is and how bots fit into this, let us analyse how the chat bots are different from a regular web application. Consider a scenario where you want to buy a laptop. In such scenario in normal web application, you would generally follow below steps:

  1. Navigate to the Home page of the website
  2. Enter the search details for the laptop. This search then leads to a new web page which displays the result
  3. After selecting a particular laptop, to place the order the website redirects to a new page where details like name, address and payment details are collected and the order is finally placed

Now let us try to convert these steps to how a chat bot would process the laptop request. Following image shows the comparison between the web application and the chat bot.

A chat bot does not have a traditional UI where the user navigates from one page to another, bots have dialogs that correspond to a particular web page in a web application. So, to order a laptop the chat bot would use following dialogs:

  1. A root dialog which greets the user and asks them what they want to do
  2. Once the user confirms they want to buy a laptop, the bot initiates the Product Search Dialog and collects the search parameters from the user. Once that is done, the bot returns the result to the user in the form of carousel cards
  3. Once the user confirms the laptop, the bot initiates an Order dialog which would then collect name, address and payment details and then place an order for the laptop

In a nutshell, chat bots are just like normal web applications but instead of having a breadcrumb-based web page approach, bots use dialogs to collect and display information. Each dialog only supports a single responsibility akin to the single responsibility principle of software design.

Tools and Frameworks Used

Now that we know what Conversation as Service is and how and what chat bots are, let us take a look at the tools and frameworks we use to build the chat bot.

  1. Visual Studio 2017/ Visual Studio Code – Any one of these IDE’s can be used to build the bot code. I prefer to use Visual Studio 2017 as it provides a bot skeleton project which takes care of basic plumbing of the bot code, we just need to add our logic in it. Visual Studio Code does not provide that flexibility, we have to create an empty web app and add the code ourselves.
  2. MS Bot Framework SDK 4.x – This is the official Microsoft released SDK to develop bots. This SDK works with ASP.NET Core 2.x and makes the framework a cross platform development framework. We can develop the code on Windows, Linux or Mac
  3. Asp.Net Core 2.x – The cross platform open source .Net framework by Microsoft
  4. Adaptive Cards – This framework is used to author and render the cards using a standard Json format. Brings uniformity in the way information is exchanged between the channel and the bot
  5. Bot Framework Emulator – Used to emulate the actual conversation between the user and the bot. Helps to debug the bots hosted locally and also on Azure The following image shows the basic building blocks in a typical bot. All of these blocks are from Microsoft Azure perspective.

Typical Bot Architecture

Let us take a look at each of the blocks in brief.

  1. Bot Service – This a central piece which connects the different communication channels to the actual bot code. It allows us to manage the connection to the communication channels. It allows to implement authentication to the back-end services used by the bot code. E.g. If we want the user to be authenticated to use the MS Graph API, we add the OAuth connection to the Graph API in the bot service.
  2. Identity Management – The Bot Framework provides out of the box connection to various OAuth providers like Uber, Gmail, LinkedIn, Fitbit, MS Graph API etc. It also allows to map our custom OAuth system to the bot code.
  3. Channels – Various channels are available for us to integrate the bot with, they are FaceBook, Email, Slack, Kik, Skype, Skype For Business etc. Each registration of the channels needs to be done with the Bot Service.
  4. Bot Code – The bot code can be hosted as a Web App or a function App when we use the SDK V3 and as Web App for now for SDK V4.
  5. State and Conversation Management – The bot framework allows us to manage the state and the conversation history using several out of the box options. We can use CosmosDb, Blob Storage or Azure SQL Database. The Azure Search Service can be used with the conversation History store to fetch history from the store.
  6. NLP and Sentiment Analysis – These features are used to Introduce more complex and rich features into bot which enables it to converse with the user in a more natural form and detect the sentiment of the user as the conversation continues on. This provides a lot of information to companies to understand how their chat bot is faring with the task of solving problems of their customers.
  7. Integrators – The bot can communicate with the other SaaS products and Machine Learning Models, QnA maker services and Cognitive Services using Integration offerings like Logic Apps and Azure Functions.
  8. Repositories – The Web/ Function App in which the bot code is deployed can be hooked to different repositories and configured to use Continuous Deployment.

The BizMan

Now that we have seen what a typical bot looks like, let us move on to the BizTalk Admin Bot. I have named this Bot “The BizMan” as it administers the BizTalk server. The name and the superhero persona were conceived by Sandro Pereira . The post is available on his blog at BizMan, The BizTalk Server SuperHero Sticker

The architecture for BizMan is almost similar to the bot architecture discussed above. The following image shows the architecture for BizMan.

BizMan Requires that the user is a valid user in the Azure Active Directory and can be authenticated successfully. BizMan uses Blob Storage to store the logs and suspended instances reports. It uses Logic Apps to communicate with the BizTalk Management service (which comes with the BizTalk 2016 Feature Packs). This communication takes place using the On Premises Data Gateway.

The Management service that comes with Feature Pack 1 for BizTalk 2016, allows us to administer BizTalk Server using the Web API. This service also comes with a pre-authored Swagger definition which gives us the details about the various operations available in the service. This enables us to create a custom Logic Apps connector to communicate with this Web API. So, we just upload the Json file containing the Swagger information of the API and set up Windows authentication using an account which is part of “BizTalk Administrators Group”. This allows us to easily consume various operations in the Web API in a Logic App. A sample snapshot of the Logic App is shown below.

As will be clear, it is very easy to create the Logic App and add new operations, if we use a Custom Logic Apps connector.

The typical flow for the bot is shown below.

The BizMan is able to perform following tasks:

  1. Greet the User
  2. Authenticate the user against the AAD
  3. Get Hosts
  4. Get the Applications deployed in the BizTalk environment
  5. Get the List of Orchestrations, Send Ports by application
  6. Stop/ Start Send ports
  7. Enable / Disable Receive Location
  8. Get Suspended Instances
  9. Get Feed Back from the user

The options are presented to user as a big adaptive card as shown below.

Let us take a look at some of the operations available in the bot.

  1. Greet the User:
  2. Authenticate the User:

  3. Enable Receive Location:

Let us explore this operation in detail. In this operation, the User initiates the command by clicking on the Enable Receive Location option available from the operation card as shown below.

This initiates a call with the command “enablerl” to the bot web app. The first step in enabling any receive location is to get the list of all the receive locations that are disabled on the environment. The bot code first checks if there is a list of receive locations in the cache (gets refreshed every 1 min).
If the cache does not have the list, the bot code in turn initiates a call to the Logic App which fetches the list of the receive locations from the on premises BizTalk environment using the BizTalk management service. Following is a request response sample that Logic App receives and returns to the bot respectively.

Once the list of the receive locations is available, the bot filters the list based upon the “Enable” flag received in response. So, for the “Enable Receive Location” operation, only the disabled receive locations are populated and the user is presented with a drop-down list to select a location from. A sample is shown below.Once the user clicks on the Submit button, the bot code initiates another call to the Logic App which in turn calls the On Premises BizTalk management service and enables the receive location. The Logic App Request response is shown below.

Once the receive location is enabled, the user gets a response that the “Operation Completed Successfully.”

In case there are no disabled receive locations in the BizTalk environment, then the bot code will notify the user that there are no disabled receive locations in the BizTalk environment.

Note: Similar logic is applied in following operations available in the bot:

  1. Disable Receive Location
  2. Start Send Port
  3. Stop End Port

4. Get Hosts:

The operation is initiated when the user selects the Get Hosts operation from the list of available operation.

This initiates a command “gethosts” to the bot code. The code checks its cache to check if there is a list of hosts available with it. If it finds the list, the hosts are displayed to the user. In case the list is not available, the bot will initiate a call to the Logic App which calls the On Premises BizTalk management service and gets the list of the hosts. The response displayed to the user as an adaptive card shown below.

  1. Note: Similar approach is taken while implementing following operations:
  2. Get Send Ports by App
  3. Get Orchestrations by App
  4. Get All Applications

5. Get Suspended Instances Report

This operation, as the name suggest, brings the list of the Suspended Instances from the On Premises BizTalk environment. In this case, no caching is implanted as the number of suspended instances can change on a per second basis in a high load environment. In this operation, a small report is displayed to the user which contains the suspended instances grouped together as shown below.

This card gives the user an option to view a detailed report and provides a button to open the report. Once the user clicks on the button, it directs the user to a HTML web page which contains details about the suspended instances. In this case, the detailed report is stored as block blob in the azure storage account. This blob is available only until the point the user is actually logged in the session in the bot. The blob is deleted upon the end of the session.

In similar fashion, additional features can be added to the bot by adding new switch cases to the logic app and accounting for them in the bot code.

Further Scope

The BizMan can be made more functional by expanding on the Logic App and the bot code to assimilate more functions.
Natural Language Processing and Sentiment Analysis can be implemented in the bot to enable it to communicate more freely with the users.
Functions to control and monitor the Logic Apps can also be implemented in the same chat bot.

Reading Sources

In order to get started with building chat bots, the following MSDN documentation are the go-to links.

  1. Azure Bot Service Documentation
  2. Adaptive Cards

The post Administering BizTalk server using a Chat Bot appeared first on BizTalk360.

Year End Recap – A lot can change in a year!

Year End Recap – A lot can change in a year!

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to gather your thoughts and think about all you’ve done, and every step – no matter how big or small, got you to where you are today.

Our parent company, Kovai Ltd., made huge strides this year and we have 4 active products in the market. We now have the complete package of tools to support hybrid integration scenarios .

A One Platform solution for your Operational, Monitoring and Analytic needs for your BizTalk environment

Empower functional support teams and Business users by providing end to end visibility into Azure integration Services with rich business context

The comprehensive way to operate, manage and monitor Azure Serverless Services related to Enterprise Integration

The Knowledge Base Software that scales with your Product

Customer Happiness Team

Managing all our customers and providing top-notch customer service is at the topmost of our priorities. Customer Service is all about serving and helping at the right time. It isn’t about selling or wanting something from your customers – But guiding and helping our customers to achieve the best from our products.

Being part of the technical support & Customer Relationship team has given us a good base to have well-meaning conversations with our customers and understand the crux of their issues and suggest suitable alternatives, workarounds or provide helpful information. Our clients really appreciate the time spent with them to help resolve their issues.

Customers don’t connect with automated bots,

 Customers connect with real people.

This year the Technical support team pushed the boundaries of their skills and became part of the new DevOps teams.

DevOps is the practice of operations and development engineers participating together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support.

Everyone on the team provided their contribution in the form of developing a new feature, enhancing an existing feature, testing, documenting, writing blogs and so on. All the product support engineers underwent product training with the help of the respective developers who developed the product features and with the QA who tested, and they evolved from support engineers to QA cum Product Support engineer.

Document360 Team

This year is again special for us at Kovai as we started a non-integration product that is mainly aimed at customers who are struggling like us to find a dedicated self-service knowledge base platform that meet our needs.

At Kovai Limited, we needed this platform for providing customer support for our products. In fact, the whole thought process of Document360 was driven by the pain points we have seen using the Helpdesk software for documentation.

We attended multiple events around London & Dublin, spreading the word of our Knowledge Base solution – Document360


Our annual event – INTEGRATE 2018 – had (420+) attendees, speakers, sponsors this year and was a grand success. The event was held at ETC. Venues in the city center of London.

We had a lot of interesting speakers from Microsoft as well from across the integration landscape all over the world. We had speakers from as close as the UK, but also as far away as New Zealand and Australia! All our sponsor booths had heavy footfall as well. It was great to meet old friends and make new friends by meeting people in the real world, who we normally only meet via email and conference calls!

Each year, we try to bring some entertainment to the event. Last year we had a magician, while a new interesting concept this year was that BizTalk360 hired Visual Scribing to come and draw a mural of all the presentations, capturing the key messages throughout the conference.

We also hired some entertainers whose skills the attendees thoroughly enjoyed. A Caricaturist who captured all the attendees true likeness and a skilled saxophone player who blew everyone’s socks off!

Integrate 2018

It was a testament to the hard work carried out by the entire team to successfully pull off an event of this scale.

We are surely going to run the INTEGRATE event in 2019 as well! In fact, there will be an event in London and one in Redmond at the Microsoft Campus.

Feel free to join us in 2019 as the registrations are already open now with Early Bird offering:

Xmas in Kovai UK

Team Kovai UK had a memorable Christmas lunch complete with Santa hats at the Rose & Crown, Orpington. As the usual tradition, we also celebrated Secret Santa in the office and had a few laughs and decorated our gorgeous Christmas Tree.

The year had indeed come to an end, and we look forward to the coming year as new challenges and opportunities come our way and with each step, we become better and build our strength and character.

So, another year has gone by, we are older and wiser and can look forward to the new year of things yet to unfold

Author: Rochelle Saldanha

Rochelle Saldanha is currently working in the Customer Support & Client Relationship Teams at BizTalk360. She loves travelling and watching movies.

INTEGRATE 2018 – Recap of Day 3

INTEGRATE 2018 – Recap of Day 3

Missed the Day 1 at INTEGRATE 2018? Here’s the recap of Day 1 events.

Missed the Day 2 at INTEGRATE 2018? Here’s the recap of Day 2 events.

0815 — Once again, it was an early start but a good number of attendees were ready to listen to Richard Seroter’s session.

Architecting Highly available cloud integrations

Richard Sereter started his talk about building a highly available cloud integrations. He clearly conveyed the message that if there is any problem with the solution with multiple cloud services, it is not the responsibility of the services itself but a responsibility of solution architecture. He suggested to follow the practices such as chaos testing in which one randomly turn off few services and see how the solution behaves.  

Core patterns

Richard started off with some of the core patterns for a highly available solution.

Handling Transient failures — It is quite common that services will have temporary hiccups such as network issues, database issues etc. Our solution need to be designed to handle such scenarios.

Load balancing — scale out Via more instances. Redundancy applies to compute, messaging , event streaming, data and networking, and auto scale.

Replicate your Data  — Both transactional and metadata. Consider read and write. Cross regional replication and Disaster recovery

Throttle some of your users — one user’s load can impact all other integration tenants. Reject or return low quality results, and do it in a transparent way.

Introduce load leveling

Secure with least privilege, encryption, and anti-DDOS

  • access should be as restrictive as possible
  • turn on encryption with every possible ways

Configure for availability

What Azure storage service Provides

  • Get file , disk , blob storage 
  • Four replication options 
  • Encryption at rest 

What we have to do

  • Set replication option
  • Create strategy for secondary storage
  • Consider server or client side encryption

What SQL Table Provides

  • Highly available storage
  • Ability to scale up or out
  • Easily create read replicas
  • Built in backup and restore
  • Includes threat detection

What we have to do

  • Create replicas
  • Decide when to scale horizontally or vertically
  • Restore database from back up
  • Turn on threat detection

What Azure Cosmos DB Provides

  • 99.999% availablity for reads
  • Automatically partitions data and replicates it
  • Supports for multiple consistency levels
  • Automatic and manual failover


  • Define partition key , through put, replication policies
  • Configure regions for read , write
  • Choose consistancy for DB
  • Decide to trigger a manual failover

What Azure service bus Provides

  • Resilience within a region
  • Initiates throttling to prevent overload
  • Automatic partitioning
  • Offers geo-disaster recovery


  • Select message retention time
  • Choose to use partitioning
  • Configure geo-disaster recovery

What Azure EVENT HUBS Provides

  • Handles massive ingest load
  • Auto-inflate adds throughput units to meet need
  • Supports geo-disaster recovery 

What Azure logic apps Provides

  • In region HA is built in
  • Impose limits on timeout , message size
  • Supports synchronizing B2B resources to another region


  • Configure B2B resource synchronization
  • Configure integration to highly available endpoints
  • Duplicate logic app in other regions

What Azure FUNCTIONs Provides

  • Scale underlying resources with consumption plan
  • Scales VM’s automatically
  • Basic uptime SLA at this time


  • Choose plan type
  • Set scaling policies while using app service plan
  • Replicate functions to other regions

What VPN GATEWAY Provides

  • Deploys active-standby instances by default
  • Run as a managed service and your never access underlying virtual machines


  • Resize as needed
  • Configure redundant on prem VPNdevices
  • Create active-active VPNgateway configuration

To sum it all

Richard finished his talk with few points —

  • Only integrate with highly available endpoints
  • Clearly understand what services failover together
  • Regularly perform chaos testing

0900 — DevOps empowered by Microsoft Flow

During the second session of the day Michael Stephenson explained how Microsoft flow can be used to simplify tasks that can be tedious in execution and bring very little business value e.g. User Onboarding.

The presentation was based on a big multi-business multi-geo CRM Implementation where multiple parties were involved to create a new B2B User. The process consisted of sending a CSV file through PowerShell to create the user in Azure AD and then in Dynamics CRM.

The problem was cross team friction:

  1. Support user does not have enough skills to execute this process and on top of that this kind of scripts require elevated permissions
  2. Admin – does not have enough time to perform this task due to basic daily admin tasks and does not want the support user to accidently delete the system.

Michael then explained how Microsoft flow can be used to create a black box on top of the entire on boarding process and allow the support user to easily execute it without any permissions to the system.

Then Michael together with Steef-Jan, demonstrated the Microsoft flow in action within Minecraft. It looks like the audience really liked the other demo he did from few years back and everyone wanted more.

Next, he showed a diagram on how easily this process can be extended to eliminate the support user from the execution and fully automate it, by extracting relevant information from the request email of the end user.

Lastly, Michael emphasised the importance of automating repetitive tasks within the organisation to improve efficiency and reduce the costs of performing tasks that do not bring business value.  

0940 — Using VSTS to deploy to a BizTalk Server, what you need to know

In this session, Johan Hedberg showed us how easy it is to setup the CI and CD for your BizTalk projects using VSTS using the BizTalk Server 2016 Feature pack 1. He showed us how to configure the BizTalk build project and how to create a build definition in VSTS to run the build whenever a developer tries to check in the code.

He stressed the importance of having automated unit tests and how to run it as part of your build pipeline. He also mentioned the advantages of using a custom agent instead of hosted agent. Overall the session was well received by the audience.

1050 — Exposing BizTalk Server to the World

During this session Wagner explained and demonstrated how you can unlock your BizTalk endpoints to the outside world using Azure Services. Wagner emphasised that there are options such as email, queues and file exchange, but his session focused more on the HTTP endpoints.

The options which were demoed during the session included:

  1. Azure Relays
  2. Logic Apps
  3. Azure Function Proxies
  4. Azure API Management

Each of the available options were clearly explained and Wagner provided detailed information on various aspects such as security, message format and ease of implementation.

“Identify your needs” – was the key to the session. Wagner clearly explained that not every option will suite your requirements, as it all depends on what you want to achieve. For example, Logic Apps is a perfect option to extend your workflows, on the other hand, relays are perfect to securely expose on premise services without the need to punch through your firewall.  

1130 — Anatomy of an Enterprise Integration Architecture

In this session, Dan Toomey talked about complexity of the integration process especially when it comes to integration large number applications together. He talked about how are we doing the integration currently and what problems are we trying to solve using integration and where are all the areas in the integration space where we can do it better.

He further went on to explain how we can use Gartner’s pace layers which includes Systems of records, System of differentiation and System of innovation to create a technology characteristics for the integration scenarios.

For this work we need a solid system of record layer which includes things like Security, API’s, service fabric etc. We should limit the customization in this layer. On top that in the differentiation layer we need systems like Logic Apps which are loosely coupled inter-layer communication systems to take care of the integration needs.

On top of the differentiation layer we need to allow room for innovation for examples things like cognitive services, power apps, Microsoft Flow etc.

1210 — Unlock the power of hybrid integration with BizTalk Server and webhooks!

Toon started out his session by showing the difference between polling and using Webhooks. He pointed out that while polling, you are actually hammering an endpoint, which might not (yet) have the data you requested for. In many scenarios it might be that using Webhooks is more efficient, than using polling. Toon gave an overview of both the advantages and the disadvantages of using Webhooks.


  • more efficient
  • faster
  • no client side state
  • provides extensibility


  • not standardized
  • extra responsibilities for both client and server
  • considered as a black box

After giving few examples of solutions which are using Webhook (GitHub, TeamLeader, Azure Monitoring), Toon continued by giving a number of design considerations for Webhooks, which contained that it’s best to give your Webhooks a clear and descriptive name and use a consistent name convention for easy of use. Also make sure that consumers are able to register and unregister your Webhook via a user interface or via an API.

From a Publisher perspective, you should take care of the following:

  • reliability (asynchronously, not synchronously)
  • security (use HTTPS)
  • validity (check accessibility at registration)

Also Consumers of Webhooks should be aware of reliability and security, but they should also keep high availability, scalability and sequencing of Webhooks.

Toon also showed some demos on how to manage Webhooks with BizTalk and Event Grid and how to synchronize contacts and documents.

1340 — Refining BizTalk implementations

The last session of the event was done by Mattias Logdberg. By taking a user case he explained how you could start with a basic BizTalk scenario in which a web shop was integrated with an ERP by using BizTalk, but based on business needs all kind of Azure technologies were introduced to end up with an innovative solution which enabled for much more possibilities.

He mentioned that Business needs often conflict with IT needs; where the business often needs more and more capabilities, it can be hard for IT departments to keep up with the pace.

Mattias started drawing that basic scenario, which involved that web shop, BizTalk and that ERP system and showed how this scenario could greatly be improved by using Azure technologies like Service Bus topics, API Management, DocumentDb, etc. That monolithic application was turned in a loosely coupled solution with many more capabilities. Bottom line was that by going through this process, Mattias pointed out that unnecessary complexity was removed and the earlier existing complex framework was replaced by a set of micro functions, thereby giving the business more flexibility to further develop their needs.

After the last session, it was time for an open Q&A session with the Microsoft Product Group. The discussion spanned across different areas such as BizTalk Server, Logic Apps, Microsoft Flow and was an engaging one.

With that, it was time to wrap up what was a great 3 days at INTEGRATE 2018.

Check out the pictures captured by our event photographer Tariq Sheikh here —

Day 1 Photos

Day 2 Photos

Day 3 Photos

Thanks to the following people for helping me to collate this blog post—

  • Umamaheswaran Manivannan
  • Lex Hegt
  • Srinivasa Mahendrakar
  • Daniel Szweda
Author: Sriram Hariharan

Sriram Hariharan is the Senior Technical and Content Writer at BizTalk360. He has over 9 years of experience working as documentation specialist for different products and domains. Writing is his passion and he believes in the following quote – “As wings are for an aircraft, a technical document is for a product — be it a product document, user guide, or release notes”.

INTEGRATE 2018 – Recap of Day 2

INTEGRATE 2018 – Recap of Day 2

Missed the Day 1 at INTEGRATE 2018? Here’s the recap of Day 1 events.

0830 — An early start on Day 2. The session started with consideration of using Logic Apps for System to System, Application to Application integration. 

Logic Apps finds it applications in multi-billion-dollar transactions that happen through Enterprise Application Integration platform. 

Most of these business cases are in BizTalk Server. Using Logic Apps and other Azure Services can modernise these platforms. 

Microsoft Vision

We do integration at the speed of the business. We want to simplify the process 

Microsoft is building tooling to automatically onboard partners and enable migration from BizTalk Server to Logic Apps. Embracing the change from taking the lead.

They are looking at reducing the DevOps time from Code -> Development -> Production

Microsoft is willing to share what they build to partners and community. Lot of integration patterns being built.

Microsoft is working on strategy to migrate from BizTalk Server to Logic Apps. How they plan to do?

  • Use On-Premise Gateway
  • Publish / Subscribe Model (work-in-progress)

The idea is to use integration workflows, publish to queues and there will be a subscriber reading from Queues to SAP / SFTP depending on the location.

They also mentioned about the categorization of Logic Apps under the following verticals:

  • Policy / Route
  • Processing
  • LoB (Line of Business) Adapters

Suggestion is Have Logic Apps simple and self contained.

As more protocols are being added, they will update the policies. Also help decouple platform from onboarding.

  • APIM Policies make it simple to drive itinerary
  • Policies allow for dynamic routing of messages
  • What properties need to be promoted can be derived from meta data

This means same logic app can be used for different partners and purposes by using routing and metadata

Exception Handling

  • Enumerate over failures in run scope, extract properties relevant to business
  • Forward to another logic app

They are suitable in Warm Path and Hot Path Monitoring.

Future Considerations

Integration Account to be used for

  • BizTalk Server Partner configurations
  • Logic Apps for Partners

Microsoft is ready with Migration strategy for the same

Logic Apps are being built suitable for isolated businesses provide offering to meet strongest SLAs

Amit demonstrated the following

  1. TPM Management tool
  • Help self-service onboarding
  • Accelerate EDI integration
  1. AB Testing tool

Basically, Microsoft is aimed at Simplification and Acceleration of Migration and on boarding process

Finally, they concluded the session with the learning to migrate to Logic Apps

0915 — API Management deep dive

After the first session of day 2 Vladimir Vinogradsky took the stage to talk about API Management which is one of first Azure service that developers gets introduced too.

Vladimir has started of with list of features that Azure API Management offers and how it helps developers to consume, mediate and publish their web API’s. In this he has explained how you can open the azure portal and look at the documentation of your APIs which is powered by Swagger without writing single line of code.

He also went in to detail on authentication and authorization and explained how Azure API management will help you with various authentication mechanisms from simple username password combo to Azure AD authentication etc. He also mentioned how easy it is to use third party providers such as Google, Facebook with Azure API management.

Vladimir then went into detail on what are all the frequent questions from API developers and how Azure API management can solve that. He explained this using some live demos which was well received from the audience.

1000 — Logic Apps Deep Dive

Kevin started with explaining Task Resiliency in Logic Apps

The highlight of the session was the demonstration of Integrated Service Environments (ISE) and its Architecture – but this is in the pre- private preview, means we need to wait for quite sometime.

Private Static IPs for Logic Apps are released with ISE

The deployment model of Logic Apps was also discussed with

Base Unit:

  • 50 M action executions / month
  • 1 standard integration account
  • 1 enterprise connector (includes unlimited connections)
  • VNET connectivity

Each additional processing unit

  • Additional 50M executions / month

Logic Apps now has more than 200 Custom Connectors built. The Component Architecture of Logic Apps goes was also discussed.

1115 — Logic Apps Patterns & Best Practices

Kevin started this session with introducing the following patterns:

Work Flow patterns –

  • Patterns are derived to implement Error Handling at work flows
  • Define Retry policy – turn on/off retries, custom retries at custom and fixed rate as required for business.
  • Run After patterns help in running logic apps after failure or time out. Limit can also be set for eg. You can stop Logic App execution after 30 seconds
  • Patterns for Termination of execution of Logic Apps and associated Run Actions
  • Scopes will have final status of all actions in that scope
  • Implementation of Try-Catch-Finally in Logic Apps
  • Concurrency Control for
  1. Runs
    1. Instances are created concurrently
    2. Singleton trigger executions include level parallelism
    3. Degrees of parallel execution can be defined
  2. Parallel Actions
    1. Explicit Parallelizations
    2. Join with Run After patterns
  3. For Each Loops
  4. Do Until Loops
  • Patterns are discussed for Scheduling Executions. Example workloads can be clean up jobs
  • Logic Apps can execute Run Once jobs. Example workloads can be time based jobs i.e. when you want to fire the action

Logic Apps support Messaging Protocols like:

  • Workflow Invocation
  • Queues
  • Pub/Sub
  • Event Streams
  • Eventing

These provide workflow invocation and componentization of Logic Apps

Messaging Patterns

Kevin then discussed the patterns for messaging that are categorized as

  • Messaging Communication Patterns
  • Messaging Handling Patterns

Derek Li provided some Best Practices

  • Working with Variables
    • Variables in Logic Apps are global in scope
    • Array is heterogenous
    • Care needs to be taken when using variables in parallel for-each loop
    • Sequential for-each comes handy for having order

Derek Li made an impressive demo on how to efficiently use collections and parallel executions to process messages working with Arrays.

He also made a comparison of executing an array in Logic Apps in different possibilities that provided interesting inference.

He also made a comparison of executing an array in Logic Apps in different possibilities that provided interesting inference.

1200 — Microsoft Integration Roadmap

The last session before the lunch break was presented by Jon Fancey and Matt Farmer. The presentation was short and to the point. The audience got a view of the past and Microsoft plans towards future of integration.

Initially, we got a quick glimpse of all things that have been released as part of pro-integration in the past year. To emphasise that Microsoft is doing hard work in the integration space Jon and Matt announced that Microsoft has been recognised as a leader of enterprise integration in 2018 by Gartner.   

Next came the interesting stuff, what Microsoft has in plans for the Logic Apps?

  1. Smart Designer – as seen in the other demos from Jeff and Derek they want to make the designer more user-friendly. They are looking into getting improved hints, suggestions and recommendations that actually apply to what you are using inside Azure.
  2. Dedicated and connected – for all the companies that care about the security of their integrations, Logic Apps will be available in a vnet.
  3. Obfuscation – another feature that will make the Logic Apps more secure within your organisation. Obfuscation will allow you to specify certain users that will be available to see the output of Logic App run.
  4. On-Prem – Logic Apps are coming to Azure stack.
  5. More: OAuth request trigger, China Cloud, Manage serviced identity, Testability, Manage serviced identity, Key Vault and Custom domain name for Logic Apps

Lastly, Jon and Matt revealed that they want to club every key azure integration such as Logic Apps, Event Grid, Azure Functions under one umbrella called Azure Integration Services.

The aim is to create a one-stop platform that will supply all the tools needed to fulfil your requirements in order to effortlessly bring your integrations to production in minimal time and maximum results. A platform that will allow you to run your integrations wherever you need it and however you need it, serverless or on-prem. We were told that Microsoft will provide guidance and templates across all the regions.

They finalised by acknowledging that there is still a lot to do and that many systems are not yet possible to connect with, but they strive to get everything into the platform including BizTalk, which they still see as part of the integration picture.

1330 — Post lunch, Duncan Barker, Business Development Manager at BizTalk360 thanked all the partners for their continued support. Then Saravana took stage to demonstrate the capabilities  of BizTalk360 and ServiceBus360.

Highlight of this session — ServiceBus360 will be re-branded into Serverless360. For more updates, please read this blog post.

1415 – Serverless Messaging with Microsoft Azure

Steef started with introducing the concept of Severlesss with the evolution from VM -> Containers -> IaaS -> PaaS -> Serverless.

Serverless reduces Time to Market, billed at micro level unit, reduced DevOps.

Messaging in Serverless is like Down, Stay, Come i.e you retrieve message when you want and got good control over message processing

The categorization of Serverless in Azure looks like:

There are various applications for Messaging in Serverless

  • Financial Services
  • Order Processing
  • Logging / Telemetry
  • Connected Devices
  • Notifications / Event Driven Systems

Azure Serverless Components that support messaging are – ServiceBus, EventHub, EventGrid & Storage Queues

Steef provided lot of demo scenario for Messaging applications like

  • Serverless Home Automation (Used Queues & Logic Apps)
  • Connecting to Kafka Endpoint
  • Toll Booth License plate recognition, that included IoT, OCR and Serverless components. He also used functions to process images.
  • Pipes and Filters cloud patterns
  • Microservice Processing
  • Data and Event PipelineHe suggested some messaging considerations:
  • Protocol
  • Format
  • Size
  • Security
  • Frequency
  • Reliability
  • Monitoring
  • Networking

1450 — What’s there & what’s coming in Atomic Scope

After the session on Serverless Messaging with Microsoft Azure, Saravana took the stage to present on Atomic Scope, our brand new product from Kovai Limited. Even though there was an considerable amount of interest in Atomic Scope throughout the day 1 of integration event, most of the participants haven’t got the chance to fully experience the product due to various reasons like time constraints etc.

Saravana started explaining the challenges of the end to end monitoring when it comes to BizTalk and Hybrid integration scenarios and provided a couple example business process belonging to different domains. He also then proceeded to explain list of things that Atomic Scope tries to address like security end to end business visibility etc.

He then pointed out how much amount of effort that Atomic Scope can reduce when compared to the typical custom implementation solution for the end to end monitoring. Then Saravana went little bit deeper and explained how Atomic Scope actually works.

With that Saravana handed over the session to Bart from Integration Team and he showed how solution like BAM will not be sufficient for end to end monitoring and then he proceeded to explain a production ready atomic scope implementation which can add better value than BAM. Bart showed step by step process of how you can configure the business process and how tracking has happened once he dropped an EDI message to the APIM and On premise.

Bart’s presentation on Atomic Scope was very well received so much so that the AtomicScope booth was bombarded by participants after the presentation with people showing interest in the product and from people who was just curious to know more about the product.

1600 — BizTalk Server: Lessons from the Road

Sandro being a great lover of biz talk spoke about best practices such as making use of patterns , naming conventions , logging and tracing etc .

1640 — Using BizTalk Server as your Foundation to the Clouds

The last session of the day was done by Stephen M. Thomas, who gave his view on how BizTalk Server can be used as a foundation to using the cloud. Before he began his actual session, he introduced himself and mentioned a few resources he has been working on for learning purposes of Logic Apps. Amongst them are few Pluralsight trainings and hand-outs which can be found at his web site (

The session consisted of two parts, being the Why you could use BizTalk Server combined with Logic Apps and Friction Factors which could prevent you from using them.

Why use BizTalk Server and Logic Apps

Stephen admits that Logic Apps don’t fit all scenarios. For example, in case your integrations are 100% on-premise or you have a low latency scenario at had, you could decide to stick with BizTalk Server. However, the following could be the reasons to start using Logic Apps:

  • use connectors which do not exist in BizTalk Server
  • load reduction on the BizTalk servers
  • plan for the future
  • save on hardware/software costs
  • want to become an integration demo

Stephen sketched a scenario in which the need of connector exist which are not available in BizTalk. Think of for example scenarios for:

  • social media monitoring, in which you need Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn connectors
  • cross team communication, in which you need a Skype connector
  • incident management, in case you would need a ServiceNow adapter

Before Stephen showed few demos on batching and debatching with Logic Apps, he told that Logic Apps is quite good in batching, while BizTalk is not that good at it.

Friction factors

In the second part of his session, Stephen mentioned a number of factors which might prevent organisations to start using Logic Apps for your integration scenarios.

These factors included:

  • We already have BizTalk (so we don’t need another integration platform)
  • Our data is too sensitive to move it to the cloud
  • The infrastructure manager says No
  • Large learning curve for Logic Apps
  • Azure changes too frequently
  • CEO/CTO says NO to cloud

All these factors were addressed by Stephen, putting the door open to start using Logic Apps for your integrations, despite the given friction factors.w

With that, we wrapped up day 2 at INTEGRATE 2018 and it was time for the attendees to enjoy the INTEGRATE party over some drinks and music.

Read the Day 3 highlights here.

Thanks to the following people for helping me to collate this blog post—

  • Arunkumar Kumaresan
  • Umamaheswaran Manivannan
  • Lex Hegt
  • Srinivasa Mahendrakar
  • Daniel Szweda
  • Rochelle Saldanha
Author: Sriram Hariharan

Sriram Hariharan is the Senior Technical and Content Writer at BizTalk360. He has over 9 years of experience working as documentation specialist for different products and domains. Writing is his passion and he believes in the following quote – “As wings are for an aircraft, a technical document is for a product — be it a product document, user guide, or release notes”.

INTEGRATE 2017 USA – In Conversation

INTEGRATE 2017 USA – In Conversation

INTEGRATE is a global annual conference organized by BizTalk360 for people working in the Microsoft Integration space. It is held annually in London and this year it also took place at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, USA between 25-27 October.

Here’s a short Tête-à-tête talk between Duncan Barker and Bhavana Nambiar on their experiences at INTEGRATE 2017 USA.

Duncan – This is my first Integrate event in the US and I received a lot of good feedback and had some very interesting conversations, did it meet your expectations, Bhavana?

Bhavana – Duncan, it was incredible! It was great it all came together after a lot of hard work. I had certain expectations and it exceeded all of them. We reached out to a wide range of participants from the Microsoft Product Group to Partners and from Consultants to End Users during this event and we were also able to touch so many Industries & Sectors, such as Healthcare, Utilities, Retail, Defence & Space, Paper Products, Forestry, Finance, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Food, Wine & Spirits to name a few. Talk about global reach…people traveled from 17 different countries to attend this event. Above all, this is the most satisfying part of organizing this event in what they call the ‘Technological Mecca’ – the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond.

Bhavana – Duncan, you mentioned interesting conversations – what were they?

Duncan – To start with, I was so pleased to be able to introduce some of our attendees to the Microsoft Product Group. It isn’t very often they get the chance to speak to the very people who are shaping the future in Integration. Furthermore, such conversations are invaluable for the Microsoft Team to speak directly in person to those using their software.
Other conversations I refer to, are those between Consultants and end users. In face to face meetings Consultants could respond to questions about the challenges end users face in their day to day operations.

Integrate 2017 USA was a great possibility for me to vent some of the challenges and questions we have been facing when creating Azure solutions for our clients. I was able to have very beneficial discussions with the Microsoft Product Group on these items, so besides all the great knowledge I take home with me from discussions and presentations, I also bring home new relationships that will help my team and I in the future.

And importantly for BizTalk360, I met and spoke to some of our users and to those who are evaluating our products for use in forthcoming projects.
I saw a lot of these conversations happen outside the conference room and at the informal dinner on Monday evening. I can only imagine this exceeded your expectations. Did you think it would work as well as this?

Bhavana – When we were planning this event, we wanted to give plenty of opportunity to the attendees to network with people from the same community. That was also the idea behind the Evening Dinner which we arranged in the Microsoft Commons. I was quite pleased with the turnout and loved the space it gave for the attendees to mingle with the Product Group and each other.

Duncan, would you believe it if I said we were also instrumental in some of the reunions that happened during this event? Two of the attendees met each other for the first time in 10 years during Integrate 2017 USA. And Saravana mentioned a few people he met during the event who were colleagues from his previous job 9 years ago, before BizTalk360 was born.
I was also overwhelmed to see how people with different nationalities came together and they all spoke one language – ‘Microsoft Technologies’.

Bhavana – I think we always need to make certain things better for the next event; so tell me about the challenges you faced while networking?

Duncan – I wanted to meet as many people as possible and to engage in quality conversations about their roles in the Integration space. For the first time in many cases, I could put a face to an email contact and have a personal discussion. Everyone was very friendly and wanted to talk about their BizTalk experiences – being quite new to the industry, it gave me great insight into how companies manage their integrations. But with my poor eyesight, one challenge was trying to read the name badges without staring at people’s waistlines! Next time we should make the names and company names bolder and reduce the size of the lanyard so it hangs a bit higher!

Bhavana – Duncan, I remember your comment after Integrate 2017 in London and I did take it on board and ordered a different lanyard this time around but it is unbelievable how people with IT skills could not work out how to use a lanyard! We will need to do more brainstorming and research on this topic.

Bhavana – What did you think of the Event Venue?

Duncan – At Integrate 2017 in London, some felt trapped in the auditorium without the ability to come and go freely from time to time. In my view, the Microsoft Campus facility gave the best of both worlds –a freer space to listen to the addresses and move around without disturbing the speakers – the audio visual worked very well with the 3 huge screens, back and front. However, some of the speakers missed the theatrical spotlight of the London venue and requested the rock ’n roll intros of London!

Duncan – As the organizer, how did you manage to co-ordinate the speakers and the content of their speeches?

Bhavana – I think all the credit goes to Saravana in liaising with the Product Team and the MVP’s in bringing the right content to our attendees. One of the main reasons for the event’s success is the quality of the content presented in these sessions and I think we were spot on. It was a good mix with sessions focusing on all the main technologies such as BizTalk, LogicApps, API Management, Messaging, Microsoft Flow etc.

Bhavana – Being a Business Development person, trying to engage with more and more Partners & Consultants, how did this event really help you?

Duncan– Two Partners, VNB Consulting and Devscope sponsored the event and several more traveled to the event, some travelling half way round the world. This commitment to attend proves the benefit for them. The success of Integrate 2017 USA has prompted some Partners present in Redmond to express an interest in sponsoring the next event. So, for me it was a great opportunity to listen to what our Partners require to meet the needs of their clients, and to hear more about what they want out of the Integrate events and BizTalk360 as an ISV. I hope our announcements about product improvements to BizTalk360 and ServiceBus360 plus the unveiling of our new product, Atomic Scope, have demonstrated we are a company to work closely with.

Duncan – We haven’t mentioned the superstar of the conference. What was the reaction to Scott Guthrie’s keynote?

Bhavana – It was a great privilege to have Scott Guthrie do the keynote. It did add star quality to the event and the attendees were really excited by his presence. Personally speaking, I was awestruck and remember how we cautiously approached Scott’s assistant in the hope of having a photograph taken with him and ta-da here is the result!

Integrate 2017 USA organizers

I must say it did start a trend as everyone jumped up to take their selfies with Scott. A big thanks to Jim for his efforts in getting Scott on board. Without him this wouldn’t have been possible.

Bhavana – So if I can ask you, what did you take away from Integrate 2017 USA?

Duncan – As in London in June, my first impression was one of community. Despite the different roles of attendees, we all have one thing in common – to move forward with and get the best out of Microsoft Technologies. The collaboration amongst everyone was first class. Secondly, it was a super opportunity to meet people in key decision making positions, meeting influential people who are shaping the way their companies are run is exactly what I want.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone I got to know at Integrate. I will speak to and meet many of the attendees again, perhaps at the next Integrate event!

I have been asked by many at the event what the final statistics looked like – do you have the final numbers?

Bhavana – During the 3 day event there were 25 Speakers presenting 24 sessions to 222 Attendees from 17 countries.

All in all, a very successful event. Thanks to you, Saravana, Gowri, Sriram and Parthiban who all worked behind the scenes to make this event a success. A big shout to all the attendees, Product Group, MVP’s, sponsors and the community in backing us all the way.

Our hunt for a new event venue for Integrate 2018 in London starts now ……

Attendee Testimonials

Integrate is the must attend event if you are involved in the Microsoft Integration space. There is no better place to learn and communicate with your peers and the Microsoft Product Groups.

A very informative event with excellent speakers and relevant content. Highly recommended.

Thank you for a great conference. Very informative and good speakers, and very interesting and rightly balanced sessions.

Eye opening event, extremely useful.

This event gave me the answers to the direction I should be directing my staff to stay current on technology.

The presentations were really helpful at enabling me to identify a well-reasoned and justifiable path forward. I was feeling quite frustrated before the conference.

Author: Bhavana Nambiar

Bhavana makes sure our customers and team are well taken care of: license keys, payroll, benefits, taxes, accounting, dealing with the bank — she does it all!.

Integrate 2017 USA Day 3 Recap

Integrate 2017 USA Day 3 Recap

Day 3, the final day of Integrate 2017 USA, at Microsoft Campus building 92. The event so far well received and made people happy seeing the innovations, investments, and passion Microsoft is bringing to its customers and pro-integration professionals.

Check out the recap of the events on Day 1 and Day 2 at Integrate 2017 USA.

Moving to Cloud-Native Integration

Richard started the final day of Integrate 2017 USA stating that the conference actually starts now. He is a great speaker to get the audience pumped on cloud-native integrations. Richard talked about what analysts at Gartner see happening in integration. The trend is cloud service integration is rising. The first two days of this conference made that apparent with the various talks about Logic Apps, Flow, and Functions.

What is “cloud-native”? Richard explained that during his talk.

The sessions interesting part was the comparison between the traditional enterprise versus native. The way going forward is “cloud-native”.

The best ways to show what cloud-native really means is by showing demos. Richard showed how to build a Logic App as a data pipeline, the BizTalk REST API available through the Feature Pack, and automating Azure via Service Broker.

Take away from this session was the new way of thinking integration. Finally, there will a book coming out a book coming soon that discusses the topic further.

What’s there & what’s coming in ServiceBus360

Saravana talked in his session about monitoring challenges with a distributed cloud integration solution. He showed the capabilities of ServiceBus360, a monitoring, and management service primarily for service bus yet expanded with new features. These new features are intended to mitigate the challenges the arise with a composite application.

Saravana demoed the ServiceBus360 to the audience to showcase the features and how it can help people with their cloud composite integration solution.

After the demo, Saravana elaborated on the evolution of ServiceBus360. Its still early days, for some of the new capabilities and he is looking for feedback. Furthermore, he discussed where the service will be heading too by sharing the roadmap.

At the end of the presentation, Saravana announced Atomic Scope, a new upcoming product. It will be launched in January 2018, and it is a functional end to end business activity tracking and monitoring product for Hybrid integration scenarios involving Microsoft BizTalk Server and Azure Logic Apps.

Integrate 2017 USAIntegrate 2017 USA

Signals, Intelligence, and Intelligent Actions

Nick Hauenstein talked about Azure Machine Learning, mind reading and experiments. He promised a fun session!

Nick did a great demo on mind reading, having people asking questions and showing what his mind was thinking yes and no. For instance: “Will Astro’s win the next game against the LA Dodgers in the World Series?“.

After the demo, Nick explained Machine Learning, possible very relevant in our day and age. Furthermore, he followed that up with another demo teaching the audience how to build and operationalize an Azure ML model, and able to invoke that from within either BizTalk Server or Azure Logic Apps. The audience could follow along with Azure ML Studio and build a demo themselves.

To conclude, this was a great session and introduction to Machine Learning. In the past, I followed the course on eDX on DataScience, which includes hands-on with ML Studio.

Overcoming Challenges When Taking Your Logic App into Production

Stephen W. Thomas, a long time Integration MVP, took the stage to talk about how to get a Logic App running as a BizTalk guy. He shared during his talk his experience with building Logic Apps.

Moreover, Stephen shared some good tips around Logic Apps:

  • Read the available documentation.
  • Don’t be afraid for JSON – code view is still needed especially with new features, but most of the time is soon available in designer and visual studio. Always save or check-in before switching to JSON.
  • Make sure to fully configure your actions, otherwise, you cannot save the Logic App.
  • Ensure name of action, hard to change afterward.
  • Try to use only one MS account.
  • If you get odd deployment results, close / re-open your browser.
  • Connections – Live at resource group level. The last deployment wins.
  • Best practices: define all connection parameters in one Logic App. One connection per destination, per resource group.
  • Default retries – all actions retry 4 additional times over 20s intervals.
    Control using retry policies.
  • Resource Group artefacts – contain subscription id, use parameters instead.
  • For each loop – limited to 100000 loops. default to multiple concurrent loops can be changed to sequential loops
  • Recurrence – singleton.
  • User permissions (IAM) – multiple roles exist like the Logic App Contributor and the Logic App Operator.

BizTalk Server Fast & Loud

The final session of the day by Sandro Pereira, he talked about performance with BizTalk. After the introduction of himself, nicknames and stickers, he dived into his story. Have your BizTalk Jobs running, pricing based on the setup of a BizTalk environment, default installation, and performance.

How to increase performance, how to decrease response times, BizTalk database optimizations, hard drives, networks, memory, CPU, scaling, Sandro went the distance.

Finally, Sandro did a demo to showcase better performance with BizTalk by doing a lot tuning.

It was a fast demo and he finished the talk with some final advice: “Do not have more than 20 host instances!”.

Q&A Session

After Sandro’s session, lunch and a Q&A session with the Pro-Integration and Flow Product Group.

It’s a wrap

That was Integrate 2017 USA, two and half days of integration focussed content, great set of speakers and empowered attendees, who will go home with a ton of knowledge. Hopefully, BizTalk360 will be able to organize this event again next year and keep the momentum going.

Thanks, Saravana and Team BizTalk360. Job well done!!!

Check out the recap of the events on Day 1 and Day 2 at Integrate 2017 USA.

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers has over 15 years’ experience as a technical lead developer, application architect and consultant, specializing in custom applications, enterprise application integration (BizTalk), Web services and Windows Azure. Steef-Jan is very active in the BizTalk community as a blogger, Wiki author/editor, forum moderator, writer and public speaker in the Netherlands and Europe. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 5 years.

Integrate 2017 USA Day 2 Recap

Integrate 2017 USA Day 2 Recap

And so the second day of Integrate 2017 USA is a fact, another day of great sessions and action packed demos. We started the day with Mayank Sharma and Divya Swarnkar from Microsoft CSE, formerly Microsoft IT, taking us through their journey to the cloud. Microsoft has an astounding amount of integrations running for all their internal processes, communicating with 1000+ partners. With 175+ BizTalk servers running on Azure IaaS, doing 170M+ messages per month, they really need a integration platform they can rely on.

10_26_17 08_40 Office Lens

Like most companies, Microsoft is also looking into ways to modernize their application landscape, as well as to reduce costs. To accomplish this, they now are using Logic Apps at the heart of all their integrations, using BizTalk as their bridge to their LOB systems. By leveraging API Management they can test their systems in production as well as in their UAT environments, ensuring that all systems work as expected. By using the options the Azure platform provides for geo replication they ensure that even in case of a disaster their business will stay up and running.
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Adopting a microservices strategy, each Logic App is set up to perform a specific task, and meta data is used to execute or skip specific parts. To me this seems like a great setup, and definitely something to look into when setting up your own integrations.

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Manage API lifecycle sunrise to sunset with Azure API Management

The second session of the day we had Matthew Farmer and Anton Babadjanov showing us how we can use API Management to set up an API using a design first approach. Continuing on the scenario of Contoso Fitness, they set up the situation where you need to onboard a partner to an API which has not been built yet. By using API Management we can set up a façade for the API, adding it’s methods and mock responses, allowing consumers to start working with the API quickly.

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Another important subject is how you handle new versions of your API. Thanks to API Management you can now have versions and revisions of your API. Versions allow you to have different implementations of your API living next to each other publically available to your consumers, where revisions allow you to have a private new version of your API, in which you can develop and test changes. Once you are happy with the changes done in the revision, you can publish it with a click of the button, making the new revision the public API. This is very powerful, as it allows us to safely test our changes, and easily roll back in case of any issues.

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Thanks to API Management we have the complete lifecycle of our API’s covered, going from our initial design, through the ALM story, all the way up to updating and deprovisioning.

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Azure Logic Apps – Advanced integration patterns

Next up are Jeff Hollan and Derek Li, taking us behind the scenes of Logic Apps. Because the massive scale these need to run on, there are many new challenges which needed to be solved. Logic Apps does this by reading in the workflow definition, and breaking it down into a composition of tasks and dependencies. These tasks are then distributed across various workers, each executing their own piece of the tasks. This allows for a high degree of parallelism, which is why they can scale out indefinitely. Having this information, it’s important to take this with us in our scenarios, thinking about how this might impact us. This includes keeping in mind tasks might not be processed in order, and at high scale, so we need to take this into account on our receiving systems. Also, as Logic Apps provides at-least-once delivery, so we should look into idempotency for our systems.

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Derek Li showed us different kinds of patterns which can be used with Logic Apps, including parallel processing, exception handling, looping, timeouts, and the ability to control the concurrency, which will be coming to the portal in the coming week. Using these patterns, Derek created a Logic App which sent out an approval email, and by adjusting the timeout and setting up exception handling on this, escalating to the approver’s manager in case the approval was not processed within the timeout. These kinds of scenarios show us how powerful Logic Apps has become, truly allowing for a customized flow.

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Bringing Logic Apps into DevOps with Visual Studio and monitoring

After some mingling with like minded people during the break at Integrate 2017 USA, it’s now time for another session by Kevin Lam and Jeff Hollan, which is always a pleasure to see. In this session we dive into the story around DevOps and ALM for Logic Apps. These days Logic Apps is a first class citizen within Visual Studio, allowing us to create and modify them, pulling in and controlling existing Logic Apps from Azure.

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As the Logic Apps designer creates ARM templates, we can also add these to source control like VSTS. By using the CI/CD possibilities of VSTS, we can then automatically deploy our Logic Apps, allowing for a completely automated deployment process.

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Integrating the last mile with Microsoft Flow

As pro-integrators Microsoft Flow might not be the first tool coming to mind, but actually this is a very interesting service. It allows us to create light weight integrations, giving room to the idea of democratization of integration. There is a plethora of templates available for Flow, allowing users to easily automate tasks, accessing both online and on-premises data. With custom connectors give us the option to expose any system we want to. And being categorized in verticals, users will be able to quickly find templates which are useful for them.

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Flow also has the option to use buttons, which can be both physical buttons, from Flic or bttn, or programmatic in the Flow app. This allows for on-demand flows to be executed by the click of a button, and sharing these within your company. For those who want more control over the flows that can be built, and the data that can be accessed, there is the Admin center, which is available with Flow Plan 2.

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Looking at the updates which has happened over the last few months, it’s clear the team has been working hard, making Flow ready for your enterprise.

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And even more great things are about to come, so make sure to keep an eye on this.

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Deep dive into BizTalk technologies and tools

Yesterday (on Day 1 on Integrate 2017 USA), we heard the announcement of Feature Pack 2 for BizTalk. For me, one of the coolest features that will be coming is the ability to publish BizTalk endpoints through Azure API Management. This will allow us to easily expose the endpoint, either via SOAP pass-through or even with SOAP to REST, and take advantage of all the possibilities API Management brings us, like monitoring, throttling, authentication, etc. And all this, with just a right click on the port in BizTalk, pretty amazing.

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As we had seen in the first session of today, Microsoft has a huge integration landscape. With that many applications and artifacts, migration to a new BizTalk version can become quite the challenge. To overcome this, Microsoft IT created the BizTalk Server Migration Tool, and published the tool for us as well. The tool takes care of migrating your applications to a new BizTalk environment, taking care of dependencies, services, certificates and everything else.

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Looking at the numbers, we can see how much effort this saves, and minimizing the risks of errors. The tool supports migration to BizTalk 2016 from any version from BizTalk 2010, and is certainly a great asset for anyone looking into migration. So if you are running an older version of BizTalk, remember to migrate in time, to avoid running out of the support timelines we have seen yesterday.

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What’s there & what’s coming in BizTalk360

Next up we had Saravana Kumar, CEO of BizTalk360 and founding father of Integrate, guiding us through his top 10 features of BizTalk360. Having worked with the product since its first release, I can only say it has gone through an amazing journey, and has become the de-facto monitoring solution for BizTalk and its surrounding systems. It helps solving the challenges anyone who has been administrating BizTalk, giving insights in your environment, adding monitoring and notifications, and giving fine-grained security control.

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So Saravana’s top 10 of BizTalk360 is as following, and I pretty much agree on all of them.

1. Rich operational dashboards, showing you the health of your environment in one single place

2. Fine grained security and auditing, so you can give your users access to only those things they need, without the need to opening up your complete system

3. Graphical message flow, providing an end to end view of your message flows

4. Azure + BizTalk Server (single management tool), because Azure is becoming very important in most integrations these days

5. Monitoring – complete coverage, allowing us monitor and, even more importantly, be notified on any issue in your environment

6. Data (no events) monitoring, giving us monitoring on what’s not happening as well, for example expected messages not coming in

7. Auto healing – from failures, to make sure your environment keeps running, automatically coming back up after issues, either from mechanical or human causes

8. Scheduled reporting, which will be coming in the next version, creating reports about your environment on a regular basis

9. Analytics & messaging patterns, giving even more insights in what is happening using graphical charts and widgets

10. Throttling analyser, because anyone who has ever needed to solve a throttling problem knows how difficult this can be, having to keep track of various performance counters, this feature allows a nice graphical overview and historical insights

11. Team knowledgebase, so one more bonus feature that should really be addressed, the knowledgebase is used to link articles to specific errors and faults, making sure this knowledge is readily available in your company

Of course, this is not all, BizTalk360 has a lot more great features, and I can recommend anyone to go and check it.

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Give your Bots connectivity, with Azure Logic Apps

Kent Weare, former MVP and now Principal Program Manager within Microsoft on Flow team, takes us on a journey into bots, and giving them connectivity with Logic Apps and Flow. First setting the stage, we all have heard about digital transformation, but what is it all about? Digital transformation has become a bit of a buzzword, but the idea behind it is actually quite intriguing, which is using digital means to provide more value and new business models. The following quote shows this quite nicely.

“Digital transformation is the methodology in which organizations transform, create new business models and culture with digital technologies” – Ray Wang, Constellation Research

An important part here is the culture in the organization will need to change as well, so go out and become a change agent within your organization.

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Next we go on to bots, which can be used to reduce barriers and empower users through conversational apps. With the rise of various messenger applications like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, there is a huge market to be reached here. There are many different kinds of bots, but they all have a common way of working, often incorporating cognitive services like Language Understanding Intelligence Service (LUIS) to make the bot more human friendly.

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When we want to build our own bots, we have different possibilities here as well, depending on your background and skills. Kent had a great slide on this, making it clear you don’t have to be a pro integrator anymore to make compelling bots.

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In his demos, Kent showed the different implementations on how to build a bot. The first is using the bot framework with Logic Apps and Cognitive Services to make a complex bot, allowing for a completely tailored bot. For the other two demos, he used Microsoft flow in combination with Bizzy, a very cool connector which allows us to create a “question-answer bot”, analyzing the input from the user and making decisions on it. Finally the ability to migrate Flow implementations to Logic Apps was demonstrated, allowing users to start a simple integration in Flow, but having the ability to seamlessly migrate these to Logic Apps when more complexity is needed over the lifecycle of the integration.

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Empowering the business using Logic Apps

And closing this second day of Integrate 2017 USA, we had Steef-Jan Wiggers, with a view from the business side on Logic Apps. A very interesting session, as instead of just going deep down into the underlying technologies, he actually went and looked for the business value we can add using these technologies, which in the end is what it is all about. Serverless integration is a great way to provide value for your business, lowering costs and allowing for easy and massive scaling.

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Steef-Jan went out to several companies who are actually using and implementing Azure, including Phidiax, MyTE, Mexia and ServiceBus360. The general consensus amongst them, is Logic Apps and the other Azure services are indeed adding value to their business, as it gives them the ability to set up new powerful scenarios fast and easy.

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With several great demos and customer cases Steef-Jan made very visible how he has already helped many customers with these integrations to add value to their business. The integration platform as a service is here to stay, and according to Gartner iPaaS will actually be the preferred option for new projects by 2019. And again, he has gone out and this time went to the community leaders and experts, to get their take on Logic Apps. The conclusion here is these days Logic Apps is a mature and powerful tool in the iPaaS integration platform.

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So that was the end of the second day at Integrate 2017 USA, another day full of great sessions, inspiring demos, and amazing presenters. With one more day to go, Integrate 2017 USA is again one of the best events out there.

Check out the recap of Day 1 and Day 3 at Integrate 2017 USA.

Author: Eldert Grootenboer

Eldert is a Microsoft Integration Architect and Azure MVP from the Netherlands, currently working at Motion10, mainly focused on IoT and BizTalk Server and Azure integration. He comes from a .NET background, and has been in the IT since 2006. He has been working with BizTalk since 2010 and since then has expanded into Azure and surrounding technologies as well. Eldert loves working in integration projects, as each project brings new challenges and there is always something new to learn. In his spare time Eldert likes to be active in the integration community and get his hands dirty on new technologies. He can be found on Twitter at @egrootenboer and has a blog at

Integrate 2017 USA Day 1 Recap

Integrate 2017 USA Day 1 Recap

And we’re off, the USA leg of the Integrate conference started today in Building 92 on the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

Saravana kicked off proceedings by setting the scene and giving us an indication of who we’re going to see over the next two and a half days.


It’s a good line up with speakers from the Microsoft integration teams and some great community speakers.

There was a shout out for Integration Monday and Middleware Friday, two awesome community efforts supported by Saravana and BizTalk360.

Saravana was followed by Duncan Barker from BizTalk360 who explained that BizTalk360 has now grown to 50 people and spoke about ServiceBus360 and how that has grown and continues to be developed.

Duncan also teased about 2 new products that are coming in 2018 so that’s definitely something to look out for and mentioned that work is already underway for Integrate 2018 so watch your mailboxes for more information on that as the plans begin to take shape.

With the introductions and scene setting done, it was time for the leader of the awesome integration team to take the stage.

Jim Harrer – Limitless Possibilities with Azure Integration Services

Jim’s message was very much one of integration being the connective tissue that all solutions need to tie things together, reinforcing that there is ongoing investment in BizTalk Server and the story that Logic Apps and BizTalk Server are Better Together.


With over 180 connectors now in Logic Apps, including many that integrate directly with Azure Services, it is possible to more effectively build integration solutions that span on-premises and cloud and really accelerate adoption through hybrid integration, and taking an API first approach is a great way to unlock business value.

Jim then moved on to serverless, a platform that is just there ready for you to use when you need it.


With serverless, you get improved build and delivery, reduced time to market and per action billing and it really flips traditional development on its head.

The Pro Integration team has had a busy year, and this was shown in a single slide.


This shows just how quickly things are changing and evolving and has included things like Logic Apps going GA, feature packs being introduced for BizTalk and API Mocking which has allowed teams to be more agile and progress at greater speed, making it possible to deliver integration solutions in weeks rather than months.

This agility has led to integration getting a seat at the table instead of being an afterthought.

We then had some great demos from Jon Fancey, Kevin Lam and Jeff Hollan who introduced the demo scenario that would be used throughout the conference, Contoso Fitness.


Jon kicked off the demos with a Logic App calling Spotify. This allowed him to show the new Custom Connector and a great resource,

Kevin followed up looking at Azure Security Center and showed the tooling that was introduced at Microsoft Ignite recently. This provides integration directly between Azure Security Center and Logic Apps, including playbooks that are templates which integrate directly into typical service management tools such as Service Now.

Jeff did the last demo on Logic Apps and Cognitive Services. This showed the power of using the Video Indexer API and the ability to spin up a Docker container through a connector that will be released shortly. This container used FFMPEG, an open source tool, to take the transcript generated by the indexer and apply the information as subtitles in the video.

We finished with Jim urging everyone to maximise the value of their projects using integration.


Final message:

“Now is the time for integrators to unlock the impossible”

Paul Larsen – BizTalk – Connecting line-of-business applications across the Enterprise

Paul opened his presentation with a great image of a green screen, a mainframe that is running on campus.


This set the scene for a great presentation and dive into BizTalk and heritage systems. Paul insisted on calling them heritage rather than legacy, as heritage is something you celebrate and love whilst legacy has a number of negative connotations!

Paul again emphasized the importance of hybrid integration between BizTalk and the cloud, and the message really started resonating. He spent some time positioning BizTalk and how it had changed along with Host Integration Server over the years he has been on the team.

For me, his demo involving Contoso Fitness showcasing mobile applications, Logic Apps, virtual machines, HL7 and a mainframe was one of the best of the day. It showcased hybrid integration with the Logic Apps adapter, and the real breadth and depth of the Microsoft integration story.

Paul explained the reasoning behind the Feature Pack releases, how it was able to deliver new value at a quicker cadence by introducing non-breaking changes and he reviewed what had been delivered in Feature Pack 1.


The information was split between Deployment – application lifecycle management; Runtime – advanced scheduling, SQL encryption columns and web admin; and Analytics – AppInsights for tracking and the Power BI template.

He then mentioned that Feature Pack 2 would be released next month!


Splitting the information the same way we had Deployment – application lifecycle management for multiple servers and backup to Blob Storage; Runtime – Adapter for Service Bus v2, TLS 1.2 (although this may be in the next Cumulative Update as it is a critical update), using API Management to expose Orchestration endpoints, and sending/receiving from Event Hub; Analytics – sending data to Event Hub for tracking.

He walked through the BizTalk Server Support Lifecycle.


This shows that BizTalk Server 2013/2013 R2 is out of mainstream support in 9 months and that people should at least starting thinking about migrating. NOTE: A cool tool to help with this migration was presented by Microsoft IT on Day 2 and is available for use.

The most important slide was the BizTalk Roadmap.


This clearly shows an ongoing commitment to the product with a timeline for CUs, Feature Packs, and BizTalk vNext.

With that Paul wrapped up we had a break followed by Jeff and Kevin.

Jeff Hollan/Kevin Lam – Azure Logic Apps – build cloud-scale integrations faster

You always know you’re in for a great session when these two stand up, and this session did not disappoint.

It was aimed a level setting session to get people across Logic Apps, what they are and why you’d use them.


To help emphasize the growth of the service, Kevin mentioned that at GA in June 2016 there were about two dozen connectors, now there are nearly 200!

Connectors provide a canonical form for integration that scale to meets the needs of the customer.


A slide was shown that had an animation of the current connectors that went on for a few pages and included colours to indicate connectors to Azure Services (blue) and those to other Microsoft services (orange), along with a list of others really showing how much coverage Logic Apps has.

One of the new features was shown – custom connectors.


Custom connectors are available now and treated just the same as any other connector, including storing secrets in the Logic Apps secret store just like regular connectors.

These conferences are great on their own, but when the teams share what’s next and any roadmap information it is particularly interesting. With that, we were teased with what connectors and services are coming soon.


These include the ability to initialize and destroy containers within the Azure Container Service, Oracle EBS and high availability for the on-premises data gateway. I am particularly interested in the container story and can see this as a great way of running transient compute workloads easily and only when required.

We then moved on to more level setting and to how agile the Logic Apps team is, highlighted by a slide that showed what they have shipped this year, including Visual Studio tooling, nested foreach loops and Ludicrous Mode that allows sharding across the infrastructure to improve performance. Currently, the cadence is roughly a release every two weeks!

To highlight this agility, even more, they showed what was coming soon to the service.


Particularly interesting is mocking testing to allow you to stub out connectors that are still being built, being able to resubmit from a failed action rather than an entire run, concurrency control to allow control of how parallel foreach loops run which can be important in ordered delivery scenarios and snippets which allow you to create some reusability across your Logic Apps.

The new pricing model that comes into effect on 1st November was shown. This has a 32x reduction in the cost of native actions, 6.5x reduction in the cost of standard connectors and bringing enterprise connectors inline with other connects based on pay per execution.


The pricing changes also applied to integration account with them coming to a third of their previous price.

With that Jeff wrapped up with another great demo for Contoso Fitness showing how to integrate a Flic button to emulate a customer pushing a button on a fitness machine when it needed maintenance or cleaning, sending an alert via an HTTP trigger to ServiceNow.

We then had a change in presentation order, with Vlad and Miao covering API Management.

Vladimir Vinogradsky/Miao Jiang – Bolster your digital transformation with Azure API Management

Vlad provided a great overview of API Management and showed how APIs, in general, is really the common component of any solution, whether that is a Software as a Service product or the Internet of Things.


He continued by explaining how API Management is positioned and how it can be used to drive loyalty, build new services and channels to market and how it can help cope with multi-speed IT where not every part of a solution or business wants the same pace of change.


Vlad continued with a general overview of policies and how to use them to enforce certain things like access control and rate limits, and how you can chain them together by explaining the scope and the cumulative nature of policies.


After a discussion about security, the conversation moved on to the inclusion of VNets to help control access to on-premises APIs and then multi-region support and scaling that is available as a premium feature. This allows

you to deploy units of scale across regions, includes request caching out of the box, allows incremental growth of APIs, and allows different scales in different regions. It is a great way to grow your APIs as your business grows.

Miao then did a great demo, showing the key features of the service, firstly showing how to create an API, including SOAP to REST to allow more modern access to heritage APIs.

Using the Developer Portal to allow testing of the APIs he showed how to apply a number of policies such as removing headers, replacing backend URLs and rate limiting, followed by using the tracing feature to gain insight into the information passed to and from an API call and what policies are applied.

Any enterprise solution requires in-depth insight, so Miao moved on to monitoring and using Metrics in the Azure Portal to set alerts and using it to call a Logic App followed by the Diagnostic settings and Log Searching.

We then moved to looking at the new Power BI template that can be deployed with a single click.


This looks like a great way of delivering insight into an API Management deployment and has been created based on customer asks. It uses Event Hubs, Stream Analytics, and SQL Database.

After a slide that showed the growth in API Management, Vlad then showed how much work has been done in the last 12 months.


Like the other presentations, this shows just how agile and engaged the team is and how they are really delivering value to us as users of their service.

With that Vlad provided a list of resources and closed out the morning session.

After lunch, we had 3 presentations on the messaging services within Azure that took proceeding up to the afternoon break.

Dan Rosanova – Messaging yesterday, today and tomorrow

After lunch, Dan kicked off sessions about the messaging services in Azure starting with his own presentation about tools and how Microsoft is really a tools company.


Using a hammer for illustration, Dan gave a great presentation on where a hammer is a right tool and where a hammer is not. This included an unusual demo that showed how to open a beer with a hammer live on stage!


And really that was the main thrust of the presentation, that with Azure messaging being such a large set of tools, it is important to choose the right tool for the job.


To further hammer home the point, he talked about 3 scenarios to fit these tools:

  • Task Queue using a Storage Queue to coordinate simple tasks across compute
  • Big data streaming using Event Hub to flow and process data and telemetry in real-time
  • Enterprise Messaging using Service Bus to manage business process state transitions
  • Eventing using Event Grid to provide a reactive programming model

Dan summed up by saying that Event Grid will be GAed soon and indicated that some new services outside Azure are coming.

Shubha Vijayasarathy – Azure Event Hubs: the world’s most widely used telemetry service

Shubha set the scene using a big data scenario and how Event Hub can be used to provide a single service solution to common problems around telemetry and data pipelines.


She moved on to how Event Hub answers all the typical questions asked about big data solutions, such as how do you handle data that has velocity, volume, and variety, can you deal with regional disasters and do real-time streaming as well as batch capture, what can Event Hub integrate with, and how can you handle support. Again, for any production solution, it is important to be able to lift the covers and see what is happening and how a solution is performing.

Shubha did a great demo showing how to use Event Hubs and Event Grid to move stream data into SQL Datawarehouse using the Capture feature of Event Hub that allows you to persist the telemetry data into a storage account. This demo used an Azure Function to react to an Event Grid event that was fired due to a storage file being created to process data into SQL DW.

Leaving the best until last Shubha gave some indication of what was coming soon from the team.


This includes the general availability of Geo DR, IP filtering and VNet support and a portal experience for creating dedicated clusters.

We then had a bonus session for the day that was not scheduled.

Christian Wolf – Azure Service Bus: Who doesn’t know it?

So Dan covered the messaging services available, Shubha covered Event Hubs and Christian on to cover one of the oldest services in Azure.

This was a shorter but highly focussed session that started with what is new and soon to be released in Service Bus.


He went through the important points of the slide, including that the Event Grid scenario is for lower volumes and not millions of messages. They are introducing Geo DR for Service Bus that will allow you to pair 2 independent namespaces and access them through an alias. NOTE: In this first release it is only metadata that is failed over between regions, not the data that is on any Service Bus asset.

A good point was made about the .NET Standard Client. It has been breaking changes, so Christian urged anyone wanting to adopt it to spend time in the release notes and testing.

Christian then did a couple of good demos, the first using Service Bus, and Event Grid to simulate Clemens Vasters wanting to buy an airplane (so a likely scenario!), and using Dynamics 365 to react to a new sales opportunity. The second demo showed the Geo DR capabilities and showed that monitoring not entirely straightforward. Christian used ServiceBus360 to help drive demo.

Christian finished with what’s next for Service Bus.


This includes a capability to allow migration between standard and premium SKUs, a new management library, the introduction of throttling in the standard SKU, which is not dedicated, to eliminate noisy neighbours and Data DR as a broader part of the disaster recovery strategy.

This led to the final break of the day, with 2 more presentations standing between attendees and Scott Guthrie’s keynote.

Eduardo Laureano – Azure Functions – Serverless compute in the cloud

We started with an overview of Functions and the components of the service.


Eduardo explained how Functions evolved, it came from App Service so HTTP has always been a native part of the service.

Eduardo showed the bindings and triggers, ut directed people to the documentation for an up-to-date list.

Following up with a discussion about developer tooling the discussion then turned to Functions by the numbers. The key takeaway from that was when customers go to Functions they are continuing to move more things over time as they evolve their ecosystems.

Eduardo did a demo that really showed the power of bindings by walking through the Function creation process for a Blob Storage trigger, performing a simple file upload, changing the input from Stream to byte[] and showing that it just still works exactly the same way.

After speaking about the difference between Function bindings and Logic Apps connectors (low code v no code, 23 bindings v 180+ connectors, ideal for data flow v ideal for workflow orchestration, data type in code v fully managed) Eduardo explained that as Functions is open source, anyone can go and create a new custom binding, and that he’d be happy to discuss having more community contributed bindings in the service.

We then moved on to the new Microsoft Graph binding announced at Ignite.


This provides a way of finding correlations across different data sets, but the real magic is that it incorporates identity so you don’t have to.

We had 2 demos, the first showing the Graph binding, and the second showing the new Excel binding with data being added to an Excel file.

Proxies is a recently added feature that will be going GA soon, so Eduardo spent some time explaining how it works and did a great demo showing how you can use proxies for URL redirection and mocking of responses since you can specify a response payload. He then gave some scenarios where you may want to use proxies.


Like most of the presentations during the day, he finished with a list of takeaways and resources.

The final presentation of the day before Scott was delivered by Jon Fancey.

Jon Fancey – Enterprise Integration with Logic Apps

Jon started by level setting and explaining that the Integration Account in Azure is the basic unit of work for Enterprise Integration.


He explained about the XML and B2B capabilities that are provided with the Integration Account and talked about DR scenarios which are important to consider as Integration Accounts hold stateful information. DR is achieved by having a Primary and (multiple) Secondary Integration Accounts in different regions, and the service uses Logic Apps to keep Integration Account states in sync.

Jon moved on to trading partner migration and a tool (TPM) that has been written to allow customers to easily move trading partners and agreements between BizTalk Server and Logic Apps.


Jon gave an explanation of the traditional VETER pipeline and then moved to what is new in mapping.


With this, he introduced Liquid which allows mapping between different entity types using a DSL and did a demo of it using Visual Studio code.

After talking about the tracking features in Logic Apps, Jon gave us a glimpse of what was coming in Monitoring.


Key takeaways from this list are the OMS template and work around harmonizing the querying capabilities to bring it inline with AppInsights.

Jon did a demo to highlight these features showing OMS in the portal, drilling through the data, showing batch resubmit by looking at Runs and selecting, and tracked properties containing your own tracking, then showed taking a Query and creating a custom tile in the OMS workspace.

Next up for the “new” treatment was connectors.


There had already been the discussion about custom connectors earlier in the day but it was great to see SOAP to REST, which shipped the same day, to allow even more opportunities to leverage current investments.

Time for another demo, this time looking at SOAP to REST using a custom connector. This was a great demo that involved Jon changing a SOAP app on the fly, adding a new custom connector, then running the service and a great He Man reference, “By the Power of GreySkull”, always a bonus!

Jon talked about the new batching feature and then gave us a view of what was new and coming.


The last demo of the day showed off the batching feature before Jon did a quick recap and showed some resources.

That was the end of the first day prior to the Keynote, and what a great day it was. There was plenty of information for people who had some knowledge but wanted to learn more and the presenters were very goofing at getting an idea of the level of the audience.

With great demos, great presentations and great presenters the conference got off to a real bang.

The only thing that was left after this was the man in the red polo shirt, but let’s cover that in its own post!

Integration 2017 USA Keynote

Integration 2017 USA Keynote

After a great start and some great content on Day 1 at Integrate 2017 USA it was time for the keynote, Jim Harrer returned to introduce the man known as ScottGu, the man in the red shirt.

Fresh off the back of his Red Shirt Tour, Scott Guthrie took to the stage to deliver a presentation to wrap up Day 1 of Integrate 2017 USA.

Integrate 2017 USA

He started by asking the question, what are the big opportunities for integration?

He echoed Jim’s sentiment earlier in the day that integration is the glue and an essential part of any enterprise solution.

As Integrate 2017 USA is a technical conference, he wanted to show some buzzwords and terms.

Integrate 2017 USA

Integration has a part to play everywhere, he said now is the time, time to build new things, new solutions.

Furthermore, he went as far as to say that integration is now transformational, creating new revenue streams and services, reinventing the way we do business, but security is critical.

We need to be using Azure to do things differently; in a productive way, a hybrid way, an intelligent way and a trusted way.

Integrate 2017 USA

He spoke about the reach of Azure with an unparalleled capability to reach a global audience with 42 Azure regions, providing a global reach for global business, and a great fact, 20% of all power for Ireland is used in North Europe data centre!

He showed a great video about what a data centre looks like which gave a glimpse in to just how impressive the Azure cloud is.

But Azure is also a Trusted Cloud.

Integrate 2017 USA

Azure has more certifications than any rival cloud provider, and provides a guarantee that regional data stays in the region and fails over across paired regions. Germany and China have specific data requirements so their data has even more protections.

Scott then shared that 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure.

Integrate 2017 USA

Time for another video, this one on customers using Azure including Asos, Dominos, Rockwell Automation and Geico.

Scott calls out integration again as the enabler of all these scenarios, one of the most critical components of the overall stack that delivers the value.

Next up is a great summary slide that shows the technology at play in Microsoft Azure across tools, advanced workloads and core infrastructure.

Integrate 2017 USA

Integration is an important part of this, as is hybrid cloud.

Time for Scott to do some demos and showcase some integration scenarios.

The first demo is a backend solution driven by AI and data to create workflows. In this demo we see a Twitter analysis Logic App that monitors social networks, uses Cognitive Services to detect sentiment and perform key phrase extraction. The phrases are then analysed in a Function, and rows added to a PBI dataset.

The final part of the puzzle is sending a message to Microsoft Teams if the sentiment < 0.3 and creating a case in Dynamics 365 for support follow up.

This solution is live and used right now, Azure Support is currently able to reach out within three and a half minutes to follow up when negative sentiment is detected.

One curiosity was when showing Microsoft Teams, it clearly showed that not everything that seems negative is negative!

The second demo was based on a customer visit, a fitness organisation, and was built within the customer meeting and demonstrated Azure’s ability to solve real world problems and address pain points.

The demo used a PowerApp to take a picture, then use the Face API in Cognitive Services to do gym sign up and check in.

Now back to the slides, integration combined with other services provides much more possibility, and is better than a pure integration play.

Another quick demo showing how to create a new database, then talking about the capabilities of SQL Database including Point In Time recovery, and recommendations for optimising and auto tuning.

This was then extending to talk about SQL Injection and how the SQL Database service has threat analytics built in and how it can automatically block or take other actions as required when it perceives a threat.

Scott moved on to Virtual Machines and showed how to manage them, including the capability to manage multiple computers at once, you can look at Update management (patch management), and look at compliance of VM patching including Windows, Linux and non-Azure computers.

Using VM Inventory allows visibility on what VMs there are and their capabilities, then looking at Change tracking to show what has changed, files, registry settings, software and also supports managing multiple VMs at once making operators more efficient.

All of these demos really allow Scott to show that Azure has such a rich set of features with such a huge breadth.

Back to the core message to finish, integration is at the centre for connecting things together, and we can do it productively to deliver quickly, we can do it in a hybrid way to join cloud and on-premises, we can do it intelligently using AI and Cognitive Services and we can do it in a trusted way on a cloud that is compliant and secure.

With that Scott wrapped up and the first day concluded at Integrate 2017 USA, a day full of knowledge, information and humour.