BizTalk 2013 R2 has just been released and as the Cloud grows, the need for more complex integration scenarios means that BizTalk and other integration technologies may receive renewed focus from enterprises trying to integrate a combination of external organizations (suppliers, vendors, etc.), custom applications, legacy applications and various data feeds that could be coming through a traditional internal network, a cloud network or a hybrid of the two working together to optimize the integration flow.
BizTalk has taken a little bit of a back seat in the Microsoft product family as parts of BizTalk such as workflow and communications have been moved into the .NET framework itself. Around 2011, there were a lot of “Is BizTalk Dead?” conversations being had as Microsoft moved to the cloud and started promoting Azure services and there were little improvements to the existing BizTalk engine.
In addition, the concept of a Message Bus has been introduced into Azure as a specific service (Azure Service Bus) that can run without BizTalk as well. Microsoft has now also launched BizTalk Services which is a PAAS service for BizTalk. You can also run BizTalk on Azure through IAAS as a virtual machine.
Comparing Microsoft’s Integration Technologies
Microsoft has at least three key integration technologies – here is how they compare in terms of functionality, features and pricing:
|BizTalk Server 2013 R2||BizTalk Services||Azure Service Bus|
|Deployment Model||On Premise or IAAS||PAAS||PAAS|
|High Availability, Backup/Restore, DR||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Custom Code, scripting||Yes||Yes||No|
|Long running processing||Yes||No||No|
|Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)||Yes||No||No|
|Service Oriented Architecture / ESB||Yes||No||No|
|Pricing||Per Core (4 Core Minimum) for On Premise or Per Hour running in IAAS||Per Hour||Per Transaction or per Relay Hours|
As you can see, the Azure Service Bus is more of a developer tool than an Enterprise Integration Bus. It provides basic queues, topics and relays but the rest is up to you – it lacks the mapping, adapters and enterprise monitoring to compare with BizTalk. BizTalk Services has come a long way and can compete well with on premise with two big exceptions: 1) lack of HL7/HIPPA support for healthcare organizations 2) there are a number of functoids that do not exist in BizTalk Services.
What’s New in BizTalk 2013
The following are key new features in BizTalk 2013:
- Support for the latest platforms (e.g. SQL 2014, Windows Server 2012, Visual Studio 2013, etc.)
- Improved Service Bus Messaging Adapter
- JSON support through WCF-WebHTTP Adapter
- Two factor support for SFTP
- Updates to the HL7 adapter
- Support for creating BizTalk servers on Azure IAAS
- New SharePoint Adapter
- PowerShell support
Is this enough to have a BizTalk conversation in your enterprise?