BizTalk Summit 2014 in December

Save the date for BizTalk Summit 2014, which will take place December 3-5 on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA. There will be 300+ partners and customers, so bring your questions, knowledge, and business cards.

Agenda

  • Executive keynotes outlining Microsoft vision and roadmap
  • Technical deep-dives with product group and industry experts
  • Product announcements
  • Real-world demonstrations from lighthouse customers
  • Roundtable discussions + Q&A
  • Partner Showcase Sessions
  • We are also planning hands-on labs so you can roll up our sleeves and experience new capabilities
  • Networking and social activities

Top Rated Pre-con on TFS at TechEd Europe 2013

Congratulations to Anthony Borton, QuickLearn’s TFS course developer and lead TFS trainer! Anthony recently received an email from Microsoft confirming he delivered the highest rated developer pre-conference seminar at TechEd Europe this year. His seminar was titled Kickstart Your Application Lifecycle Management Using Team Foundation Server 2012 and was focused on helping attendees get a better understanding of how TFS 2012 can offer benefits across the entire application lifecycle.

In addition to this, he also had the highest rated developer-focused Instructor Led Lab (ILL) for the conference. His ILL, titled Get Started with Team Foundation Service gave attendees hands-on skills to get started with Microsoft’s Team Foundation Service.

If you would like to learn more about Microsoft’s ALM suite including TFS, join Anthony for a range of TFS 2012 courses during August. All our TFS 2012 courses have the most up to date content including content for TFS 2012 Update 2. Find out more at http://www.quicklearn.com/tfs-training.aspx

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QuickLearn Training at the ALM Summit 3 event

This week QuickLearn was involved at the third annual Application Lifecycle Management Summit held on the Microsoft Corporate headquarters in Redmond.

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Nick and I were both involved in delivering content and sharing our TFS knowledge and skills with attendees. Here are the two activities we presented.

Pre-conference workshop

I delivered a sold-out pre-conference workshop entitled “Managing your application lifecycle with TFS”. The workshop provided attendees with a rapid overview of many of the features of Microsoft’s ALM suite. Based on the number of questions from attendees, there was a lot of interest in the new features in TFS 2012.

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Exam Cram Session

Microsoft took the opportunity to announce the brand new MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management certification at the conference. Nick and I paired up to deliver a 90 minute exam prep session to help attendees learn the best way to prepare for the three exams required for the new certification. Fortunately, both Nick and I both already have the certification so this made things a little easier.

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Feedback from both activities was overwhelmingly positive and with our commitments done, we’re both just enjoying attending sessions at the conference for the rest of the week.

Does Microsoft BizTalk Server Have a Future?

I know that many of you have been wondering if BizTalk is just going away, and Microsoft has been particularly closed mouthed about their plans for it of late. After a period of relatively rapid growth, with BizTalk 2006 R2 in 2008, BizTalk 2009 and BizTalk 2010, all in rapid succession there has been nothing new except a few patches out of the BizTalk team for 2+ years. Information about the latest cumulative update for BizTalk Server 2010 is available here.

With Microsoft pushing AppFabric and Azure as they have been, and with so much of the functionality seeming to overlap with BizTalk who could blame us for wondering? Many have hypothesized that BizTalk would simply be subsumed into AppFabric and disappear forever. Why wouldn’t Microsoft push for just such an agenda? Wouldn’t you rather rent customers their software for an ongoing monthly fee as opposed to selling the software just once that runs and runs and runs? Since most BizTalk customers acquire their licenses through an enterprise agreement, this has effectively already been the case. Moving BizTalk to a cloud-hosted tool solidifies this arrangement and makes it much easier to add new customers. This effectively is the concept behind SaaS (Software as a Service) and the more recent incarnations of PaaS and IaaS (Platform and Infrastructure as a Service respectively).

The most official communication regarding the future of BizTalk was conveyed by Tony Meleg last year at various conferences (including the 2011 World Partner Conference). He stated that over the next several iterations, spaced approximately 2-3 years apart, BizTalk would evolve to become more cloud based and more integrated into a SaaS type product. This would seem to indicate about 10 year evolution cycle. Not a bad timeline for a product that has only been around for about 10 years, (let’s face it BizTalk really started with BizTalk 2004!)

At TechEd 2012 in Orlando there were two sessions on BizTalk Server. Oh you say, you missed them? Not surprising as only one had BizTalk in its name and it was a late entry, and both sessions were scheduled at the end of the conference; the last two session of the last day (AZR207 and AZR211 if you have access and want to watch them yourself).

In these sessions Balasubramanian Sriram, Javed Sikander, and Rajesh Ramamirtham shared several very promising particulars regarding BizTalk Server 2010 including: of the 12,000 worldwide customers for BizTalk Server over 79% have already upgraded to BizTalk Server 2010. I take this as a very positive number since this indicates a strong and interested base. Also, any future upgrades will be made easier by having 80% of customers ready to go (historically “in-place” upgrades are only supported for the current version). Of course for those of us that love BizTalk like I do, we hope to see this number grow by 100 fold or more! However, that will only come if the product gets easier, and cheaper for customers to use.

Here is what I took away from these sessions. Microsoft intends to continue to innovate in the integration space with improvements to BizTalk server in three primary areas.

BizTalk Server on-premises: Microsoft will continue to support new platforms including Windows 8 Server, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012, Office 15 and System Center. The proposed release date for this next version is about 6 months after the release of Windows 8 Server, so late 2012 or early 2013. While it is currently being called BTS 2010 R2, we have verbal confirmation that Microsoft understands it would be more aptly named BizTalk Server 2012, or more likely 2013. An R2 probably doesn’t make sense three plus years after R1!

The newest version will include:

  • Support of the latest B2B standards including HL7, Swift and EDIFACT and X12 EDI schemas. Considering the huge uptake in customers using BizTalk Server for EDI transactions this is a pretty big deal.
  • Improved performance for dynamic send ports including the ability to specify the host to be used, (yay).
  • Integration of ESB functionality into the core of BizTalk Server (installation will just be a checkbox?)
  • Better manageability to view artifact dependencies through the Administration console, for example what map is used in what port.
  • Improvements to several adapters, including SharePoint, HIS, SMTP and the ability to consume RESTful services directly from BizTalk.
  • And easy integration with BizTalk on Azure…

BizTalk on Azure (BizTalk IaaS): The new on-premise BizTalk will be offered as a hosted service available “in the cloud” to make provisioning additional servers faster, easier, and we can only hope, less costly. The time-line for this is the same as BizTalk on-premise since it is virtualization of the same technology.

  • This would provide the ability to easily move applications developed for on-premise hosting to the cloud, and vice-versa.
  • Initially this will only be available for development and test but Microsoft will obviously make this feature available for production relatively soon.

BizTalk PaaS: The timeline for this one is a bit less clear, but it is happening to some extent already. For those customers that don’t have need of heavily customized BizTalk deployment and maybe don’t have a volume that would justify a multi-server installation, some BizTalk functionality will be offered as a cloud-hosted service. I don’t think that anyone sees this as a replacement for on-premise BizTalk servers however in messaging only scenarios this makes a lot of sense.

  • The primary benefit is for route and transform functionality where no custom orchestrations would be required. This provides an easy entry point for customers which will later probably require more power and will end up with custom BizTalk solutions. For BizTalk to be viable going forward the customer base must expand from the current 12,000.
  • Most new innovation would take place in this area and then the capability would be moved into the on-premise (or hosted) versions of BizTalk.
  • Best use case here would be companies that buy BizTalk purely for the EDI capability. Today this requires dedicated hardware and a development staff when really all they need are the schemas and some configuration all hosted in the cloud.
  • Another likely scenario would be integration between various enterprise applications where once the schemas are defined the processing is completely automated.

What all this means is, after an extended period of seeming inactivity on the BizTalk Server front, I am pleased to inform you that BizTalk Server is not dead! The “key takeaways” from the sessions sum this up very clearly:

  1. Microsoft is committed to releasing a new version of BizTalk very soon with additional versions to follow on a 2-3 year cadence as in the past.
  2. Conventional on-premise BizTalk, plus BizTalk IaaS, plus BizTalk PaaS is the way forward and it should drive higher adoption and more innovation in the integration area that we all know and love.
  3. Continue to bet on BizTalk as Microsoft continues to invest in BizTalk, (their words, not mine, but I agree).

In several discussions that I have had with BizTalk MVPs, students, customers and Microsoft employees over the years, my feeling for years is that as awesome as BizTalk is, it has needed update, a big one, and that this update would require quite a change in thinking. I am thrilled to see them releasing more definitive plans that we can tie our futures to.

It looks like we will have several years of BizTalk development and support ahead! Long Live BizTalk!

BizTalk is Dead? Long Live BizTalk!

The BizTalk Server team blog sneaked out an announcement yesterday that you might have missed. I caught it due to an RSS feed. BizTalk Server 2010 R2 is coming. Now the question is when, and a better question will they change the name, as they should to BizTalk 2011?

We have a while to wait, no firm dates yet, but since it adds support for Windows Server 8 and SQL Server 2010 (codename Denali) which don’t have announced release dates yet either, that isn’t too much of a surprise. They are saying about six months after those products release. Support for Visual Studio 11 was also part of the announcement.

It doesn’t sound at all earth shattering, more just a bit of a jiggle. It may calm some of the fears as they are frequently bandied about from the title of the article, that BizTalk is a dying breed. Rest assured that QuickLearn will be on the forefront of training for this new product as soon as a beta is available.

In addition to support for the new platforms another point of interest is a change to licensing making it possible to provide BizTalk as a hosted service , and to transfer a license to a hosting provider. This is obviously a step in moving BizTalk into the cloud, a change that has long been planned. We’ll have to see what that means as to whether Microsoft will be a possible provider themselves (a la Office 365 and SharePoint online).

That’s about it for what’s new unless you are interested in IBM host integration there are some adapter improvements that way. For the whole article check out the BizTalk Team blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/biztalk_server_team_blog/archive/2011/12/08/biztalk-server-2010-r2.aspx

Until next time, see you in the funny papers.

What is a BizTalk Certification Worth?

Wondering what your BizTalk skills are worth? Read the latest MCP magazine salary survey. The report indicates that BizTalk certified professionals command an average base salary in excess of $114,000, the highest of any of the Microsoft certifications!

QuickLearn offers BizTalk Server 2010 Immersion and Deep Dive courses to help you prepare for the BizTalk technical specialist exam #70-595: Developing Business Process and Integration Solutions by Using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010.

Free e-book offer from Microsoft Press – Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft is offering a free e-book to partners. Learn about the features of Windows Server 2008 R2 in the areas of virtualization, management, the web application platform, scalability and reliability, and interoperability with Windows 7. Sign in to download Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2, written by industry experts Charlie Russel and Craig Zacker along with the Windows Server team at Microsoft.

Sign in to Microsoft Partner site to download the free e-book.

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BizTalk Server 2010 Released – Developer Edition Now Free

Microsoft has just released BizTalk Server 2010, and it is now generally available! Along with this release comes an updated licensing structure that will be a relief for consultants, and companies managing multiple BizTalk environments. While the cost of the Enterprise edition has increased, the cost of the Developer edition has been eliminated. The Developer edition includes the full capabilities of the Enterprise edition, with the limitation being only that you cannot use it in production.

The pricing and licensing page sums this up saying:

Note: Many customers who deploy BizTalk Server implement separate development, testing, and production environments for their BizTalk Server 2010 solution. For the development and testing environments, you can use the free download of the BizTalk Server Developer Edition.

For the production environment, you need a valid processor license of BizTalk Server 2010 Enterprise, Standard, or Branch Edition for each processor on which you install an edition of BizTalk Server 2010.

I applaud this move by Microsoft, as it could encourage a new generation of developers to download and experiment with this powerful platform. This is a move that could drive adoption while at the same time potentially lower the TCO for those organizations managing multiple environments. Given the nature of BizTalk Server, I trust that this will not result in an equivalent of Eternal September for the BizTalk community, but don’t quote me on that remark.

To further help out developers that are new to BizTalk Server in general, we are offering a major discount on our BizTalk Developer Fundamentals online course. Simply use promo code BT2010 when you register, and you will receive $295 off a self-paced registration. This offer expires at the end of September, so act fast!

Finally, go and get BizTalk Server 2010 while it’s still cached at a CDN server near you!

Want a Preview of BizTalk 2010?

Get sneak peak of QuickLearn’s BizTalk Online Anytime Training and learn about new features in BizTalk 2010 including:

  • Enhancements to the BizTalk Mapper
  • Adapter and Integration Changes
  • Improved Trading Partner Management
  • BizTalk Server Settings Dashboard
  • New OpsMgr Management Pack
  • Updated Platform Support

See all of QuickLearn’s BizTalk Training Courses

 

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