Unlocking BizTalk: Integration On-Premises and in the Cloud

In this webinar – #5 in this series – Andrew and Dan discuss the technology changes coming down the line that impact the future of integration on-premises – but also in the Cloud!


Technology Trends

We start by talking about some of the underlying technologies that are shaping the future of Integration on-premises:

  • Containers: Hosting applications in containers allows them to be decoupled from the underlying infrastructure so your application can run anywhere and behave the same.  See https://www.docker.com/ for more info.
  • Kubernetes: This has become the standard platform for managing and hosting containers and containerised applications, particularly microservices-based architectures.  See https://kubernetes.io/ for more info.
  •  Dapr: Distributed Application Runtime.  This framework for distributed applications is being used to enrich the capabilities of containerised applications by giving them access to additional functionality such as events and state management.  See https://dapr.io/ for more info.
  • Azure Arc:  This is an all-encompassing management tool which will allow you to manage your components everywhere, whether in the cloud, on-premises or at the edge.  Click here for more info. 

AIS On-Premises

Originally we thought this would be part of Azure stack.  Now, Microsoft is embracing containers because they allow applications to be deployed to any system and therefore give a unified experience regardless of the underlying host.  From the announcements we have seen, we believe that the future of Integration on-premises will be via containers.

Challenges to Solve

Regardless of the hosting runtime, there are a number of challenges to solve:

  • Development:  The current development experience for Integration is poor.
  • Testing:  The testing of integration applications is limited – they cannot generally be debugged or unit tested properly.
  • Deployment:  Support for DevOps is *possible* but not optimal.
  • Runtime:  There is little flexibility in the runtime.  For example with BizTalk, you have to install BizTalk server on infrastructure and configure hosts.  In Logic Apps you get serverless compute but have little control of how the application runs.
  • Support and Maintenance / Operations:  BizTalk, being an old product, has a more mature oprtations ecosystem with players such as BizTalk360 adding to the mix.  For integration in Azure it’s more of a mixed bag – there’s a suite of tols available but they are not pulled together as a coherent whole.

Improvements we Expect to See

We’re looking forward to the following improvements as the changes we discuss start to bear fruit:

  • Developer Experience:  Ability to run Logic Apps locally and debug / unit test them.
  • Performance:  Compiled Logic Apps should run much faster.
  • Deployment Options:  Ability to deploy on-premises, in Azure or even in AWS (not sure how this works commercially)!
  • Runtime:  Containers give us the ability to run our applications in the same way regardless of the host.  This may also let us control how we allocate resources.
  • Cost:  The compute model may mean that we are only paying for the compute we use, simplifying the cost model.  This may be much more efficient for high-volume Logic Apps.

Direction of Travel

Nothing official from Microsoft – who say that they will keep shipping BizTalk as long as there are customers buying it – but we can see the writing on the wall.  The whole intagration stack from Azure is being made portable to on-premises, and when this happens there will be no need for BizTalk.  We expect the “end of BizTalk” announcement to be made within the next couple of years.

Watch the full webinar here:

Listen to the audio here:

Download the Slides

Click here to download the presentation for this webinar.

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