Friday, May 27, 2016

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Nick Hauenstein

Welcome to twentieth interview of the series, today's expert is Nick Hauenstein.

Nick Hauenstein is an integration developer, consultant and trainer based in the greater Seattle area. He specializes in BizTalk Server, Azure App Service, as well as the data formats, protocols, and frameworks that surround them.

As a consultant he has traveled all over the country to help build, refine and optimize complex mission-critical BizTalk Server based integrations in the healthcare and financial verticals -- helping teams to remove blocking issues, and satisfy low-latency requirements and stringent SLAs. In addition he has helped teams automate their testing, builds and deployments of BizTalk Server solutions.

He has worn many hats over the years as a small business owner, software development engineer, tester, and a Scrum Master. He is also an avid blogger, open source contributor, as well as the creator and maintainer of the T-Rex Metadata Library for Azure App Service.

Let's begin the Interview....

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do?
Nick: My name is Nick Hauenstein, and I write software, and help others write software (either directly, through tools/frameworks, or through training).

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk?
Nick: I started working with BizTalk Server with the 2006 version of the product back in early 2008. I transitioned into working with BizTalk Server after I had taken a break from development to explore what it would be like to be on the QA side of the fence. While that had its own joys, nothing compares to the sheer ecstasy of crafting executable code from thought.

Mahesh: How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)?
Nick: Even though I’ve worked with the product for more than 8 years now, I wouldn’t say that I’ve fully mastered every aspect of the product. I’ve experienced the full surface area, and have used 80-90% of it in live integrations over the years, but I feel like there are still techniques to be discovered. Take for instance Charles Young’s implementation of Backwards Chaining in the Rules Engine. While the concept wasn’t new per se, I would still classify it as a breakthrough that took 6 years after the introduction of that version of the runtime.

In terms of how I learned BizTalk – that was one of the perks of the job. My first 5 days on the job were spent in QuickLearn Training’s BizTalk Server Developer Immersion class. I still have the certificate to prove it. The class opened my eyes to the possibilities of enterprise integration. In my job I also had the privilege of effectively working through our entire BizTalk Server course catalog, while testing and improving content.

From there, it was on to Professional BizTalk Server 2006, which provides an excellent overview of the runtime, as well as digging deep into the extensibility of the product.

I think the experience that grew me the most as a BizTalk developer though, wasn’t any of the integrations, books, or training. Instead it was working alongside the team that built out the ESB Toolkit. The ESB Toolkit effectively bends the BizTalk Server engine to do its will, and uses full knowledge of the internals to accomplish it. For example, the Forwarder pipeline component. Take a while just to dig in and understand what’s going on there, and you will understand how the EPMRR Correlation Tokens work to route messages to the back channel of Request/Response receive ports – and you will understand how to build a request/response scenario that involves a single message box hit with 2 pipeline executions (squeezing the maximum possible performance out of the BizTalk Server messaging engine).

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far?
Nick: I’ve done quite a few integrations in the healthcare vertical and a few in finance as well. For example, processing X12 interchanges (both multi-gigabyte batches, as well as quick request/response interchanges), and using the BRE to make decisions about how orders for securities should be processed. I’ve also done BizTalk Server rollouts, and build automations.
I’ve built official product demos, sessions for conferences, and training classes like crazy over the years as well. Along the way, you might have noticed that I’ve written an unholy number of words about BizTalk Server and Microsoft Azure as well.

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform?
Nick: It depends on the platform. However, BizTalk does provide a thriving (and growing) community with a plethora of extensions. It boasts a 16 year life span thus far with thousands of developers who have learned what it takes to make rock solid mission critical integrations. It’s backed by one of the biggest names in technology, and runs on top of a proven platform (Windows Server + SQL Server). Additionally, it has a story for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid connectivity. It has a team that is committed to its future and is delivering new capabilities that extend its cloud reach.

It’s positioned better than any platform out there. There might be a few points here or there that a competitor might offer up, but none are positioned as strongly at the moment.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert?
Nick: I would say to become an expert you have to do it, you have to study it (e.g., training courses, books, blog posts), and you have to continually hone your craft. Don’t settle for being a line cook, strive to be a chef.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums,blogs and articles etc.?
Nick: Obviously I’m biased here having written hundreds of pages of blog posts on the subject, but I think they’re critical in growing your understanding and skill as a BizTalk Server developer. It’s also interesting to watch how the community hive-mind can make brilliant mistakes together. Embracing architectural fads for a time, and then decrying them a year later as utter foolishness. Sometimes, we all grow together, and that’s a healthy thing.

Sometimes there’s even a kind of catharsis as you’re reading a blog where someone is fighting the same fight with a specific integration challenge that you too have faced.

Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in BizTalk?
Nick: If you’re new and have the ability, take a training class on the product. This will take you directly into the inner workings of the product, the core pieces, and get you hands on in actually building integrations in short order. I’m 90% certain that I would not be in the same place that I am today if it weren’t for starting with proper training right out of the gate.

Mahesh: There are many tools from community which support BizTalk in some or the other way(like BTDF, Bizunit etc), what do you say about it? Which ones you would recommend?Why?
Nick: I think they’re mostly all fantastic. BTDF and BizUnit are a given. Again, maybe a little bit biased, but I’m a big fan of the BizTalk Server 2013 R2 Pipeline Component Wizard. I’m also a heavy user of Thomas Restrepo’s Pipeline Testing library – an absolutely indispensable tool for validating custom pipeline components and even custom pipelines.
I also found Richard Seroter’s SSO Config Store Application Manager to be quite helpful for a time – though it was superceded for me by Microsoft’s similar offering.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Nick: As far as I know, it’s not possible to sit the exams anymore. That’s a darn shame. I know that there have been efforts to make this happen again, but I’m sure that it gets prioritized lower than actually building a first class product.

I hold two of the certifications, and I’m pretty proud of them. Even though some people don’t value a piece of paper you get for answering questions on a test, I personally value the work that went behind it. That knowledge was gained through years of blood, sweat, and tears – it wasn’t just a bulk fact memorization exercise. So for my own part, I highly value my BizTalk Server certifications.

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk?
Nick: Well it’s not a mystery, that’s for sure. The 2016 version of the product is just around the corner. I already have the CTP installed, and have been working on updating a small sampling of the materials (samples, tools, hands-on-activities, etc…) that we’ve built over the years.

Microsoft got it right finally. Jim Harrer mentioned, in the keynote for the Integrate 2016 conference that the balance between cloud and on-premises has to be leveled. Both must be critical pieces of Microsoft’s strategy. It can’t be just BizTalk Server, or just Logic Apps – it needs to be both. Both are providing unique benefits based on either where they live or their specific architecture.

The BizTalk Server architecture looks like it was perfectly crafted by a chef who knew which flavors ought to go together to form the perfect meal every time. On the other hand, Logic Apps provide a buffet, and it’s up to each developer to craft their own meal – a dangerous, yet powerful proposition that allows us to break the rules and do great things (or just break things).

I think BizTalk Server has a bright and long road ahead – both on-premises and in Azure IaaS with the 2016 version.

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud?
Nick: The cloud will be where most logic lives in the world of IoT and the coming world of untethered Holographic computing (where we’re already seeing lower general purpose processing power in favor of spending precious power resources on the HPU). I got mildly made fun of when first mentioning the application of Logic Apps to holographic computing back in early 2015, but I really do believe that Holographic computing + virtual assistants (like Cortana) with Logic Apps as our action brokers are going to play a larger role in the future, and most certainly live on the cloud.

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
Nick: I have to craft a lot of tools, and do a lot of knowledge transfer in my work. It costs me almost nothing to take those things and give back to others. I’ve also benefited greatly from the larger BizTalk community, and in a sense, it’s the least I can do to pay back a debt of gratitude there.

Mahesh: Being MVP, do you feel that responsibilities get added? What is your thought on MVP?
Nick: Interestingly, it seems that a lot more people look up to you, and/or are interested in what you’re doing. I was surprised for example when I traveled halfway across the globe and found a room full of hundreds of people where a large portion claimed to know who I am and what I do. That’s pretty darn humbling.
I’m not sure that I would say responsibilities get added. The MVP award is given for community contributions in the prior year. Effectively you could receive a reward and then disappear off the face of the planet for that year. You’re still an MVP (based on prior contributions). That said, there are more opportunities that present themselves (user groups, conferences, special events, etc…) that do get added on top of regular work responsibilities. I wouldn’t trade it for anything though

Mahesh: As per the Roadmap provided by Microsoft,LogicApps can be run on-premise in addition to Azure.Do you think Azure Stack Logic Apps on prem will supersede BizTalk Server?
Nick: I don’t think so, at least not in the short term (i.e., 5-10 years). I keep thinking about pipelines here. I can’t see a Logic App, coordinating what amounts to a sequence of HTTP calls, ever performing as well as a BizTalk Server pipeline processing a stream of bytes in a forward-only streaming fashion. Because of that, BizTalk Server will likely always have its place in that world of Microsoft Integration – given that there will always be customers that need that level of performance.
That said, I do see a great opportunities for Logic Apps running on Azure Stack in places like Switzerland – where the financial institutions cannot use the Azure cloud due to lack of a datacenter within the country’s borders.

Mahesh:From my perspective, Microsoft keeps coming up with Overlapping technologies like recent ones MABS and Logic Apps, in some situation it gets puzzling. What you say? 
Nick: It can be frustrating for sure. The thing to remember in those times though is that MABS is GA and did provide important learnings about what it looks like to build integration in the cloud. It was trying to be iPaaS, but was far too chunky (you have to commit to a whole MABS deployment) for what it was trying to do.
Logic Apps is still in preview, so at the moment in terms of GA functionality, the answer is MABS all the way. Logic Apps is far superior though, and is going to be a better choice long term.
I could say I’m upset that they did what they did (building two separate offerings with overlapping functionality), however, I am happy that they did a reboot on MABS based on what I’m seeing with Logic Apps today.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reaching out!

Thanks a lot Nick for sharing your insights and experiences, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Nick in the comments!!!!!!!! 

Related Post:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Consuming Navision 2009 webservice using BizTalk

Consuming a webservice is same no matter who exposes it  may be Navision or JDE or something else, if it is based on Soap1.1then use WCF- BasicHttp and if it is based on Soap 1.2 use WCF- WSHttp

I had a requirement to consume a Webservice exposed by Navision, was provided with the URL and the method to be invoked.

Authentication type : SPNEGO (Kerberos for delegation)
Authorization: Window Login

I used WCF-BasicHttp adapter and configured accordingly

After getting done with configuring, tried calling the service and got following error:

      Access denied.Delegation or impersonation permission is required for access.

Even tried configuring it in orchestration (below code) but got same error as above

MSG_Req(WCF.BindingType) ="basicHttpBinding";
MSG_Req(WCF.EndpointBehaviorConfiguration) =@"<behavior name=""EndpointBehaviorConfiguration""><clientCredentials><windows allowNtlm="false" allowedImpersonationLevel="Delegation"/></clientCredentials></behavior>";
Port_Dynamic_Req(Microsoft.XLANGs.BaseTypes.TransportType) = "WCF-BasicHttp";

Why it happened

The first thought would be access is not granted, but that was not the issue.The problem was the compatibility issue, Nav 2009 does not understand BasicHttpbinding. I  was able to call same Webservice when deployed in Navision 2013 but get an error when the service is deployed in Navision 2009. 

What to do

In my case due to some constraint this service has to run in Nav 2009. So below is solution (have added both ways to do -- choose which best suits your need). We  need to use WCF-Custom adapter with custom binding.

1. Configuration at port level

Select WCF-Custom adapter, on general tab provide the URL of nav service and appropriate Action.

On Binding Tab, set messageVersion to Soap11 against textMessagingEncoding

Select Negotiate as authenticationScheme under Httptransport 

Now on Behavior tab, extensions needs to be added, right click and select Add extension

And select client credentials

And against WindowsClientElement property specify it as Delegation

2. Configuration in Orchestration

MSG_Req(WCF.Action) = xyz ;
MSG_Req(WCF.BindingType) ="customBinding";
MSG_Req(WCF.BindingConfiguration) = @"<binding name=""xyz_Binding""><textMessageEncoding messageVersion=""Soap11"" /><httpTransport authenticationScheme=""Negotiate""/></binding>";
MSG_Req(WCF.EndpointBehaviorConfiguration) =@"<behavior name=""EndpointBehaviorConfiguration""><clientCredentials><windows allowedImpersonationLevel=""Delegation""/></clientCredentials></behavior>";

Port_Dynamic_Req(Microsoft.XLANGs.BaseTypes.Address) = xyz
Port_Dynamic_Req(Microsoft.XLANGs.BaseTypes.TransportType) = "WCF-Custom";

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to test Navision webservice using SoapUI

In recent project I had to consume webservice published by Navision in BizTalk. Before starting with development thought of testing the webservice and for that I used SoapUI 5.0. I had the URL  of the running service so I started the SoapUI-->New Project and pasted the URL and clicked OK.

But, following error popped out.

It was strange to see the error as I was able to open the URL in browser and was able view the metadata about the webservice.

Why it happened

So why it wasn't loaded in SoapUI?

For some reason creating project from URL/WSDL for Navision web service seems not to be supported.

What to do

Open the URL in browser and save the file as  XML file like ABC.xml
Now open SoapUI and create new project, now instead of providing URL provide the xml file saved in above step.Now you should see the project created with all the methods defined in the Navision webservice.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Microsoft.Xlangs.Core.ServiceCreationException:Failed while creating xxxxxClient Service

It was after deploying a newly created application and during starting the application got following error

"Microsoft.Xlangs.Core.ServiceCreationException:Failed while creating ApplicationNameClient service."

Why it happened

The development environment comprises of two BizTalk servers in same group. On one of the box(dev machine1) I deployed the application and used one of host instance whose Host was on another dev box(dev machine2).

When tried starting the application got error-- it was because the host instance didn't find the assembly in the GAC. 

It made sense as I have deployed the application on BizTalk Dev machine 1 and GAC of this machine has that assembly whereas GAC of BizTalk Dev machine 2 does not have it thus host instance of machine 2 couldn't find it and thus the error.

What to do

1. I choose to use host instance of BizTalk Dev machine 1 itself 
2. In case you need to use BizTalk Dev machine 2 host instance then add the assembly in GAC  of that machine
3. And off course restart the host instances 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Invalid or expired security context token or there is mismatch between bindings

While testing  WCF-WSHTTP based service using SOAP UI got following error

"The message with To ' ' cannot be processed at the receiver, due to an AddressFilter mismatch at the EndpointDispatcher. Check that the sender and receiver's EndPointAddresses agree."

Why it happened and what to do:

Issue was the Request message is missing a To tag in the soap header.

On the Message Editor, just below the request message window click on button WS-A(WS-Addressing) and set WS-Addressing property to true. Then select the checkbox "Add default wsa:To"

At BizTalk end WSHttp adapter(the WCF service) utilises the WS-Addressing standard to identify the receive location to which the message needs to be submitted.

So that error was gone but a new error appeared as can be seen below:

To overcome this, go to receive location and click on configure WCF-WSHttp adapter and set the Security mode to None and you are done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Web server is configured not to list the contents of this directory

Today, I was demonstrating how to publish BizTalk schema as WCF service to my new team member. Created a simple schema and publish this schema as WCF service using the Publishing wizard, followed by enabling the receive location created by wizard. But while browsing this service was welcome by HTTP Error stating that "The Web server is configured not to list the contents of this directory"

Why it happened

It was because Directory Browsing was not enabled on the machine.

What to do

Go to IIS manager-->Directory Browsing. On right top there is Enable property - click it. After that service was accessible.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Glenn Colpaert

Welcome to Nineteenth interview of the series, today's expert is Glenn Colpaert.

Glenn Colpaert is an Integration Consultant and Microsoft Integration MVP at Codit.

He has been integrating businesses with BizTalk & Microsoft technologies for more than 5 years. During these years he was involved in many EAI and B2B projects - both on-premise and hybrid (cloud). 
He has gained a lot of hand-on experience during his projects and likes to share it with colleagues and the community.

Glenn is also part of the Microsoft Azure Insider program as well as the BizTalk Advisors group.
He became a board member of (, the Belgian BizTalk User Group and is an active blogger on the Codit Blog(

Glenn tweets via

Let's begin the Interview....

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do?
Glenn: My name is Glenn Colpaert and I’m based in Belgium where I live in a small town with my wife and son. I work as an Integration Consultant for Codit and next to my day to day job I’m also a Microsoft Azure MVP and organizing community events with the Belgian BizTalk User Group.

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk?
Glenn: I started working with BizTalk in 2009 when I joined Codit. Basically I started working with BizTalk 2006 and beyond. 

Mahesh: How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)?
Glenn: I received a two weeks training when I started my job and after that I really started learning BizTalk by using the product day to day at customers.
Mastering BizTalk is all about working with the product and discovering all the possibilities. Remember, there are tons of great resources out there to learn all about BizTalk and Integration in general.

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far?
Glenn: Over the last couple of yeast I have worked on quite a few BizTalk and Integration project. I also had the change to integrate with different types of applications and other technologies which allowed me to broaden up my knowledge about different systems.
If I have to choose one project out of the many I’d choose a project we did to connect 32 member states across Europe to exchange electronic information using the new AS4 messaging protocol.

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform?
Glenn:Personally I do not have many experience with other integration platforms such as Oracle, Tibco or Websphere. But I believe that BizTalk is a very competitive and mature product and can perfectly compete with products from other vendors. 

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration (BizTalk) Expert?
Glenn: Hard question, what is an Expert? I believe becoming an expert is all about the hand-on experience, like I already stated: learn by doing!
There is however a shortcut, if you can master BAM you are automatically awarded expert level! :)

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums,blogs and articles etc.?
Glenn: Forums, blogs, articles, sessions, integration Monday,… These are all super important resources to be able to share knowledge across integration developers and people that are interested into integration. It is something that everyone can benefit from and it’s great to see that he BizTalk/Integration community has such a great set of contributors on all levels! And I want to thank each and every one for that!

Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in BizTalk?
Glenn: As I already mentioned couple of times during this interview there are a great set of resources out there to learn BizTalk. But in my opinion, and that’s also how I learned it, the best way to learn and to ‘master’ BizTalk is by doing it. Challenge yourself to build crazy integration scenarios and you’ll learn all the good stuff and pitfalls along the way.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Glenn: Let me rephrase that question! ‘What are your thoughts around Certifications’?
Certifications are a necessary pain, it shows that you have knowledge of the product to a certain level, but it does not make you an expert on it. Therefor you need experience and work with the product or technology. 

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk?
Glenn: As Microsoft already stated ‘Integration is about to level-up’. Integration is really important in modern enterprises because they have lots of applications and endpoints that need to communicate with each other. I believe exciting times are coming for Integration people.

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud?
Glenn: Simple: Azure is awesome! :)

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
Glenn: I like learning about new technologies and play with them to build small demos or POC’s.  Because it’s a shame to let them sit there with no purpose I often share this with the community by writing a blogpost or giving a talk on that subject. I think it’s a combination of staying on the edge of technology and share those experiences with other people and try to create some sort of interaction.

Mahesh: Being MVP, do you feel that responsibilities get added? What is your thought on MVP?
Glenn: I see it more as opportunities rather than responsibilities. I’m really excited about the MVP Program because it allows me to interact on a regular basic with different Product Groups. It also provides me with the chances to test a product or service before it reaches the general audience.
Next to that, due to the MVP program I got to know lots of new people and experienced some unforgettable moments with them.

Mahesh: As per the Roadmap provided by Microsoft,LogicApps can be run on-premise in addition to Azure.Do you think Azure Stack Logic Apps on prem will supersede BizTalk Server?
Glenn: In its current state Logic Apps will not replace BizTalk, it is a product that is currently being worked on and is growing fast. I feel there is a big drive behind Logic Apps both from the community as the Product Group! They really take into account feedback and go back to the drawing board with it.
I’m not a visionary, but we all know BizTalk is a robust product and will be hard to replace.  But I believe with the proper investments and the combination of different services in Azure (Logic Apps, Service Bus, API Aps,…) Logic Apps will be something to watch.

Thanks a lot Glenn for sharing your insights and experiences, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Glenn in the comments!!!!!!!!

Related Post:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Greg Forsythe

Welcome to Eighteenth interview of the series, today's expert is Greg Forsythe.

Let's begin the Interview.....

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do?
Greg: My name is Greg Forsythe, I was born in New Zealand and returned here 20 years ago after a decade of travelling the world. I am married and the father of two adult children. I have worked in IT for 30+ years and seen a lot of change. I love the challenge of learning new things and tend to learn by doing, and am always downloading the latest beta products, SDKs and trying out the Azure previews.

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk?
Greg: My introduction to BizTalk was in 1999, with the beta of BizTalk 2000. Not a lot of good things were ever written about BizTalk 2000 or its successor BizTalk 2002 and with good reason. I was again involved in the beta of BizTalk 2004 which embraced the new .NET technologies and was a vast improvement on its predecessor. I have used every version since and am continuing to learn. 

Mahesh: How did you master BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)?
Greg: Most of the knowledge I have gained with BizTalk is from experience - working out how to solve problems. There are a lot of smart people out there who have come up with interesting solutions to problems they have encountered. These people have probably been my best teachers. Remember Google can be your best friend. 

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far?
Greg: I have worked on quite a few BizTalk projects in the last 15 years. From retail chains, telecoms, banking and finance, insurance and more recently education and health care. One of my favourites was in health insurance building a web site interface for contracted providers. We used a combination BizTalk and pure WCF services all secured using SAML. This was done just before WIF was released so we had to build our own SAML token server and we learnt a lot of lessons on the way. 

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform?
Greg: I don’t have a lot of experience with other integration platforms. Have been involved in projects where we had to integrate with WebSphere from IBM, and SeeBeyond/JCAPS/Oracle SOA Suite. More recently MuleSoft is making big gains in the integration space and this looks like a good product. All of these products were capable of producing the results and the choice of platform came down to non-technical decisions such as existing commercial relationships, costs of licensing and training. 
BizTalk found a niche because of competitive licensing and a lot of companies running Microsoft infrastructure and a large pool of .Net developers.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert?
Greg: The key with integration is learning the patterns. Technology is ever changing but the patterns are more constant. We have moved from XML/SOAP web services to REST and JSON. From less than 100 integration points to millions with mobile and billions with IoT. But the basic patterns are still the same.
Another key skill is knowing when not to use BizTalk, i.e. when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. I have worked on BizTalk solutions much better suited to SSIS and others where every single web service goes thru BizTalk, even a simple query for values to put in a dropdown list. Implementing solutions on integration servers can be expensive both in development and resource costs. Use BizTalk for solutions where it will add value.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums, blogs and articles etc.?
Greg: These are an invaluable resource. Chances are someone else has tried to do something similar to what you need and struggled for a solution and posted a question. Post questions yourself if you cannot find an answer, there are a lot of people that may be able to give you an answer.
I used forums as a learning device, trying to discover the answer to questions. I have a lot of BizTalk projects created to test possible solutions to people’s problems. Someone else may come up with a better solution, but this is just another opportunity to learn.

Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomer? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in BizTalk?
Greg: I guess the first step is becoming familiar with the product and the tools. Get a VM and install BizTalk, SQL and Visual Studio. This can sometimes be a bit of a mission, but I can almost guarantee someone has hit whatever problems you will have and has solved it and written it down in a blog post or forum answer. I tend to learn far more from failure than success.
Go to MSDN and look for BizTalk tutorials. Have a play at creating and deploying a solution. Go to the forums and see if you can solve someone’s problem.

Mahesh: There are many tools from community which support BizTalk in some or the other way (like BTDF, Bizunit, etc.), what do you say about it? Which ones you would recommend? Why?
Greg: There are a lot of open source resources for BizTalk, some good and some not so good. One issue with open source solutions is the time and energy required to maintain and improve them. Some tools offer great promise but fail to deliver their full potential due to lack of resources. 
I would urge people to get involved. As well as contributing to the community you will also learn a lot about BizTalk. The more you know about how BizTalk works, the better your solutions will be.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Greg: I am in two minds about certification, not just with BizTalk.  Having a certification shows a degree of commitment, however being able to study and pass an exam is not nearly as good as experience. And this is the catch-22 for beginners, maybe getting involved in the community is the answer. I would be more impressed by someone putting open source contributor on their CV than a certificate, but both would be better.

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk?
Greg: BizTalk as a product, definitely has a limited life span.  But in saying that BizTalk will be around for a long time to come. Most IT departments are unable discard one technology for another very quickly. Just consider flat files and FTP. These technologies have been around forever but are still the staple of many integrations.
The basic concepts of integrating systems and processes will remain the same. Anyone working in BizTalk will find most of their skills will apply to the next set of tools. What does an adapter do? How does a pub/sub engine work? How do you correlate asynchronous processes? What is the best model for scaling your application?

Mahesh; Any thoughts on cloud?
Greg: The cloud is the future. It is not just a matter of renting a virtual machine in someone else’s data centre. It is the tools and services that back up the cloud that make the difference. A common tool set that comes with the platform that you do not have to invent yourself. How to deploy and scale applications. How to monitor and diagnose problems. 
The imminent release of Azure Stack will make these technologies ubiquitous. Soon people will wonder how they managed to build applications without these tools.

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
Greg: I guess it is a combination of factors. The desire to help others, the chance to learn new things and I guess there is also some ego involved as well.

Mahesh: You have been MVP, do you feel that responsibilities get added? What is your thought on MVP?
Greg: Being and MVP was a privilege. I did not feel any extra responsibilities were added and there were some definite advantages to being an MVP. 

Mahesh: As per the Roadmap provided by Microsoft, LogicApps can be run on-premise in addition to Azure. Do you think Azure Stack Logic Apps on premise will supersede BizTalk Server?
Greg: Logic apps are not a complete replacement for BizTalk. However, in combination with the Service Bus and Web apps will one day provide a better tool set than BizTalk. I would expect the Azure integration tools both locally with Azure Stack and in the cloud will replace the need to use BizTalk. 
However, don’t be too hasty. Logic apps are still a work in progress. And while their list of API’s is growing fast there are still a few areas where BizTalk is currently superior. I suspect this will not remain this way for long as Microsoft continues to invest heavily in Azure.

Thanks a lot Greg for sharing your insights and experiences, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Greg in the comments!!!!!!!!

Related Post: