Tuesday, January 27, 2015

South Asia MVP Open Day 2015 - Review


It was few months ago, I was invited for South Asia MVP Openday, Bangalore. Followed to it I booked the flight as I had to be there, as this was the first time for me and as someone has said "Never miss the start.... :)".

Since then I was picturizing about what exactly shall happen in Open Day (will it be like those in school days?), even my collegues, friends were curious to get answer to the same question. No idea about what was the agenda, even the event venue was not revealed, that was adding to the curosity build up.

Upon landing at Bangalore met few fellow MVP's (even though many of us were connected on linkedin and facebook, we had to introduce ourselves to each other -that made me smile, don't know why). There we met the travel manager who was responsible to make sure we reach the venue safely and on time (even the travel manager didn't reveal the secret(the venue)-  all were promptly instructed by Biplab and Gandharv). But the fun part was, driver wasn't instructed, and we did it - we got to know the venue - Royal Orchid Resorts, Yelanka, Bangalore.After a drive of around 40-45 min, we reached the final destination and there we met the two men who were responsible for all this - BipLab Paul and Gandharv.

We were welcomed with a refreshment drink, and were informed about the plan of action for next two days.

Below was the plan/schedule for two days:
      First Day:      a) Welcome Message by Mayumi
                       b) MVP-to-MVP Session around O365 by Dr. Nitin
                       c) MVP-to-MVP Session around DevOps by Subodh
                      d) Games and other activities
                      e) Discussion on Open Source Strategy by Balaji Kesavaraj
                      f) O365 Insights by Manas Biswas
                      g) Evening Party and Connect
   
Second Day:  h) Learnings from Leaders by Sumit
                      i) Staying Ahead of the curve by Pramila
                      j) Web Application Performance by Tulika
                      k) Troubleshooting Azure Websites by Puneet
                      l) Security Measures in Windows 10 by Pradeep
                     m) App Design Best-practices by Amar
                    n) Xamarin in Open Source by Nishanth and Mayur
  

Banging the dong, it was Mayumi Suzuki who started the Event, followed by Alen Li - both of them educated us about the MVP award, what they think of MVP's and also the responsibilities we(MVP's) carry on our shoulder (it's not on paper :)) Both are very sweet and were patiently listening to all our questions
and did answer all the question to our satisfaction except one, why there are less number of female MVP's   :) .


Among the rest sessions, most of them were intended to give us the insights and future plans of Microsoft around the various technologies, following with questions/answers and feedback on the same. No more I can say on this as I might violate the NDA (Non Disclosure agreement).

But there were two sessions that were on par (for me), session by Dr. Nitin Paranjape on Microsoft Office, I jotted down two things in my mind after his session -
 1. We are not to help software to do its work, instead it's the software which is intended to help us
 2. To get more you need to hit the More button ( More, F1, Advanced section etc.). 


The other session was by Pramila Matthew, Staying ahead of the curve. Everyone was totally engrossed and involved right from the start till the end of session. We were on our feet and clapping for her as she concluded, she very humbly accepted it. For me she is the real epitome of determination, inspiration, focus, optimism etc. Take away from her session are many but in one sentence "You just need believe in your self and nothing shall hold back you".

No it wasn't all sessions, there were fun activities too. Biplab and Gandharv very well planned the event so that we(the MVP's) get time to interact with each other and socialize. It was the dinner party after the first day sessions with Ethnic theme, allowed us to mingle. It was very interesting and great to experience the profoundness of all, they are just brilliant.
Baithak after second day sessions lasted till 1 - 1:30 am 

Last to Mention but not least, you can't do well if you are not healthy - yes there was yoga sessions too instructed by fellow MVP Vijay Agarwal.

Being an Integration MVP, I wanted to have something related to BizTalk Server. It was sweet surprise to meet Abhishek Kumar who is recently awarded as MVP, we did share some insights about and around BizTalk.


So was my expectations met? - No , it was more than expected, with back to back sessions and fun activities in between, wonderful and truly learning experience it was MVP open day 2015 so far with so many moments to cherish !!!!! 


Related Post By Other MVP's

1. Review by Kapil Arya
2. Review by RaviKumar 
3. Review by Tadit Das

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Property value is not valid : A non-transactional Orchestration cannot contain any other Transactions

It was during building the project which has Atomic scope, following poped up.



Why it happened: 

It is the orchestration designer which is designed to validate the properties against the shapes used. If any of the properties violate or are not as per the validation rule then notification is raised while building the project as "Property value is not valid."  It is common for all shapes but to know the exact reason we need to see in the details - it tells what went wrong.


What to do :


1. Orchestration itself should be set as Long Running.
2. For this click on the white space and set the Transaction Type to Long Running.

In this scenario, it was the usage of Atomic scope in non-transactional orchestration. You can only set a scope to have a transaction type other than None if the orchestration itself is a long-running transaction.

So it is kind of mandatory to mark orchestration as long running if Atomic scope is to be used.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Saravana Kumar


Welcome to seventh interview of the series, today's expert is Saravana Kumar.

Saravana Kumar is the Founder of BizTalk360, enterprise software that helps Microsoft BizTalk Server Customers to improve their day to day operational efficiency, by providing rich set of tools and monitoring capabilities.

Saravana Kumar is a Microsoft BizTalk server MVP since 2007, blogger, international speaker and active community member in BizTalk Server area. In year 2013, Microsoft awarded him the prestigious Integration MVP of the year 2013 for his contribution to the Microsoft BizTalk Server community. He has spent majority of his 17 years career working with integration projects, mainly using BizTalk Server.

Let's begin the interview....

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do?
Saravana: I’m Saravana Kumar, Founder and CTO of BizTalk360 (http://www.biztalk360.com/). The product we build to help BizTalk Server customer with better operational and monitoring capabilities.

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk?
Saravana: My first project using BizTalk was back in 2002, doing some integration along with Commerce Server. I then moved to ASP/Web Development for some 18 months. Around March 2003 I received a call from Microsoft, UK they are looking for some strong .NET people with little BizTalk experience for a proof of concept project they are doing with the upcoming BizTalk Server 2004. I jumped on the opportunity and since then working solely on BizTalk related projects.

Mahesh: How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)?
Saravana: BizTalk 2004 was completely new product and when I started, the product was not even mature. I was working with the product group and it was all trial and error, fiddling around with database if things don’t get deployed etc. When BizTalk 2004 was released all of a sudden a good community started to evolve, people got excited and there were lots and lots of blog articles, which proved as a main source for learning (I still believe those blog articles in the wild are the best sources to learn). The amount of time I spent, well can’t count :-)

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far?
Saravana: In my consulting days (between 2004 to 2010) I had handled 3 large integration project for 3 major customers. The UK NHS national integration project was my major stint along with Accenture, then I spend 5 years with a financial organisation building their middleware/BPM platform using BizTalk Server. Since 2010 I focused purely on building BizTalk360 trying to help customer with better tools from years of experience I gained in this field.

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform?
Saravana: Majority of the integration platforms out there will functionally cover more or less everything, there are some top vendors like IBM, TIBCO, Oracle etc.Choosing an integration platform is harder, to tackle this situation and to help customers choose the right integration tool we recently released a white paper along with our friend Kent Weare, Michael Stephenson and Steef-Jan Wiggers, you can download the white paper here http://www.biztalk360.com/whitepaper/choosing-an-integration-platform/

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert?
Saravana: For a developer to become an Integration expert, there is no straight forward way, you just need to get into a real world project. It will be harder to just do some hello world project and gain integration expertise. The way of thinking in an integration world is slightly different, you need to pick up concepts like messaging, schemas, contracts, communication patters like one-way, request-response, debatching etc. Without a real world need, it will be difficult to grasp them in a concrete way.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums, blogs and articles etc.?
Saravana: In general I really like communities, it unite people and it’s great to see people trying to help one another. As I mentioned earlier, I believe still the best source of information for BizTalk server is living in the people’s blogs. There are tons of in-depth articles explaining the concepts. Recently I also seeing lot of articles popping up in the Technet wiki, which is great. Because we know Microsoft will look after them nicely. One of the problem I have seen with blogs is, after
sometime people switch to different technologies and they don’t look after their blogs and they eventually die with lot of valuable information.

Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in Biztalk?
Saravana: If you are new to BizTalk or integration in general, see if you can get into any real world projects. You may be web developer working on web services that BizTalk interacts with, try to extend your knowledge and get to know about BizTalk bit more. You can also try out some of the virtual labs out there, to get the glimpse of the product, there are tons of videos available now to get you started (in channel9 and few other places)

Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Saravana: In general I’m not a big fan of certification, they try to test the attendee in certain way, which may or may not be useful in practical sense. But if you have time,it’s fun to give it a shot and see where you stand. Only challenge is, in real world you probably do not use the complete breath of the product, but certifications expects you to know everything, there comes the practical challenge academic vs real-world.

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk?
Saravana: The future of BizTalk (or Integration in general) is good, because if you look at the way things are working now, there are no individual solutions.Organisations need to use multiple solutions from multiple vendors to fulfil their needs. Ex: they may need to use SalesForce for the CRM requirements and SAP for their ERP requirements, and both these applications need to talk to each other. Microsoft also committed to release new versions of BizTalk server every 2 years to help existing and new customers.

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud?
Saravana: The future of technology seems to be cloud, it makes complete sense to outsource your infrastructure to someone and focus on your core business. Still there are some concerns in terms of reliability, security, latency etc. But over the next 10 years period I believe all these concerns will disappear. Microsoft is also investing heavily on next generation of Integration in the cloud called App Platform, you might have heard recently from the INTEGRATE 2014 http://integrate2014.com/)
event.

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
Saravana: As I mentioned earlier I really like the community, it brought me some great friends around the world. All of them are passionate about one thing and there are lot of common things we share when we all meet.

Thanks a lot Saravana, great insights, this will surely benefit many.


Happy New Year to all and Feel Free to ask questions to Saravana in the comments!!!!!!!!



Related Post:



Monday, December 1, 2014

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Stephen W Thomas

Welcome to sixth interview of the series, today's expert is Stephen W Thomas.

Stephen W Thomas is a Dedicated, detail-oriented IT Professional with 17 years experience analyzing, designing and developing integration solutions. Over 14 years of consulting experience including positions with Accenture and Avanade. Over 12 years of working knowledge with Microsoft BizTalk Server. An ten-year Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in BizTalk Server from 2004 through 2014. 

Hands-on experience with the latest Microsoft Technologies including Azure Service Bus, Azure IaaS, Windows Communication Foundation, and Windows Workflow. 

Proven initiator, published author, conference presenter, problem solver, and troubleshooter with a flair for identifying, taking ownership of, and solving complex problems. Always ready for a challenge!

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do? 
Stephen: I’m Stephen W. Thomas and I’m an Independent Consultant who specializes in Microsoft Integration products, mostly Microsoft BizTalk Server.

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk? 
Stephen: Feb 27, 2001 on a project in Seattle. I remember the exact date I started working with BizTalk because it was one day before the big 6.8 earthquake in Seattle.

Mahesh: How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)? 
Stephen: I mastered BizTalk 2004+ with lots and lots of trial and error. In the early days of BizTalk 2004 the documentation was lacking. In addition, blogs were just becoming main stream. This allowed people to work with BizTalk and share what they learned instantly via a blog post. This is how I learned much of what I know today. 

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far? 
Stephen: I have done large projects for a few well known electronic and consumer products companies. We would use BizTalk to bridge the front end website with the backend systems. Over the past 5 years most of the focus has been on Health Care related BizTalk projects. 

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform? 
Stephen: I haven’t work with any other integration platforms so I can’t comment on this.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert? 
Stephen: You need to understand that just being technical isn’t enough. You need to understand that as the middle layer everyone will always blame you for all the problems, no matter what. Being able to understand how to navigate the political nightmares that arise from this is really the key to being an Integration Expert. Building a solution that allows visibility at all levers into the end to end process helps with this.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums,blogs and articles etc.? 
Stephen: In the early years blogs and forums with the main source of information on BizTalk. Now the documentation is much better and TechWiki articles are strong. I haven’t looked at a BizTalk related forum in a long time. I find it hard to read a blog post or article and get much value from it unless I’m currently facing that issue or problem.


Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in Biztalk? 
Stephen: Like I tell everyone who I work with that is new to BizTalk, “Don’t try to make sense of it”. Meaning, BizTalk does things a specific way and trying to understand why it is done that way or find a different way to do it is general not a good use of time. A great example of this is using a correlation set to promote context properties for routing when sending a message out of an Orchestration. Doesn’t make sense, but it works


Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification? 
Stephen: I think BizTalk certification is a nice-to-have but real world experience is more important. I have interviewed a lot of resources with BizTalk Certification that couldn’t explain what Publish and Subscribe was.

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk? 
Stephen: I think the on premise BizTalk Server will continue to be an important part of any integration solution for the next few years. At some point, I think clients will find a natural progression to a cloud-based / alternative solution. 

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud? 
Stephen: I am excited about what the cloud has to offer but at the same time I know many clients want to maintain a tight grip on their data. I for one no longer need to run a separate server in my house to host all my Virtual Machines. I can create as many as I need in the cloud for pennies an hour. For how simples this is to do, I haven’t seen many of my clients going down this path. 

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
Stephen: It helped keep me motivated to play around with new technologies knowing I can share my results with others. I have horrible spelling and grammar but I don’t let that stop me from blogging J. 




Thanks a lot Stephen, great insights, this will surely benefit many.


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


Related Post:

Monday, November 10, 2014

BizTalk Server: Multiple XML files to Single FlatFile Using File Adapter

Introduction

It’s very common in integration project where we have to deal with debatching the batch of files and batching multiple files into single file. Depending upon requirements we can do xml debatching, EDI debatching, Flat file debatching and xml batching, flat file batching, EDI batching with the help of respective assembler and disassembler.

This post demonstrates how to batch multiple xml files into single flat file using flat file assembler and file adapter.

Scenario

The best example for this would be “Collection of errors for a particular day in a single file”. But to keep this simple and easy to understand following scenario is used for this post – Solution is to be designed to collect all the Employee messages(xml) coming in on that particular day and to be batched into single flat file and saved as “todaysdate.txt”

Say, 10 employee messages came in between 12:00 AM – 12:00 PM on 10th November 2014 then all the employee message should be batched into single flat file and saved as 10-11-2014.txt


How To Do 


Input Schema


Output Schema


Custom Flat File send pipeline

There is no default flat file pipeline provided out of the box, so we need to create custom flat file pipeline. As we need to create flat file at send side, we create flat file send pipeline with the help of Flat file Assembler

Creating Orchestration


Have used Orchestration for the sake of assigning Current date as filename to the outgoing message, but yes this solution can be implemented as pure messaging solution by creating a custom pipeline component for assigning the filename.

Construct shape

1. Transform Shape

Simple one to one mapping from xml to flat file.



2. Message assignment

In message assignment shape, System’s current date is assigned to a string variable SystemDate and later it is assigned to context property FILE.ReceivedFileName, so we are actually overwriting the values of FILE.ReceivedFileName. We did this so that we can use %SourceFileName% macro at send port, which reads this context property and uses it to name the message saved at destination location.

Possible error:  The Filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect


Build and deploy


After done with the development, sign the project and assign it a Name and deploy.

Configuring and testing the application 



Download Sample