Integrate 2016 – highlights from the Microsoft product team sessions

May 11-13 is #Integrate2016 in London. I’m here with 4 Motion10 colleagues. Tomasso Groenendijk, Azure MVP, will do a presentation later during the week.

After arriving in the hotel  Tuesday evening (great that Integrate 2016 is in London, saves 9 1/2 hours of flying for us folks from The Netherlands), I soon found my colleagues Rob Fox and Eldert Grootenboer (thank you Whatsapp group) and we teamed up with the rest of the folks already drinking some beers in the hotel bar. After that we went to a restarurant nearby, where I think 50% of customers were integration geeks 🙂 Nice to talk to some old friends again! During dinner, Tom Canter convinced me that there’s not enough time in the universe to do full variation testing of functions. And as always, he came with the actual proof in real numbers. I’ll inform my current customer and have them allocate more budget 😉

Early Wednesday, Eldert, Rob, Paul Baars and I gathered at the Excel registration booths. Soon after registering, it was really time for coffee and some breakfast snacks. The room filled up quickly.

The following is my view on the first 5 sessions, that were done by the managers of the Microsoft product teams.

Sharply at 8:45 Saravana Kumar welcomed all 380 of us. Great to see such a massive turnout.

Jim Harrer (Group Principal Program Manager) did his keynote after that.

Good to hear that:

  • There is a robust vision again that actually feels good
  • The development teams are growing; they are hiring engineers for both Logic Apps and BizTalk Server
  • The vision is not “all in the cloud” anymore, but a more balanced view on integration
  • BizTalk and Logic Apps will work really well together and make hybrid integration scenarios much easier, each handling their own specific integration styles
  • There’s a big bet on Logic Apps; it’s actually the technology behind Flow
  • The Microsoft integration folks don’t have a tunnel vision, but actually see the value of the other Azure services and building blocks as well, such as Machine Learning for predicting topics

During Jim’s talk, Jon Fancey came on stage a couple of times to demo some of the stuff Jim was talking about.

After Jim’s keynote, Jon did his session “BizTalk Server 2016: What’s New”.

Good to see that:

  • The BizTalk UI gets a refresh to look more like the Windows 10 UI
  • Logic Apps integration is getting more mature
  • The Enterprise Integration Pack will be there soon
  • End of 2016 BizTalk 2016 will GA; so finally SQL AlwaysOn

Offline, I was told that hybrid connections will be consolidated in a new gateway; stay tuned

After a short coffee break, Jeff Hollan and Kevin Lam got on stage to talk about “Powerful integration and workflow automation”.

Some good takeaways:

  • Logic Apps Designer in Vision Studio
  • Number of ootb connectors growing fast
  • New control flow elements and scopes, that make exception handling easier and make collections of actions possible
  • Debugging and tracking capabilities; Ties into Operations Management Suite

Between the sessions, talking to the key product team leaders became clear that the different teams have started to work together much better, actually resulting in re-use of code for for example business rules. Smarter investing in functions that can be used in different environments.

What’s also become clear is that the story for on-prem integration is not “Azure Stack” anymore. Actually, it has been removed from the roadmap document now. On-prem integration is BizTalk Server.

The last session for the lunch break is by Jeff Hollan on “Advanced Integration Scenarios”.

Key takeaways:

  • Integration patterns for Logic Apps are getting much deserved attention
  • Not only happy flows; Scopes greatly help here
  • Visual Studio experience now also for Logic Apps which makes ALM much better
  • Release management gets more mature

Directly after lunch, Jon Fancey en Kevin Lam did their talk on “Enterprise Functionality Roadmap (B2B/EDI)”.

Key takeaways:

  • EDI and other B2B artifacts now much better thought about and integrated. Schemas, Maps, Partners, Certificates and (soon) Agreements well adressed and nicely containerized.
  • VETER pipeline is back, but now in the right PaaS architecture (a.k.a. NotMABS)
  • Flat file parser incorporated
  • Good old BizTalk Mapper is the transformation tool (because we all know it that well)
  • Schemas and maps are compatible with BizTalk Server
  • Trading partners and Agreements will have backward compatibility (working on import capability)
  • The ERP and Database systems supported b yBizTalk Server will also be supported by the Enterprise Integration Pack, so therefore will become integratable by Logic Apps.

Microsoft Flow and API Management are next sessions by the Microsoft product team members. Flow already has been covered extensively by the #FutureOfSharePoint bloggers. Just check these blogs out. API Management is a topic by itself. If exciting things get announced during Vlad’s session, I’ll blog about that later.

So far my personal highlights from the product team presentations. Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers, Gijs

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