BizTalk Server: to be successful

What should be presented in the successful software?
[By Raymond Hettinger from EuroPython 2011]
PiecesOfSuccess

It was told about Python and I will try to use the same criteria for the BizTalk Server.

So, how it plays for the BizTalk Server? I will score from * to *****:

License – **

Commercial Distributions – ***

Zen – **

Community – ****

Third party software – ****

Killer Apps and Success Stories – **

Platforms –

Books – ***

Now in more details:

License

BizTalk license is a typical server license from Microsoft. And it might be the most expensive license between Microsoft products.

Which is questionable.

The free license might be the best license for the BizTalk Server.

Usually it is told the BizTalk license is very cheap comparing the big brothers: IBM WebSphere and Tibco.

But there is one thing, BizTalk Server is not one of the revenue source for Microsoft. It is an enabler, it is a Trojan horse. BizTalk Server breaks holes in the big data centers of big international companies, where mainframe is the king. BizTalk breaks holes and Microsoft SQL Servers and Windows Servers and other Microsoft enterprise software leaks in those holes. And that is a real revenue source.

So maybe, maybe the free BizTalk Server would be the better Trojan horse Smile

Previous score was 3, now it is 2. Customers are more and more aware of power of open source. But recently Microsoft took a step to increase a license price. Customers and community embrace this decision with discontent and confusion.

Commercial Distributions

Microsoft claims 12,000 customers in 2012. Which is a lot for costly software. This distribution base has a big impact on the BizTalk Server. It is pricey to buy BizTalk, to develop and deploy applications. It is much pricier to get rid of it, if you decide there is something better.

Now Obamacare is adding many new customers because of good HL7 and HIPAA support in the BizTalk Server.

The score is 3, good enough now and will be better in near future.

Zen

Zen was 4 in 2004-2006 when BizTalk 2004 was the first Microsoft commercial server software based on .NET. Philosophy in the base of the product was, and still is, beautiful.

Then were years when Microsoft changed favourites and ceased development investments. BizTalk was not a new SQL Server, it was not a new SharePoint, it doesn’t match in revenues.

Best Microsoft people are not anymore in the BizTalk development now.

BizTalk developers and administrators are still working with tools created in 2004-2006. It is not fun anymore. It is not fun. New BizTalk versions added the new adapters, new SQL Server and Visual Studio. Not exciting. Fun is somewhere else. Young developers are not amazed with BizTalk. Old developers are looking to the new stuff: Azure, Spring Integration, Zato.

Richard Seroter blogged about BizTalk Server only once in this year, which is ridiculous! OK twice, but still…

So Zen score is only 2.

Community

BizTalk amazingly has a good community support.

As a moderator of the MSDN BizTalk Forum I use the “Report as abuse” button only once a year. Why? Because everyone here are bloody polite and highly professional. You get your answer here in most cases, no need to pay Microsoft for support.

There are a lot of blogs about BizTalk Server, really good blogs.

Microsoft is in good relations with BizTalk community. The last three years there were the special BizTalk Server Summits. Do you know other Microsoft products that are promoted with such world-wide actions?

BizTalk team frequently keeps meetings with BizTalk MVPs. (They were renamed to the Microsoft Integration MVPs and joined with Connected Systems/Azure MVPs which is understandable.)

Community score is 4.

Third party software

There are dozens of third party adapters on the market. A lot of open source utilities on Codeplex and MSDN Gallery and everywhere in internet. Some of them just great like the BizTalk Deployment Framework which is free or the BizTalk360 and AIMS for BizTalk which are not free.

Microsoft is not trying to fix this improving APIs inside BizTalk or organizing something like an app store for the BizTalk utilities/components. Codeplex keeps about two hundreds of the BizTalk free utilities.

A third party software now is a part of the BizTalk. For example, the EDI subsystem was originally the EDI Accelerator from Covast, the BizTalk PowerShell Provider was an open source project, and the ESB Toolkit was a project started by Neudesic.

The score is solid 4.

Killer Apps and Success Stories

BizTalk has great case studies. For example, as the Case study shows, Allscripts processes 2.75 milion healthcare transactions a day and builds hundreds of new interfaces each year. It is not too hard to find out the successful stories al across different industries. BizTalk especially shines in financial and health care industries.

But Microsoft struggles to persuade public that such stories are the real Killer stories. BTW There are really good, but it is all about impression :(

Score is 2.

Platforms

BizTalk Server works only on the Windows Server, .NET, and SQL Server platform. Is it important, that it can work on other OS and databases?

BizTalk Server integrates any other platforms, including IBM mainframes, Oracle, MySQL.

The number of supported platforms is important for the programming languages. It is not important for the integration tool like BizTalk Server. It doesn’t matter which platform it is used to work. It only matters what platforms and systems it can integrated.

So this score is irrelevant to BizTalk.

Books

You can find tons of book about BizTalk. You can find a lot of fresh books, because BizTalk Server is mature product now and developers and architects got so much experience to share.

What about the BizTalk documentation? It is abundant. But… Creators of the BizTalk did not write or participate in writing of documentation. The top level of documentation, the creator’s point of view, the trades off, the top requirements, and the architecture decisions are not in the BizTalk documentation. A lot of “button by button” instructions could not replace, could not cover this deep hole in the documentation, this blocks learning of the BizTalk.

Score is 3.

Conclusions

All those was a chinwag, a speculation.

The truth is kept secret inside Microsoft.

Only Microsoft knows, is the BizTalk Server a successful software.

Print | posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 7:47 PM

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