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Microsoft Planning New BizTalk Server Product and Integration with Azure Services

Microsoft last week announced plans for releasing a new BizTalk Server product, along with details about its Azure Integration Services vision.

Microsoft's commitment to delivering a new BizTalk Server product was affirmed by Jon Fancey, Azure Integration Services program manager lead, in a Thursday announcement. BizTalk Server is Microsoft's enterprise integration server for "on-premises" installations that's used to connect business applications and services. The current flagship product is BizTalk Server 2016.

Next-Gen BizTalk Server
The next BizTalk Server product will be timed for product release after the release of Windows Server 2019, which is expected to reach "general availability" product release status sometime this year. Fancey indicated that the next BizTalk Server product likely will be "generally available within roughly 9 months of the general availability of Windows Server 2019."

The next BizTalk Server product will contain previously released feature packs, and will support "the latest versions of Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio," Fancey explained. It will be possible to upgrade to the new BizTalk Server product from BizTalk Server 2013 R2 and BizTalk Server 2016, he added.

Microsoft's last feature pack release was Feature Pack 3 for BizTalk Server 2016, which was announced on June 26, according to the BizTalk team blog's feed. The actual details of Feature Pack 3 were described in a blog post by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Sandro Pereira, who indicated that Feature Pack 3 adds Office 365 adapters for mail, calendar and contacts. It adds support for SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2. It also supports single sign-on authentications using Azure Active Directory and OAuth. Microsoft added compliance with FIPS, GDPR and the U.S. government accessibility standard, as well.

Azure Integration Services
Microsoft first started issuing feature packs for BizTalk Server 2016 last year with Feature Pack 1, with the aim of adding new features and "closer integration with Azure." The feature packs bring down some of the innovation being done in Microsoft's cloud with Azure Integration Services, which is Microsoft's Integrated Platform as a Service (iPaaS) for orchestrating business applications and processes. Azure Integration Services consists of Logic Apps, Service Bus, API management and Event Grid services.

Azure Integration Services is Microsoft's replacement for Azure BizTalk Services as an iPaaS offering. Microsoft announced the end of Azure BizTalk Services last year. Instead, Microsoft advised organizations to shift toward using Azure Logic Apps and Azure App Service Hybrid Connections.

Despite the innovation happening on the Azure Integration Services side, Microsoft still sees a role for BizTalk Server. It supports "hybrid" scenarios, where organizations run BizTalk Server on their own infrastructure while connecting to Microsoft's and other providers' services.

Logic Apps On-Premises
Microsoft also announced that it plans to permit Logic Apps "to run on premises" for organizations. That capability is expected to arrive "during calendar year 2019," according to Fancey.

Right now, the capabilities of BizTalk Server and Logic Apps aren't at parity yet. However, Microsoft is working on closing the gaps, and it's working on documenting support for Logic Apps migrations, Fancey explained:

With two offerings, BizTalk Server and Logic Apps, both capable of running on-premises and in Azure, many customers will be evaluating migration from BizTalk Server to Logic Apps. We understand this and are planning guidance on migration to assist customers' decision-making and investments to enable this move. We know there are functional gaps between BizTalk Server and Logic Apps, and we are hard at work closing them. 

Quite a lot of Microsoft's BizTalk Server news tends to get chronicled by its partner, BizTalk360, which has its own conference, Integrate 2018, which was held in London in June. Conference highlights were described by Sriram Hariharan, senior technical and content writer at BizTalk360. He indicated in his Day 1 recap that BizTalk Server 2013 and BizTalk Server 2013 R2 both exited "mainstream support" in July, and that Microsoft announced a new BizTalk Server Migration Tool to help organizations move to BizTalk Server 2016.

In Hariharan's Day 2 recap, he noted that migrations from BizTalk Server to Azure Logic Apps will be supported using an on-premises gateway and a publish/subscribe model.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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