BizTalk360 – a technical review across the board.

I’m going to start a series of articles about the best technologies I’m going to use in my job and I would like to do a technical review across the board.

As I said before, in this last period I have to use a lot of different interesting technologies, this because the integration world is growing in very fast way and the customers requirements are more specified every day more, more performances, more easy operation management, more monitoring and control in the business solutions.

I like to use and play with products and technologies when they are well done and powerful, for example I was really impressed by the Microsoft Event Hub, I played with him in these last days, one million message in just one second and in reliable way, this is awesome, I will write something about that in next posts, but I want to back to BizTalk360.
A customer asked me about a solution to manage his BizTalk infrastructure, so I decided to install BizTalk360 to do a demo to him.
I remember the first BizTalk360 demo that I saw in Seattle, a couple of years ago, the product was in Silverlight, with some interesting features, but I couldn’t image so many changes and features in just two years, I have only one word, impressive.

The installation is very fast and simple, I don’t have many things to write about the instalation, next next next next ….. done.
start install2After the installation, the portal will be open, and all features are already running and configured, the number of features is impressive and most of them are really useful, this means that the product is created by persons that working with Microsoft BizTalk Server in real , every day.
portal

Impossible to describe all the features in one post, but I can speak about my impression and about my thoughts.
Many feature are useful to solve any kind of problem that you can have with a BizTalk infrastructure, but not only for that, I’m going to use BizTalk360 during the development to improve the productivity.

Very well done, is the navigation inside the product, I mean that you start to use a feature and you will go to use other features just navigating inside the artifacts.
The world of the integration lives on the dependencies between on artifacts and services, and a intelligent navigation is the best strategy to be fast to understand possible problems or to manage the artifacts in fast way.
The menu on the left follows the user proposing a completed vision every moment.

manus

The monitoring and notification is really detailed and this is one of the most important aspect in a BizTalk solution, you can set alarms for a lot of different situations and areas.
Another important thing is that you can combine this technology areas, for example BizTalk + Event Viewer + Sql Server, to create a lot of very powerful monitoring strategies.
The Graphical Flow is amazing, I tried to image about solving any kind of usual problem about tracking and I realized that with this feature you can.
I want to propose a classic situation and I want to try to image how to solve this without this feature in so easy way, below the sample:
You know you have a big problem with a send pipeline, this is a runtime error, the problem is that you need to understand who is using this pipeline.
This is important, because the error is about some error inside the message and the data are created by some orchestrations, so i need to construct the message flow to understand where I need to operate.
Unfortunately in 98% of the situations we don’t have any kind of good documentation, we have to be honest about that.
The step to accomplish this is very well done, after open Graphical Flow, you make a query with any kind of criterias you want and look for the pipeline.

pipeline

Click on the pipeline and, very important thing, you can navigate forward or backward, in this case you will go to reconstruct all the messaging flow, in this case was a send pipeline and you can create multiple view and navigate in deep as you want.

graph

The product covers all the most important aspects about a BizTalk solution, some of the feature are really specialized for advanced troubleshooting as the Throttling Analyzer and Advance Event Viewer.
The Disaster and Recovering is the most crucial part in a BizTalk environment, BizTalk depends in all on Sql Server.
BizTalk uses a lot of different databases, Message Box for the messaging transaction and many other to cover a lot of different aspects, Administion, SSO, BAM, BRE and so on.
The feature Backup-DR Monitor is very well done, you can manage all of these aspects in very easy way.

There are so many features, I think that the best way to understand the product is to go in the BizTalk360 site (http://www.biztalk360.com), the site is really full of documentation, just reading the product tour, you will be able to use the product.

You can download the evaluation version and install it in very easy and fast way, I’m sure that I will write more about this product, I really love to play with products well done and now I start to understand why BizTalk360 has more than 200 customers in the world.

BizTalk Mapping Patterns & Best Practices, the Bible of the mapping.

I want to present you one of the best book about BizTalk Server, BizTalk Mapping Patterns & Best Practices.
biztalk-mapping-patterns-and-best-practices1
The Author is Sandro Pereira, my great friend, he is a MVP in Microsoft Application Integration since 2011, he is one of the most active person in the Integration Community area.
Honestly I’m always impressed by Sandro’ s Blog, thousands of posts and advices, and  I always thought , “what could be happen if Sandro decides to write a book?”, this is happened.
Well, 400 pages about mapping and transformations, this is the bigger opera I can image about mapping and transformations.
I reviewed the book, it was a very hard work, the book is really full of information, demos, and all possible use cases about mapping in BizTalk Server.
I said BizTalk Server because the book is wrote for the mapping with BizTalk Server, but a lot of the concepts I found in the book, could be applicable for all kind of mapping, MABS, XSLT etcetera.
I’m sure that this book will be considered the bible of mapping, any Integration animal in the world will refer to this book in the future.

Another important thing is that, the book is free.

You can find the book here

Next Integration events and thoughts about the world of the Integration

I’m finish to transfer my family in UK, it was a big challenge full of troubles and full of nice and bad moments, now all is well sorted and we are really happy to live in UK. During this last months a lot of things happened, I’m starting to work with Azure, I migrated the BizTalk NoS Add-in in a Visual Studio Package and I created some new powerful features, I will present them in the BizTalk Innovation Day in Norway.

norway

Last evening I was thinking about all of my career in the integration world, what I used, what I learned, what I integrated and I realized that I was lucky to enter in all of that, the world of integration is so full of different challenges, technologies, I think that it is the most complicate aspect of the information technology.

I smile when I think about the problems I had before the 1999, using ASMX and ASP pages endpoint as interfaces and C++ or Visual Basic library just to integrate the systems, I remember the famous transaction server to manage the polling and recycling, they were greats challenges, I remember the first release of BizTalk Server, when I saw this I realized that Microsoft had started to enter in the world of integration.

After 14 years we have a lot of options and a lot of things are coming, the world of the integration changing every day more and we have to consider a lot of new things and issues every day more. Now we have Microsoft BizTalk Services and we are waiting the version 2.0, this release will be ready to provide us everything we need to integrate any king of technology everywhere, on premise, on the cloud and so on, also there is BizTalk Server on premise and on the Cloud, full of great features to integrate everywhere.

A big competition started between the bigger integration providers as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and some other smaller are arriving, and a lot of marketing wars and words, “we are the best, our product is the best, our platform is cheaper, we can integrate your grandmother too, we can provide on the moon adapter, and so on”, but for us are only words, we are all persons with a deep experience and we like to see the facts.

I’m trying out understand what we really have now, but I’m pretty sure about one important thing, the transparency and the experience are the most important things and at the moment the only company where I saw a totally transparency in pricing, on their integration technology stack and in everything about his offering plan, is Microsoft.

In December Microsoft will organize the BizTalk Summit, I’m pretty sure that we’ll have a new generation of Integration Technology.

btssummit

After all of these years spent in the world of the integration I understood on thing, the most important aspect is the productivity and as well the development aspect, this is the most complicated and expensive aspect, I think that is really crucial understand the best strategies that we can use to improve our productivity, the productivity is all!.

At the BizTalk Innovation event in Norway I want to speak about the most important things we have to do to improve our productivity, I want to speak about the differences between working on Azure project or on premise, how to optimize our productivity extending our weapons, how to extend Visual Studio in really easy way, I want to speak about the anatomy of an “integration’s weapon” and what are the most important development aspects that we have to check to increase our productivity, another good topic could be, what’s the best way to use Visual Studio during the development to optimize the development and, what to avoid.

I’m really excited for the Norway event because I know that I will find a lot of experts there and this is a great moment for me, to share my knowledge and experience.
Every moment for me is good to improve my knowledge, the world of the integration is huge and I learn new things every day more, Norway’s event will be another great opportunity for me to do that, logically in front a good beer :)

See you there :)

I’m MVP for another great Year!!!

Yes! I received the email now!
I’m very proud to say that I will be MVP for another great year, I want to thank Microsoft to believe in my person and I want to thank all of my friends around the world.

This is one of the picture I love more, with the crew!!! Thank you all guys!

crew
This year was a great year, full of nice moments, I remember all of the conferences with the BizTalk Crew and all the MVP, really nice moment in London :D

An amazing moment with all of my friends from all of the world!!!

london

I want to dedicate these 8 years of really hard work and challenges as MVP to my wife Grazia for all precious support she gave me and she give me every day.

cucc

 

BizTalk 2013 R2 – Available and ready to work

Here we are, the new version of BizTalk 2013 R2 is available on MSDN, what’s the considerations and important points.
A lot of important improvements inside, I think that some of them are about the communication layer, I mean about  accelerators and adapters.
At the moment we need more options to solve hybrid integration issue, for this reason Microsoft released new interest update on SB messaging adapter.
Another good point of interest and upgrade, for one of the most used accelerator in these last two years, after the EDI, the HL7 Accelerator.
About the option to extend our Convention Over Configuration in our ESB solutions, Microsoft released new updates in WCF-Web-Http Adapter, other interesting upgrade for SFTP adapter.

About the licensing, there are some sounds around the Developer Edition licensing , no any particular news, as I know the Developer Edition licensing  will be the same of the previous.

All MVP community and Microsoft too are posting a lot of interest articles about this new release, some of the most detailed and interested articles to read are:

By BizTalk Team Blog
BizTalk Server 2013 R2 – Generally Available Now!

By BizTalk 360 Blog
BizTalk Server 2013 R2 upgrade – Reasons to upgrade/migrate from previous versions?

 

BizTalk NoS Add-In new features working progress

Well… well… well… , a lot of different things was happened in these last three months, great memories about London event, I presented the BizTalk NoS Add-in for the first time. 

I remember the period before London event, It was a crazy period of work, I worked four months, every night without stop, just writing code and without to perform any serious test plan.

Considering the situation the result was very good, thank to my friend Sandro Pereira I fixed the most important and urgent issues about NoS Add-in, he helped me to perform a first deep testing and he provided a perfect documentation for the add-in, now the Add-in is over 500 downloads, a lot of other guys helped me for testing and fixing, thank you all.

 

Here the last version

 

One month ago I was ready to restart the NoS Add-in development and ready to implement a lot of very interesting new features on it, but a new big challenge was at the door, a very interesting new job opportunity in UK.

I accepted this new challenge, now I work in Solidsoft Reply and I’m very happy for this, a lot of interesting projects and a lot of new things to organize for myself and family, so I suspended the NoS Add-in development for another month.

Finally now I’m fine and I can start the development of the new features, Sandro proposed me a big challenge to develop in Add-In and I want to try to accomplish it.

I always need help for testing and other, if you have time contact me.

SSO Application Configuration tool issues

SSO Application Configuration tool is a nice and easy tool to manage our configuration parameters in SSO, however the installation on Windows 2012 and Windows 8 could have some strange issues, below all strange possible messages and behavior I have seen:

Error 1001. Error 1001. Company Name is a required field.

requifield

Cannot delete a subkey tree because the subkey does not exist.

After the installation, open the MMC and you don’t see any affiliate application.

After the installation, open the MMC and you try to set a new key but it doesn’t work or it doesn’t save the data.

For each of these behavior we need to fix registry, assembly redirection, looking on the web to remember what we need to do and other, but at the end we’ll can use our Snap in.

Avoiding to repeat the next time the same experience, I prepared a quick way to install it.

Download the original Microsoft SSO tool installation package from here and install it.

Download this zip file from here and decompress it.

sso

Copy the [SSO Application Configuration] directory under [C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Services] and overwrite all.

Import SSO.reg using regedit.exe or simply double click on SSO.reg file.

Add your user in SSO Administrator and SSO Affiliate  Administrator group.

Open [SSO Application Configuration.msc] in  [C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Service\SSO Application Configuration] directory.

That’s all.