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Integrate 2017 Recap: Adding Intelligence to Integration

| by Kent Weare Follow 7 Followers on Jul 04, 2017. Estimated reading time: 6 minutes |

Integrate 2017, an annual integration event focused on Microsoft Integration technologies, took place in London from June 26th – 28th. Some of the key themes that were discussed include the role of cognitive computing in integration, API orchestration, SaaS connectivity, cloud native integration, the impact of serverless on integration and cloud messaging at scale.

Jim Harrer, a principal group program manager at Microsoft, provided the keynote once again and provided a progress update on what the Pro Integration team at Microsoft has been working on. Over the past year, the API Management, BizTalk, Host Integration Server and Logic Apps teams have been busy, shipping over 40 new capabilities and features. 

Image Source: @wearsy

A focus of this team has been executing on a “better together” strategy that sees greater alignment across the broader Microsoft ecosystem. Historically, there has been some level of overlap across some of these integration technologies, but a re-organization in the past year has seen these different product groups working as a cohesive unit. 

Integration meets cognitive

Another focus for Microsoft has been plugging in its cognitive investments into more integration scenarios to drive further insight for customers. These cognitive abilities include:

  • Text Analysis
    • Detecting sentiment
    • Language detection
    • Language translation
  • Language Understanding Intelligence Service (LUIS)
    • Detecting user intent
  • Image/Video Analysis
    • Face API
      • Emotion detection
      • Face identification
    • Computer Vision
      • Detecting Objects

Microsoft and other MVP presenters demonstrated how developers can plug-in their integration platform assets, with cognitive service APIs, to develop cross platform mobile applications using PowerApps. Presenters also showcased different BOTs, using the Azure BOT Service, to create conversational applications for the enterprise and using Azure Logic Apps to provide API-led connectivity.

Image Source: @probertdaniel

BizTalk Server is Not Dead

Some customers interpreted the recent Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services retirement as the end of life for BizTalk Server, Microsoft’s on-premises integration platform. Azure BizTalk Services was Microsoft’s earlier attempt at bringing integration services to the cloud. Azure Logic Apps is the successor to Azure BizTalk Services and has much more traction than Azure BizTalk Services ever did.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to make investments in Microsoft BizTalk Server. With a general availability release in late 2016 and a Feature Pack enhancement release in late April, Microsoft remains committed to this platform and is making sure BizTalk Server and Azure Logic work together. An example of this integration, across these platforms, is the BizTalk Connector for Azure Logic Apps reaching general availability last week during the event.

Image Source: @SolidsoftReply

Microsoft also reminded customers of the mainstream support lifecycle for BizTalk Server. For customers currently on BizTalk Server 2013 or BizTalk Server 2013 R2, mainstream support will soon expire. In order to reduce the amount of time it takes to upgrade to BizTalk Server 2016, Microsoft has released an acceleration tool for BizTalk migrations. This tool has been developed by Microsoft’s own IT team and is being made available, at no charge, to customers and partners.

Image Source: @BizTalk360

Azure Messaging Continues to Have Explosive Growth

The Azure Messaging team was also on stage at Integrate 2017 providing an update on their services. Dan Rosanova, lead program manager on the Azure Messaging team, provided an update on how the Azure messaging services are being used. One KPI that stood out was the amount of growth the Azure Event Hub service has achieved. In September 2015, InfoQ covered the story of the service surpassing 1 Trillion transactions in a single month. Microsoft now processes more than 23 Trillion requests per month, or 8.5 million requests per second with an average latency of 50ms.

Image Source: @wearsy

The Azure Messaging team also had some additional announcements, including that they are working on the following capabilities:

  • Encryption at rest (Event Hubs and Premium Service Bus)
  • Managed Secure Identity (MSI) which does not require a connection string
  • Bring your own key (BYOK) encryption at rest for premium products
  • IP Filtering
  • Vnet support
  • New metrics pipeline

Shubha Vijayasarathi, a program manager on Azure Messaging team, also announced that Event Hubs Capture, formerly known as Archive, has reached general availability as of June 28th. The Capture capability has been introduced as a result of many Event Hubs customers writing their data stream to a persistent store mainly for long term storage and batch processing of the information. Customers can now enable this feature when provisioning an Event Hub and have their data written to blob storage where it can be used in other analytic processes.

Azure Logic Apps investing in Enterprise Breadth and Depth

The Azure Logic Apps team was very visible at Integrate providing several sessions that demonstrated the depth and breadth of their offering. They built on top of a series of Health Club use cases and provided some insight into recent accomplishments and areas that they are working on including:

  • Industry Certification
    • Drummond AS2
    • ISO 27001
    • SOC (I, II, III)
    • HIPAA
    • PCI DSS
  • Connectors (in-progress)
    • Azure Storage Tables – in addition to Queues and Blobs
    • Oracle eBusiness Suite
    • ServiceNow
    • SOAP Connector
    • Service Principles
  • United Kingdom geo-region
  • Workflow expression authoring and intelligence
  • Advanced scheduling
  • Large messages
  • Drafts
  • Mock Testing
  • Resubmit from failed action
  • Tracking and Monitoring across Logic Apps in Azure Operations Management Suite (OMS)
  • Batch processing support

Image Source: @BizTalk360

Azure API Management

The Azure API Management team was also present at Integrate 2017 and provided an update on what they have delivered in the past year and what their short-term roadmap looks like.

Since the Integrate 2016 conference, which was held in May 2016, the Azure API Management team has delivered on many capabilities and features including:

  • SOAP and SOAP2Rest support
  • Internal VNETs
  • Embedded Swagger editor
  • API mocking
  • Azure Active Directory Business to Consumer (B2C) integration

Image Source: @BizTalk360

API Versioning is often a contentious issue. Previously, Microsoft did not have a built-in API Management versioning capability.  At Integrate, the API Management team introduced the versioning strategy that they are currently working on. Microsoft’s versioning strategy includes:

  • Versioning is opt-in
  • Choose appropriate scheme for API
  • Create New API versions as first class objects
  • Make developers aware of versions and revisions
  • Versions can be made private until they are promoted into public namespace

Image Source: @BizTalk360  

The Azure API Management team also discussed their short-term roadmap which includes the following:

  • Full support for Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates
  • Analytics in new Azure portal
  • Enterprise API catalog
  • Payload validation
  • Improved policy authoring
  • Anomaly detection via Machine Learning
  • OpenAPI Specification v3 support

Image Source: @BizTalk360

The Integrate 2017 conference was put on by BizTalk 360, a Microsoft partner, in conjunction with the Microsoft Pro Integration team. The event included over 380 participants from more than 50 countries. During the event, BizTalk360 announced that a follow-up event will be held in the United States from October 25th to October 27th at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

The conference was very well received by attendees, and they were impressed with the advances that Microsoft is making in the integration space. Codit, a Microsoft partner specializing in integration and the Internet of Things (IoT), had the following to say about the event on their blog:

Microsoft is moving at an incredible pace and isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Integration today is about making the impossible, possible. Microsoft is working very hard to bring developers the necessary tooling and development experience to make it easier and faster to deliver complex integration solutions.        

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