Changing the game: BizTalk Server 2010 and the Road Ahead

What’s next for BizTalk? As excited as we are about the recent announcement that we shipped BizTalk Server 2010 (see blog post), we know that customers depend upon us to give them visibility into the longer-term roadmap; given the lifespan of their enterprise systems, making an investment in BizTalk Server represents a significant bet and commitment on the Microsoft platform. While we are currently working thru product planning on BizTalk VNext, we wanted to share some of the early direction to date.

  • At PDC’09 last year, we discussed at a high-level our strategy for BizTalk betting deeply on AppFabric architecturally so that we can benefit from the application platform-level investments we are making both across on-premises and in the cloud. This strategy has not changed, and in fact we are accelerating some of our investments; we started this journey even in BizTalk Server 2010 with built-in integration with Windows Server AppFabric for maps and LOB connectivity (a feature called AppFabric Connect).
  • At PDC’10 this week we released-to-web a new innovative BizTalk capability which will allow you to bridge your existing BizTalk Server investments (services, orchestrations) with the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus – this new set of simplified tooling will help accelerate hybrid on/off premises composite application scenarios which we believe are critical to enable our customers to start taking advantage of the benefits of cloud computing (see blog post on this capability).
  • Also this week, we disclosed an early peek into our strategy of “Integration as a Service” which begins to shed light on how we will be taking the integration workload to the cloud. This is a transition we have already made with Windows Server and SQL Server (as we have released Azure flavors of these server products); and we are committed to following this same path with integration. Link to recorded Integration session.

Our plans to deliver a true Integration service – a multi-tenant, highly scalable cloud service built on AppFabric and running on Windows Azure – will be an important and game changing step for BizTalk Server, giving customers a way to consume integration easily without having to deploy extensive infrastructure and systems integration. Due to the agile delivery model afforded by cloud services, we are able to bring early CTPs of this out to customers much more rapidly than traditional server software. We intend to offer a preview release of this Azure-based integration service during CY11, and will update on a regular cadence of roughly 6 month update cycles (similar to how Windows Azure and SQL Azure deliver updates). This will give us the opportunity to rapidly respond to customer feedback and incorporate changes quickly.

However, regardless of the innovative investments we are making in the cloud, we know our BizTalk customers will want to know that these advantages can be applied on-premises (either for existing or new applications). We are committed to delivering this new “Integration as a Service” capability on-premises on AppFabric server-based architecture. This will be available in the 2 year cadence that is consistent with previous major releases of BizTalk Server and other Microsoft enterprise server products.

Additionally, knowing well that our existing 10,000+ customers will move to a new version only at their own pace and on their own terms, we are committed to not breaking our customers’ existing applications by providing side-by-side support for the current BizTalk Server 2010 architecture. We will also continue to provide enhanced integration between BizTalk and AppFabric to enable them to compose well together as part of an end-to-end solution. This will preserve the investments you have made in building on BizTalk Server and enable easy extension into AppFabric (as we have delivered today with pre-built integration with both Windows Server AppFabric and Windows Azure AppFabric).

Another critical element is providing guidance to our customers on how best to deploy BizTalk and AppFabric together, in order to best prepare for the future. At PDC this week we delivered the first CTP of the Patterns and Practices Composite Application Guidance which provides practices and guidance for using BizTalk Server 2010, Windows Server AppFabric and Windows Azure AppFabric together as part of an overall composite application solution. We will also be delivering soon a companion offering from Microsoft Services which will provide the right expertise and strategic consulting on architecture and implementation for BizTalk Server and AppFabric. We will work closely with our Virtual-TS community & Partners to extend similar offerings. We will continue to update both the Composite Application Guidance and consulting offering as we release our next generation integration offerings, to help guide our customers as they move to newer versions of our products and take advantage of our next-generation integration platform built natively on AppFabric architecture.

We are excited to share these plans for the first time and prove our commitment to continue to innovate in the integration space. As BizTalk Server takes a bold step forward in its journey to harness the benefits of a new middleware platform, which will provide cloud and on-premises symmetry, we will make it a lot easier for our customers to build applications targeting cloud and hybrid scenarios. We look forward to delivering the first CTP of integration as a service to market next year!

Balasubramanian Sriram, General Manager, BizTalk Server & Integration

Burley Kawasaki, Director, Product Management