Interview with a BizTalk Wiki Ninja - Peter Lindgren
Welcome to another Interview with a Wiki Ninja! Today's interview is with...
Peter has 8 quality articles under his belt, and he won the gold medal in the BizTalk Guru category in December!
- BizTalk: Create SSO Bindings Without Joining Active Directory (AD) Domain
- BizTalk Server: Calling Web Services In Large Batches
- BizTalk Server: Create repeating records from comma-separated values
- A Multi-Type Flat File Assembler for Multi-Part Messages
- Powershell: Script Updates to Machine.config (updatemachineconfig.ps1)
Let's get to the interview!
Figure 1: My family and me in Colombia. My wife is from Colombia, so I have lost the count of the number of times I’ve visited Colombia!
Who are you, where are you, and what do you do? What are your specialty technologies?
I’m 46 years old, from the north of Sweden close to the Arctic Circle, and I’m a software developer, specialized on integration with Microsoft BizTalk. I’ve been in the software business since 1994 after university, both as employed and running my own business. Currently I am employed and co-founder of a pure Microsoft BizTalk-specialist consulting company, Kazoku IT AB. Kazoku is Japanese and means “family”, and we are a family in the positive sense, and since we all have families we value our families too, to have time with them and not only work. Professionally, I have been employed in a line-of-business department, as a product developer, and as a consultant. Having experience in all areas contribute to giving advice to customers. However, my background is more of a combination of electronics and software, everything from designing phase-linear analogue audio filters to military radar. I like to play with embedded processors, and lately I’ve stepped up to Raspberry Pi. One Pi is controlling the façade lighting on our house! Next such project is to measure the distance our son’s little hamster is running each night in its running wheel. I’m married, and our son is 8 years old. I love building Lego with him! My wife is from Colombia and we’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count. Beautiful country, marvelous and friendly people!
I am also a fan of scripting, both build and deploy. Many customers have a requirement that it is the same MSI file installed in production that was tested. A safe and sound requirement, if you ask me. That leads to the requirement that all bindings, including production bindings, must be included in the MSI file. That, in turn, means that bindings must be managed in one way or another in source code control. Scripting bindings using BizTalk Deployment Framework is an enormous advantage, compared to maintain all bindings manually. Scripting also benefits in a disaster recovery scenario; having everything regarding deployment scripted is a tremendous help, including scripting additions/updates to machine.config.
What are your big projects right now?
Currently we are working on a web project where integration will be crucial for its success, all in Azure. It’s a new world for me, so I learn something new every day. I, as many other already have realized, think it’s the future. In the short term though, there will be a need for a mix of on-premises and cloud, as well as pure on-premises solutions.
Apart from that, we’re maintaining and developing our existing customers’ BizTalk solutions. Keeping clients is key for recurring business, so our policy is to make sure clients value their BizTalk installations and make the most of it. Recently, we got the maintenance contract for a new customer, which showed the need for analyzing a running BizTalk solution, both its health and its technical/functional aspects. When you’re handed a BizTalk solution with mixed orchestrations and messaging-only solutions, your experience tells you that you cannot trust documentation or assume the previous contractor work in the same manner you do. A TechNet Wiki article about that is under way. J
Figure 2: This is a neat seat J in a hotel in Sweden
What is TechNet Wiki for? Who is it for?
I view it as a resource for and communication between colleagues – current and future, in my company and other – and other people who are in search of a solution for a technical problem. It accompanies the MSDN documentation, and provides valuable insights and code examples that connects the dots. The TechNet wiki leverages the BizTalk platform, I think.
What do you do with TechNet Wiki, and how does that fit into the rest of your job?
I primarily research technical problems that arise at clients, and when proposing solutions for customers. I also feel I want to give something back to the community, after having read and utilized its resources for so many years. We (as a community) learn as we share!
In what other sites and communities do you contribute your technical knowledge?
I’ve made some small contributions to the Blogical SFTP Adapter and the GnuPG wrapper Starksoft Biko. At our company, we have “tech nights” where we get together and one of us presents some technical or project method-related subject which we all benefit from, ultimately it will benefit our customers.
Back in the days, I wrote a terminal client (for talking to a BBS, for those of you who are old enough to remember that J ) in Z80 assembler. A teacher in school wanted it so I handed over the listing. Perhaps that’s my first contribution of software!
What are your favorite Wiki articles you’ve contributed?
I’d say the SSO-related articles; I want to advocate the use of SSO for on-premise solutions. Still, after all these years, many installations aren’t taking advantage of SSO to keep passwords stored away and keeping (re-)deployment simple and scriptable. Maybe it’s my mission, to do away with passwords and go for SSO. However, it has proven difficult when moving things to Azure. In Azure, I’d really want more security, not less. That’s an area I want to explore more.
Yes, how about security? Is that a concern for you?
Yes, definitely! One advantage of using a standard platform (.Net, BizTalk) is that it is constantly being attacked and thus constantly updated. Don’t imagine I’m a crypto expert, because I’m not! The changes I made to the Blogical SFTP adapter and the GnuPG wrapper, was regarding configuration and command-line options. But at least I know where to turn to when it comes to such matters, and not just ignore it. My experience is that password and identity management is still very poorly handled in many places. At least some customers are using software such as KeePass or PasswdSafe, but the passwords must be entered each and every time a BizTalk application is updated (since almost everyone deploy with bindings, regardless whether they use BizTalk Deployment Framework or not). Many still have the passwords in the bindings files or in an Excel spreadsheet. With SSO, you don’t have to. Enter it once, then forget it (that is, keep it safe in your secure password database). Now, learning about Azure, it seems like we’re back at the year 2000 with configuration files with connection strings with passwords in them. Also, I have seen horrible stuff like outbound payments, albeit in ISO-20022 format, being e-mailed – to a bank!
Who has impressed you in the Wiki community, and why?
If I must pick only one: One person that is very productive and professional is Sandro Pereira, I always read his articles and his blog with great interest!
Do you have any tips for new Wiki authors?
Read the guide for wiki authors, it’s really good, to keep the articles on the expected high standard on TechNet. Don’t be afraid to write! If you want to complain on something, do that on a personal blog for example. The TechNet Wiki articles should have a neutral tone, although I always include a scenario in the beginning of my articles to illustrate the problem I was trying to solve.
Special thanks go out to Peter for his fantastic articles! Everyone, please join me in thanking Peter! And check out his articles if you haven't yet!
Remember to Wiki while/after/before you work!
- Ninja Ed