The road ahead for Microsoft Integration
Traditional Integration will be taken over by the cloud. I will tell you why! I have worked in the Microsoft space for over a decade, predominantly with BizTalk and other integration technologies. I have noticed recently that the role of BizTalk is slowly moving towards the backend enabling systems (legacy) to expose their data. However, countless systems themselves have capabilities onboard these days to expose data and accept data. Beside that some of them if not relatively all of them have the ability to transform in/outgoing data to another format. Hence, a messaging/broker is not required, unless you require to send out and accept data from various systems and services on a large scale.
The cloud is slowly taken over the IT-landscape. And who wants to run their IT on premise these days? The elasticity, the pay as you go, the vast amount of services (capabilities) and time-to market makes IT on premise practically obsolete. Even large LOB systems, which people thought would never migrate to the cloud will eventually! The only justification to have data on premise locked into systems is its sensitivity.
Looking at integration, connecting systems, devices and applications together is going to change. A bulky message broker is not required anymore, integration can be done using API’s through different protocols communicating JSON. Will XML be past tense? Not yet as EDI/HL7 still aren't past tense and are still relevent. However, REST, JSON are the magic words today. And the Micro services paradigm totally kills the idea of having a bus. Modern integration can be done leveraging Microsoft Azure services such as Service Bus, Logic Apps and API apps building lightweight integrations. These services offer messaging capabilities, hosting pre-defined processes and access to resources. Several of BizTalk Server capabilities can currently be found in Logic Apps and more will over time move to Azure.
Integration itself will not disappear and remains a necessity in IT. However, it will change and this will reflect in my job and anyone else working in the integration space working with Microsoft Technology. Therefore, we need to shift our focus from traditional- to modern means of integration, which involves Microsoft Azure. We need to invest in Microsoft Azure Service Bus, Logic Apps, API’s and several other technologies. For instance “Internet of Things”, a trend in IT, which will disrupt traditional ways of building solutions if it hasn’t already. IoT will create a totally different market for us with a critical role for integration.
Does that mean I now should stop developing integration solutions with BizTalk Server? No, since the cloud technology for integration is currently not mature enough. However, that will change on the short or mid term (a few months to over a year). Therefore, you need to think about a migration strategy for your on premise integration assets to the cloud. Your current and future solutions depend on it and should be made cloud ready. And this can be achieved by having a distinct separation of concerns i.e. loose coupling between artefacts. The artefacts either remain on premise or move to the cloud as Logic App or API App. The the TechNet Wiki will provide the articles around them as with BizTalk Server today!
Note: Microsoft has released its road map for integration just recently and it aligns with my thoughts above. You can find the road map here.