For my final post in this series, I wanted to highlight something that is not part of the core on-premise product, or even a part of Windows Azure BizTalk Services. Honestly, it was a struggle trying to figure out what to close out this series on. I had debated ending with the coverage on WABS, the code-sample heavy posts on REST, or even an end-to-end build-out of a solution using the new SharePoint adapter. Instead, I am going to focus on something which really causes BizTalk Server 2013 stand out from the rest, and is born out of its lengthy history as Microsoft’s flagship integration platform – the BizTalk Server 2013 Community.
So without further ado, I would like to present, the Top 5 Indicators that the BizTalk Server 2013 Community is thriving now more than ever.
Expanded Community of Bloggers
It has been exciting over the last few years to see more people get involved with blogging about BizTalk Server. The ESB Toolkit, specifically, is something near and dear to my heart, and I’m seeing consistently great things related to the Toolkit coming from people like Tomasso Groenendijk, and Colin Meade on their respective blogs. It’s especially cool, though, to see blogs specifically dedicated to BizTalk Server Administration– as with Tord Nordahl’s blog.1 If you ever want to be inspired and feel like a small part of a much larger community, just read through either Richard Seroter’s 4 question series, or Steef-Jan Wiggers’ BizTalk Community Series.
New Community Sites
Lex Hegt has done some pretty interesting work lately for the BizTalk Server Community, but he’s not taking any credit in the process. Just last year he launched BizTalkEvents.com which aggregates event schedules from BizTalk Server user groups and training classes from all over the world. It also features a presentation archive organized by date and event, complete with slide deck downloads.
EDIT: Michael Stephenson also pointed out that another interesting initiative that has come about during this latest round of BizTalk Server offerings is the BizTalk Maturity Assessment, which helps organizations determine their level of maturity across a variety of different areas, and then use the results of the assessment to grow those areas in which they need work.
Robust Third-Party Products
Since BizTalk Server is often used to build mission critical systems, it has tended to attract fairly high quality third-party products. This generation of 3rd party products entering the BizTalk Server 2013 ecosystem is certainly raising the bar though for quality and innovation. One really only needs to look at the latest (currently in Beta) version of Kovai’s BizTalk 360 headed up by Microsoft Integration MVP Saravana Kumar. Fresh out of the trappings of Silverlight, and into the land of HTML5 goodness, BizTalk 360 is augmenting the BizTalk Server Administration Console with something that would make even Houston jealous.
The TechNet Wiki
Every time I go to the landing page for BizTalk Server articles on the TechNet Wiki, I wonder to myself what percentage of the overall wiki is comprised of articles about BizTalk Server. Countless community contributors and careful curating by contributors like Steef-Jan Wiggers, have grown this free-form body of knowledge into a treasure trove of information about all versions of BizTalk Server – including pointers to the edges of the BizTalk Server Community itself.
The BizTalk Summit
Finally, if you want to see the BizTalk Server community thrive, go to one of the BizTalk Summit events. Hosted by Microsoft, these are special events where the community can come together, meet each other, swap battle stories, and bond over the shared love of bringing systems together. Last year, I had the opportunity (along with Rob Callaway, John Callaway, Chap Phillips and Paul Pemberton of QuickLearn) to bring some hands on labs to life, showing both Salesforce integration and an early peak at the EDI capabilities of WABS. I’m hoping to be a part of bringing even more this year – especially now that we have a platform for easy setup of such labs in Azure.
Registration is open for the summit right now, so don’t miss it!
While this post does mark the end of my series on the new features in BizTalk Server 2013, I’m not going to pack up my mouse and keyboard and call it a year. We’ll keep this space up to date with interesting tidbits that come up along the way. Some of it will be new stuff, some will be written responses to frequent questions that come up in class – but hopefully all of it will be adding value to the BizTalk Server community as a whole.
Take care until next time!
– Nick Hauenstein
1 If you’re ever stuck at a conference with people you don’t know, go find Tord and he’ll talk to you as if you were his best friend and keep you entertained in the process).