Yes!! It’s here. Yesterday, Windows Azure BizTalk Services Preview lit up on the Azure Portal. Windows Azure BizTalk Services provides simple, powerful and extensible cloud-based integration service that provides Business-to-Business (B2B) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) capabilities for delivering cloud and hybrid integration solutions. The service runs on a secure, dedicated per tenant environment that you can provision on demand, while it is being managed and operated by Microsoft.
Windows Azure BizTalk Services enables a lot of integration scenarios on Azure.
Enterprise Application Integration
BizTalk Services provides Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) on Azure by enabling users to create “rich messaging endpoints”. These endpoints bridge the message and transport protocol mismatch between two disparate systems. Given that the two systems are disparate and probably follow different messaging format and protocols, it becomes imperative that Windows Azure provides rich processing capabilities between the two endpoints. That’s exactly what “bridges” provide you with. After you install the BizTalk Services SDK and create a BizTalk Service project, you can create bridges that provide the following:
- The ability to connect systems with different transport protocols
- The ability to validate the message originating from the source endpoint against a standard schema
- The ability to transform the message as required by destination endpoints
- The ability to enrich the message by adding properties to the message context. The properties can then be used to route the message to a destination or an intermediary endpoint.
For more about Rich Messaging Endpoints, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh689877.aspx.
Enterprise Data Interchange
BizTalk Services spins up a BizTalk Services Portal that you can use to create and manage trading partners and X12/AS2 agreements between those trading partners. These agreements can then be deployed on Azure BizTalk Services. The trading partners can then send EDI messages, using the HTTP, AS2, or FTP protocols, to the endpoints where the agreements are deployed. Agreements then process the message based on the settings and send the messages out to the destination endpoints. These end points can be Azure Service Bus queues or topics, relay endpoints, or BizTalk Service Bus bridges. In a nutshell, you can use the BizTalk Services Portal to:
- Easily manage and onboard trading partners. With this, you will be able to cut down the on-boarding time from weeks to days.
- Leverage Microsoft hosted B2B pipelines as services to exchange B2B documents and run them at scale for customers. This minimizes overhead in managing B2B pipelines and their corresponding scale issues with dedicated servers.
- Ability to track messages.
For more information about B2B messaging using BizTalk Services, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh689898.aspx.
Connectivity to On-premise LOB Applications
Another key feature in BizTalk Services is the ability to connect to on-premise LOB applications, even from the bridges deployed on Azure. As part of the BizTalk Services SDK, you can install the BizTalk Adapter Service component, that can create relay endpoints on Azure Service Bus, which in turn are associated with LOB applications on-premise. You can then use the bridges to send messages to these relay endpoints, which in turn sends the message to the LOB applications housed behind an organizational firewall. For more information, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh689889.aspx
If you were to tie these three key offerings, you can create a very well-used business scenario. In this scenario, an enterprise that uses BizTalk Services creates and deploys agreements on Azure. A trading partner for the enterprise sends an EDI message to the endpoint where the agreement is deployed. Once the message is received, it is processed by the agreement, and then routed to a bridge created and deployed using the BizTalk Services SDK. The bridge processes the message further for validations and transformations, and then using the BizTalk Adapter Service, inserts it into an on-premise SQL Server.
What’s a typical process flow for BizTalk Services applications?
You can read about a typical process flow for using BizTalk Services at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/dn277273.aspx.
- SDK, EDI Schemas and Tools - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39087
- Samples - http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=303933
- Documentation - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh689864.aspx and http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/services/biztalk-services/
- BizTalk Portal - https://portal.biztalk.windows.net/
- BizTalk Service Forums - http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/azurebiztalksvcs/threads
- BizTalk Team Blog - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/biztalk_server_team_blog/