Integrate 2016 – Day 1
Today was the first day of the Integrate 2016 event held in London (http://www.biztalk360.com/integrate-2016) and after attending most of today’s sessions (more on this later), here are some highlights.
The plan was for us to fly in to London on Wednesday morning and be right on time for the registration and the first sessions of the day. Unfortunately due to bad weather at London City Airport our flight was delayed for 5 hours and we arrived much later than we had intended.
So the bad news was that we missed the first two sessions of the day (the keynote by Jim Harrer and “BizTalk 2016 Server: What’s New” by Jon Fancey), we will do a write-up on the sessions later when they become available online. The good news was that we arrived just in time for lunch!
Now on to the highlights of the day, Kevin Lam and Jeff Hollan had a great presentation on “Powerful Integration and Workflow Automation”. Here we learned that:
- The Logic Apps Designer will be brought to Visual Studio.
- Schema’s, maps and certificates can be placed in an Enterprise Integration Account, which allows the artefacts to be re-used. The schema’s and maps are compatible with BizTalk.
- VETER (Validate, Extract, Transform, Enrich, Route) Pipelines can be created as a Logic App. The pipelines we know from BizTalk will be created as a Logic App.
- Error handling is possible on every step in the pipeline.
- Flat file messages will be supported by the pipeline.
- The pipeline will route messages to a topic.
- It will be possible to use parameters while calling a map from a Logic App.
- X12 and AS/2 support will be coming soon in Preview. EDIFACT, configurable tracking capability, trading partner agreements in the portal and schema + party resolution will be coming shortly after that.
- On-premise SQL, Oracle and DB2 connectivity is supported. MQ, Informix, SAP, Oracle EBS, File and CICS are planned. This used to be the MABS Bridge functionality.
Next Charles Lamanna talked about Microsoft Flow. Microsoft Flow feels very much like IFTTT (https://ifttt.com) but is targeted more towards a business user. Where IFTTT is quite restrictive in its setup, Microsoft Flow allows for the automation of a more complex scenario.
- Microsoft Flow can be seen as Logic Apps Light. The target audience for Microsoft Flow are non-developers.
- Users can create a flow to (for example) synchronize files or collect data in a couple of clicks. There is no coding, just configuration. Flow enables “self-service” for simple interfaces.
- Under the hood, a flow is created as a Logic App.
- If a flow becomes too complex, it can be promoted to a Logic App.
- Templates can be created which can be published and re-used.
- Flow is intended to be used when the standard requirements like source control and testing are not required. The easy rule of thumb is that if you are working in Visual Studio, you should use BizTalk Server and Logic Apps. If you are working in Excel, Access & Sharepoint, you should use Flow.
The next session was about “Harnessing the Power of APIs” by Vladimir Vinogradsky, where he talked about Azure API Management. Here are some of the highlights.
- Azure API Management uses Policies and Expressions.
- Policies encapsulate common API management capabilities like mutating request context. The policies can be set in the inbound and outbound directions. For a list of policies take a look at https://azure.microsoft.com/nl-nl/documentation/articles/api-management-policy-reference/.
- Expressions are C# snippets which can be embedded in policies, these can be used to dynamically configure policies.
- Policies can be applied at the global, product API or operation scope.
- Azure Functions (more on this subject tomorrow) can be used in Azure API Management.
- Vladimir gave a great demo on how to add a new operation to an already existing API and routed the new operation to an Azure Function.
The final session of the day was an interactive session on the “Microsoft Integration Partner Program” by Jim Harrer. The interactive part of the session was really cool, in the session Jim asked several multiple choice questions about the Microsoft Integration Partner Program, which the attendees could answer by texting the answer to a phone number. A Logic App would receive the text message, send it to an Event Hub which would sends its data to PowerBI using Stream Analytics. The data was shown live in PowerBI where we could see the answers and the amount of votes they were getting. A very cool demo!
The start of our day could have been better, but the great sessions definitely made up for the flight delays. We are looking forward to day 2!