Microsoft Adds Enterprise and B2B Integration to Azure BizTalk Services

    I hardly ever write about Microsoft and integration, but honestly, it’s not something that seems to be a strategic point of discussion for the business.  But this week at TechEd, Microsoft announced a public preview of its Windows Azure BizTalk Services for enterprise integration in the cloud and on-premise.

    Look at this NewsFactor article, and you’ll see what I mean about Microsoft and its integration story: I’ve basically summed up everything the article says about this news already. It’s not just that article: Every article was just as stingy with the integration details.

    That’s too bad, because it’s actually a significant announcement, particularly for B2B companies, but also for those who need more support for internal enterprise integration.

    I found more details on an MSDN blog:

    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.

    So, what that means is you can connect systems with different protocols, validate messaging, and other EAI kind of stuff. There’s also an ESB function now that will allow you to internally connect line of business applications from Azure.

    While Microsoft may not be big about pushing the integration story, what it is good at is thinking beyond the technology to the business as a whole. I think you can see that with this upgrade. It doesn’t just include ESB and EAI technology — this is about all the integration gaps within the enterprise AND without.

    Which brings us to the really significant and more unusual part of this announcement: the Azure-based B2B portal you can create with BizTalk Services.

    Cloud-based B2B integration and B2B gateways are a relatively recent trend for supply chains and other B2B companies.

    Microsoft’s move here confirms what Forrester’s Stefan Ried said a year ago: Cloud computing is disrupting the integration space by blurring the lines between the traditional enterprise integration market and B2B solutions.

    Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told NewsFactor the free Windows 8.1 client upgrade includes features that will help simplify integrating it into the enterprise. That’s good news for those who use personal devices on company networks, he added.

    This was a busy week for integration announcements, actually. As I shared yesterday, Informatica unveiled Vibe, as well as the Vibe-based PowerCenter Express. Here are a few other announcements worth noting.

    Oh, Concierge, Where Can I Find a Big Data Strategy?

    Pentaho is boosting its Big Data services by offering a special support system to large enterprises that want a little bit more than its existing Support and Services program. The new Pentaho Concierge Service offers enterprise clients a long-term engagement with a designated solution architect.

    Pentaho is a business analytics company that supports Apache Hadoop, Cloudera, MongoD, Greenplum and Vertica, as well as other big data sources. The new Concierge Service includes a “technical point of contact” who will have access to an “internal VM replica of a client’s business analytics environment to expedite problem resolution.” The second service offering is for a strategic solution architecture consultation, for those enterprise customers who want a more “refined” strategic technical partnership. That service includes an architecture evaluation, plus a customized plan for achieving business analytics project goals, as well as assistance with executing the plan — naturally.

    Dell and Oracle Team Up for Integrated Offerings

    Oracle continues its march toward tightly coupling hardware with software, but this time, it’s not buying — it’s partnering with Dell. IDG reports that Dell x86 server platforms will be optimized for:

    • Oracle Linux
    • Oracle VM
    • Oracle Enterprise Manager
    • Oracle middleware, database and other applications

    Oracle and Dell will also jointly support these solutions, which for me immediately conjures up a tech support nightmare in which the hardware guy blames the software gal, but I’m a bit of a cynic.

    Oracle Co-President Mark Hurd said the goal of this partnership is to free enterprises from integration and maintenance work so IT can spend more time on internal innovation, according to an IDG report.

    WSO2 Revamps API Manager

    WSO2 released a new version (1.4) of its open source API Manager, which launched last fall. The update includes two changes in particular that WSO2 says are firsts in the industry.

    First, the open source software is now designed to run on private, public or hybrid cloud environments, so you don’t have to buy one edition for behind the firewall and another for the cloud. I did not know that was an issue, but it’s nice to know it’s not now.

    “This means enterprises can combine the convenience of cloud-based API delivery with robust API governance behind the firewall,” according to WSO2 PR representative Andrew Magliulo.

    Second, it enables federated access to APIs across multiple entities, which means the APIs are available through a central API store and through the tenant API stores linked to it. “This model is gaining strong interest across a range of commercial businesses, governments and universities,” he explained.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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