During the Build and Integrate conference, a lot of exciting announcements were made about the Azure integration space.  In this blog, I want to share with you the trends that I have identified within all that news.

Goodbye BizTalk

With the brand new BizTalk 2020 release, the BizTalk customers get platform alignment and another 10 year of extended support.  All signals we receive so far, are pointing in the direction that this will be the timeframe in which you have to migrate to Azure Integration Services.  Although there was no official statement about this, I think you can read it between the lines.  There was only one session from the BizTalk product team and its content was mostly focused on the BizTalk Migrator tool that will be open sourced in fall 2020.  Great to see that this tool suggests the routing slip pattern, of which I talked about back in 2017.  Be aware that a migration from BizTalk to Azure Integration Services means a complete re-development.  This tool will be a great help, but not your silver bullet!

Some announcements that bring BizTalk functionality to Azure:

  • BizTalk Migrator Tool
  • HL7 and FIHR support for Logic Apps (open-source initiative)
  • Support for SWIFT protocol
  • GA of the much needed SAP connector

The cloud is coming your way!

Azure Arc was announced at Ignite last year.  Its aim is to bring the power of Azure everywhere:  hosted in your data center or any public cloud, but still cloud-managed.  Azure API Management recently went GA with its self-hosted gateway.  It is only one step away to become fully managed through Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes.

Logic Apps is also heading into that direction.  A private preview will become available soon, in which Logic Apps can run on the Azure Functions runtime.  This will allow you to run Logic Apps everywhere.  There is still a lot of engineering work to do on the connector side, scalability (KEDA?) and governance aspects.  Logic Apps is currently already available within Dapr workflows, I will share my experiences about it soon.  Azure Event Grid is capable of running on IoT Edge, so this should be a minimal effort to make it available on Azure Arc.

Serverless is maturing

There is definitely a trend that PaaS and serverless products are investing more and more in enterprise-readiness.  Here are some features that improve security, monitoring, performance and governance:

  • Stateless Logic Apps for lower latency
  • Many API Management observability options
  • Rich networking options for Azure Functions premium plan
  • Azure AD credentials for self-hosted API Management gateway
  • BYOK and private endpoints / link added to many services (thanks JEDI)
  • Event Grid Managed Identity and AD protected endpoints support

Focus on developer experience

The Azure product teams understand that a continuous investment in developer experience is needed.  Some announcements that showcase this:

  • Logic Apps SDK to develop workflows within code
  • Local Logic Apps development experience on the Azure Functions runtime
  • Improved Visual Studio Code extension for Logic Apps coming soon
  • New designer for Logic Apps workflows in the make
  • API Management debugging of policies available soon
  • Service Bus explorer available in the Azure portal

Some missed opportunities

There are two important aspects on my wish-list, which were unfortunately not covered:

Unifying Azure Integration Services

In the end, Azure Integration Service is a marketing umbrella on top of four individual services.  It would be really great to see them more tightly integrated, with a focus on end-to-end monitoring, seamless CI/CD, built-in testing capabilities, uniform security and a simplified disaster recovery story.  When competing against other products, we often get the remark that it does not feel as a single integration suite.

Service Bus for Azure Arc

If we want a trust-worthy replacement for BizTalk on premises, we definitely need to have a message queueing.  I am aware that Event Grid offers publish/subscribe capabilities, but real decoupling by intermediate queues is not part of its feature set.  Would be good to see Azure Service Bus available on Azure Arc, although I understand that this might bring some engineering challenges.  Extending Event Grid with some persistence and throttling features might also be an option.  Let’s see what the future brings!

Hope you have enjoyed my view on the evolutions in the Azure integration space!

Cheers,
Toon

About me

Hi! I’m Toon Vanhoutte, a hands-on Azure architect – based in Belgium – with a big passion for teaching and helping people out. I’m happy to assist you during your Azure journey with high-quality advisory and I would love to teach you Azure’s possibilities via my tailored training courses.

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