July 4, 2017
Integrate 2017 in review
"The body of a corporate event, with the heart and soul of a community group meeting." I think this is the best way I can describe the feeling of attending the 2017 edition of Integrate. The team at BizTalk 360, drawing support from the Microsoft Professional Integration Team and the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) community, created once more an event that is really the reference event for the Microsoft Integration Industry.
Integrate 2017’s ambitious agenda of 28 breakout sessions, at a variety of levels, delivered by 14 Microsoft Employees - from various groups within Microsoft - and 14 Microsoft MVPs – was flawlessly executed. The hour-long Keynote address by Jim Harrer - Cloud and Enterprise Principal Group Program Manager – and key members of the product team was insightful and brought some exciting announcements.
The new venue in Kings Place, with capacity for 400 people was close to capacity - with 382 attendees - had a variety of areas for networking, and a fantastic theatre-style auditorium. One of the criteria for speaker selection, according to BizTalk 360 founder and event organiser Saravana Kumar, was that they would stay for the whole conference, giving attendees the opportunity to catch up with them, ask questions and discuss ideas.
All of that contributed to a successful event, evidenced by the number of positive tweets, reviews and the overall sentiment at the conference that this the best Integrate event so far.
Jim Harrer started his keynote address with a review of the year, from Integrate 2016 announcements to today, showing a steady pace of innovation from all products from the team (APIM, BizTalk Server, HIS and Logic Apps).
He reasserted the vision of a hybrid integration landscape using Logic Apps at the core of cloud integration, connected to a large pool of SaaS applications and Azure offerings, from products that complement the integration stack - like API Management, Service Bus, Azure Functions - to core products like Azure Active Directory, Document DB, Azure SQL and App Services. All of this connected directly to on-premises resources via the on-premises data gateway, or accessing many other line of business core applications - like Oracle, TIBCO, Siebel and PeopleSoft among others - taking advantage of BizTalk Server. This creates a compelling hybrid integration story where integration requirements either in the cloud or on premises can be stitched together seamlessly.
To that vision Jim now adds the capability to leverage from intelligence services and advanced analytics to gain insights and create intelligent applications, with the addition of Cognitive Services and Power BI connectors to Logic Apps.
With that in mind, Jim advises us that our job as integration specialists is changing. Long gone are the barriers that put integration in the backseat as a feature that is only remembered when it doesn't work. With the prominence of the hybrid and intelligent integration components, we are now becoming the "You can do that?" specialists, bringing agility and business value to existing solutions.
There were a number of announcements made by the product team during the three days of the event. My personal favourites are:
- The BizTalk Server Migration Tool, which will help organisations move workflows from earlier versions of BizTalk into BizTalk Server 2016. This tool was created by the Microsoft IT team to manage its internal BizTalk footprint (clocking around 75 BizTalk Server instances according to one of the presentations) and has now been made publicly available.
- The Logic Apps UI improvements, making a number of features that were only available in the code behind accessible in the UI, making creation of complex workflows easier.
Here is a list of the main announcements.
- BizTalk Server migration tool is now available.
- Event Hubs Capture (previously Archive) is now GA.
- Event Hubs Clusters going into Public Preview around September.
- Logic Apps is now available in UK Data Centres.
- Logic Apps BizTalk Server Connector is now GA.
- Logic Apps is now certified in a number of industry standards
- Logic Apps Azure File Connector
- Logic Apps UI designer improvements
- Configurable Retry Policy
- Workflow Definition Language functions support
And those were only the items available now or with set dates. The Logic Apps team, as usual, had a long list of features in active development, including:
- The long-waited SOAP connector
- The ability to create customer connectors
- An OMS dashboard to combine multiple Logic Apps in a single view
There were also announcements of a couple of conferences coming up:
- Integrate 2017 will come to United States, hosted at the MS Headquarters in Redmond from 25 to 26 October 2017.
- Global Integration Bootcamp 2018 is now set for 24 March 2018.
BizTalk 360 created a comprehensive recap of the presentations on their blog.
The twittersphere was also inundated by tweets with the #Integrate2017 hashtag, as well as the #IntegrationLove hashtag, displaying the humorous and affectionate side of the conference. I've created a series of Twitter moments capturing some of the most important and interesting tweets of each day of the conference.
Integrate 2017 is the de-facto Integration conference for Microsoft technologies. On top of a great line up of breakout sessions, covering most of the spectrum of Microsoft Integration technologies to date, having access to the Microsoft Professional Integration Product group, to Microsoft IT architects and developers, and to a good number Microsoft MVPs focused on integration, all willing to engage in casual chat and discuss scenarios, answer questions or point to existing resources is well worth the long journey to get there, in my opinion.
Awesome photo of all the conference attendees via @BizTalk360