Integrate 2018 in review

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Integrate, now in its 4th edition, cemented its position as the premier integration conference in the Microsoft events calendar. This year it was held at the etc.Venues in Central London, with 420 attendees from across the globe. Speakers included product owners, managers and engineers from Microsoft, as well as Microsoft Azure MVPs from across the world – including our very own Principal Integration Architect Wagner Silveira.

Wagner Silveira speakerAs in past years, the Microsoft Product Group presented the first half of the event , with representation from all the main products in the Microsoft Enterprise Integration catalogue, including Logic Apps, Azure Functions, API Management, Messaging and Microsoft Flow. The presentations ranged from introductory to deep dives and roadmap sessions.

Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (Microsoft MVPs) from across Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand presented the second half of the event. In general, the MVP sessions were based on real life experience with the tools, and ranged from architecture to deep dive sessions.

Integrate 2018

Photo credit: Tarik Sheikh

Announcements

During the Microsoft presentations, several announcements were made about the future of products - from roadmap updates to new services or offers. Among the announcements, the following were the most notable:

Integration Service Environment (ISE)

Probably the most common requirement for Logic Apps – a dedicated environment charged on a subscription model – will soon become a reality, thanks to ISE. This new offering will bring:

  • Dedicated compute, eliminating the risk of noisy neighbours which can exist in a shared environment.
  • Isolated storage, further increasing the security of the system
  • VNET connectivity, which will allow scenarios where the integration layer will be fully isolated from public internet access, if required.
  • Private static outbound IP, which will enable scenarios where inbound connectivity is required but no form of relay service is necessary. Currently the only way to enable this scenario is to allow inbound communication from all IPs associated to any in a given region, which raises security questions.
  • Custom inbound domain names, which will allow Logic Apps to be accessed by a fully qualified name instead of one or more servers within MS clusters.
  • Flat cost, with a fixed monthly subscription, similar to other services like API Management.

This offer, while still not available – private preview is been expected to start soon – will give Logic Apps the flexibility it needs to compete fully with other offers in the market. The announcement got a round of applause when made by Kevin Lam and Matthew Farmer, Program Managers in the Pro-Integration team at Microsoft.

round of applause

Photo credit: Tarik Sheikh

Azure Integration Services (AIS)

Another important announcement was the official launch of Azure Integration Services, which will group the flagship integration solutions running on Azure as a single offer. In the announced format, AIS is comprised of:

  • Logic Apps
  • API Management
  • Service Bus
  • Event Grids

Microsoft has recognised that those services, although they can be used in isolation, bring a big competitive advantage when combined, creating a strong and flexible offering. At this point it’s mainly a branding exercise, as a way to recognize that those services together can work as a unit when compared with other iPaaS solutions in the market. In the future, those services are likely to have tighter integration. It is also expected that at some stage it will be possible to deploy and be charged by the composed services as a unit.

Logic Apps announcements

Logic Apps also provided a list of new features that are now in their pipeline – although no dates were provided for availability either in preview or GA:

  • New enterprise connectors – Oracle EBS, Newsuite, Concur and SAP Successfactors
  • Changes in Integration Account, including the addition of a consumption-based model, higher limits for artefacts and improved management capabilities.
  • Creation of new features to bring Logic Apps to BizTalk parity including the addition of a Business Rules engine, implementation of existing accelerators like Rosettanet, HL7 and Swift as well as addition of line of business adapters like Peoplesoft and TIBCO.

From those features, the changes in the Integration Account raised a round of applause as this is a another very common request from the community. This could really increase the adoption of Integration Account, as some clients can be reticent to invest in a feature like this until they have enough requirements to justify the cost. A consumption based solution would allow for Just In Time investment, removing one of the main barriers for adoption.

BizTalk Server Announcements

New versions of the Feature Pack and Cumulative Updates for BizTalk Server 2016 were also announced during the event.

Feature Pack 3

Feature Pack 3 is currently under development. The list of features expected in this Feature Pack are:

  • Compliance with US Standards for accessibility, FIPS and GDPR.
  • Compatibility with SQL Server 2016 SP2, allowing multiple databases to be deployed in the same instance of an availability group.
  • New Office 365 adapters – Email, Calendar and Outlook.
  • Authentication with Azure AD and OAuth using MS Enterprise Single Sign on.
  • Advanced scheduling on receive locations with precision down to seconds.

Cumulative Update 5

Cumulative Update 5 will roll out some of the critical improvements available in FP3 (which includes previous FP implementations) to all BizTalk licenses. Those features are:

  • Compliance with US Standards for accessibility, FIPS and GDPR.
  • Compatibility with SQL Server 2016 SP2, allowing multiple databases to be deployed in the same instance of an availability group.
  • Support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2

The lack of announcements on BizTalk Server vNext caused lots of parallel discussions during the Q&A session at the end of the event. It’s still not clear when BizTalk Server vNext will be released - a Community Technical Preview (CTP) was expected around Q3 2018 based on previous roadmap discussions. According to Paul Larsen, the team’s current priority is to provide added value to clients through Feature Packs and Cumulative Updates.

A summary in tweets

Wagner curated a series of tweets that capture the spirit of the each day of the events:

Recap day 1 

Recap day 2