Is BizTalk server a T-Rex?

Why do people start comparing BizTalk Server to a T-Rex?

Long time ago the Microsoft marketing team created this mousepad in occasion of the BizTalk 12th birthday.


And my dear friend Sandro produced the fantastic sticker below


Time later people start comparing BizTalk Server to a T-Rex, honestly, I don’t remember the exact reasons why but I like to provide my opinion about that.

Why a T-Rex?

In the last year, I engaged many missions in UK around BizTalk Server, assessments, mentoring, development, migration, optimization and more and I heard many theories about that, let go across some of them :

Because BizTalk is old, well, in that case I’d like to say mature which is a very good point for a product, since the 2004 version the product grew up until the 2013 R2 version and in these last 10 years the community build so much material, tools and documentation that not many other products can claim.

Because BizTalk is big and monolithic, I think this is just a point of view, BizTalk can be very smart, most of the time I saw architects driving their solution in a monolithic way and, most of the times, the problem was in the lack of knowledge about BizTalk Server.

Because BizTalk is complicate, well Forrest Gump at this point would say “complicate is what complicate we do”, during my assessments and mentoring I see so many over complicated solutions which could be solved is very easy way and, the are many reasons for that, some time because we miss the knowledge, other time we don’t like to face the technology and we decide for, what I like to call, the “chicken way”.

Because now we have the cloud, well, in part I can agree with that but, believe or not, we also have the on premise and companies still use hardware, companies still integrate on premise applications and we believe or not, integrating system in productive way to send data into the cloud in efficient and reliable mode is something very complicate to do and, at the moment, BizTalk is still the number one on it.

Because BizTalk costs, the BizTalk license depends by the number of processors we need to use in order to run our solution and achieve the number of messages per second we need to consume, this is the main dilemma but, in my opinion, quite easy to solve and this is my simple development theory.
The number of messages we are able to achieve is inversely proportional to the number of wrong best practices we produce in our solution.

Many people make me this question, Nino what do you think is the future of BizTalk Server?

I don’t like to speak about future, I saw many frameworks came up and disappear after one or two years.
I like to consider the present and I think BizTalk is a solid product with tons of features and able to cover and support in great way any integration scenario.

In my opinion the main problem is how we approach to this technology.

Many times companies think about BizTalk like a single product to use in order to cover any aspect about a solution and this is deeply wrong.
I like to use many technologies together and combine them in the best way but, most important, each correct technology to solve the specific correct task.

In my opinion when we look to a technology, we need to get all the pros and cons and we must use the pros in the proper way to avoid any cons.

BizTalk can be easily extendable and we can compensate any cons in very easy way.

Below some of my personal best hints derived by my experience in the field:

If you are not comfortable or sure about BizTalk Server then call an expert, in one or two days he will be able to give you the right way, this is the most important and the best hint, I saw many people blaming BizTalk Server instead of blaming their lack of knowledge.

Use the best naming convention able to drive you in a proper way in your solution, I don’t like to follow the same one because any solution, to be well organized, needs a different structure, believe me the naming convention is all in a BizTalk Solution.

Use orchestration only when you need a strictly pattern between the processes, orchestrations are the most expensive resource in BizTalk Server, if I need to use it then I will use it for this specific reason only.

If I need to use an orchestration, then I like to simplify using code instead of using many BizTalk shapes, I like to use external libraries in my orchestrations, it’s simpler than create tons of shapes and persistent points in the orchestration.

Many times, we don’t need to use an adapter from an orchestration, which costs resources in the system, for example many times we need to retrieve data from a database or call another service and we don’t need to be reliable.

Drive your persistent points, we can drive the persistent points using atomic scopes and .Net code, I like to have the only persistent point I need to recover my process.

Anything can be extendable and reusable, when I start a new project I normally use my templates and I like to provide my templates to the customer.

I avoid the messagebox where I need real time performances, I like to use two different technics to do that, one is using Redis cache, the second is by RPC.
One of the big features provided by BizTalk Server is the possibility to reuse the artefacts separately and outside the BizTalk engine, in this way I can easily achieve real time performances in a BizTalk Server process.

Many times, we can use a Standard edition instead of an Enterprise edition, the standard edition has 2 main limitations, we can’t have multiple messageboxes and we can’t have multiple BizTalk nodes in the same group.
If the DTS (Down Time Service) is acceptable I like to use a couple of standard editions and with a proper configuration and virtual server environment I’m able to achieve a very good High Availability plan and saving costs.

I always use BAM and I implement a good notification and logging system, BizTalk Server is the middleware and, believe me, for any issue you will have in production the people will blame BizTalk, in this case, a good metrics to manage and troubleshoot in fast way any possible issue, will make you your life great.

Make the performance testing using mock services first and real external services after, in this way we are able to provide the real performances of our BizTalk solution, I saw many companies waste a lot of money trying to optimize a BizTalk process instead of the correct external service.

To conclude, when I look at BizTalk Server I don’t see a T-Rex.
BizTalk remembers me more a beautiful woman like Jessica Rabbit


full of qualities but, as any woman, sometime she plays up, we only need to know how to live together whit her 😉




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