How Biztalk meets Azure Logic Apps in the world of integration

Nov 14, 2018   |  

Divya Swarnkar is a senior program manager in the integration platforms team inside Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO). Part of her responsibility is ensuring that business transactions between Microsoft and its partners via Integration platforms are secure, transparent and friction-less.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messages and integration services form the core of how businesses transact. This has typically required high levels of expertise and investments or resources. Although many outside the deep specialized trenches have never heard of Biztalk Server (Biztalk), it has been a mainstay of the integration system and platform for years and is still critical in parts of the business today. Divya and other Biztalk developers and architects live and breathe Biztalk maps, adapters, and bridges, and have for quite a while. As Divya explains, “Many of us on the team have a career based on Biztalk and integration.”

Divya Swarnkar and her team are driving modernization of partner integration inside Microsoft.
Divya Swarnkar and her team are driving modernization of partner integration inside Microsoft.

Yet only by maintaining a modern platform can Microsoft keep pace with the speed of change, and its expansive integration platform helps continue its relationships. With additional services and business lines being added, Microsoft – and Divya’s team – recognizes that integration platform reliance is only going to continue increasing. The team needs to integrate at the speed of business, and the integration platform cannot be the bottleneck for business. The answer lies in cloud computing, specifically, an Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS).

When Divya and her team started to investigate how to modernize the integration platform and bring it into the age of cloud computing, they had several goals. As Divya pointed out, “We couldn’t shut down and start over, we didn’t want to affect a single transaction.” Based upon this, the two main goals they identified were:

  • Minimal impact to systems and tools. Their goal was to require minimum changes for both Microsoft and its partners.
  • Accelerate onboarding. They wanted to make implementation faster by decoupling the process from the platform.

The obvious choice of technology to address their goals was to use Azure Logic Apps with the Enterprise Integration Pack. This service and framework provided the tools they required to build integration systems natively in the cloud.

But the team had to rethink how they would build in a new architecture with new possibilities. This wasn’t going to be as easy as pressing a Migrate button.

One big change was rather than the old model of designing workflows based on individual partner relationships, they would design them on EDI patterns. To speed up the onboarding process, Divya’s team opted to create modular workflows that were self-contained and discrete, and then piece these together. They also decided to test the changes in production, thereby reducing the time for implementation.

The team started small, by moving a few integration patterns and associated businesses: order-to-cash for digital supply chains, and trade integration with customs declarations. This gave the team time to extend architecture support for new patterns and capabilities, build tools to accelerate onboardings and to support the monitoring and management of new integration services.

Today, Divya’s team is already reaping the benefits of their work. Instead of spending time managing the integration system infrastructure, they’ve increased their agility and decreased onboarding time. The integration service built on Logic Apps supports business continuity across regions.

As Microsoft enters new business segments and builds new partner relationships, the scale and complexity of integration continues to grow. According to Divya, “We’ve only just started our integration migration journey, we’re continuing to move more services to Logics Apps at a fast pace.”

Learn more detail about the Microsoft integration service here: https://github.com/ecfan/logicapps/blob/8281a676dcea42e72c03e8be948b4532f2197730/articles/microsoft-business-integration-with-azure-logic-apps.pdf

And, learn more about the Azure Logic Apps services here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/logic-apps/logic-apps-move-from-mabs

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