Sunday, March 5, 2017

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Rene Brauwers

Welcome to the 26th interview of the series, today's expert is Rene Brauwers

Rene is Solution Architect with a strong focus on Microsoft Related Products and Technologies and a clear vision: “Enabling businesses to achieve, maintain and prolong a competitive lead in a mobile-first, cloud first world, by means of smart integration”.

Core Proficiencies: Integration Architecture, Solution Architecture, Enterprise Application Integration,Business Process Management,Service Oriented Architecture,Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 – 2013R2,Microsoft Azure,Software AG WebMethods 6.x,Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 / 2013,.NET Development, C#, Database modeling/designing,Documenting,Testing,SQL and BizTalk Clustering,(IIS),Network Load Balancing,Troubleshooting & Problem Solving.

Personal characteristics: Upright,Professional,Social able,Good sense of humor,Innovator,Committed,Problem solver,Tenacious,Result driven

Personal strengths:Constant drive to learn,Planning / time-management,Not afraid to ask for help,Taking responsibility,Independent,Team player, Stress resistant,Thinking in solutions,Ability to explain technical IT issues/concepts to a non-technical audience, Documenting, Business Analysis skills.

Let's Begin Interview....

Mahesh:Who are you and what you do? When did you start working on BizTalk? 
Rene:I’m a Dutchie who emigrated to Australia 2 years ago, and work as a Solutions Architect at MOQdigital, based In Sydney. I started working with BizTalk more than a decade ago and as such have worked with BizTalk Server 2004, 2006, 2006r2, 2009, 2010, 2013,2013R2 an 2016.

Mahesh:How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)? 
Rene: When I got first introduced to BizTalk, I already had experience in the integration space a few years using WebMethods as such I was already familiar with SOA principles, messaging etc. This helped me when moving to BizTalk. So, if I would have to put the amount of time against it, it would be countless hours. 
Having said this, it should not scare anyone as gaining experience is not something which happens overnight, it is something which you get better at the more you expose yourself to it.
The best advice I can give anyone who is starting on their integration journey, is jump in, get hands-on experience, follow best practices, engage with the integration community and do share your experiences; in short, work, -and play hard, enjoy the journey and remember we all had to start somewhere. Patience and perseverance is what gets you there at the end!

Mahesh:Which are the major projects you handled so far? 
Rene: There have been countless big projects, ranging from complete re-platforming; moving from one integration platform to another, to greenfield projects. All in all, the size of a project really doesn’t matter, the thing which matters is taking a customer on the integration journey and delivering the best possible outcome for the business, being it small or large projects.

Mahesh:What do you think is the most challenging part while working on Integration project?
Rene: One of the things I’ve noticed ever since moving from The Netherlands to Australia is that the challenges are everywhere more or less the same; and one of these challenges is around communication and then specifically communication with the different stakeholders as well as vendors of all these disparate systems we have to integrate with. Luckily for us integrators the majority of us are besides technically savvy good communicators as well; allowing us to act as the communication orchestration engine ;-) 

Mahesh:How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform? 
Rene: BizTalk is a one of a kind integration platform. It’s versatile, extensible, reliable and above all very mature if not one of the most mature integration platforms out there.  
Nowadays however I no longer only refer to BizTalk as Microsoft’s Integration platform, I refer to the Microsoft Integration Stack in which BizTalk plays an important role to enable (Hybrid) integration scenario’s and in which we can leverage Azure (iPaas) capabilities such as Logic Apps, API Management, Servicebus, Flow, Functions, Service Fabric, App Services and many, many more
So in my opinion; Comparing competitors’ offerings there is currently no competitor in the market who is able to match the integration capabilities which Microsoft offers both from a technology point of view as well as a commercial (capex, opex) point of view.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert? 
Rene: It’s all about understanding the basics, so know your programming basics, understand Service Oriented Architecture read up on the Enterprise Integration Patterns, start thinking in messages and in a decoupled way ;-) 
But above all, you need passion, perseverance and enjoy what you do. If you have this, you are one of the lucky few who are able to make their work their hobby and their hobby their work.

Mahesh:What are your thoughts on forums, blogs and articles etc.? 
Rene: They are all great and important resources which enables the Microsoft Integration Community to share its knowledge allowing people just starting with integration as well as seasoned integration experts to interact with the community.  The Microsoft Integration community is all about sharing, as sharing is caring.

Mahesh:Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in BizTalk? 
Rene:There are plenty of online as well as offline resources. Ranging from books on BizTalk to online courses on sites such as Pluralsight. Alternatively; go and sign up for class-room based BizTalk training and so on.
Most importantly; Just dive in and start doing by playing with the awesomeness in the Microsoft Integration Stack and please do reach out to the community by visiting local user groups, view webcasts such as Integration Monday, integration Friday. 

Mahesh:There are many tools from community which support BizTalk in some or the other way(like BTDF, Bizunit etc), what do you say about it? Which ones you would recommend?Why? No Microsoft support available?
Rene:There are amazing tools available with support from the Community, and I honestly must say that they all fit certain needs. But like a lot of things, there are different ways to solve problems; so one has to look at the tools on a per case basis to determine which one fits for a given scenario. 

Mahesh:What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification? 
Rene:There is currently no up to date BizTalk certification program available (Except for the Partner Assessment)  and I do not expect that there will be an update pretty soon.
In general Certification is a way of proving you have certain level of understanding in a given technology; unfortunately, in the passed there have been a lot of brain-dump sites which were pointing to the answers as such I feel that passing an exam in some scenarios would not be an accurate representation of once capabilities
Fortunately the current Microsoft certification process has gotten much better and much harder and as such the traditional brain-dump sites are no, too little of use.  

Mahesh:What is the future of BizTalk? 
Rene:BizTalk 2016 has just been released; and other releases are already planned; as such there is no doubt that BizTalk fulfils an important role in Microsoft’s core Integration Strategy 

Mahesh:Any thoughts on cloud?
Rene:Cloud is here to stay, and one nowadays simply can no longer ignore the cloud. From an integration point of view this opens up a lot of exiting opportunities. Microsoft recognised long before the importance of the cloud and has gone all-in on it, thanks to this we as integrators now have the tools and services which allow us to succeed in the Hybrid Integration Space.

Mahesh:What motivates you to do the community work? 
Rene: One of my passions is sharing and the best way to share is by giving back to the community. The Microsoft integration community is very rewarding and by engaging the community actively I have made a lot of new friends over the years.

Mahesh:As per the Roadmap provided by Microsoft,LogicApps can be run on-premise in addition to Azure.Do you think Azure Stack Logic Apps on prem will supersede BizTalk Server? 
Rene:I don’t believe it will. 

Mahesh:From my perspective, Microsoft keeps coming up with Overlapping technologies like recent ones MABS and Logic Apps, in some situation it gets puzzling. What you say?
Rene: I don’t agree, I see it as paradigm shift and as such it is natural that in order to deliver a new platform or capabilities one goes through certain incarnations of products. So, from an early adopter point of view, it can be challenging at times, but hey I love learning and as such I embrace change and make it work. Just remember; Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Mahesh:Do you think BizTalk in cloud (IAAS) is accepted over BizTalk on Prem? Which one you prefer - what pros and cons you see?
Rene: I think hosting BizTalk in Azure (IaaS) is perfect for DEV and TEST scenario’s, especially whilst leveraging Azur DEV/TEST labs.  

Whatever I prefer and the pros and cons are not relevant as one has to look at which technology and platform to use on a case to case basis, at the end of the day is all about delivering the best solution for our customers.

Thanks a lot Rene for taking out time and sharing your insights,experiences, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Rene in the comments!!!!!!!! 

Related Post:

Friday, January 6, 2017

The hard Purge interval cannot be less than the soft purge interval

On one of the BizTalk env(non prod) there arouse a space crunch scenario which was call for purging the data from BizTalk tracking database(DTA DB).(dtasp_BackupAndPurgeTrackingDatabase is not configured on this env)

So do that, we decided to purge/delete only those instance which are completed and are older than 30 days and incomplete instances of only past day.

Note: No archiving was needed so instead of dtasp_BackupAndPurgeTrackingDatabase we used dtasp_PurgeTrackingDatabase

Thus the parameters set were:
@nHours tinyint(Any completed instance) :0
@nDays tinyint(Any completed instance) : 30
@nHardDays tinyint(Any including incomplete instance): 1
@dtLastBackup(Set this to GetUTCDate() to purge data): CurrentDateTime

For more details on parameters :

And when started the job, it failed at second step and to check the reason went through history and found the error as below

The error says that 3rd parameter should be greater than 2nd parameter -- for me it is still puzzling and will try to get it understood by product team. But to proceed with purging went ahead and changed the parameters

And started the job and waiting for some time the job was successfully executed

Note: Even now the database size remain same -- here we have to select the DB and Shrink it. This actually forces to release the unused space from DB and as can be seen from below snap - around 20 GB data was purged.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Tord G Nordhal

Happy New Year to all and Welcome to the special 25th interview of the series, today's expert is Tord Glad Nordhal - who has been interviewed earlier before joining Microsoft, following is the link :

With a passion for Technology and specifically the cloud and its services Tord have acquired skills to be able to utilize the technologies that is provided out there. With the main focus of the product within the Microsoft Integration Stack. With experience within system architecture, solution architecture, and setting up and configuring large scale software for different clients worldwide,helping the customers to achieve more..

His current position requires him to have deep technical knowledge of BizTalk and Logic Apps, but most importantly what the customers expect and need to help them grow business, solutions running on-prem, hybrid or cloud. Tord held courses and been active with both online and offline communities within both BizTalk and Azure and have spoken at different events all over the world. He created products and methods as a system developer to increase productivity within the different technologies he has worked with and shared all these with the community. Sharing is caring!

Prior to the role in Microsoft TORD was awarded as MVP within the Microsoft Integration Stack.

Let's begin the interview.....

Mahesh:Who are you and what you do? When did you start working on BizTalk? 
Tord: I’m a family father of 4, I work as a Program Manager in Microsoft focusing on BizTalk. I started working with BizTalk way back and have worked with BizTalk versions from 2000 to our latest release BizTalk Server 2016

Mahesh:How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)? 
Tord: I don’t know how much time I’ve spent learning BizTalk, but I found the product interesting and learned a lot around it. However I do love to share my findings with the community. Now as the Program Manager for BizTalk I continue my investment and passion for the product to build and make it better than it was, one of these things is to listen more to the community. We are coming out with a user voice page very soon to get more feedback from our customers, partners and community!

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far?
Tord: There are too many to mention and the too exiting ones I can’t talk too much about. However I’m more fan of listening to customers and partners (and this blog) to see what other people are using our product for. Understanding the stories around it helps us make it better.

Mahesh:How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform?
Tord: BizTalk is unique, both when it comes to the community and to the way it works. It’s a product that has been on the market for so many years that any child disease is gone. Customers are still investing in it and it plays a huge role to a lot of businesses around the world. Did you know that BizTalk has never shipped a security update? Not only that but with the unified story in the integration space at Microsoft we are even making a bigger effort. Logic App is our cloud iPaaS solution, very powerful and very easy to use, our on premise solution is BizTalk and we are heavily investing in both the products. API Management is also one of the products in our team, that can help us make a complete integration story both in the cloud and on premise.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert?
Tord: Learn integration and understand why it’s so important to think one step ahead. No matter if you’re going to work on BizTalk or Logic apps (or any other) the mindset is the most important. Understanding the systems you’re communicating with is important. The other thing that I find very important is to always think that whatever I am making is going to run in production for a long time, and you need to make it perfect for a production scenario, no shortcuts!

Mahesh:What are your thoughts on forums,blogs and articles etc.?
Tord: So forums, blogs, articles, TN Wiki are all super important, this is where we share our knowledge (and where I spend a lot of my time looking for juicy information, like bugs, issues, concerns or even wishes for vNext). We reach out to people who have done different types of presentations or articles to get more information when we are interested in the feature (maybe for vNext). We are very proud of our community is huge, and the amount of data available is mind-blowing . I am very grateful for our community.

Mahesh:Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in BizTalk?
Tord: Read up and talk to the community, find your peers and mentors and start off with something simple.

Mahesh: There are many tools from community which support BizTalk in some or the other way(like BTDF, Bizunit etc), what do you say about it? Which ones you would recommend?Why?
Tord: I love when the community find ways to improve our product (in some areas so well that it blows us away). We got partners worldwide that make a living for themselves creating tools like BizTalk360, nSoftware etc. Although some of their products goes outside the area we’re focusing on we can see as the products get used heavily that there is a need for them. We appreciate any contributions customers, partners and FTEs (Full-time employees at Microsoft) do for our products. And we are more than eager to understand and help take this to the next step.

Mahesh:There are monitoring tools developed by other companies around BizTalk, is there any plan if Microsoft plans to acquire them and provide it out of box or any plans to develop monitoring tool?
Tord: No, there are no plans for this.

Mahesh:What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Tord: BizTalk and integration in general has had a lack of certification the last releases. However I find that the tests are not mandatory (sadly you can go an buy all the answers a few days after we launch a new certificate). But I do think they can help you out to see where you should invest more time to learn more about our products, and understand more around them. And some customers do require certifications when they are looking for new vendors or partners.

Mahesh: Why certification around BizTalk is stopped?
Tord: Who said it stopped? We are working on something new but it will most likely be involving more the entire integration story, both on premise and in the cloud. However this is very time consuming and we have a strong focus on developing the products.

Mahesh:What is the future of BizTalk?
Tord: Brighter than ever I’d say. With the recent release of BizTalk Server 2016 release, and our continued investment and announcement of vNext, we are bringing the product one step further. We continue to state that our on-prem investment is to BizTalk Server while our cloud story is Logic apps and Enterprise Integration Pack.

Mahesh:No where it appears that Microsoft is focussing on BAM, ESB portal upgardation based on latest .Net version. What about supporting xslt 2.0?
Tord:So, we are looking into this to see how we can enhance these experiences. It’s not an easy job to pick the right paths to move towards, but we’re hoping to surprise you with some great features coming later.

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud, in particular Azure? 
Tord: For some companies this is the way going forward, the cloud is powerful and provides functionality you won’t be able to get on premise as easy as in the cloud. We also believe that in order to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more we need to be agile and provide first class services, both in the cloud and on premise.

Mahesh:You were MVP before joining Microsoft, do you feel that responsibilities get added when you are MVP? What is your thought on MVP now?
Tord: MVPs are awesome, it requires a lot of work that we cherish, coming from the MVP area myself. I know how important it is to stay on top of things and being aware of what is happening in the field and at Microsoft. We believe that if we can continue to add value to the MVP program by being open and sharing information you will get more out of it, we also like to get your feedback on how you think we are doing. We have started monthly PGIs with the MVPs.

Mahesh: As per the Roadmap provided by Microsoft,LogicApps can be run on-premise in addition to Azure.Do you think Azure Stack Logic Apps on prem will supersede BizTalk Server?
Tord: No, this is not right anymore. BizTalk Server will be our on premise integration technology going forward, Logic apps is our cloud offering.

Mahesh: From my perspective, Microsoft keeps coming up with Overlapping technologies like recent ones MABS and Logic Apps, in some situation it gets puzzling. What you say?(MABS seems to be dead)
Tord: Yes, the cloud is confusing, even with technologies like ServiceBus, Data Factory, Stream Analytics etc. However some of these may have overlapping features they are all individually unique. They are designed to do different tasks and to help you integrate your systems better.

Mahesh: Last question but not least, this question is been asked every now and then -- maximum messages in a second BizTalk can process/What is the maximum size supported (I know it depends on machine config), would be great to get stats from you both :).
Tord: It all depends on your setup and configuration, I’ve seen super-fast BizTalk Environments, and I’ve seen environments pup 100gb files through BizTalk, but I wouldn’t recommend that. There is not hard limit on either one of these.

Thanks a lot Tord for taking out time and sharing your insights,experiences and info around Microsoft future plans, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Tord in the comments!!!!!!!! 

Related Post: