Integrate 2016 – My take-aways

Last week I attended Integrate 2016 in London, the biggest Microsoft integration event this year, organized by BizTalk360. The outcome was almost 400 attendees, and there were sessions from the Microsoft Product Group, industry leaders and MVP’s.

Vision

The major take-away I have from the event, is that Microsoft now has a great vision on the future of integration, which I felt was missing the last couple of years. Now though, they recognize that even though the cloud is a great asset, on premise is not going away for a long time. Also Microsoft has now officially announced that their on-premise integration solution will be BizTalk, which has not been getting a lot of love lately.

1. Cloud and OnPremise

Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Service Bus Queues Using Azure Functions

In my my previous post, I showed how we can use a WebJob to process a Service Bus queue and store the data in an Azure SQL database. This was pretty simple to set up, but it did require a good understanding of how to connect with these and process the data. Sometimes however we just want to do a quick integration without needing to set up all this plumbing. Recently Microsoft announced a new feature called Azure Functions, with now makes this possible. Azure functions can be used to create a small function which can run stand-alone, or be called from other applications, for example from a logic app, as has been described here by Sandro Pereira. Azure Functions provide out of the box connections for triggers, input and output to a lot of other Azure features, including Event Hubs, Service Bus, Azure Storage and DocumentDB. In this post I will show how we can process our message from the queue we created in this blogpost, and store it in an Azure Storage table. We will start by creating a new Function App in the portal.

Create Azure Function Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Service Bus Queue Using WebJobs

This is the fifth post in my series on Integration of Things. In this post I showed how you can send messages from a Raspberry Pi 2 into a Service Bus Queue, and in our previous blogpost we have set up a library for connecting to an Azure SQL database. Today I will explain how we can use a WebJob to retrieve the messages from the queue and send them to our database. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

A WebJob is a simple way to set up a background job, which can process continuously or on a schedule. WebJobs differ from a cloud service (which we discussed in this blogpost) as it gives you get less fine-grained control over your processing environment, making it a more true PaaS service.

We will need a Web App to host our WebJob, so lets create one in the Azure Portal. You can create a new Web App by going to App Services, and selecting New.

Azure Web App

Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things: Entity Framework Code First And Azure SQL

This is the fourth post in my series on Integration of Things. In this post, we will use Entity Framework Code First to set up an Azure Sql database, which will later on be filled with the data we receive from our Service Bus Queue. As we will want to access this database from multiple projects, we will add it to the DataTypes Class Library we created in the previous blogpost. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

First we will create an empty database in Azure.

Azure SQL Database

Continue reading

Automated Build and Deployment With BizTalk Deployment Framework

A while ago I created a post on using the BizTalk Deployment Framework for automated build and deployment. Since then I have worked this out to be more easy and maintainable using PowerShell, which I will show in this post. BizTalk Deployment Framework is one of those pearls for BizTalk developers, allowing complex BizTalk solutions to be deployed easily, having all our artifacts and dependencies together in one MSI. The code with this post can be downloaded from here.

Description

Using PowerShell we will make scripts which will handle all steps of the build and deployment process for us. This will make sure our applications are always deployed in the correct order, using the right versions, and with minimal effort. We have some general helper functions, which will help us clear log files, wait for user input, iterate through directories, etc. We assume you have are using some of the BTDF best practices for these scripts, where it comes to naming conventions and folder structure. Of course, in case anything differs in your environment, you can easily adjust the scripts to meet your requirements.

Continue reading

BizTalk Server Extensibility E-Book

Everyone who has been working with BizTalk knows how powerful this product can be. It will allow you to tackle a lot of integration scenarios out of the box, but sometimes you will run into a requirement which can not be handled using just the standard BizTalk components. Luckily BizTalk can be extended on many points, giving you the power to handle all your scenarios. Some of these extensibility points are:

  • Ports (Custom behaviors and adapters)
  • Pipelines (Pipeline components)
  • Mappings (XSLT, Functoids, XPATH)
  • Orchestration (XPATH, Helper classes)
  • Configuration (SSO Helper)
  • Deployment (Deployment Framework)
  • Testing (BizUnit, Visual Studio Test, Custom clients)
  • Monitoring (BAM, BizTalk assemblies)
  • Rules (BRE)

Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things: Processing Event Hubs From Azure Cloud Service

This is the third post in my series on Integration of Things. In my previous post I explained how you could send and receive data on a Raspberry Pi 2 to Azure. Today I will explain how you can use an Azure cloud service as a worker role for retrieving the data from Event Hubs using the Event Processor Host library. We will save the retrieved data in an Azure Table Storage, which is a great service for working with large amounts of structured, non-relational data. Azure Table Storage is very fast, and cost efficient especially when working with lots of data, which makes it ideal for our scenario. The code for this blogpost can be found here.

The Event Processor Host library will be used to retrieve the data from our event hub, and load it into Azure Table Storage. This library will distribute Event Hubs partitions accross our instances of the worker role, keeping track of leases and snapshots. This library really makes working with Event Hubs from .NET code a breeze to go through. We will need a blob storage for for the table and for the library to store its data, so let’s start by setting one up via the Azure Portal.

Azure Storage

Continue reading

BizTalk360 Custom Widgets and Power BI

Custom widgets are one of the new features in BizTalk360. These widgets are small web-snippets, which can be used to show dynamic data on a BizTalk360 dashboard. In this post I will show you how we can use these widgets together with Power BI to create a dashboard with information about our BizTalk environment. The data for this dashboard can be retrieved from tracking databases, BAM, etc. Tord Glad Nordahl has done a session at the BizTalk Summit 2015 on how BAM can be exposed via Power BI.

Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things: Connecting Raspberry Pi 2 to Azure

This is the second post in my series on Integration of Things. In my previous post I have explained the scenario and architecture, so today I will explain how you can use a Raspberry Pi 2 to act as an IoT fieldhub. The RPi2 is a low power ARM based single board computer at the size of a creditcard, which can run Windows 10 IoT Core, a windows version created specifically for these kind of boards. This also means we can use the .NET framework to set up our solution. The code for this post can be dwonloaded here.

Installation

First we will have to flash your RPi2 with Windows 10. There are some great walkthroughs out there, so I will not explain this here, but instead link you to this site which will explain all the steps to be taken.

After we have flashed our RPi2, it’s time to set up Visual Studio. To develop on Windows IoT Core, we will need to install the project templates. This can be done from Visual Studio by going to Tools, Extensions and Updates, and searching for Windows IoT Core Project Templates. Install these templates, and restart Visual Studio to start creating your own IoT solutions. Don’t forget to enable developer mode on your machine by following these instructions, as this is needed to publish your solution to your device.

Windows IoT Core Project Templates

Continue reading

IoT – Integration of Things

Last year I did an IoT session at the Dutch BizTalk User Group, and since then I have had several requests for more information on this topic. After having had a couple of very busy months at my client, I finally decided to make a series of blogposts on this topic. IoT is a major growing industry, and gives a lot of really nice opportunities for us integration specialists. All the code and projects I will be creating will be provided along with the posts, and can be downloaded from here. Coming from a nautical background myself, I see more and more scenarios here where IoT might be a real game changer, so this will be the scenario I will be using throughout these series.

Scenario

In the upcoming weeks I will be creating my blogposts from the following scenario. In this scenario an engine supplier for ships, like Caterpillar or ABC, might want to get information about the health and status of their engines. In general, a ship has several engines for propulsion (main engine and bow thrusters), generators, pumps on tankers, etc. All these engines already have a lot of data about their health, like temperatures, oil and filter conditions, or issues that might occur during operations. Currently most of this information is displayed to the crew of the ship, and they have to interpret this information, which often means issues are not noticed until it becomes a real problem, and they have to go in for repairs or adjustments, where every day they are not out working can cost a lot of money, especially if the ship is working under contract. IoT Engine Room

Continue reading