This week I started working again after a nice holiday in Spain and France (see picture, where me and my colleague Joost are behind a laptop, still working!!!). I have begun on a new assignment (project) for a health insurance company. It involves evaluating BizTalk environment they set up together with solutions that were developed. Besides this I will lead a research project to see if the Microsoft ESB can be fitted in their SOA architecture that is evolving. Next to these activities I also will guide/coach information analysts, programmers on BizTalk and its possible role inside SOA. All-in-all a nice job and another opportunity to play an active architect role.
During my holiday I have been thinking about how to divide BizTalk in a number of specific areas. I believe that before one will start developing solutions in BizTalk for an organization. The product should be evaluated for its use inside an enterprise and what its business value will be. If that is the case then one should think about how it will fit in an enterprise architecture and how production environment has to be deployed (single instance, one message box, one or more hosts, multiple instance etcetera). By defining the architecture, one will go to installing product on one or multiple machines (maybe virtual machine(s)) and configuration. After this step development will come in play, where one should consider development, test and acceptation environments. During this step (or phase) one will have to bring in monitoring and maintenance on one hand and Business Rules on the other. I will have to give this some more thought, but in the diagram I have drawn it out.
Last thing I want to add in this post is that I was made aware that there will be another Microsoft SOA and BPM conference this year. I went last year and I really liked it, so I will probably go again this year.