During the BizTalk Integration Summit a week a go the Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) have been made available. This service is now a full grown part of the Windows Azure offering. For the BizTalk product group this is an important landmark. They have been working hard the last couple of years to accomplish this. They first had to lay down the foundation before they could deliver this service to what it is today.
This brand new service in Windows Azure is meant to provide EAI or B2B services through the cloud. The EAI Service enables you to exchange data through different protocols and transform it to and from different formats. Similar to what the on premise BizTalk offers through mapping and routing. The B2B services offers Businesses to exchange data between their partners. You can view it as a new way of EDI data exchange other than a value added network (VAN).
Concept of the BizTalk Service is as depicted below.
The Windows Azure and BizTalk Services Portal. The first gives you the ability to provision BizTalk Service and provide accessibility to monitoring, configuration and tracking stores. The second provides capabilities for Trading Partner Management (TPM) and Bridges. The latter can be developed and deployed by use of Visual Studio. PowerShell gives you the ability to use cmdlets for management operations on BizTalk Services.
Microsoft intends to releases new features and enhancements every three months from now on. Compared to for instance MuleSoft the number of adapters for integration seems meager yet it will change over the coming months.
WABS is important cornerstone of Microsoft integration stack going forward. Microsoft has and will keep investing in this new service. This will mean that the BizTalk product group will shift it focus more towards cloud and less to on-prem. This however does not mean BizTalk Server will get no attention. For the second half of next year BizTalk Server 2013 R2 is scheduled to be released including platform updates, support for JSON and a huge update for the healthcare vertical (MLLP 64 bit support, Dynamic MLLP adapter, Better troubleshooting, HL7 2.6 and Support for free text data type).