The Current State of Microsoft Integration Related Content

With technology changing fast and services in the cloud evolve more rapidly than their on-premise counterparts creating and updating content around those services becomes challenging. Microsoft Integration has expanded over the years from Grid their the on-premise offering BizTalk Server to multiple cloud services in Azure like Service Bus, Logic Apps, API Management, Azure Functions, Event Hubs, and Event.

Introduction

The server product BizTalk has numerous available content types like Microsoft Docs, Blog posts, online recordings, and presentations. Does this also apply to the mentioned Azure Services? Yes and no, because of the rapid change content is out-of-date fast and people creating the material have a hard time keeping up. At least for me, it’s a challenge to keep up and produce content.

The Questions

Do Integration minded people in the Microsoft ecosystem feel the same way as I feel? Or what’s there view about content? To find out I created  in Google Docs. Furthermore, I sent out a few tweets and a LinkedIn post to encourage people to answer some Integration Content related questions. These questions are:

  • What type of content do you value the most?
  • What Integration Event has your preference?
  • What online content in the integration space do you consume the most?
  • What type integration focused content do you think is valuable for your work as integration professional?
  • Have you attended Integrate London, a local user group meeting or the Global Integration Bootcamp?
  • Does the Global Integration Bootcamp, Integrate London or the local integration focused user group provides value for you?
  • Do have any comments or feedback on Microsoft Integration content?

With the questions above I hope to get a little glimpse into the expectations and thoughts people have with regards to integration content. That is what do they think about the existing content, what is do they appreciate, what content types and through what preferred channel.

The Outcome

The number of responses exceeded 50, which can be the representation of either one up to ten percent of the general population of people working in the integration space. At least that my assumption. However, assessing the actual representation, in the end, is hard. Anyways, let’s review the results of the questionnaire.

The first question was around what specific content type people value the most. And it appears that the majority of respondents still favors blogs, one of the older content types, before vlogs, webcasts, and video became more mainstream. Almost 60% favors blogs over any other content type.

In line with the previous question is what content is consumed the most. The response correlates with what is valued. Moreover, static content is preferred over let’s say dynamic content like vlogs or on-line recordings like Integration Mondays or Middleware Fridays. I left out live Events and Channel 9 intentionally, to see how community content would be consumed. Note that Microsoft Docs is open for changes via GitHub, where the community contributes too. Thus this content type is partially maintained by the community.

With another question, I tried to see which event was preferred the most of the three we have available from an integration perspective. A global, centralized one like Integrate, a local user group, or a Global Integration Bootcamp on one day in various venues. Close to 50% favor Integrate London, while local user groups and the boot camp are around 25%.

As a follow-up, I asked who attend any of these events or not. And most (>75%) respondents attended either a local user group, a Global Integration Boot camp or Integrate.

The other questions were open ones. Here, people could more specifically provide feedback on what content they value apart from the channel it is delivered through, and how much value an event is providing (if attended), and one more where people could provide more general feedback people about integration content.

Conclusions

Respondents have strong preferences for content around examples, use-cases (real-world), up-to-date content, architecture, design, and patterns. This feedback was expressed by many in the question “What type integration focused content do you think is valuable for your work as integration professional?”. Furthermore, the answers are reflected in the general feedback they could give about integration content. An example is in the following comments (feedback):

“I would like to see more of how companies are adopting the Azure platform. For instance, a medium to large enterprise integration employing Logic apps and service bus and they came up with the solution architecture, challenges faced, lessons learned.”

Or

“Docs are getting better and better, but finding the right content and keeping up with the release speed of Microsoft appears to be a challenge sometimes.”

With people attending events, the value lies in the opportunity for networking, see (new) content, and have interactions with peers in the fields, MVPs, and Microsoft. Generally, a local event, a boot camp, or a bigger event tend to be the right places to socialize, learn about new tech, and get a perspective on the integration ecosystem. This perceived view is reflected in the answers about the value of attending an event.

To conclude people have an overall satisfaction in content and how it is delivered. However, a clear demand for more up-to-date content online and practical guidance is requested by people for their day to day jobs as integrators.

Finally, I like to thank everyone for taking time to answer the questions.
Cheers,

Steef-Jan

Author: Steef-Jan Wiggers

Steef-Jan Wiggers is all in on Microsoft Azure, Integration, and Data Science. He has over 15 years’ experience in a wide variety of scenarios such as custom .NET solution development, overseeing large enterprise integrations, building web services, managing projects, designing web services, experimenting with data, SQL Server database administration, and consulting. Steef-Jan loves challenges in the Microsoft playing field combining it with his domain knowledge in energy, utility, banking, insurance, healthcare, agriculture, (local) government, bio-sciences, retail, travel, and logistics. He is very active in the community as a blogger, TechNet Wiki author, book author, and global public speaker. For these efforts, Microsoft has recognized him a Microsoft MVP for the past 8 years.

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