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An Overview of BizTalk Server 2013

Kevin Morillo

Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013 was recently released and it includes many new features that make developing and deploying for BizTalk considerably more efficient.  There are also many new features which expand on the already vast capabilities of a BizTalk Solution.

In this post I will go over the new features of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013.  And explain how a few of the new features can contribute to a more efficient solution.

General

Some of the usual updates to any Microsoft software comes in the form of new platform stacks that are supported, and BizTalk Server 2013 is no different.  BizTalk now supports:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows 8
  • Visual Studio 2012
  • .NET Framework 4.5
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1
  • SQL Server 2012

New Adapters

New features included with BizTalk 2013 are a set of new adapters which allow for connectivity to other applications and protocols, such as Windows Azure and RESTful services.

  • SB-Messaging Adapter: The SB-Messaging adapter allows BizTalk to send and receive messages form the Queues, Topics and Relays of a Service Bus such as Windows Azure.
  • WCF-BasicHttpRelay Adapter: Allows BizTalk to communicate with an ASMX Web services using the WCF protocol.
  • NetTcpRelay Adapater: Send and receive WCF calls using the secure NetTcpRelayBinding.
  • WCF-WebHttp Adapter: The WCF-WebHttp adapter allows BizTalk to send and receive, or expose BizTalk artifacts using REST.
  • SharePoint Services Adapter: Sends and Receives messages to SharePoint Services
  • SFTP Adapter: Enables Biztalk to securely send and receive messages to FTP servers using SSH.

One new adapter which may have a large impact on how BizTalk projects are developed is the new SFTP adapter.  Many clients of mine have had a need for secure messaging to an FTP server, and we have often had to settle for third party SFTP adapters which are sometimes poorly documented or supported.  Even the ones that are well documented and supported are not trivial to implement in a client environment because of doubts about the credibility and security of a third party developed adapter, a valid point when dealing with clients that, rightfully so, demand a high level of security in their solutions.  With the SFTP adapter provided out of the box by BizTalk Server 2013, all of these concerns are addressed and implementation of new interfaces using SFTP adapters are easier without the need for installing third party software.

The SB-Messaging, WCF-BasicHttpRelay, and WCF-NetTcpRelay adapters allow for easy communication with Azure.  Microsoft has a short article on configuring the SB-Messaging adapter, and Kent Weare has a great article about implementing the SB-Messaging adapter to communicate with an Azure Service Bus.

Configurable Dynamic Send Port

In BizTalk Server 2010 and previous versions, dynamic send ports used the default host instance, without the ability to change the host instance handler used by the dynamic send port.  With BizTalk Server 2013, a new feature will be added allowing a send handler to be assigned for each dynamic send port, bringing it in line with the functionality of static send.  MSDN has a short page on this enhancement to Dynamic Send Ports.

Viewing the Artifact Dependencies

A possible cause of frustration when dealing with larger BizTalk applications, or applications with a large number of artifacts, is determining what dependencies exists between artifacts.  For example which ports an orchestration depends on, or which maps a port is using the transform messages.  With BizTalk 2013, a new feature has been added to easily show all of the dependencies between artifacts.

The MSDN BizTalk blog has is has a great tutorial on viewing the dependencies of artifacts.

ESB Toolkit included ‘Out of the Box’

The Microsoft Enterprise Service Bus Toolkit is a collection of tools that extend the service oriented capabilities of BizTalk, though one of the most widely used features of the ESB Toolkit is its centralized exception management capabilities.  The toolkit contains an ASP.NET portal and accompanying set of BizTalk applications and assemblies which subscribe to warning and error messages and provide an easy to navigate web site to view and manage the errors.

In previous versions of BizTalk Server, the Microsoft BizTalk ESB Toolkit has been a separate installation and required its own  configuration procedure that took a considerable effort in order to correctly install and configure.  In BizTalk 2013, the ESB Toolkit installer is contained within the BizTalk 2013 installation media, and can be installed from the start menu.   Most of the remaining configuration is the same as in the previous version, however some of the ESB Toolkit configuration steps have been streamlined.

More information about configuring the ESB Toolkit, can be found on the MSDN page.

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