BizTalk, Microsoft's enterprise integration and messaging server, used to be on a fairly well-defined path. According to Microsoft, there are more than 10,000 BizTalk Server customers out there, using the product to integrate Microsoft's business processes with those from other vendors including IBM, Oracle, Siebel, SAP, JD Edwards, etc.
This week, at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft offered a session on BizTalk futures. Richard Seroter, a BizTalk MVP posted a nice summary of the session, the article entitled "Is BizTalk Server Going Away At Some Point? Yes. Dead? Nope."
In his blog post, Seroter hints of about BizTalk Server 2013 which could run on top of SQL Server "Denali" and Windows Server 8. "They were pretty convincing that there will be maintenance releases moving forward, but not to expect feature releases" beyond that, Seroter said.
Quote from Seroter's write-up:
[BizTalk], "Microsoft is "only building one thing." They're taking a cloud first model and then enabling same capabilities for an on premises server. They're going to keep maintaining current BizTalk Server (for years, potentially) until new on-premises server is available. But it's going to take a while for the vision to turn into products."
[…]They're building very interesting stuff and this last batch of CTPs (queues, topics, application manager) are showing what the future looks like. And I like it.[…]
The "they" in BizTalk's case is the Azure AppFabric team. Seroter notes that there's no official statement from Microsoft as to whether the on-premises Windows Server AppFabric technology will be the on-premises server host, meaning the future of that product also is pretty cloudy.
[…]Many companies will have interesting choices to make in the coming years. While Tony mentions migration tooling for BizTalk clients, I highly suspect that any move to the new integration platform will require a significant rewrite for a majority of customers. This's one reason that BizTalk skills will still be relevant for the next decade. Organizations will either migrate, stay put or switch to new platforms entirely.
I'd encourage any organization on BizTalk Server today to upgrade to BizTalk 2010 immediately. That could be the "last version they ever install," and if they want to maximize their investment, they should make the move now. There very well may be 3+ more BizTalk releases in its lifetime, but for companies that only upgrade their enterprise software every 3-5 years, it would be wise to get up to date now and plan a full assessment of their strategy as the Microsoft story comes into focus.[…]
Seroter's conclusion: "Is BizTalk dead? No. But, the "product named BizTalk Server is likely not going to be available for sale in 5-10 years"."
[…]Components that originated in BizTalk (like pipelines, BAM, etc) will be critical parts of the next gen integration stack from Microsoft and thus investing time to learn and build BizTalk solutions today "is not wasted time." That said, just be proactive about your careers and organizational investments and consider introducing new, interesting messaging technologies into your repertoire. Deploy nServiceBus, use WCF Routing Service, try out Hermes, start using AppFabric Service Bus. Build an enterprise that uses the best technology for a given scenario and don't force solutions into a single technology when it doesn't fit.