Neal Walters is a BizTalk Architect with over 14 years BizTalk experience in Dallas, Texas (or more specifically Irving/Las Colinas). Beyond that Neal has over 30 years experience in the I.T., starting with Fortran in college and COBOL on his first job. He was an IDMS database developer and database administrator for most of his mainframe career, then switched to the client/server world around Y2K (the year 2000, after the big date change).
The video below can be seen on YouTube here: Dallas
What is BizTalk?
BizTalk is an enterprise level server product sold by Microsoft. It is often called “middle ware”, because it is it acts as a go between by either:
- Your company and your trading partners (vendors, customers, etc…)
- Various applications within your company
Other may call BizTalk a “messaging system,”, but don’t get is confused with simple queues like MSMQ and MQ-Series. BizTalk can also call web services and provides dozens of adapters, some are technology-based and some are business-based. For example, it can communicate with Microsoft or Oracle SQL, FTP, and it can read and write xml, comma separated files, or “flat files”. It has interfaces for popular back-end systems like SAP, JD Edwards, and PeopleSoft. Click here for a complete list of BizTalk adapters.
While not all companies take advantage of it, BizTalk has an optional Enterprise Service Bus (ESB Toolkit) that is available and supported. It always a developer to create on and off ramps, and to direct messages through a system using something called “itineraries.” Compare these to a multi-legged flight, where you go first from city A to city B, then from city B to city C.
What does BizTalk compete against
The basic competitors of BizTalk are IBM’s WebSphere, Tibco, and MuleSoft.
What does it take to be a BizTalk developer?
Unlike many programming jobs, BizTalk requires one to see the big picture to the whole system. So in addition to programming skills, a senior level BizTalk developer must have a good working knowledge of the Windows operating system, IIS, certificates, security, and performance. Thus basic administrator skills are required. BizTalk developers typically need “admin” access to their machines, to be able to deploy programs to the “GAC”, and to install BizTalk initially.
Major Components of BizTalk
Here are some of the major pieces that make up the system:
- Visual Studio plug-ins to allow easy design of maps and orchestrations
- Maps – a GUI designer for XSLT maps
- Orchestrations – a process flow
- Business Rules – allows logic “rules” to be entered in a GUI tool, and changed as needed, without having to redeploy the underlying software
- BAM – Business Activity Monitoring – tools for checking the status of the system and selected business data
- BizTalk Admin Console – A tool to create applications, Send Ports, Receive Ports, and to define, configure, and control the BizTalk host processes
- Adapters – see above
- Pipelines – BizTalk includes commonly needed pipelines, and pipeline components and has a way to create your own custom pipelines to manipulate and massage data on the way in or out.
- ESB – Enterprise Service Bus
Check the video above to see if you need Neal Walters o help you with your BizTalk needs. Neal is the author of over 300 hours of BizTalk training videos for older releases of BizTalk 2004 and 2006. He has contributed those videos to YouTube under the channel name “MrBizTalk”. Neal now works only on a consulting basis as a BizTalk Architect, Team Lead, or Senior Developer.