Microsoft outlines its cloud and server integration roadmap for 2016

Here's Microsoft's roadmap for 2016 for BizTalk Server, Azure Stack and its cloud-integration platform.

The coming year is going to be a big one for customers of Microsoft's on-premises and/or cloud-integration technologies.

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Microsoft officials recently made available for download a roadmap for its various integration products, which include its BizTalk application-integration server, as well as its Azure Stack and Logic Apps technologies that are part of its Azure App Service offering.

The emergence of the cloud is increasingly disrupting and changing the way companies integrate disparate, multivendor systems.

"Traditionally, integration has been either on-premises system to system EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) or business to business (B2B), typically using EDI protocols such as EDIFACT or ANSI X12. Today, many systems (and users) that companies wish to integrate with are well beyond the corporate firewall, often SaaS-based, API-centric providers handling everything from sales leads to invoicing, email and social media," the roadmap explains. "In addition, modern integration is often not from corporate computer systems at all but from devices, increasingly mobile, driving the need for a change of approach on both ends of the 'wire'. This change is unpinned by APIs expressed in lightweight, modern, HTTP/REST-based protocols using JSON."

Microsoft is planning to make generally available its tenth release of BizTalk Server in the fourth quarter of 2016. Before that, in Q2 of next year, Microsoft will release a Community Technology Preview of BizTalk Server 2016, followed by a beta of that product in Q3.BizTalk Server 2016 will align with Windows Server 2016 (due out in Q3 next year), SQL 2016, Office 2016 and the latest version of Visual Studio. The latest BizTalk release will support SQL 2016's AlwaysOn Availability Groups both on-premises, as well as hosted on Azure.

Microsoft plans to tighten the integration between BizTalk Server and various application programming interface connectors, such as the ones to Salesforce.com and Office 365, to enhance hybrid on-prem/cloud scenarios. Additionally, as part of Host Integration Server 2016, Microsoft is planning "new and improved" BizTalk adapters for Informix, MQ and DB2, as well as improvements to PowerShell integration.

Microsoft is planning to host another integration summit, this one known as "Integrate 2016," in Q2 next year, the roadmap states. Microsoft held a similar event at the end of 2014, where officials articulated the company's vision for Azure BizTalk microservices.

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Microsoft has an ambitious roadmap on the cloud-integration, or iPaaS (integration platform as a service), side of the house, too.

In Q1 of 2016, according to the roadmap, Microsoft will release a preview of a planned Logic Apps Update. In Q2, Logic Apps will be generally available, and Microsoft also will release a preview of its Enterprise Integration Pack. The preview of Azure Stack with AppService is on tap for Q3, which also is when Enterprise Integration Pack is on tap to be made generally available. And Azure Stack itself will be available in Q4.

Logic Apps are part of the Azure App Service Microsoft introduced last year. Azure App Service integrates Azure Web Apps, Azure Mobile Services and BizTalk Services. The new unified service has a common app-hosting, runtime and extensibility model. Microsoft plans to enable Logic Apps to be run on-premises in customers' own datacenters or from hosting providers, as well as in Azure, the roadmap says.

Azure Stack is a combination of some of the features of Azure (both IaaS and PaaS), Azure Pack and Azure Service Fabric. It is meant to bring Azure into customers' private datacenters. Microsoft recently released the hardware requirements for those interested in Azure Stack.

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