Saturday, October 07, 2006

BizTalk SOA and Business Process - Day (0)

First off, let me say how beautiful Bellevue is. Its an extremely beautiful town, with great shopping, dining and bars. I'll definitely have to drag Sally if I ever make it back to town!

There were many personalities here that I've met in the past Doug Girard, Kris Horrocks and Scott Colestock (just to drop a few names). Both Doug and Kris are part of the Connected Systems Division, which now includes the BizTalk Server product and were part of a group, along with Eddie Churchill that visited our facilities some time ago. Scott developed the deployment framework we use to deploy our BizTalk 2004 solution.

For the keynotes, we heard from Oliver Sharp (General Manager, BizTalk Server), Janelle Hill (VP, Business IT of Research Division - Gartner) and Steve Guggenheimer (General Manager, Application Platform Marketing). We also heard from Ed Barrie (Sr. Treasury Product Manager) discussing a case study of using BizTalk Server 2006 and its BPM features for the treasury implementation at Microsoft.

The keynotes were fairly repetetive of material presented as part of
TechEd 2006, but doesn't hurt to hear it again. A fairly significant
message from the keynotes were definitely around the need for Business
Process Management (BPM) and a suggestion for the following around BPM:


A) Wait for the domain offerings to mature
B) Identify existing skillsets within the organization and find complementary technology solution to match. Make a 'tactical' (2 year) decision to 'roll your own' in as much of a vanilla way as possible. Limiting scope of custom code.

A warning around using a vendor (Oracle/SAP) ability to provide an explicit solution to BPM, largely due to a vendors inability to provide a blanket solution for every industry/market.

An Integration Competency Center (ICC) plays an important role in an organizations BPM. e.g. a compentency center is always a good idea when there is a requirement to share resources/information across an organization. With eBiz, for example, an ICC would have established the standards for integration so that there would have been less guesswork when it came time for them to actually integrate. This adds value to the organization in re-using experience, and knowledge, when defining integration patterns and operational strategies across the enterprise. The ICC would also provide the standards to partners.

There are a couple of areas to consider for future:

  • BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT
    • SWIFT is a standards body for banking transactions and includes:
      • Banking solutions for payments and cash management
      • Capital market solutiosn for trading, treasury, custody and corporate actions
      • Corporate solutions for payments (including supply chain transactions), receipts, cash management, treasury
      • We know that we've had a couple of requirements for integration with banking systems that might be fulfilled by adopting a standard for integration with financial institutions.
  • Industry standard for representing supply chain data; e.g. Rosetta.NET
Saw Richard Orr, who I believe is an ex-Manhattan Associates employee.

Had two great break out discussions with peers attending the Day-0 event. These discussions covered Deployment, Configuration, Management and Monitoring of BizTalk solutions. It allowed us to provide some significant input to the BizTalk server team.

The biggest pain points across the groups were:
  1. Configuration management across multiple environments. e.g. Bindings. BizTalk 2006 should mitigate some of the pain we feel today; it could be easier.
  2. Versioning; e.g. dependency management for schemas, components, orchestrations.
  3. Monitoring business process impact on performance; e.g. finding corralaries between executing business processes and system performance.
  4. Sourcing event data through a common api to a central store with a central portal that would have views of the data based on role. Much can be accomplished today through BAM; however, BAM introduces many different complexities.
Spoke with many different people and no longer believe Mary Kay is alone in their implementations. Many attendees represented organizations with installations much larger than ours. Also, many attendees have business processes (orchestrations) that are truley long running, 40+ days in one instance.

Thats the brain dump for now...the regular conference starts tomorrow.

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