Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) provides integration capabilities in the cloud for EAI and B2B. This relative new service on Windows Azure was made available for customers in November 2013. WABS is a cloud integration platform or integration platform as a service or IPaaS. Characteristic of IPaaS is that you can build your integration on premise, deploy in the cloud, where it is hosted in a service (a set of dedicated hardware). The service is offered through a subscription model for operating the service in the cloud (for BizTalk Services this means Windows Azure hence the name Windows Azure BizTalk Services). Currently there are quite some players offering that kind of service like Dell, Attunity, MuleSoft, TIBCO, and so on.

Microsoft is currently pushing the service hard to catch up with some of these players and try to quicken/hasten the maturity of the product. Therefore, Microsoft has committed to have a release cadence for new features every three months. The recent release was in February 2014, which added new features for WABS. These new features are:

  • EDIFACT Protocol Support and X12 Schema Updates
  • Pulling Messages from Service Bus Queues and Topics
  • Service Bus Shared Access Signatures (SAS) support with Service Bus Queues and Topics
  • BizTalk Adapter Services No Longer Needs SQL On Premises
  • Backup and Restore Support
  • Operation Log Support

The release of WABS last November has resulted in quite a substantial number of TechNet Wiki articles. The best entry point is, no surprise here: Windows Azure BizTalk Services resources on the TechNet Wiki. This page lists the articles that have been written on WABS and its predecessor Windows Azure Service Bus EAI and EDI Labs (a beta of WABS). In a period of a few months almost twenty articles have been written by various authors within the BizTalk community, MVP's and Microsoft staff (in random order):

The new features to WABS has extended the flexibility and ability to create cloud solutions. However, WABS will need more adapters (sources/destinations) for instance to be able to compete with some of the other IPaaS vendors like MuleSoft, who offers a great deal of adapters. Another aspect of WABS is that most of the configuration is done through Visual Studio a main component currently to build, deploy and manage a bridge solution. This shows the huge dependency WABS currently has with Visual Studio. Managing for instance  some parts of a bridge solution like configuration of sources and destinations is preferable better in a different tool like management console/web application or within Windows Azure itself. Since this is still the first release after the go-live of WABS last year in November you can expect improvement of the service in many areas. This will results a more wiki articles on WABS in the future.

Steef-Jan Wiggers (Blog, Wiki, Twitter, Profile)