Jul 022014

So in discussions with a lot of executives about the situations of integration, illness often times the question is asked: Why use BizTalk, it seems like a lot of work to get integration done when I could just use tools that Microsoft provides already.

I have struggled with coming up with a good answer to this question, because, yes Microsoft provides other integration tools packaged with other server products that solve the same problems that BizTalk Server solves.

Lets take SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). It transforms data from one data type to another. You don’t even need SQL Server to be the source or destination. From outward appearances it can do all of the things that BizTalk can.

SSIS is great, but SSIS is akin to a machete, whereas BizTalk is akin to a Swiss army knife

Machete vs.swiss-army-knife 


They both have their uses, if I need to cut down a swath of weeds, or to clear a trail of underbrush, a machete is what I would use. If I needed to whittle away a piece of wood, I would use the Swiss army knife. Could I accomplish the same thing with the other tool? YES! Clearing under brush with a Swiss army knife, possible, but not the best, carving a wooden sculpture with a machete, I guess it can be done.

Can a Swiss army knife deal with a screw? Yes! Can I cut paper, can I open up a can, can I file my fingernails? All yes! Is it the best tool for the job? Probably not, but it is far more comprehensive than a lot of other tools.

So also is SSIS compared to BizTalk. If I wanted to do a mass update, without a lot of moving part SSIS is great, if I need to bulk move data from one place to another, SSIS is the job. If I need to design a workflow process, where there are multiple stops (along with different types of end points), BizTalk is the way to go.

Are there better screw drivers than the one provided with the Swiss army knife, how about can openers, how about scissors, yes, yes, and yes.

WCF exposed C# interfaces are much faster, and operate at a much granular level. However, you lose some of the functionality that comes out of the box with BizTalk, namely tracking, exception handling, etc,

Food for thought.

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