Is the sun finally setting on Microsoft's BizTalk?

Over the years, we have had several customers within eMagiz using the Microsoft BizTalk platform. Large customers who took full advantage of the capabilities of this powerful integration platform. The relatively simple set-up, and the fact is was so widely used, meant that there was an ocean of resources to fish your BizTalk specialists out of. Based on the messaging integration pattern, quite a few Enterprises tied up their entire IT landscape with this toolset. 

So why did some of our major customers decide to say goodbye to BizTalk in recent years?

Speaking from the experiences we have gained with several large customers in recent years, besides the fact that it is becoming increasingly clear that Microsoft has released the latest version with BizTalk server 2020, we can point to a number of good motivators to consider migrating to other integration tooling:

Bart Buschmann
Commercial Director @ eMagiz

  • Outdated technology: BizTalk has not evolved over the years with the trends that other integration platforms have embraced. 'Newer', commonly used integration patterns such as API and, for example, Kafka (event streaming) are not (or limited) available within BizTalk. This makes this 'Swiss pocket knife', although very functional, often no longer an efficient tooling for solving (complex) integration challenges.
 
  • Declining availability of knowledge and experience: the BizTalk platform, introduced by Microsoft at the turn of the millennium (2000), has been around for a while and is somewhat outdated in terms of functionality. To some extent, this also applies to the availability of knowledge and experience. Many a BizTalk specialist has retired in recent years or will enjoy his retirement in the near future. The young influx of recent years is less comfortable with the somewhat outdated technology and that creates a challenge for many organisations with regard to keeping the software platform operational, maintained and further developed.
 
  • Blackbox principle does not fit complex, business-critical integration landscapes: In the evolving enterprise IT landscape, we see a continuous development and evolution of complex integrations. In a modern landscape, we often see hundreds, sometimes even thousands of more or less complex (hybrid) integrations. The BizTalk platform monitoring tools focuses mainly on the flow of data through the tooling. The moment integrations fail, possibly toppling other applications, it is a black box regarding exactly how the underlying technical integrations are put together, what dependencies there are, etc. For at least two of our major customers, this was the immediate reason to decide to migrate away from the BizTalk platform.
 
  • Continuity: by far the majority of BizTalk licences currently still in use in enterprises (2009,2010,2013,2016 FeaturePack 1,2,3) are end-of-support, while end-of-support for the latest release BizTalk server 2020 has been announced for 2028 with an extended end date for 2030. The long support period for the 2020 release (10 years!) clearly indicates that Microsoft has no intention of bringing a subsequent release. Microsoft itself hints at setting up various SaaS solutions within the Azure domain but this brings with it 2 major drawbacks. Integrations realised within BizTalk cannot be migrated to Azure and will therefore have to be rebuilt from scratch. Azure offers a motley collection of SaaS services from which the enterprise must make a selection, and based on this selection, realise the functionality and consistency of an integration platform itself.
 

It is after the problematic end-of-life of XP (customers were content with the software and saw no need, or even only disadvantages to migrate to a next release and Microsoft ended up using "the knife at the throat" to force customers to migrate out of XP) actually the same trap Microsoft is stepping into for the next time: Announcing the end-of-life of a software platform that many customers are happy with without offering a full-fledged alternative to which to migrate on to.

BizTalk users can now basically do 2 things:

  • Option 1: Wait and see how the situation will evolve, take the aforementioned risks at face value and investigate whether migration to Azure is feasible and makes sense for the business.
  • Option 2: Investigate whether there are opportunities to move the BizTalk functionality to another (non-Microsoft) platform that offers at least the BizTalk capabilities, and does continue to evolve and be supported in the coming years.

Option 1: Waiting

For those who choose to do the first: Much strength and should you read this article back in a few years, feel free to get in touch, maybe we can still help you 😉.

Option 2: Investigate the opportunities to move the functionality to an other platform

For those charmed by the second option. We have developed a 2-day assessment to map your entire BizTalk environment and the (financial) consequences of a migration. This solution allows us to offer a structurally lower TCO on such a project with a maximum ROI-period of 2 years. Take a look at the (anonymised) report we made for one of our customers that chose to migrate. 

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