In the previous post Building an Azure based Integration Platform – Part 1 I talked about the vision of our cloud based integration platform and what we thought the technology may end up looking like. Its impossible to be 100% sure because it depends which projects you end up implementing and what their requirements would be. In the next article in this series I will look at how we began the integration platform journey.
In this first phase our key project requirements were around B2B integration and being able to integrate with Dynamics CRM Online which was a relatively new and major SaaS investment. In this phase we needed to implement some batch based integration processes which would pull data from Dynamics CRM and send data to B2B partners in various flat file formats.
To do this we begun by creating a small network in Azure with BizTalk standard edition. Our requirements did not need a big set up of BizTalk so standard with a pay as you go license model was a really good price on our Azure enterprise agreement. It also allows us to turn off the servers when we are not using them which can save more money during these initial stages.
Using BizTalk we were able to implement a relatively simple set of processes which would trigger with the scheduled task adapter and then pull data out of CRM via the CRM API. BizTalk then has a solid mapping capability which allows us to map the data to the partners format and flat file creation capability to build the legacy flat files to support the partners file interface requirements. These files can then be delivered over SFTP to the partner.
At this stage we were only using a very small part of the overall toolkit that we were able to create in our Azure based integration platform. The platform at this stage looked like the following:
The thing that I really like about the platform that is evolving is the idea that the Azure subscription gives you a logical container around the majority of your integration investment and supports a container from a management and billing perspective.
The phase 1 of the integration platform now allows us to do some relatively complex integration patterns using the integration capabilities of BizTalk Server. We know that we have some limitations in terms of scale with this edition but the beauty of this is that if we need more then we can add more in Azure or potentially change to use other features if needed.
BizTalk has given us the ability to connect to all of our applications and partners hosted in the cloud or outside of the organisation.