At the recent Integrate 2018 summit the Q&A drew some contentious questions from the audience about the next version of BizTalk and when it is going to be. What was clear is that the product teams new approach of having a customer feedback driven back log means they have been busy and successful in delivering changes to Logic Apps and also the BizTalk feature pack and having just completed those they have not planned the next major release of BizTalk.
Now that being said, the team should have expected these questions because they always come up and I think an answer of “we aren’t ready to talk about that yet and we will get back to you” would have been fine, but there was a bit of fluff around the answers given which resulted in the audience drawing their own conclusions in a negative way. After such a great conference I found myself wishing the Q&A had never taken place as this miscommunication at the end sent a lot of people away with a degree of confusion.
With that said in the pub later we were talking about the idea of product support lifecycles and I have always felt the problem around Microsoft tech was that there is too much info out there on the subject and that is actually detrimental to the intention. I decided to test this idea by looking at the support lifecycle for some other vendors. First off lets recap Microsoft’s position.
Microsoft BizTalk Server
Lets start by using the link below where community members have a nice easy to follow interpretation of the Microsoft Support Lifecycle for BizTalk.
|Version||Release Date||End main support||End Extended Support|
|BizTalk Server 2016||12/01/2016||01/11/2022||01/11/2027|
|BizTalk Server 2013 R2||07/31/2014||07/10/2018||07/11/2023|
|BizTalk Server 2013||06/12/2013||07/10/2018||07/11/2023|
|BizTalk Server 2010||11/14/2010||01/12/2016||01/12/2021|
|BizTalk Server 2009||06/21/2009||07/08/2014||07/09/2019|
You can see from the above table there is still some kind of support available for 5 versions of BizTalk covering up to 9 years from now. Even a 9 year old version of BizTalk is still available under extended support for over 1 more year.
Now we have a picture of the Microsoft position, lets take a look at some of the other vendors out there.
Below I have summarised some information from https://www.mulesoft.com/legal/versioning-back-support-policy
|Version||Release Date||End of Standard Support||End of Extended Support|
|4.1||March 20, 2018||March 20, 2020 or later||March 20, 2022 or later|
|3.9||October 9, 2017||October 9, 2019||October 9, 2021|
|3.8 – long term supported||May 16, 2016||November 16, 2018||November 16, 2021|
|3.7||July 9, 2015||Nov 16, 2017||Nov 16, 2019|
|3.6||Jan 15, 2015||Jan 15, 2017||N/A|
|3.5 – long term supported||May 20, 2014||July 15, 2016 *||July 15, 2019 *|
Points to note:
- MuleSoft provides Standard Support for the latest released minor version of the Mule runtime.
- Once a new minor version for a major version is released, the previous minor version will receive Standard Support for an additional 18 months. All minor versions for a major version will receive Standard Support for a minimum of 2 years.
- Starting with Mule 3.7 and later, after Standard Support ends, MuleSoft will offer Extended Support for an additional 2 years. Mule 3.5 and 3.8 will receive Extended Support for a total of 3 years.
- Extended Support versions are only available on CloudHub for applications already deployed on it
- Once a new major version is released, MuleSoft will continue to offer Standard Support for at least one minor version of the previous major version for a minimum of 3 years.
- Once a minor version is outside the Standard Support and Extended Support windows, MuleSoft will provide End of Life Support.
My interpretation of the Mulesoft position compared to BizTalk is that the current version of Mulesoft has committed support for 2 years less than the current version of BizTalk and extended support for 5 years less than the current version of BizTalk.
If we take a look at Jitterbit, their documentation states, “Jitterbit is committed to supporting a version for 12 months from the release date”. So effectively each release is under support for a committed 12 months only. It may be longer in reality but if we look at the example of their last version to end of life you can see below it was only supported for 1 year which seems fairly consistent.
|Jitterbit Harmony Local Agent||8.23||2017-05-05||2017-05-07||2018-05-07|
You can find more info on the link below.
My interpretation of the comparison of BizTalk vs Jitterbit is that Jitterbit are only committing to year on year support versus long term commitments from Microsoft.
Oracle Fusion Middleware
From the below link I was able to findout some basic info about Oracle Fusion.
|Version||Release||Main Support||Extended Support|
|Fusion Middleware 12c (12.2.x)||Oct 2015||April 2016||Oct 2020|
I could not find any specific information on the current versions or their support lifecycles however the below links provide some background info.
I could not find any information online about support life cycle commitments or versions released. I did find some information on the release notes for each release which is available below to give an idea of how often change occurs.
I could not find any information on the support life cycle policies for Snap Logic. There are release notes available on the below link:
I found the below Tibco document (dated March 2018) which indicates that the latest version of Tibco is under support until 30-Nov 2020.
Azure Logic Apps
Interestingly I can not find any public information about the public position on the support life cycle for Logic Apps.
The simple fact is that Microsoft have a publicly stated duration of support for the current version of BizTalk which is 5 years longer than any other vendor I am able to find information on! That means if “BizTalk is dead”, based on info in the public domain all of the other vendors are going to be dead well before it.
With that said it is important to consider that iPaaS products may mean we need to think about the lifecycle in a different way because the idea of upgrading is not really the same thing, but with that in mind we do need to consider that the example of MABS from Microsoft was an iPaaS product which some customers bet on and was then deprecated. With the volatility in the iPaaS market and the expected consolidation of vendors with things such as the recent acquisition of Mulesoft by SalesForce it may be worth considering if the absence of a communicated lifecycle on iPaaS is a good thing for customers.
I would draw the conclusion that at this stage the recent discussions around BizTalk product lifecycle are really just a case of under par communications and marketing on the Microsoft side which allow the myth to be created that BizTalk product lifecycle is a problem. If you look at the hard facts actually it has by far the strongest story I can find.
If we compare the 2 biggest competitors, with BizTalk we are 4 years from the end of support of the current version, that’s 2 year more than a brand new release of Mule gets so maybe things aren’t so bad after all.