Selecting the Right Approach for your Business

BizTalk Services

In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies are always looking for ways to increase efficiency, and decrease costs . . . and IT is one of the prime departments companies approach, to support both cost reduction and increased efficiency.
One of the more popular recent approaches, intended to help reduce IT expenditures, is to move servers and applications to a hosted location in the cloud. At first glance it seems enticing, promising no upfront costs for acquiring hardware, and reduced long-term costs to maintain that hardware . . . but it is a more complex topic than that.  It therefore requires more careful evaluation to determine the viability of cloud hosting for your enterprise, particularly in the integration arena where Art2link specializes.

There are three completely different approaches to locating your Microsoft BizTalk integration engines, one in a pay-as-you-go Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach – BizTalk Services, one in a cloud-hosted Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach – Azure BizTalk VM, and one with a traditional on-site (On-Prem) approach – On Premises BizTalk.
Over the course of this series, we are going to try to provide a hype-free, experience-based, business perspective on what factors to consider when trying to decide between these possible approaches to your integration needs. Our discussion will be broken down into several key issue areas, listed below:

  • Technical Expertise Required
  • Regulatory and Legal Considerations
  • Security Issues
  • Technical Functionality Available
  • What is Motivating a Change?
  • Internal Politics of Going to the Cloud
  • Control of the Computing Environment
  • Vendor Lock-In
  • Reliability and Economies of Scale
  • Performance and Scalability
  • Short Term Costs/Effort
  • Long Term Costs/Effort

Technical Expertise Required

The level of technical expertise required to implement BizTalk Services in the PaaS scenario is significantly less than that required in either the IaaS or On-Prem scenarios. Because BizTalk Services is already implemented in the PaaS scenario, there is not an initial installation requirement. This is certainly a positive consideration for the PaaS scenario, because the skillset required to successfully implement and properly configure BizTalk initially is a complex one, and not a skillset that the average business is going to utilize on a regular basis. (This makes design/install/configure one of the areas that makes the most sense to utilize specialized consulting resources)
The skillset and experience required to properly architect, construct, error-trap, test, and implement integration solutions with BizTalk is still required . . . but it is required similarly in all three implementation scenarios, therefore giving an advantage to none. This is not to say that the skillset for an IaaS integration construction is identical to the construction of a similar integration On-Prem; (in actuality there are several skill areas that are different between the two) but despite those differences, the skillsets are similar in complexity.
When a given technical resource has developed skills in one of the three approaches, they should anticipate a degree of “relearning”, as they would when approaching any new package. That relearning isn’t necessarily more difficult, it is merely different.

Given these facts we can draw three primary conclusions:

  1.  If you are planning to install the BizTalk instance(s) yourself, there is a definite advantage to using BizTalk services, in that the installation will be performed properly by Microsoft personnel, on your behalf.
  2. If you are planning to have consulting resources install and configure your BizTalk instances, there is no significant difference between the three approaches from the perspective of the level of Technical Expertise Required.
  3. There is still a significant level of Technical Expertise Required to effectively architect, construct, error trap, test, implement, and ultimately support integrations that will be built with BizTalk. This level of expertise is equally required with all three possible approaches. (although with slightly different skillsets)

Please come back next week, for the next installment of this discussion!

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