BizTalk Services Gets Connected
Microsoft pieces together a firewall-friendly Internet Service Bus
June 1, 2007 —
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Microsofts BizTalk Services offering has gotten more concrete for its foundation. BizTalk Connectivity Services surfaced in the BizTalk Labs May preview, introducing firewall traversal and eventing capabilities. The larger part of the story is that BizTalk Services is not exclusively about the BizTalk server integration platform, but is integral to Microsofts SaaS strategy.
BizTalk Connectivity Services offer two ways for developers to expose a service behind a firewall or across network boundaries: direct connection and publish-and-subscribe.
Microsoft distinguished engineer John Shewchuk explained that BizTalk Connectivity Services have hybrid connection capabilities that dynamically adjust between relayed and direct communications. What was originally a relayed channel can then switch to direct connection, if it can be established. It connects directly between two end points, he said.
This helps with speed and reliability. Most Web messaging today is fire-and-forget [unverified transmissions], said Steven Martin, director of product management in Microsofts connected systems division.
This [enabling direct connections] is inconceivable to developers on their own. Direct connect overcomes the challenges of peer-to-peer; its an Internet startup in a box, Shewchuk remarked. Naming, security and firewall traversal are a huge economic barrier to produce a product, even before providing features. We change the economics of connected, distributed applications by providing all of that.
Shewchuk explained that publish-and-subscribe eventing provides URI multicast capabilities, on top of messaging, enabling developers to broadcast events to a specific endpoint, based on the content of the message. The updated BizTalk Services SDK shows how to use the new features.
BizTalk Services in its entirety is composed of the aforementioned Connectivity Services, as well as identity and workflow components that form the makings of what Microsoft calls an Internet Service Bus (ISB).
The BizTalk Identity Services handle all identity and access control requirements, and are built on Microsofts WS-*-based Windows CardSpace framework. Shewchuk noted that Microsoft was trying to improve the services claims-based access model, used for group creation and capability-based access control.