BizTalk Server 2013 R2 Available!

If you have been waiting for BizTalk Server 2013 R2, the wait is over. Although this is not a huge new release, if the new features are of interest to you then it is available for download from MSDN as of today. It has a huge long ugly url which I shortened to help you all out. We haven’t seen the specific numbers but the buzz is that performance is greatly enhanced especially for EDI specifically HL7 scenarios.

http://tinyurl.com/BTS2013R2Download to download the bits, (with an MSDN license of course).

http://tinyurl.com/BTS2013Features for a comparative list of features between BTS 2013 and BTS 2013 R2.

Happy BizTalking!

Guest presenter during Build, Release and Monitor course

During the first run of our new Build, Release and Monitor software with Visual Studio 2013 course this week we had a special guest presenter for the topics of Application Insights and Cloud Load Testing.

A big thanks to Chuck Sterling for providing not only an informative session but an entertaining one as well. I expected nothing else  :)

Charles Sterling

The course was a huge success and will be a regular part of our TFS 2013 schedule. Check when this course is running next.

Here’s a couple of comments from students on this course.

“Excellent instructor. I’m appreciative of the real world stories and helpful tips on additional reading material on MS-Build.” ~ Reza

“Very knowledgeable, very willing to answer questions and explain. Very patient. In many of these online courses, I fight to stay focused but Anthony kept my full attention throughout the course. ” ~ Lana

Student feedback and the 70-496 Exam

As the TFS courseware author and lead ALM trainer for QuickLearn, I work hard to try to make sure our eight TFS 2013 courses are best of breed. Students who attend our training are often doing so not only for the skills and knowledge to help them do their job more efficiently, but quite a few are also attending the course as preparation for the Microsoft ALM Certification.

This morning I opened my inbox to find the following email from a student I had on one of our courses two weeks ago.

To Anthony Borton and the QuickLearn Team

I took exam 70-496 today and passed.  This was due to your excellent coverage of the myriad of detail required for TFS Administration and use.  I recommend your courses to all who wish to be successful with TFS.

Thank you!

Tom Williams

While I am in this profession because of my passion for helping people succeed, getting this feedback is also very rewarding.

Thanks for letting us know how you got on with the exam Tom and congratulations on passing the exam. I hope to see you again when you’re studying for the next exam.

Cheers

Anthony

New Class for BizTalk Administrators Goes Even Deeper than Ever Before

I think I can speak for everyone here at QuickLearn Training when I say that I am proud to announce the upcoming release of our BizTalk Server Administrator Deep Dive course! It has been a long labor of love in which I’ve invested an incredible amount of time including many late nights.

We are coming down the home stretch of development of this course, and I’m so excited that I wanted to share the three things about the course of which I am most proud.

A TRUE TECHNICAL DEEP DIVE

This class is a true deep dive into BizTalk Server technologies. Our primary goal for this class is to teach people how to be the best BizTalk Server administrators by teaching them more than how to do their job; we wanted to teach them how BizTalk Server does its job. I don’t want to reveal too much here but we have many detailed discussions about the internal mechanisms of BizTalk Server which provide greater understanding of why we do the things we do on Planet BizTalk.

This is the thing that makes me most excited for this class; I cannot wait to have these conversations with other experienced and interested BizTalk professionals.

PERFORMANCE TESTING AND TUNING

Everyone knows that performance testing and tuning is important in order to ensure that your BizTalk Server implementation is successful, but sadly there is very little practical guidance showing you how to do it. We spend about three days of the course focusing on running performance tests, identifying performance bottlenecks, and eliminating those bottlenecks. We look at how you can improve performance by changing hardware, reconfiguring network infrastructure, optimizing the underlying Windows Operating System, and other ancillary services. We also walk you through a variety of advanced configuration options for BizTalk Server databases and hosts.

This is where we’ve spent the most amount of time designing the course. I’ve personally spent weeks running performance tests so I can better understand how these changes affect performance and so I can prove to you the impact that a particular optimization might have.

Performance Monitor

ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF THROTTLING

I have one word for you: Throttling. Other than the MessageBox database I cannot think of single component in BizTalk that can have greater impact on performance than throttling. I know it is so clichéd now, but Stan “the man” Lee once said “With great power comes great responsibility”. The sad reality however is that there are so many people who’ve shirked all their responsibility when it comes to throttling.

I have enough faith in my fellow BizTalk professionals to believe that this is not because of carelessness or a general disregard for efficiency but instead stems from a lack of understanding; which isn’t surprising considering the amount of documentation and guidance coming out of Microsoft. We’ve worked hard to create the most comprehensive explanation of throttling including practical information that will finally demystify it forever.

Rate-Based Throttling

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I hope that this small insight into the upcoming BizTalk Server Administrator Deep Dive course has sparked your interest in the course. We are currently in the process of testing labs and editing slides and expect to have the course ready later this summer.

You can expect to see it on our calendar starting in July 2014. It will be offered publicly allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to attend remotely or if you prefer you can attend in-person at our state-of-the-art training facility based in Kirkland, WA.

two new tfs 2013 courses now available

Two exciting new courses added to our TFS 2013 curriculum

QuickLearn Training is expanding its TFS Curriculum with two new courses being added to our range. With both the most up-to-date and comprehensive TFS curriculum, you know you’re in good hands when you book on one of our courses.

Build, Release, and Monitor Software Using Visual Studio 2013

This new 3 day introductory level course is focuses on the following components of Visual Studio 2013;

  • Team Build
  • Release Management for Visual Studio 2013
  • Application Insights

As the title says, if you want to improve the way you build, release and monitor your applications, this is the course for you. Like all of our courses, you can attend this training on our public schedule or we can run it onsite for you.

Download full outline (PDF) | View TFS 2013 course dates

Applied Scrum Using Visual Studio 2013

Achieving success in your software development projects requires understanding of both your development tools and processes. This 3 day course aims to help address both of these by teaching you the Scrum Framework and how to apply it using the Visual Studio 2013 product at the same time. This course is ideal for getting your entire team pointing in the same direction and using Visual Studio as effectively as possible. Bring us onsite now to deliver this exciting new course.

Download full outline (PDF) | View TFS 2013 course dates

See us and win at the ALM Forum Seattle 2014

QuickLearn is committed to the ALM community and have signed up as Gold Sponsors for the upcoming ALM Forum Seattle 2014.

ALMForum

BEFORE THE EVENT – WIN A FREE TICKET

You can win a free ticket (valued at $ 1,895) to the ALM Forum Seattle on 1st-3rd April 2014. We have two free tickets to give away to lucky readers of our newsletter. We’ll be announcing details on how to enter the draw in our newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up from our community page.

AT THE EVENT

Come and see us at our booth and learn about the world’s most comprehensive TFS training curriculum. We’ll have two of our TFS trainers available to discuss your training requirements. You can also go into the draw from some great prizes including the Lenovo 64Gb Thinkpad 8 Tablet. This amazing device was a true standout at the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this year!

WinLenovo8Tablet

Our new TFS 2013 training curriculum kicks off on Jan 27th

Since the official release of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2013 in November we’ve been testing our newest course updates and we’re pleased to be launching our new 2013 courses at the end of this month.

If you either working with, or thinking of working with Microsoft’s latest release then you should take a look at the following courses.

  • Jan 27-29  TFS 2013 Configuration and Administration
  • Jan 30-31  TFS 2013 Developer Fundamentals
  • Feb 3-7  ALM Solutions using Visual Studio TFS 2013
  • Feb 10-11  Managing Projects with Visual Studio TFS 2013
  • Feb 12-14  Software Testing with Visual Studio 2013

You can find out more and register for these course on our dedicated TFS 2013 page.

We’re also planning on releasing an additional three TFS 2013 related courses in the coming months.

attend our 1-day pre-conference WORKSHOP at the alm forum in April 2014

QuickLearn’s lead ALM instructor and curriculum author, Anthony Borton, will be presenting a one day hands-on pre-conference workshop at the ALM Forum in Seattle in April 2014.

The ALM Forum (previously ALM Summit) is a three day event focusing on all things ALM. There is an awesome cast of speakers lined up for this year including keynotes from  Scott Ambler, Steve Denning and Ken Schwaber. James Whittaker and Dave West are delivering plenary sessions as well.

The details of the pre-conference workshop are as follows.

TITLE: Managing your Application Lifecycle with TFS

DATE: Monday, March 31st 2014. (Day before conference)

ABSTRACT:

As a member of an Agile development team, you want to learn the best practices for setting up a new project on Team Foundation Server, so that your team can get the best possible start for delivering better software, more frequently.

In this workshop, attendees will start by setting up a brand new Team Project on TFS 2013 and then proceed to configure everything required to get their team ready for their first iteration.

Some of the key topics include:

  • Entering our requirements and setting up our portfolio backlog
  • Configuring our two teams with independent backlogs and taskboards
  • Introducing the team members to the appropriate tools for their role
  • Fostering collaboration using Team Rooms and adding users and events
  • Preparing version control for our developers to get started
  • Getting QA ready to kick off with their first test plan
  • Leveraging the out of the box reports and creating ad-hoc reports

To find out more or to register visit the workshop page.

To find out more about the ALM Forum Seattle 2014, visit http://www.alm-forum.com

BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 Recap

The week before this last holiday week was quite a time to be in the BizTalk world. The BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 kicked off at the swanky Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, Washington bringing with it a defined release cadence and roadmap, new cloud-based product announcements, and even a peek into the plans for the upcoming on-premise version of BizTalk Server.

The First Peek

The first peek into what the Thursday-Friday event would hold is captured in this agenda from the first day. The first day contained a single track of content, where all attendees would be able to experience the same messaging and presentations. The second day provided two tracks for those who wanted to chose their own adventure.

agenda

Familiar Faces & New Faces

The man in the Red Polo himself – Scott Guthrie kicked off the event – and also took the opportunity to announce the general availability of Windows Azure BizTalk Services. To clarify, it’s real and released – no longer in preview – but also not a static unchanging thing (as we will see later).

scottgu

We also had a new face bringing the initial welcome – Mark Moritmore. He’s the man behind the event, having received the torch passed by Kent Brown (who is now working with NY-based integration powerhouse Nimbo). This guy is passionate about the product, and is a long-term thinker. He’s exactly what BizTalk needs as organizations continue to choose BizTalk Server and Windows Azure BizTalk Services for mission critical integration applications that are expected to have long lifespans.

mark

Updated WABS SDK

The announcement of the general availability of Windows Azure BizTalk Services left me itching to get the bits, and “play” with them for lack of a better term. However, all the turkey from Thanksgiving put me a week behind the times and I just had a chance to download/install the freshly released SDK last night. One of the changes I noticed right away (from the last time I had installed one of the preview SDKs), is that I wasn’t having to hunt for miscellaneous MSIs to install the pre-requisite components. The new streamlined setup just makes it happen (though you’d better have a SQL Server or SQL Server Express instance handy if you’re planning on using the BizTalk Adapter Service – it’s not going to do that for you).

auto_install_dependencies

One of the other things demoed at the summit was the BizTalk Service Explorer Visual Studio Extension. This is a nice little plug-in for the Server Explorer window that allows you to interact with BizTalk Services artifacts in really cool ways (e.g., submitting a test message without leaving Visual Studio). While the UI looks/feels clunky at times, it definitely gets the job done. After seeing it, this will be on my list of extensions to install by default.

biztalkservice_explorer

Misc Thoughts About WABS GA

Looking at WABS from the perspective of migrating existing on-premise solutions to the cloud, I’m not sure the story is really complete there (and that’s not some huge secret – WABS is still in active development, and upcoming changes will erase most of the concerns I’m about to mention).

First, as noted in an earlier post, I did have some expectations around the map upgrade tool that still weren’t really met with this release. I had at least hoped the limitations in the preview would not be seen in the final release, or that I would get happier results than I was seeing before out of the tool at the very least.

Another tool that ships with the SDK is a TPM migration tool (essentially to move parties/profiles/agreements to the cloud. While this is actually done pretty well, there is still some mismatch in capabilities (e.g., EDIFACT is available on-premise, but is still a future delivery for WABS) that will prevent moving all solutions.

I took a look at the X12 schemas while thinking through some integrations I’ve worked on in the past, and noticed an absence of the schemas used for HIPAA sub-document splitting. To be fair, I haven’t actually had an opportunity to test to see if that functionality is present (for the most part the schemas are 100% clones of the on-premise schemas, so maybe those extensions are implemented in the WABS version of the EDI Disassembler), but it’s not looking promising. So those integrations would potentially stay on-premise as well.

Another thing that makes me more than a little bit uncomfortable is the direct deployment from Visual Studio. I’m hoping we will see more solutions like Michael Stephenson’s AppFx.ServiceBus.Build that will make deployment a happier experience (and hopefully a fully automated one that doesn’t live in Visual Studio).

That’s not the end of the story though. I don’t intend to write this in such a way that it seems I’m saying that WABS is somehow unsuitable. Instead these are the places where there is still work to be done – and I’ll emphasize again – work is being done. EDIFACT support was confirmed as coming, along with a new rules engine (with new tooling), support for Windows Workflow Foundation workflows, AS2 support, and other fun extensibility points (e.g., BAM-like tracking, easy to build/lightweight adapters). So we’re getting a better B2B story, and also starting to see the seeds of a BPM story emerge within WABS.

Essentially WABS is doing great things already (for straight-forward X12 integrations built fresh for WABS), and will be doing even better things in the future.

BizTalk 2013 Updates Since Release

Another point of discussion was the present state of BizTalk Server 2013 on-premise, as well as a road map for the future. Since the release of BizTalk Server 2013, the BizTalk team has been hard at work, and shipping updates and new functionality (e.g., HIS 2013, which had been delayed due to close work between the product team and TAP customers to get everything happy and ready for release).

2013updates

BizTalk Futures (2013 R2 and Beyond)

Looking to the roadmap ahead, the team made a commitment to a release cadence (that in a way is a continuation of what we have already seen, but which hadn’t so much been publicly formalized). The release cadence going forward will see:

  • Major BizTalk Server release every other year
  • R2 BizTalk Server release every year there is no major release
  • Cumulative update package each quarter
  • WABS refresh each quarter

release_cadence

Looking at this slide, I feel like I’m looking at a description of the release cadence for Visual Studio. Which is nice, because in a way this provides some level of guarantee that I’m going to be able to develop BizTalk Server artifacts in vLatest of Visual Studio (give or take a few months in this case).

As part of the commitment to this release cadence, an announcement was made for BizTalk Server 2013 R2, which will bring:

  • Platform alignment
  • JSON Support (so much for all that work writing pipeline components!)
  • Proxy support for the SFTP adapter (as well as SSO support)
  • Authentication improvements for Service Bus
  • Healthcare Accelerator Improvements (slides to follow with specifics)

2013r2features2013r2features2

Exciting Road Ahead

When you get down to the bottom of it, it really is an exciting road ahead for BizTalk Server. I had a lot of fun this year at the BizTalk Integration Summit, and I’m hoping that this becomes an annual tradition and opportunity for the BizTalk community to come together in-person, and have a dialog with the team that’s building the product and service.

Before I close this post out, I want to give a shout out and thanks to everyone that stopped by our table and has found themselves sporting a new tablet cover with the QuickLearn Training logo (spread the love!), and a thanks to everyone who made it to our party at the Rock Bottom Brewery – lots of good times and good conversations were had there!

If you want to get some other perspectives on the summit, Saravana and Steef Jan (among others) beat me to the punch and have offered their thoughts here:

Well, it looks like I don’t have an excuse to sit in this restaurant any longer (one of the upper floors of a seemingly endless concourse at DEN). I’m going to go catch the rest of my flight out to Houston (completely different part of Houston than last time) to teach some TFS this week, and I’ll be back in short order. Until then, take care!

Our Visual Studio 2013 ALM Training Curriculum is live

I am pleased to announce we have dates set for the first public run of our new Visual Studio 2013 ALM Training courses. These courses are available for you to attend in person in Kirkland, WA or you can attend using our online classroom infrastructure.  If you need your team trained, we can also provide closed on-site courses for you.

  • TFS 2013 Configuration and Administration
    27th-29th January 2014 | 3 days | More info
  • TFS 2013 Developer Fundamentals
    30th-31st January 2014 | 2 days | More info
  • Application Lifecycle Management solutions using TFS 2013
    3rd-7th February 2014 | 5 days | More info
  • Managing Projects with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2013
    10th-11th February 2014 | 2 days | More info
  • Software Testing with Visual Studio 2013
    12th-14th February 2014 | 3 days | More info

For additional dates, visit our TFS 2013 home page.

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