Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:58 PM Mikael Sand

Microsoft BizTalk 2010: Line of business Systems Integration, a review

Firstly I would like to get the score thing out of the way and in true consulting fashion I’ll say: It depends. I give it two or four stars depending on your needs as a developer/architect. Let me explain:

What do you want to do?

The whole basis for the book is not to be a comprehensive guide of every system you will ever integrate with, but rather the more common ones. Systems like SAP, Dynamics AX or SharePoint. Neither is it a documentation update on the BizTalk adapters or even about more general features of BizTalk. Before spending some money on this book you should ask yourself; what do I want to do?

Are you a senior BizTalk developer or perhaps an integration architect and need to integrate with one of the systems covered in the book, then you should not only buy the book and read it, but rather you have to (4 stars). On the other hand, if not, then you can leave it on the shelf, or what the equivalent version in the online book store is; this is the 2 stars.

Systems covered by the book

  • SQL Server
  • Dynamics CRM
  • SAP
  • Azure AppFabric
  • SharePoint 2010
  • Dynamics AX
  • Salesforce.com

Do you need to integrate with any of these? Great! Good luck! This book is a very good place to start.

Some key takeaways

The chapters on SAP (which I guess are written by Kent Weare) are some of the best technical writing I’ve ever come across, but then again I might be biased. I was once in the situation described in the chapter and I like how the writer must have overcome a lot of boundaries (both mental and structural) to be able to write about it in the way he does. The way he focuses on “how to integrate with SAP-people” so to speak, and what terms to use to better make yourself understood is very useful and something I would have loved to have about three years ago.

A book that refers to blog posts is new to me and not something I dislike. However, in some cases, the use of those links seemed more like a fast and easy way to get the chapter done, rather than trying to incorporate the information from the blog post in the text.

Some chapters (particularly the one on Windows Azure) might have benefited from more information about some key aspects of the integration. The section about ACS comes to mind.

There are a lot of how-tos and walkthroughs showing you exactly how to configure adapters, complete with many illustrative screen dumps. You should have absolutely no problem building your first integration for Dynamics CRM. Then again I think that in some cases I would have benefitted more from just information about the adapter and the integrating system.

Related info

  • The book can be found here.
  • My previous post about an event where some of the authors presented concepts from the book can be found here.
  • Kent Weare's blog
  • Richard Seroter's blog
  • Info on Sergei Moukhnitski
  • Thiago Almeida's blog
  • Info on Carl Darski

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