I’ve been down in Melbourne, Australia for the past couple of weeks putting in some hours on a new version of Integration Manager which is an innovative product that strives to abstract the complexity of BizTalk and place the tools in the hands of business experts. Basically Integration Manager sits on BizTalk Server ESB Toolkit and amongst other features provides an inductive web based workflow designer.
As a seasoned BizTalk developer using Integration Manager for the first time is a surprising experience. I was able to hang together a quick integration solution adhering to the vetro pattern in literally five minutes. My workflow validates the message, calls a service registered in UDDI 3.0 to enrich the message, transforms the message, and then ultimately routes the message to a trading partner. Integration Manager exploits the configuration vs coding concept. i.e. we configure workflows on top of a set of standard well tested components which ultimately reduces the time to market for integration solutions and improves responsiveness.
The Integration Manager workflow configuration user interface supports some neat features, for example I was able to create a complete new version of my workflow with one mouse click! With a couple more mouse clicks I was able to deploy both versions of my workflow to a simulated production environment and roll the workflow versions forward and backward. Imagine this in a real world scenario where versions of the workflow support different versions of schema and maps. Being able to roll back to a previous version or activate a new version of a workflow with a new version of maps or schema in literally one mouse click massively reduces operational downtime.
Aside from workflow configuration productivity benefits Integration Manager really shines with its support and maintenance capabilities. Built on best of breed technologies such as SharePoint 2010, and InfoPath 2010 Integration Manager implements a “Data Management Portal” that adds significantly to the transparency of the integration layer. All errors occurring within the integration layer are enriched with contextual information then routed to a SharePoint 2010 document library. A production support team using the “DMP” may enhance its capability to respond to events by adding custom views, alerts, and SharePoint workflows. The errors themselves are presented via Microsoft Office InfoPath 2010 forms which allow lower skilled help desk staff to respond and resubmit failed messages to the integration layer in the vast number of scenarios. For example, a message may fail validation and therefore be routed to the “DMP” for action by support staff. Support staff have the ability to inspect the error, repair the underlying message, and resubmit it.
Amongst other accolades Integration Manager took out first place in the 2010 national iAwards. This is very cool innovative technology built by Logical Tech SysTalk, a thought leader in the integration space. Exciting times we live in!