Starting this year, Microsoft rebranded its Professional Developer Conference (PDC) as BUILD. I have no idea what message they are trying to convey with this name change. For some strange reasons, this change was not broadcasted strongly by the numerous Microsoft blogs and sites. The registration page was so hidden that even search engines could not find it using standard words like “PDC Microsoft conference” etc. Well, for people who still don’t know, BUILD is being held in Anaheim, California in middle of September this year. At the time of writing this article, no agenda have been published by Microsoft for the conference. This is rather strange for an elite conference like this. My guess is that there will be breaking news around direction of Biztalk Cloud technologies. Update to Windows mobile platform (“Mango” code name) will get good coverage. Microsoft is really pushing hard to break into the Smartphone market. Even though Mango is looking like a robust platform, it is hard to penetrate the barrier created by Android and iPhone. Recent buy out of MMI by Google, bodes well for Microsoft. It leaves windows mobile as the only true Open Source mobile platform in the market. It is rather ironic that a company traditionally linked with developing proprietary technologies is taking this mantle from a company like Google that is traditionally linked with developing and encouraging Open Source systems. This demonstrates the fast changing technology landscape and underlines the difficulties faced by CIOs in planning strategic IT initiatives.
Microsoft is consolidating its offering around Desktop, Web, Cloud and Mobile with the latest release of Visual Studio 2011. These are very exciting times for Microsoft Developers, it seems that finally Microsoft is streamlining its technologies and removing the redundancies. Biztalk-Appfabric consolidation is happening along with Silverlight-HTML5 consolidation. Sharepoint story is unchanged and it is one of the few non-redundant technologies in the Microsoft stack.
So, where do we stand amidst all this? Consolidation of technologies will lead to more clarity for customers. One reason, Biztalk didn’t maintain the steep growth curve was because of the confusion created by conflicting technologies on the Microsoft Connected System stack. Customers like clarity, especially while evaluating different technologies to implement. They tend to select products with more clarity around their future roadmap. Microsoft shops in general are prime candidate for Biztalk, but they saw technologies like AppFabric and WCF close substitute for Biztalk. For most of them, sole reason for buying Biztalk was because they were an EDI shop. On the other hand, Biztalk was a tough sell in non-microsoft shops as it works with Microsoft framework. A java shop will most likely go for a GIS or webMethods implementation.
Real value of Biztalk lies in developing it as an integration hub for both EDI and Non-EDI integrations and then extending it to link with Sharepoint. Next step will be to combine on-premise and cloud integration on same platform. This is where Azure Appfabric is leading us to. Keep an eye on PDC (BUILD) space for more on this.