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Another scalp joined my collection - “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010”. It was quite a big effort as it’s not the technology I use everyday (or have used in the past) on any of my projects. I had some prior experience with BizTalk 2006 R2 (including 2-day long practical course few years ago), but there was no other way but to use my own free time to get prepared. Within last 3 months, I’ve read 2 (and a half) books, myriads of articles and samples and I’ve made tones of practical examples on my corporate laptop (that part was a great fun, in the majority of cases…). But the result was worth it.

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Why do I write about that anyway? Because when I mention BizTalk in a conversation, people usually have no clue what I am talking about. Ladies and Gentlemen - let me present you shortest BizTalk FAQ ever!

Q: What’s BizTalk?
A: BizTalk is EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) server.
 
Q: In english, please… What does it do?
A: BizTalk is used to integrate existing IT systems in a way which doesn’t tighten coupling, promotes asynchrony and enables SOA.
 
Q: What systems can I connect? Just Microsoft ones?
A: No. There are adapters for many, many common used robust systems (starting with SAP, Siebel, Oracle and ending with HIS as a gateway to mainframes).
 
Q: What about systems that are… less standard / known?
A: There are generic adapters as well, this list contains: WCF LOB, FILE, MQ, SMTP, etc. You can create your own adapters too.
 
Q: It’s just about passing messages then? That’s the big deal?
A: Of course not, you can transform messages, aggregate them, use them in workflow-like orchestrations and pass them through Business Rule Engine (with your custom rules).
 
Q: Sounds good. But we usually make interfaces on our own as custom build. Why should we buy BizTalk for that?
A: Because it’s easier (due to adapters), because it’s safer (BizTalk’s processing is transactional and messages are being persisted), because you have greater control  (Business Activity Monitoring Portal), because BizTalk provides versioning, deployment mechanisms and many, many more.