Kent Weare has written a fantastic blog post that details some of the improvements in the upcoming release for BizTalk –

Some things stand out as pretty exciting for me

  • BizTalk running in Azure – Finally a means to remove the requirement for hardware provisioning for BizTalk server, and potentially a bit more flexibility to scale out.  The most exciting tag line here is that supposedly this is a full fledged BizTalk implementation, with all the on premise features working in the cloud as well.
  • Ability to call RESTful services – Seeing as REST has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years, it is great that BizTalk now has out of the box support to call on RESTful services.  No longer is it necessary to put in workarounds and bandaids to be able to call on these services, and hand in hand no longer will it be necessary to put up with condescending sneers from the REST camp.  (Bandaids and jiggery-pokery still required to host RESTful services in BizTalk from the sounds of it).
  • ESB Toolkit – I take it as a good sign that the ESB Toolkit is now going to be part of the BizTalk installation package.  It remains to be seen whether the exception management portal experience is any better, or whether it’s still somewhat “broken” until you tweak it.
  • Visualization of dependencies in the BizTalk administration console – This has always been a bit of a pet peeve for me with BizTalk.  Dependencies can be somewhat fiddly, especially when they are cross application.  It remains to be seen how Microsoft will deliver on this, but anything will be an improvement.

So there you have it, a very comprehensive sounding update to BizTalk Server, and what sounds like a fair amount of commitment from Microsoft to a platform that works very well but could use a bit more evolution to take it to the next level.