Have you ever been asked how you would explain Excel to your grandparents? It’s a difficult proposition, no doubt.
Now consider the challenges of explaining Microsoft’s powerful integration and business process automation tool, BizTalk. Unthinkable.
Of course, salesmen and IT coworkers would be eager to explain the subtleties of software programming, development, and application, but the real trick is to provide an accurate picture of what the software does to someone who knows very little about computer technology at all.
To this challenge we turn to the power of analogy.
Whether you want to be able to explain how BizTalk essentially works to coworkers, or you desire to stroll into your company’s IT department and casually strike up a conversation about systems integration, then read below to get the basic translation of what BizTalk does and why it’s important.
The Customs Facility Analogy
The easiest way to think about systems integration with BizTalk is to compare it to a customs facility. For instance, let’s say a package arrives in California from Europe. The package comes into customs through the Import Terminal, and may come by one of many different ways: bus, plane, barge, ship, etc.
The package then goes through a standard inspection process that involves several stages, including identifying the package, inspecting the contents, and identifying the shipper. This inspection is crucial in protecting the security of the receiver.
Next, the package is sent to a central store, where it undergoes a full customs inspection before being approved for sending to the receiver, or the export terminal. The official “Customs Inspection Rules and Regulations Manual” specifies how different packages are to be inspected.
Now, let’s compare this process to sending and receiving files with BizTalk.
Instead of our package, imagine a file is being sent or shared from a company in Europe to a business in California. The file arrives through the Receive Port from one of many sources—EDI, HTTP, SOAP, SQL, etc. It is then decoded, disassembled, and undergoes party resolution, which essentially unpacks the contents of the file like a package.
Once inspected, the file is transferred to the BizTalk Message Box—the central store—and is sent off for Orchestrations—the customs inspection of systems integration. The Business Rules Engine is the guideline for how certain files are to be properly inspected.
Finally, the file is reassembled and recoded, then transported to the Send Port securely, where it awaits the receiver to access it.
There are some flaws in this analogy when examined in-depth. For example, the inspection process for receiving files occurs anytime data is shared, not just files from other countries, as is the case with packages. Even if a message is sent from one building to another right next door, secure processing is essential in protecting your own system.
However, the customs facility analogy is a helpful start in beginning to understand Microsoft BizTalk or teaching others about systems integration.
Contact one of our expert BizTalk consultants to learn more about how systems integration can benefit your business.