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Why Upgrade to BizTalk 2016?

Microsoft announced CTP1 of BizTalk 2016 back in March 2016.   While Microsoft has committed to releasing a major version every year and minor version (R2) every other year, why would BizTalk 2016 be a major version to which you should upgrade?

Businesses in the digital transformation age are growing rapidly thus requiring increased agility and faster delivery. It has become essential to integrate mission critical applications as well as to connect seamlessly to modern SaaS applications like Salesforce, Dynamic CRM and other cloud based systems.

BizTalk 2016 is the first major release that supports always on availability groups (Enhanced AlwaysOn Availability Group in SQL Server 2016).  What does that mean to BizTalk?

  • Simplified on-premises high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) solutions
    • For additional details on distributed transaction and support for Always On – Refer to this MSDN article
    • Refer to this blog from Chris Lound on MSDTC setup against database in Availability group
  • First version of BizTalk to support production instance as Azure IaaS workload
  • SQL server 2016 standard and enterprise edition support for Always-On Availability group (Refer to MSDN for limitation on Standard edition)

There are still a few additional questions that we will verify by creating a BizTalk 2016 environment and some of it will be clear once we have GA of the product.

  • For SQL Server 2016 Always On cross-database transactions (for example required for Messagebox database) within the same SQL server instance are not supported, which means we need to host them in different SQL Server instances

New Features

In addition to the HA/DR scenario, the following enhancements and new features are made in BizTalk 2016 which provides another compelling reason to upgrade.

Platform Refresh

  • SQL Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Office 2016
  • Visual Studio 2015
  • Host Integration Server 2016 to provide better connectivity by integrating mission-critical host applications, data sources, messaging and security systems


SHA2 native support

  • Ability to consume SHA2-signed certificates across all of its components
  • Supports the advance encryption standard (AES) for signature key (AES128, AES192, AES256)
  • Support for SHA2-based MIC calculations for AS2 and digest methods in RosettaNet (SHA256, SHA384, SHA512)
  • Continued support for SHA1 certificates


Adapters Improvement


Cloud connectivity and simplification

  • SAS Support for Service bus
  • Seamless integration to and from Logic Apps
  • Integration with API connectors to access Salesforce, CRM Online, SharePoint online and more.


Performance Improvements

  • Batching Orchestration
  • Native Engine


Once BizTalk 2016 is released in the latter part of the year, I will update the blog, in the meantime, we will be releasing a multi-part blog on setting up the BizTalk 2016 environment.  Stay tuned!.

All of this is great news for customers as it not only provides them quicker value but also allows them to creating hybrid/cloud integrations for their SaaS/PaaS solutions.