Explaining Biztalk to your Grandma

I have heard this was apopular question at MSFT interviews “How do you sell excel to your grandmother ?” well No this blog is not about that but then this blog is about how to explain Biztalk to a Business Analyst.One who is not so comfortable with all the geeky terms that we are so used to . I recently had to do one of these myself and I had to kind of get creative with ti . So thought I would just blog about that and see how it goes
Let us first take a look at the architecture of Biztalk from The MSFT Site

To put things in perspective let us consider this Huge Shipping Port were there is lots of ships , barges coming and going . Now I am trying to draw a parallel here

The Port basically deals in containers to carry Goods and Biztalk in XML to carry data

Containers or goods could be brought in using different modes of transport
Big cargo ships , small passenger ships , By Road at times , small Boats, It does not matter how the cargo is delivered into the port , it does not change the later part of processing of the cargo . Same is true for Biztalk which has a number of transport mechanisms like FTP , HTTP, SQL , SMTP , as in the port it does not matter how the data came in what matters is their routing information or who tgat data needs to go .

For identifying the destination of the Goods , This may go through Customs , Transit Inspection and maybe finally broken down to individual goods at times and goes to a cleared warehouse from where they are dispatched based on destination . The same thing happens in the recieve pipeline stage of Biztalk . The file goes through Dissasembly , Party resolution to the SQL server Messagebox . By this time incoming XMLSchema#RootNode is promoted based on which the message is picked up Orchestrations which do some processing on them and return them back to message box .
Consider this as importing some raw material like wood and doing some value add ( make them chairs for instance )
and then on the send side pretty much the reverse happens they are prepacked assembled and encoded and send out using approporiate transports available

What I described above is a publish-subscribe model . Now you can have messages in Biztalk follow a CBR ( Content Based Routing MOdel ) . In that case tha anology is a a conatiner which reaches a port for forwarding . or a transit port , here there is no signinficant value add on the goods but you can change some fringe level properties or change the way the data is represented

Epilogue
There are lot of flaws in this theory but for a person who is wuite new to Biztalk this is as good as a start as any.

PS: The views expressed in these essays are those of the author, and in no way represent, nor are they endorsed by Microsoft oranyone else, as far as I know.

Boy you never know these days , this legal-mumbo jumbo

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~ by abhilashms on February 16, 2005.

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