2013 Recap

Published on : Dec 31, 2013

Category : BizTalk360 Update



Dear friends of BizTalk360! It’s the last day of 2013. I blocked few hours in my calendar particularly to write this blog post. I guess it’s important to take a look at what we have done in 2013. You can see previous recaps here 2012, 2011. If I look back it kind of surprise me, BizTalk360 is 2.5 years old company now, from a small concept to a company with world wide presence. The version 1.0 of the product was launched back in May 2011 (release history). 2013 is a transformative year for our little company, the main difference is how we transformed into a proper company. We focused on laying the foundation for future growth and started to work on team building. Personally it was a huge change for me, transforming from a pure technical guy to running a team of high quality people and dealing with high end customers. The interesting thing to notice is more than half of what we did in 2013 was not directly focused on customer/product development. I’m not feeling bad about it, it’s mandatory and part of our natural growth and company journey. It’s important to alternate the cycles between product development/company growth and making sure our company is solid enough to withstand future growth. Its hard for me to separate between personal and BizTalk360 growth, hence this post is going to have a mixture of content.

What do we do as a company?

It’s very simple to answer this question, “We build, market, sell and support BizTalk360, that’s it!“. Our goal is to produce a world class tool for Microsoft BizTalk Server operations, monitoring and administration. Our aim is to take this one problem and solve it thoroughly. From time to time we get queries about BizTalk consulting engagements, initially it was tempting to step in that direction, but these days we politely decline them or refer it to one of our partners (who specialize in BizTalk server) and put 100% of our efforts purely on building and improving BizTalk360. We have plans for couple more products in the same area in 2014, so stay tuned.

Hiring and India operations

One of the biggest task for me in 2013 was to build up the team and get ready for the growth.  At one side we were steadily increasing the customer base, which means we must be able to support them. Hiring the right people is hard, it takes few months effort to find them, hire them and bring them up to speed. Ricardo Torre was one of the high profile hires for us in 2013. Ricardo worked as Microsoft PFE covering most of the major BizTalk server customers in Europe. Ricardo expressed his interest in joining our team beginning this year, and after 4 rounds of interview across 3 months he finally joined our team on August this year. It won’t be a hard to predict my ethnicity, and it was one of my dream to setup something in India. I wanted to setup something in my home town Coimbatore (500 kms south of Chennai/Bangalore) rather than on one of the metro cities. It’s also kind of giving something back to the community, from where you have raised. It proved challenging (my previous failed attempt Jan 2012) to find right kind of talent, but after serious search and getting help from a local recruitment firm we finally opened up our India operations. Arunkumar Kumaresan joined our team as first employee (from Aditti technologies), he spear headed the recruitment process and now we have a team of 4 people as starting point. The aim of India operation is to strengthen our UI development, testing and support.  Core development will be based in our London office. We hired people who can form a team for themselves in the future. Our hiring process was very strict and we didn’t rush.  We are looking for 2 more people to join our India team beginning next year.  This will help us concentrate on nitty-gritty things in the UI, pay attention to detail, strengthen our automated testing, come up with cool design ideas etc. We also hired a technical specialist for our UK team, who will be joining us in 1st week of March. Unfortunately during this year we gained and lost couple of people, it may be partly my mistake during the transformation from technical guy to managing and running a team. We wish them good luck. In 2013, we also worked with few contractors both medium sized companies and individuals who helped us ship BizTalk360 version 7.0.

Product Releases in 2013

We made four major releases in 2013 (6.0, 6.5, 6.7 and 7.0), averaging about one every quarter.

version 6.0

  • Search and Action on design time artifacts
  • ESB exception management portal integration
  • Database Query monitoring
  • SQL jobs outcome monitoring
  • Threshold monitoring window
  • Scheduled monitoring maintenance
  • Custom SQL Query enhancements

version 6.5

  • Support for BizTalk Server 2013
  • Support for Message Box Viewer 13
  • Clustered Host Instance monitoring
  • SQL Server Monitoring
  • Automatic high availability for monitoring service

version 6.7

  • Group by capabilities in Query

version 7.0

  • Brand new HTML5 User Interface, moving from Silverlight
From product development perspective majority of our time in 2013 was spend on migrating our user interface code from Silverlight to HTML5. We discussed about this move in various blog posts here and here, even though it was a herculean task to move the entire UI to HTML5, its the right decision from a long term company perspective.

Integration MVP of the year 2013

One of the biggest achievement for me personally this year was receiving the “Integration MVP of the year 2013” award from Microsoft vice president Scott Guthrie. This is kind of pinnacle moment for any Microsoft MVP (Most valuable professional). Couple of years ago, Microsoft combined all of MVP’s who work with integration technologies that includes BizTalk, Connected Systems, AppFabric etc into a single category. Currently there are around 70 people in this category. “Integration MVP of the year” is awarded to 1 or 2 person in the whole category chosen by Microsoft product group and all fellow MVP’s appreciating an individual who did maximum contribution to the community in that particular year. I am honoured to receive this award this year, and I use this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the process.

Product Specialist

In April 2013, we announced a new program called BizTalk360 product specialist. The idea behind this is to reward people who actively work with BizTalk360 and gained adequate knowledge in installing, configuring and implementing BizTalk360 for their customers. It’s mainly awarded to consultants who work with multiple customers. Here is our list for 2013
  • Tim Jonker (Estreme, Netherlands)
  • Lex Hegt (Axon Olympus, Netherlands)
  • Charles Storm (Axon Olympus, Netherlands)
  • Kent Weare (Canda)
  • Maarten Demont (Sweden)
  • Stephen W Thomas (USA)
  • Jack Blalock (USA)
  • Steef-Jan Wiggers (Interaccess, Netherlands)
  • Bart Scheurweghs (cNext, Belgium)
  • Mitch Vanhelden (cNext, Belgium)
  • Ingemar Berggren (Sigma, Sweden)
  • Henrik Roth (Sigma, Sweden)
  • Bill Chesnut (Mexia, Australia)
  • Daniel Toomey (Mexia, Australia)
  • Abilash    Shanmugam (Neudesic, USA)
  • Balaji Lakshmanan (Neudesic, USA)
  • Tord Glad Nordahl (Bouvet, Norway)
  • Alexander Thue (Bouvet, Norway)
  • Eldert Grootenboer (Motion10, Netherlands)

Windows 8 Application

Beginning this year we started the project “BizTalk360 Windows 8 application“, we managed to get couple of versions in the store. You can read about the release of windows 8 application here. The adaption for the application was low, may be we didn’t push it too much from marketing perspective. When we got busy with development of HTML5 interface, the focus on Windows 8 application was completely lost and it’s currently in a broken state, and we put it in an ice box. In 2014 we are planning to bring it back to life.

Tools released

As a side project we released couple of helper tools this year.
  • BizTalk360 Trouble-shooter : This tool helps to identify any configuration, pre-requisites problems (permission, IIS settings, etc.) you have in the environment and speeds up BizTalk360 installation and configuration.
  • BizTalk360 one-click easy installer : This tool helps to setup a fully functional BizTalk360 in Windows Azure BizTalk Server VM (including configuring BizTalk Server). You can open PowerShell command, paste a single command, click enter. After 15 minutes you’ll have a fully functional BizTalk/BizTalk360 Azure VM.  This is something we use constantly to setup test environments with latest BizTalk360.

Events presented in 2013

For people who know us personally it won’t  be a surprise seeing us in any BizTalk related events that’s in easy reach to us.  Here is the complete list of all events I presented in 2013 (also listed here).  That’s 16 events across 8 countries, which helped us to meet 100’s of people focused on BizTalk server this year.
  • BizTalk Summit 2013, Seattle (Nov 2013)
  • BizTalk Congress, Netherlands (Oct 2013)
  • BizTalk Innovation Day, Italy (Oct 2013)
  • BizTalk Innovation Day, Norway (Sep 2013)
  • The Hybrid Organisation, London (Sep 2013)
  • Microsoft India Development Centre (IDC), India (Aug 2013)
  • TechEd Europe 2013, Madrid (Jun 2013)
  • UK Windows Azure User group, London
  • Axon Olympus – KaaS, Netherlands
  • BizTalk Server Event, New York
  • BizTalk Server 2013 Road show, Houston (May 2013)
  • BizTalk Server 2013 Road show, Dallas (May 2013)
  • BizTalk Boot Camp 2013, Charlotte (May 2013)
  • BizTalk Innovation Day, Portugal (Mar 2013)
  • BizTalk User-group meeting, Netherlands (Jan 2013)
  • BizTalk Summit 2013, London (Jan 2013)

Books I’ve read/listened in 2013

There is one thing that always comes to my mind “If you wanted to learn from your own mistakes, life time won’t be enough!! so learn from others mistakes as well” there are some great individual like Marc Benioff, Tony Hsieh, Reid Hoffman etc. who openly disclose all their learning creating great companies, just read and learn from their experience. One of the important things I’ve learned in BizTalk360 journey is keep up with reading great books. I travel quite a bit for presenting in events, meeting partners/customers etc. and I made it a habit to pickup a book. Here are the list of useful books, which taught me something to progress forward in 2013.
  • Behind the cloud – Marc Benioff, CEO Saleforce
  • All markets are liars – Seth Godin
  • Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Your 27 hour day – R Poornalingam
  • Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos
  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • The Decision Book- Mikael Krogerus/Roman Tschappeler
  • Without their permission – Alexis Ohanian, Reddit founder
  • Positioning – Al Ries
  • The start-up of you – Reid Hoffman, Chairman LinkedIn
  • Remote – Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, 37 Signals
  • To sell is Human – Daniel H Pink
  • The high performance entrepreneur – Subroto Bagchi
  • The 4-hour work week – Timothy Ferriss

Social Media Status

Social media presence is getting more and more important these days. Growth of audience in the major social media kind of reflects the growth of the company as well. We leverage social media completely and constantly share valuable information in all of our available channels. We have seen significant growth in terms of followers on all of our social media platform. Here are the current numbers

White papers published

This year we took a new approach to collaborate with BizTalk community members to bring some useful white papers. Here is the list of white papers we published this year.

Videos published

We recorded the videos in some of our events, there is a huge back log yet to be processed. Every video takes about 10 hours to clean-up and produce. Hopefully we should be able to bring all the remaining ones to public very soon. For time being here is the list