In this interview, I speak with Ferdinand Kuiper – Integration specialist at AIMS customer DeGoudse. Ferdinand is a senior allround developer targeting the Microsoft platform and .Net, BizTalk and Azure in particular. He's interested and experienced in a wide range of Microsoft products including VSTS, Azure, BizTalk, and SQL Server.
What are your functions and in what manner are you confronted with monitoring issues?
As integration specialist it’s my job to design and build new integrations and monitoring is almost always a requirement.
In what scenario is monitoring most often used, first-line monitoring (functional) vs. second-line monitoring (technical)?
For us it’ll be primarily second-line (technical) monitoring.
You recently decided to go with AIMS for monitoring your integration environment after a long period of investigation, can you share why AIMS was your product of choice?
It was one of the tools recommended by our partner Motion10, but we’ve also looked at it in the past and it was on our radar for quite some time. With the upgrade and decision to outsource the management of our integration platform (BizTalk) to Motion10 the decision to implement AIMS as monitoring tool was made.
Can you share an example(s) of a downtime incident that caused problems?
Most of the incidents in our integrations occur when an upstream system delivers data (messages) that does not comply to the interface (schema) definitions used in BizTalk, or when a downstream system can’t handle the message load and BizTalk is forced to throttle. Unpredictable load is an issue and our expectation is that AIMS can help us predict those kind of peak loads more accurate.
Do you have a customer that extracts business intelligence / analytics from their IT systems in general, and integrations environment specifically?
De Goudse has a data science group which, at the moment, does not use monitoring data but we are looking in to it for future scenarios. De Goudse is relatively new to data science and other data sources have had more business value so they were used first.
Can you share your story about your recent cloud transition with BizTalk? What were challenges, what did you gain from it and what would you like to share with companies thinking of cloud transition?
Having a cloud strategy first will help, do not focus on integration (BizTalk) alone but create a vision, a road map for your entire IT landscape. The transition to the cloud should be a vision that is carried by the entire company: from CIO/CEO down to the developers and engineers who have to implement or maintain the cloud solutions. If you skip a level, you will sooner or later run into trouble. Also, don’t forget to bring in the hard-needed experts and knowledge, cloud is not ‘just a bigger datacenter’.
How do you see Azure and the current development towards the cloud? BizTalk vs. Logic Apps?
De Goudse is committed to go to the Cloud and has a public cloud first strategy. Azure is our public cloud provider. At the moment, we’re upgrading our existing BizTalk 2010 platform to BizTalk 2016 and are hosting this new version in Azure as an IaaS solution. We’ve decided to upgrade our existing integrations as-is and to migrate our integrations to Logic Apps only once a functional change forces us to change an existing integration anyway. New integrations will be developed using Logic Apps. In time we see all our integration migrated to Logic Apps (or other iPaaS services) and we can do without BizTalk.
How do you see the future of integration and how should monitoring solutions adapt to this?
We think the future in integration is in services like Logic Apps, and we believe monitoring tools – like AIMS – should support this move.
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