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BizTalk Services: Cost saving solution delivered by the cloud

Building upon a previous blog BizTalk Summit London 2014 – Technological advances and what it means for your business when it compared the initial start-up cost for BizTalk On-Premises and BizTalk Services in the cloud we have had a recent engagement with a client where we put an integration solution straight into the cloud driven entirely by the initial start-up cost.

The solution involved picking up scanned invoices which had been saved into a PDF format with the name of the file set to the invoice number and loading these PDF files into the clients financial system via a web service interface.

Now this could have easily been done on-premises, as here we have both systems concerned; the scanner and the financial system both located at the client’s site.

However the justification in terms of cost was a non-starter even though the company strategy is to have an integration layer acting as the broker between their systems, which when you look at the solution below is concerned with passing invoices between systems, both of which are on the client’s premises so it made sense to go for an On-Premises integration solution.

However, the initial cost meant that an alternative solution to the On-Premises model had to be found. That’s not to say the client in the future will look at an On-Premises solution but as we have started down the Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) then we may not end up with an On-Premises solution at all in the future.

This is where the new cloud technology gives us so many more possibilities and each client will have different requirements meaning we will have a mixture of On-Premises and WABS and not all solutions will be based upon a defined model.

Here is where Ballard Chalmers came in with a cloud solution for the client, which reduced the start-up costs and running costs to hundreds of pounds per year instead of £100,000+ start-up costs and £1000s per year running costs.

The design that Ballard Chalmers came up with was simple and is shown here:

 BZT Jan 2015 Blog Image

There is a FTP Adapter as part of the BizTalk Service in the cloud which is configured to monitor a folder on the client’s FTP server for the presence of PDF files. Security is provided by the FTP adapter being configured with the credentials to access the FTP folder and the client has also restricted access to the FTP folder to just the IP address of the Azure solution.

Once the PDF file has been picked up by the FTP adapter it is passed to the Pass-Through Bridge which has configured a custom component.

This custom component will create the XML message that the Finance system web service expects. Within this XML message is the binary encoded PDF file containing details of the invoice. The PDF file name which contains the unique invoice number is a promoted property so this is used to populate an element in the XML message.

The Pass-Through Bridge then sends the XML message to a Two-Way External Endpoint which connects to the Finance Web Service at the client’s site.

This was a simple but very effective solution for the client with minimal cost in getting this set up and running.

By Stewart Joyce, Associate Senior BizTalk Consultant

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Ballard Chalmers is one of the UK’s leading enterprise software engineering companies, specialising in development for the Microsoft Enterprise Application Platform. We are principally dedicated to software development and integration for the Microsoft Cloud, as well as on-premises and hybrid systems. Our expertise is in Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, BizTalk Server and SharePoint Server.

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