Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Richard Seroter

Welcome to twelfth interview of the series, a year ago started this series for getting the insights on how to become expert and what experts did to become expert, first interview was Begineer to BizTalk Expert : Interview with Steef-Jan Wiggers and today's expert is Richard Seroter

Richard is the Vice President of Product for cloud leader CenturyLink, a Microsoft MVP, InfoQ editor, blogger, author, trainer and frequent public speaker. He has spent the majority of his career working with organizations as they planned and implemented their enterprise software solutions. He recently earned a Masters Degree in Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Richard is the author or contributor to three recent books: “Applied Architecture Patterns on the Microsoft Platform” (Packt Publishing, 2010) which discusses where to use which Microsoft platform technology; “SOA Patterns with BizTalk Server 2009″ (Packt Publishing, 2009) which takes a look at how to apply good SOA principles to a wide variety of BizTalk scenarios; “Microsoft BizTalk 2010: Line of Business Systems Integration” (Packt Publishing, 2011) in which he wrote chapters explaining integration strategies for Windows Azure, and Dynamics CRM 2011.

Richard maintains a semi-popular blog at that recounts his exploits, pitfalls, and musings with enterprise software. You can follow him on Twitter at, read his regular contributions to at, and find his Pluralsight training courses at

Let's begin the Interview ......

Mahesh: Who are you and what you do?
I am the Vice President of Product for global technology provider CenturyLink. I lead product for cloud and hosting solutions.

Mahesh: When did you start working on BizTalk? 
Richard:  The summer of 2000. I worked for a consulting startup named Avanade, and was asked to look at this "BizTalk thing" that was in beta form from Microsoft. I found myself on a handful of subsequent projects and became an accidental expert.

Mahesh: How did you mastered BizTalk (Learning path, amount of time)? 

Richard: Does anyone ever REALLY master BizTalk? After the 2004 release, I got pretty engaged and became fairly competent with the product. That was through many hours experimenting and reading the early product material and blogs.

Mahesh: Which are the major projects you handled so far? 

Richard:  I worked on a number of BizTalk projects over the years, but most significant ones were during my time as an integration architect for the world's largest biotechnology company. BizTalk was (and is) the service bus at the company and I worked on most of the early projects to link line of business systems together.

Mahesh: How do you see BizTalk compare to other integration platform? 

Richard:  Mature, robust, and nicely integrated with other Microsoft technology. With the recent push to cloud-enabled integration, Microsoft has split their attention a bit between things like Service Bus, Logic Apps, and other interesting cloud-first solutions. If they can marry the on-premises with cloud services, it'll be a killer combo.

Mahesh: What as per you is must to know to become an Integration(BizTalk) Expert?

Richard: To become an expert in anything, you must focus on learning and hands-on experience. There are no paper experts. Book learning alone is insufficient. Use the product, stretch the limits, break things, and reflect on the lessons learned.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts on forums,blogs and articles etc.? 

Richard: It's one of the best ways to get exposed to new ideas and angles. The BizTalk blogging community was amazing in the early years, and helped so many people get up to speed. The Technet Wiki has taken over as a prime source of information, and that's excellent as well. The most important thing is for the entire community to engage in sharing information. Don't rely on a few individuals to write about their experiences; EVERYONE should get involved.

Mahesh: Your suggestion to a newcomers? What should be approach to get sound knowledge in Biztalk?
Don't try and learn everything at once. There isn't a person in the world that can claim expertise with EVERY aspect of a product like BizTalk. Focus on hooking up basic messaging scenarios, understand core principles, and keep layering on additional things like orchestration, BAM, rules, cloud, and more.

Mahesh: What are your thoughts around BizTalk certification?
Certifications can be useful, but they are no substitute for practical experience!

Mahesh: What is the future of BizTalk?
We'll see. Integration has never been more important, and a flexible, robust integration bus is a must-have for any organization. I suspect that we'll continue to see primary attention spent on cloud-based services, but on-premises integration solutions will be relevant for years and years.

Mahesh: Any thoughts on cloud?
I think it's here to stay! Organizations have seen the power of getting on demand infrastructure and using cloud services to quickly assemble applications that add value. There's no going back to purely on-premises systems that are governed by a central IT department. But with that freedom, comes new complexities. Architects will remain busy linking together disparate systems that now span multiple geographies. 

Mahesh: What motivates you to do the community work?
I love to learn, and appreciate that we're in such an interesting period of technology advancement. Has there ever been a faster rate of change? It's exciting, and I enjoy sharing my experiences so that others can learn from my successes and mistakes.

Mahesh: Being MVP, do you feel that responsibilities get added? What is your thought on MVP?
 It's always a privilege to get renewed as an MVP, and it definitely carries additional expectations. Specifically, the expectation to produce value to the community! The friendships I've made through the MVP program have been life-altering, and it's always enjoyable to collaborate with Microsoft product teams to make products even better.

Thanks a lot Richard for sharing your experiences, this will surely benefit many !!!

Feel Free to ask questions to Richard in the comments!!!!!!!!

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