BizTalk 2009 RFID – new WCF Endpoint Behavior

I was looking around in BizTalk 2009 RTM trying to find new features that have been mostly undocumented and found one today! It looks like there is a new endpoint behavior that comes with the BizTalk 2009 RFID installer for use with RFID events. The WCF-Custom adapter properties does not really give you the ability to edit the endpoint’s array of events so I opened up a WCF Service Application to explore it more. The following blog post gives an example of how to build a WCF service that takes advantage of this new endpoint adapter: Here is a screenshot of the WCF Service Configuration Tool (it is right in the middle):
I did a little reading on the blog post mentioned above to find out that this endpoint behavior basically is like an event pipeline or event bus for working with RFID in a standards-based way. Previously, you could work with BizTalk RFID using an event-sinks approach and then connect the dots and add decision logic using the Business Rules Engine. Custom events with EPCIS can be implemented and exposed on a WCF service and called on the basis of a event chain based on device events or programmatic .NET code. One of the examples in the BizTalk RFID help file shows using REST behaviors to interact with the service that exposes EPCIS events. This is really interesting because it provides a way to interact over WCF events with the BizTalk RFID infrastructure. Since .NET 3.5 WCF services can be exposed from a WF, this development makes it a very interesting development because RFID-workflows could be created. I am still learning about the BizTalk RFID capabilities, but thought this was worth blogging on.
There seem to be some interesting new areas to learn about with the advances in BizTalk RFID provided with the 2009 release.

Distributed Technologies for Embedded Devices

Today I had planned on taking a few more sessions on WCF and SOA but got pulled into the first session on Windows Embedded because an implementation for one of our Magenic clients was being discussed. In the course of the session, SOA actually came up as central to the current strategy and vision for Windows Embedded technologies. Recently, some Windows Embedded devices have become 32-bit an IP addressable which means they can handle more sophisticated operations and communication over addressable technologies. This was quite interesting and eye-opening to me because I typically classify Windows embedded technologies within the Windows Mobile or Compact Framework technology stack. The role of device-based technology became my focus for the day.
Later in the day I was exploring the Technology Learning areas at the conference where different technologies are represented by Microsoft employees and partners who can answer technology questions. The format at TechEd was useful because each technology included a mini-booth where there was a flat-screen that the expert could demonstrate technology rather than just describe it on a whiteboard. I walked around and talked to people representing BizTalk. I focused most of my time on the BizTalk RFID and Server booths but also talked with the Host Integration Server people as well. At the BizTalk RFID booth I was asking questions about the role of standardization within the RFID platform and I learned that RFID devices are basically standardized on frequency and communication technology and BizTalk RFID basically takes advantage of this standardization to provide integration capabilities. I had heard RFID discussed at the Business Process/SOA conference back in October 2007 but it did not really take hold in my mind how this could be useful. One partner company representative from Cathexis ( demonstrated the use of a handheld device and an RFID scanner which illustrated to me how easily WCF or other distributed technologies could easily be connected to an RFID application. So after these sessions I was very interested in how mobile or embedded devices could act as clients within a distributed data model which was enabled through BizTalk, WCF, and SOA.
At the end of today I attended a session on parallel computing which describe a new Microsoft product called Windows HPC ( In BizTalk I am frequently asked about how to properly design the best cluster or handle vertical or horizontal scalability. When BizTalk is concerned, you have internal BizTalk cluster design through hosts as well as all of the existing Windows cluster stack and NLB to take advantage of. With multi-core processing and Hypervisor virtualization, even more options for application partitioning are now available. It was interesting to hear a classical software engineering perspective on the topic of parallel computing and that Microsoft is making strides to improve its cluster product set over the existing Windows cluster product. I anticipate that the role of parallelism may occupy a BizTalk setting much like other BizTalk tuning or throttling in future versions of BizTalk.
Tune in tomorrow for more details from Tech Ed sessions!

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