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The following post compares Neuron ESB and BizTalk and was written by our partner, Integrator, a Denmark-based technology firm with expertise in the Microsoft stack and Neuron ESB. Integrator focuses on the fields of integration and portals. An excerpt of the article is included below.

We have worked on a large variety of integration projects for the last 15 years using various platforms dating back to BizTalk 2002. And the last 7 years this has pretty much been divided 50/50 between projects based on Neuron ESB and BizTalk from Microsoft.

We thought it would be a good idea to try and summarize some of our own experiences. Originally we thought about creating a scoreboard matrix, but it varies too much depending on the actual needs to be useful and as always, the devil is in the details. Instead, we will try to sum it up in various usage scenarios and areas.

Service mediation and routing
This is an area where Neuron ESB excels. In no time you are able to route service calls based on a number of parameters and most importantly this can be done with very little overhead depending on your need for QoS. This way you can quickly bridge protocols or ensure a common security model, central logging, and monitoring or whatever you needs may be.

Of course, this is also possible with BizTalk, but the big caveat is, that you never get rid of the message box and this can be a huge overhead when all messages need to be stored on a SQL server. There are various options for tuning, but basically, it is hard to get it to perform really well.

Workflows and processes
With BizTalk, you use Orchestrations to implement logic and long-running stateful processes and pipelines which can perform pre- or post-processing of messages. With Neuron ESB you have Processes which are stateless, sequential and are processed in-memory and Workflows which are stateful, long-running, fault tolerant and support more complex logic and are based on Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).

You get more choices with Neuron ESB and it is easier and quicker to work with Processes and Workflows. Also, while the XLang engine used in BizTalk orchestrations has not really changed in the last 12 years, there is still a lot of development going into Workflow Foundation. Workflow foundation also supports workflows that are a bit more complex. So there is probably a slight advantage to Neuron ESB when it comes to workflows and processes but both products support this feature.

Developer experience and onboarding
With both products, you need to have a C# developer background and know of XML, XSL, services and SQL. You also need to learn a new discipline since you are working with messages, events, correlations and transformations.

Our experience is that the onboarding of existing developers is easier with Neuron ESB. The tools you are using and the concepts are closer to .Net, WCF and the entire experience is more complete. Developers are pretty much up to speed after a 3 day course. With BizTalk, you need to learn more tools and quirks and it is not as easy to explain how it is all glued together. Usually, people need to have been working on a couple of projects before they are truly self-running.

Development as such is quicker with Neuron ESB. You hit save, update the configuration and then it is basically ready for testing. With BizTalk, you need to perform more steps to build the necessary DLLs, add them to the GAC etc. Usually you end up with your own command lines that build, GAC and restart the BizTalk host or use various plugins and this helps a bit, but it still takes more time to develop and test.

Other areas

Adapters: Both products have a huge amount of adapters. BizTalk has a longer history and this also means a much larger amount of special adapters. But then again, the list is not exactly short for Neuron ESB, so this is something you should investigate. If it is important to be able to connect to SAP and use iDocs you could be better off with BizTalk and the SAP adapter. But even a lot of older applications are being service enabled with web services or REST and then you are well off with either product.

To read the post in its entirety, including comparisons of web services, performance, and support, for Neuron ESB and BizTalk, be sure to view the article on Integrator’s website.

And if you’d like to read a more comprehensive comparison, check out our white paper which reviews a recent client pilot that compared a Neuron ESB implementation to the organization’s existing Microsoft BizTalk Server and custom .NET C# Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) implementation.


About the Author

Author's Name
Marty Wasznicky


Marty has almost 30 years of experience in the software development industry. He joined Peregrine Connect after six years as a Regional Program Manager in the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft. His responsibilities there included building out Microsoft’s BizTalk Server product integration business, managing a team of SOA/ESB/BPM field specialists and building strategic partner alliances. Marty created the Microsoft Virtual Technical Specialist program and owned the development of Microsoft’s Enterprise Service Bus Toolkit.

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