BizTalk and Windows Workflow Foundation – Which and When To Use?

Posted: March 30, 2009  |  Categories: BizTalk

In a very simple way:

  • Use Windows Workflow Foundation → Workflow within applications and human workflow
  • Use BizTalk Server → Workflow across applications – B2B, EAI, communication protocol abstraction

BizTalk is a product for BPM (Business Process Management) and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration), designed to implement workflow (“orchestrations”) across disparate applications.

WF is a developer framework designed to expose workflow capabilities within your applications.

Few questions you have to ask yourself in order to choose between WF and BizTalk Server:

  1. Do I need to work with other systems/platforms? Can I benefit from using BizTalk Adapters? Because of its focus on cross-platform integration, a large set of adapters is available for BizTalk Server that allows communication with a range of other software. WF is focused solely on workflow, not EAI, and so it doesn’t provide these things.
  2. Do I need to change the message structure/schema? Can BizTalk Mapper help me doing it? Messaging infrastructure? BizTalk provides schemas, tracking, reliable messaging, routing, transformations, etc…
  3. B2B services are required? WF doesn’t address this area, while BizTalk Server provides tools for working with trading partners,
  4. Do I want my solution to be able to scale out? WF runs In-Process and has threads limitations as a .NET application, while BizTalk is a very scalable deployable solution.
  5. The business process being implemented requires human workflow intervention? WF supports Human interaction with the progress of the workflow from approval to tracking, etc…
  6. Your process is typical a state machine workflows? BizTalk Server addresses system workflow, and so it lacks WF’s support for things such as state machine workflows.

WF is the replacement for BizTalk Server 2006?

No. WF provides only a small subset of this functionality: Workflow and Business Rules. While WF might be a simpler, more cost-effective solution for scenarios that do not require all of the other features that BizTalk Server 2006 provides, in no way does it supplant BizTalk Server 2006 for the core Enterprise Integration scenarios that BizTalk Server 2006 was designed to support.

BizTalk Server is going away?


Author: Sandro Pereira

Sandro Pereira lives in Portugal and works as a consultant at DevScope. In the past years, he has been working on implementing Integration scenarios both on-premises and cloud for various clients, each with different scenarios from a technical point of view, size, and criticality, using Microsoft Azure, Microsoft BizTalk Server and different technologies like AS2, EDI, RosettaNet, SAP, TIBCO etc. He is a regular blogger, international speaker, and technical reviewer of several BizTalk books all focused on Integration. He is also the author of the book “BizTalk Mapping Patterns & Best Practices”. He has been awarded MVP since 2011 for his contributions to the integration community.

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