ESB Toolkit Tip #2: Do not be afraid of the ESB Toolkit!

The ESB Toolkit has been around for a while but for many BizTalk developers it's still not entirely clear when you can use it and what the benefits are. The ESB Toolkit is designed to provide the right benefits to cope with complex and rapidly changing integration challenges. Of course, there are also disadvantages and not in every project it’s convenient to use it.


ESB Toolkit






See the following sections to give you an overview of when to use it and what the disadvantages and benefits are.

When to use it

  • In the project is a need for Reusable Components, SOA & Agile.
    • Often in larger projects is there a need for it.
  • The business processes in BizTalk can be divided in Reusable Components.
  • It’s required to have NO Downtime when deploying a change.
  • The complexity of the business processes that is going to be automated in BizTalk is relatively simple.
  • To reduce the amount of Receive Ports or Send Ports in BizTalk.
  • Low Latency scenarios.
    • You want to expose web services with BizTalk.



  • ESB Toolkit adds complexity to a BizTalk project.
  • Little documentation.
  • Installation is difficult.   
    • BizTalk 2009 & BizTalk 2010.
    • Management Portal can be difficult to install.
  • It’s not fully functional out of the box.
    • Instead it provides a base set of ESB components that must be extended.
    • Management Portal is sample.
  • Performance.
    • Off Ramps are Dynamic Ports.



  • Reusing of services.
    • Reusing Pipeline components & Orchestrations for multiple message types.
  • Deployment of changes / new versions with less or NO downtime.
    • Orchestrations are not bound anymore to a Map or a XSD.
  • Out of the box BAM.
  • Centralized Error Handling.
    • Management Portal.
  • Performance.
    • Out of the box Cache.
    • Low latency scenarios.
      • Using Pipeline Components (Messaging Services) instead of Orchestrations.
      • You want to expose web services with BizTalk.



In BizTalk 2013 are most drawbacks solved. The installation is no longer a separate download but is now integrated as part of the BizTalk Server setup. Also in previous BizTalk versions, a dynamic send port uses the adapter’s default host but in BizTalk 2013 an adapter Send Handler is configurable for every installed adapter. However, it is still true that the learning curve is high but there is now also a book about the ESB Toolkit and the ESB Survival Guide gives a good overview of wikis and blogs about it. Still, in a BizTalk project where the ESB Toolkit is used it's better to have also an experienced developer that has real experience with the ESB Toolkit so it can really help you.


See Also

For more information see:

About the author

Tomasso Groenendijk lives in Netherlands and is a Solution Architect at Insight. He has over 17 years’ experience in software development and software design. Tomasso is specialized in application integration with a strong interest in the Windows Azure cloud platform. From 2014, Tomasso has been awarded four times with the Microsoft Azure MVP award. He is an active contributor to the integration community through his work on his blog, MSDN samples, TechNet Wiki and also speaking on events.

MVP profile Tomasso Groenendijk
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