At UDig, we like to take you inside the minds of the fantastically smart UDig consultants and engineers who understand the ins and outs of the computer systems that make American businesses run.

This week, we talk to Alex Kaganov, a former UDig consultant who went on to start his own information technology group. With us, he was a Microsoft BizTalk developer, as he still is today.

UDig: Why is your job, as a systems integrator, so in demand right now?
Alex: Jobs like mine have always been in demand because there are so many ways that systems can talk to each other. Companies will always have a need to integrate.

How has integration changed in the past few years?
I’ve been in the industry for 13 years. It’s always demanding and always changing, so in that sense it doesn’t really change overnight because it keeps changing all the time. But the tools that companies come up with, especially from Microsoft, allow developers to do much more than they could have done five years ago. For developers to be successful these days, they must have a much higher level of understanding of software and hardware systems.

What are some tips you would give to someone coming into this industry?
I can’t really recommend people become BizTalk developers. It’s a niche, and a good place to be right now and I hope it’s going to stay like this for a few years, but I doubt its going to be around any longer after that. Microsoft is coming out with a new technology that may absorb BizTalk. Plus, it has a really steep learning curve. First you have to be a really good .NET developer before you can learn BizTalk, and on top of that you need to know how people use technology and how businesses are run. And on top of all that, you have to know your way around the technologies and software systems that you are integrating with.

How has the Internet affected your role in IT?
Internet has changed IT tremendously and while I love using the web, I’m not a fan of web development. BizTalk is a server-side system run in the heart of organizations and is rarely exposed directly. However, communication via the web is allowed by using WCF Services and AS2, and these are integral parts of BizTalk.

Has mobility played a part in shaping some of the projects you do?
Mobility is a part of the user experience, so in that sense BizTalk is not a part of this trend. RFID mobile technology has been a part of BizTalk package for a while but in my opinion it doesn’t really fit. Hopefully Microsoft knows better.

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For more UDig Brain Digs, check out: IT in retail, IT in logistics, IT in insurance, and cloud computing.

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