I totally missed it, but a rough two weeks ago it was published on the BizTalk Server Team Blog that the future is in the cloud.
When I attended the European BizTalk Conference and the sessions based on the book Applied Architecture Patterns on the Microsoft Platform, I got the feeling that Azure is something I should start working with. Now I'm sure that it is so. Especially since the BizTalk/Azure hybrid will be relased as a CTP sometime during the spring/summer of 2011.
As I concluded during the conference, it is at this point (and in the nearest future) not a replacement we have in front of us, but an addition of tools to build solutions with. The same is written by Daniel Probert in his blogpost on the subject.
I'm also happy to see that the cloud is not viewed as the "solution to everything". The future integration platform from Microsoft will be offered as an on-premises product based on AppFabric. I'm looking forward to this since I believe it will solve a lot of problems I'm facing today regarding complex low-latency processes that will work extremely well in an AppFabric on-site platform.
So regarding integration in the future, we now have a pretty clear direction to head in and I believe after reading the announcement from Microsoft that it is the right path. Since most of the platform is going to the cloud, so should also the integration, while still having an option to keep things off-cloud if security, performance and other requirements dictate so.