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BizTalk Server 2006 set to ship May 1

Microsoft released it to manufacturing today

By Heather Havenstein
March 27, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of BizTalk Server 2006, which will be generally available May 1, according to company executives.

The latest version of Microsoft’s business process and Web services integration software, the first major release since March 2004, aims to ease integration so users can focus on managing business processes, said Steven Martin, director of product management for BizTalk.

“Making the low-level integration supereasy has allowed customers to spend more time talking about end-to-end business processes,” he said. “Now, the majority of customers licensing the product are using it to address business process management issues -- processes that span applications or processes that are brand new, delivered through composite applications.”

BizTalk Server 2006 will support SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Virtual Server 2005, and it will be available in a 64-bit version, Martin said. Although Microsoft announced the launch of BizTalk Server 2006 in November when it announced the availability of Visual Studio 2005 and the SQL Server 2005 launch, company officials would only say then that BizTalk would ship in the first half of this year.

For administrators, BizTalk 2006 includes a new unified management console designed to provide a view of a business process in a single window instead of multiple document queues, Martin said. For developers, the new release includes a tool that allows them to aggregate the pieces of a business process so it can be put into production as a single application, he said. Finally, for business users, Microsoft has added out-of-the-box business activity monitoring that allows a company to build a portal to monitor and measure the performance of business processes against predefined performance indicators.

Microsoft also has opted to include 12 adaptors – including those for J.D. Edwards, Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft applications – as part of the base license fee rather than requiring users to buy them off the shelf, according to Martin.

Jeff Lynch, e-commerce manager at Gulf Coast Seal Ltd., a Houston-based company that sells sealant supplies to oil and gas drillers, said he now has moved about half of his integration applications to production on the BizTalk 2006 beta software. He plans to move the remaining half within the next 30 days.

The company uses BizTalk to take orders from and send invoices to buyers, and to place purchase orders and accept invoices from suppliers. Internally, Lynch uses BizTalk to connect applications with the company’s legacy ERP system.

Lynch said one of the main advantages of BizTalk 2006 compared with the 2004 version is that network administrators can manage all functions from a single console.

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