BizTalk Server—one of the first and most important products in .Net—now makes it easier for companies to create business processes and connect to business partners.
Microsoft Corp.s BizTalk Server 2002, released last week, is a worthy upgrade to the previous version of the server, which earned an eWeek Labs Analysts Choice designation. The server is well-integrated with other systems in the .Net line, and new capabilities effect better business-to-business communication. However, BizTalk Server 2002 retains one of the main weaknesses of the last version—namely, lack of built-in support for the World Wide Web Consortiums XSD (XML Schema Definition) standard.
While this was forgivable in BizTalk Server 2000, it is a sin of omission a full year after XSD became an official standard. In an area such as B2B process integration, lack of support for this standard could be a deal breaker.
BizTalk Editor can import and export XSD files, which makes it possible to work with companies using the W3C standard. However, this adds a few steps, and we recommend thoroughly checking the converted files.
For organizations that dont mind working in XML Data Reduced, the schema BizTalk is based on, the $25,000 BizTalk Server 2002 provides some of the best features available in any business and process integration system today.
One of the most welcome new features in BizTalk Server 2002 is the Super Effective and Efficient Delivery system. Using SEED, eWEEK Labs could create an XML package that included all the information that business partners would need to connect to our server.
The wizard interface made it simple to create the SEED package. Better yet, business partners also using BizTalk Server can use the same wizard to deploy the package and test the required connections. (There is no wizard for partners that arent using BizTalk Server, but the necessary information is in the XML package).
In much the same way that BizTalk Server was previously integrated with Microsoft Commerce Server, the new version is well-integrated with Microsofts Application Center and MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager).
The Application Center integration makes it possible to create standardized deployments of BizTalk Server, a welcome feature since few companies will have only one. And the integration with MOM provides detailed monitoring capabilities and the ability to launch actions based on almost any event in the BizTalk Server process.
BizTalk Server can now be aware of Web services through integration with Visual Studio .Net (see "Visual Studio .Net/BizTalk Combo May Tame Web"). This is especially useful for order processes that require an external function, such as a credit validation. The integration works through specific functions for Visual Studio .Net, as well as through integration with BizTalk Orchestration Designer.
Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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