BizTalk Speaks to Chem B2Bs

Microsoft's BizTalk Server software development kit integrates chemicals company processes fast.

Microsoft Corp. last week introduced a BizTalk business-to-business integration software development kit for the chemicals industry.

The Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000 CIDX Software Development Kit is designed to help chemicals companies rapidly integrate applications, platforms and business processes inside and outside their firewalls.

The SDK uses the core XML (Extensible Markup Language) protocols developed by the CIDX (Chemical Industry Data Exchange), a consortium of chemicals industry leaders. The software provides XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation) mapping documents that allow customers to map data from CIDX transactions to SAP AG intermediate documents, which are used in application linking and embedding.

To help users along in the process, the CIDX SDK also includes a sample utility that demonstrates an approach for automating the configuration of BizTalk, as well as a tutorial explaining how to implement support for a CIDX OrderCreate transaction.

BizTalk is part of Microsofts .Net platform, which supports creation of services that run on Web sites.

While the chemicals industry has been slow to adopt Microsoft technology as an e-business software provider and CIDX as a standard, Christopher McCormick said he believes it is only a matter of time before CIDX becomes the starting point for all e-business transactions in the industry.

"In effect, CIDX is the ability to speak a language," said McCormick, CEO of Inc., which provides hosted services to the specialty chemicals industry. IndigoB2B.coms applications are built on the .Net platform.

"At some point, [CIDX] will just be a minimum requirement to conduct business [in the chemicals industry] and go from there," said McCormick, in Newark, N.J. "So few companies are able to conduct CIDX transactions right now."

McCormick estimated that about 20 percent of chemicals industry businesses use CIDX. That number is limited because CIDX does not cover the high degree of understanding that has been developed through deep customer-supplier relationships in the chemicals industry, according to McCormick.

However, by participating with software vendors such as Microsoft, CIDX has a better shot at taking hold as the industry standard, according to Patricia Simmons, executive director of CIDX, in Alexandria, Va. Simmons said that the CIDX Chem eStandards reduce the time, cost and complexity of making XML-based connections.

The standards grew out of some broad standards developed for high-tech manufacturing by RosettaNet, a multi- industry consortium of which Microsoft is a founding member.

Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., announced the Microsoft BizTalk Server Accelerator for RosettaNet earlier this year.

The free CIDX SDK is scheduled for release next month.