BizTalk 2002 Capitalizes On Web Services

Microsoft integrated in existing tools, such as Visual Studio .Net, so that BizTalk Server 2002 would enable easier deployment and management of Web services and quicker business partner connectivity.

The second generation of its Microsoft Corp.s BizTalk Server application integration software attempts to capitalize on the current fervor around Web services.

BizTalk Server 2002, announced on Monday, aims to make the deployment and management of Web services easier through additional support for orchestrating Web services, quicker business partner connectivity and new monitoring tools.

To accomplish this, Microsoft took the initial BizTalk server product for integration and married that to some of its existing software tools. For improved functionality around application deployment, BizTalk 2002 is integrated with the Redmond, Wash., companys BizTalk Application Center.

To help companies better manage and monitor applications, BizTalk 2002 is integrated with Microsoft Operation Manager, known as MOM. With that tool, users have the ability to monitor and manage applications on a granular level, which includes taking actions on problems that arise.

Microsoft has also put some development work into the new BizTalk offering.

In the area of partner connectivity – a tough nut to crack in terms of back-end integration – Microsoft developed a new technology that automates the connection between a business and its trading partners.

The technology, which Microsoft is calling "seeds," essentially acts as the business framework, or standard, for companies trading documents electronically. The way it works is that a supplier, for example, downloads a seed from a buyers site. The supplier uses the Wizard-based tool to automate the response his machine will have in talking to the buyers machine, and then automates the testing process. Finally, the actual connection is automated thus allowing suppliers with little integration knowledge or IT muscle to connect with buyers, according to Microsoft officials.

How the seed is able to automate that connection is through a schema, or XML document, that contains the information trading partners servers need to connect to the host company. Information like where a document is going and what are its security parameters is pre-determined. Once the connection is set up companies can exchange documents, like purchase orders or advance ship notices, the officials said.

Microsoft has also integrated BizTalk 2002 with its Visual Studio .Net offering , which provides users with support for basic Web services standards, including UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration )and SOAP (simple object access protocol).

The real key, according to Microsoft officials, is that integration with Visual Studio .Net enables users to orchestrate Web services, using .Net development tools.

While BizTalk Server 2000 allowed for the orchestration of Web services – combining business process automation with Web services –BizTalk 2002 builds on that capability by enabling the orchestration of Web services in any system, like enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management, according to officials.

BizTalk Server 2002 is available now; pricing is similar to that of its predecessor. The standard edition for small and mid-sized companies sells for $5,000 per license. The Enterprise edition sells for $25,000 per CPU.