Microsoft Announces Rev 2 of BizTalk Server 2006

The R2 version's biggest upgrade: RFID capabilities that include a new set of services for developing and managing RFID software.

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Microsoft has long talked about its RFID strategy but has had little in the way of actual products.

Thats about to change with a small point release of BizTalk Server 2006 that will be available to users the first half of 2007.

At the U Connect 2006 Conference for supply chain management in Nashville from June 6 to 8, Microsoft announced June 6 BizTalk Server 2006 R2—a relatively speedy release given BizTalk upgrades usually come around once every two years and BizTalk 2006 was released in March.

The R2 versions biggest upgrade: RFID capabilities that include a new set of services for developing and managing RFID software.

"The RFID technology that Microsoft has said its building—this is the first time were announcing it from the product perspective," said Burley Kawasaki, group product manager for BizTalk Server, in Redmond, Wash.

"Its how you take real-time events…and link those back to business processes."

In 2004 Microsoft announced the development of an RFID Partner Council that included 60 vendors from the RFID software, hardware and services sector.

The councils goal: to look at Microsofts options for building out RFID-based software.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Microsoft announced its "momentum" around RFID, discussing an RFID middleware platform in the works, but without nailing down details.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsofts RFID infrastructure.

Functionality, at the time, was said to focus on device abstraction, data modification and data transformation.

"We have 110 people looking under the hood [of the RFID development platform] and have given them a very detailed view of all the modules, how they can interface with the product that will give them an ecosystem," said Javed Sikander, group program manager for RFID strategy at Microsoft, during a February 2005 interview.

"But were not allowed to talk about the unusual capabilities we are building today."

Now dubbed BizTalk RFID, the new set of tools and software capabilities within BizTalk will let users build RFID-based software and configure RFID-driven processes.

It includes device abstraction and management capabilities really aimed at the hardware layer in RFID, letting users manage and monitor their device infrastructure.

Next Page: Event processes; more support.