Microsoft Releases BizTalk Server 2004

Microsoft on Tuesday announced with much fanfare the availability of its updated BizTalk integration platform-and a new focus on business-process management and integration.

Initially expected at the end of 2003, BizTalk Server 2004 is living up to its name. Its available now, in the first quarter of 2004.

Microsoft Corp announced Tuesday afternoon the latest version of its BizTalk integration platform with much fanfare—and a new focus on business process management and integration.

This is the companys third iteration of the platform; the earlier versions were launched in 2000 and 2002. The intention of the latest version is that new role-specific tools will help users develop and manage more-complex business processes from environments within the Microsoft pantheon, including the Microsoft Office System and Visual Studio .Net.

At the same time, new functionality is geared toward helping not only the IT user, but business analysts as well, model and apply rules to business processes and determine the health of their processes.

An upgraded orchestration engine adds support for Business Process Execution Language, or BPEL, the reigning standard for linking internal and external business processes. The 2004 version of the orchestration engine is five times more scalable than the previous iteration, according to Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the E-Business Servers Group at Microsoft.

An orchestration business analyst tool comes with a plug-in for Microsofts Visio software that enables business users to create a process-flow diagram and then export that to Orchestration Designer, in Once thats done, analysts and IT users can collaborate on the definition of business processes.

At the same time, the BizTalk tools in 2004 have been integrated with Visual Studio.Net 2003 so that developers can build and manage process.

/zimages/5/28571.gifIn the summer, eWEEK Labs took a first look at a beta version of BizTalk Server 2004. Click here to read its findings.

Meanwhile, a Health Activity Tracking Tool enables system administrators to monitor and manage automated processes as it tracks BizTalk applications in real time.

Another new tool, the Business Activity Monitoring engine, provides the capability to monitor processes using tools that are close to home—Excel or Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

This latest version of BizTalk Server is available now to the manufacturing sector and will be widely available in April. Pricing starts at about $25,000 per CPU for the Enterprise Edition and at about $7,000 per CPU for the Standard Edition. Partner Editions are available for about $1,000.

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