Microsoft Delivers B2B Bundle

Microsoft launched a software-and-service bundle built on its B2B BizTalk Server to help customers integrate the disparate supply-chain, procurement and CRM applications they have installed.

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday launched the second of a growing family of software-and-service bundles that build on its business-to-business BizTalk Server.

The Microsoft Solution for Supplier Enablement includes a new piece of Microsoft-developed software – the BizTalk Accelerator for Suppliers – that officials said helps customers integrate the disparate supply-chain management, procurement packages and customer relationship management applications they already have installed.

The Redmond, Wash., developer has designed the Accelerator, though, so that it works best when installed on a Microsoft software stack consisting of BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and SQL Server.

The Solution for Supplier Enablement will be sold by both Microsoft Consulting Services and a handful of Microsoft partners. Hardware vendors Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. are licensing the software and making it available as part of a software/hardware/services turnkey solution. In addition, consultants Accenture and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and hosting partners, such as Digex Inc., are selling the new Microsoft bundle.

The BizTalk Accelerator for Suppliers is not meant to supercede the Supplier Accelerator initiative that Microsoft formed with exchange software maker Commerce One Inc. last year, said Tom Rizzo, group solutions manager with Microsofts .Net Enterprise Solutions Group. Instead, its meant to help suppliers collect more data and sell more, while reducing their own costs, Rizzo claimed.

"We found customers just didnt want any more infrastructure," Rizzo said. "They just wanted to solve real business problems."

Over the past year, "no suppliers were getting online," Rizzo said. He said suppliers complained that the myriad of B2B standards made it too costly and complex for them to figure out how to build and maintain B2B exchanges.

Microsoft is using the extensible markup language translation capability in BizTalk to facilitate cross-application data sharing, Rizzo said. Microsoft is supplementing this translation feature with some pre-built adapters that streamline the process of connecting BizTalk to enterprise applications from SAP AG, its own Microsoft/Great Plains unit and other enterprise software providers. "That way, a supplier doesnt need to build a new solution for each supplier they bring in," Rizzo explained.

Microsoft rolled out its BizTalk Accelerator for HIPAA (Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) earlier this year. Like the BizTalk Accelerator for Suppliers, the HIPAA version is aimed at helping different health providers to share transactional data while complying with HIPAA standards. Microsoft will be rolling out additional accelerators in the coming months, officials said.