Microsoft will deliver a more complete package of business integration software which will allow for faster and less costly implementations with its BizTalk Server 2004.
BizTalk Server 2004, the upgrade to BizTalk Server 2002, is designed to help users integrate applications and automate business processes.
BizTalk Server 2004 offers an improved scalability, the addition of a business rules engine and integration of the development environment into Visual Studio .net.
The improvements should lead to shorter implementation times and lower costs because system integrators will have less drudge work to do. Previously, extra work needed for scaling, business rules definition and other development aspects.
"Version 2004, in our opinion, represents a quantum leap in the evolution of BizTalk Server," said Sheldon Monteiro, vice-president of alliances at Sapient, which offers BizTalk Server implementation services.
"Buyers will be able to get the same functionality at a lower price, or get much richer functionality at the same price. It is significantly more value for money," he said.
Scalability improvements allow users to easily scale up to servers with up to eight processors and scale out to clusters of multiple servers. With BizTalk Server 2002, scaling essentially stopped at six processors in a single server and clustering support was limited, although systems integrators could work around those limits.
BizTalk Server 2004 is also a big improvement for developers. Previously, developers had to work through several different user interfaces when working on BizTalk Server. Now, all developer tools are integrated into Visual Studio, Microsoft's standard developer tool, said Monteiro.
"This is a huge advantage for us," he said. Developer training is much simpler and the single tool improves developer productivity.
BizTalk Server 2004 also offers a business activity monitor, support for BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for web Services), single sign-on and a workflow engine.
Microsoft is also expanding its market reach with the latest release by increasing the number of supported languages from four to nine.
BizTalk Server 2002 is available in English, Japanese, French and German. The latest version adds Spanish, Italian, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.
The Standard Edition of BizTalk Server 2004 allows users to connect to 20 trading partners and 10 internal applications, while the Partner Edition allows for three partners and three internal applications.
The Enterprise Edition is priced at $25,000 per processor, the Standard Edition is $7,000 per processor, the Partner Edition is $1,000 per processor, and the Developer Edition costs $750.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service
This was first published in March 2004