Microsoft eyes broader market for BizTalk server

Microsoft is targeting international markets and the small and medium-sized enterprises with its forthcoming BizTalk Server 2004,...

Microsoft is targeting international markets and the small and medium-sized enterprises with its forthcoming BizTalk Server 2004, which will support more languages and more connections in the less expensive editions.

BizTalk Server is software to help companies integrate disparate business applications and connect to business partners. Microsoft claims it has about 3,000 customers for the product, which competes with offerings from IBM, webMethods, Tibco Software, SeeBeyond Technology and BEA Systems.

Pricing for BizTalk Server 2004 will be unchanged from that of its predecessor, BizTalk Server 2002, said Eron Kelly, lead product manager for E-Business Server products. The product will be available early next year, a slight delay from the earlier goal of delivering the product before the end of this year.

BizTalk Server 2004, like the 2002 version, will be sold in four editions. Enterprise Edition will cost $25,000, Standard Edition $7,000, Partner Edition $1,000 and Developer Edition $750. All prices are per processor, and Developer Edition can only be used for development and testing purposes.

Microsoft is expanding its market reach with the new release by increasing the number of supported languages from four to nine. Today the product is available in English, Japanese, French and German. Microsoft is adding Spanish, Italian, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

BizTalk Server 2004 Standard Edition will let users connect to 20 trading partners and 10 internal applications, while BizTalk Server 2004 Partner Edition will allow users to connect to three partners and three internal applications. With BizTalk Server 2002, Standard Edition allows 10 trading partners and five internal applications and Partner Edition is limited to two partners and two internal applications.

Enhancements in BizTalk Server 2004 include support for BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services), integration with the Visual Studio .net developer tool and with InfoPath and Excel, data gathering and spreadsheet products, respectively, which are part of Microsoft's Office System.

To drive adoption of Visual Studio .net and InfoPath, Microsoft will include a copy of each product with a BizTalk Server 2004 licence. The first beta of the product was released in June.

BizTalk Server 2004 will be the foundation for Jupiter, a project announced last year that will integrate BizTalk with two of Microsoft's other "E-Business Server" products, Commerce Server and Content Management Server.

However, Microsoft is now taking a much broader view of Jupiter and the project. "We don't want to be confined by those product boundaries today and look at how customers want to combine their portal and application integration infrastructure for complete e-business solutions," said Trina Seinfeld, senior product manager at Microsoft.

Microsoft expects the fruits of the Jupiter project, which are likely to offer tight integration with products from Microsoft's Office portfolio, to come out in 2005, in what Microsoft refers to as the "Longhorn timeframe".

Longhorn is the codename for the next version of Windows. Microsoft watchers expect the product in late 2005 or in 2006, and the company is preparing a slew of products to be released around the same time as Longhorn, including a new release of Office.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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