BizTalk Server 2006 R2, 'Shrink-Wrapped SOA' Coming in September

Meeting its past promises, Microsoft on Wednesday announced that BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will ship in September.

BizTalk Server is a central pillar of Redmond's offerings for developing service-oriented architectures (SOAs), where it can serve as an enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently launched a counterpart effort, BizTalk Services, which aims to apply the ESB model in the cloud.

New features in the R2 release include functionality and tooling for working with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Redmond Developer News' John K. Waters previously reported in depth on this.

Other improvements include prebuilt integration with SharePoint Server and support for Availability Statement 2 and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) data, according to Microsoft.

Redmond also announced Wednesday a new "Branch Edition" of BizTalk, which includes RFID technology. It is aimed at companies facing hub-and-spoke-style connectivity issues, such as retail chains. However, customers must purchase at least one copy of the Enterprise Edition.

"People are certainly investing in SOA for their back office systems. But what is driving a lot of business is what is happening out at the edge, whether that is a branch, divisional unit or a warehouse, where real-time processes occur," said Burley Kawasaki, director of product management with Microsoft's Connected Systems Division. "Often things that occur out there are out of synch with the core ERP systems in terms of working with the same data and processes."

In addition, Microsoft hyped what amounts to the company's first shrink-wrapped SOA stack. The Service-Oriented Architecture & Business Process pack consists of an array of the company's core development tools and back-end components, along with guidance materials for creating a SOA.

The bundle includes -- at a 10 percent discounted price -- BizTalk Server 2006 R2, SharePoint Server 2007, Visual Studio Team System, SQL Server 2005, the .NET Framework and four Office Business Applications Reference Application Packs, which are Microsoft guidelines for developing programs on top of Office 2007.

Kawasaki says the pack resulted from community feedback.

"We get a lot of questions from partners and users about what part of the Microsoft stack should they use for SOA projects or how to use them together, and what are the right scenarios for doing a first (SOA) project," he said. "We are trying to codify our experience and create an integrated licensing offering so you can buy a single SKU and have all the software you need....We think this pack can be a platform for building Office-based composite apps on top of an SOA infrastructure including SharePoint, and use Visual Studio tools for modifying and building Office applications."

Meanwhile, the next version of BizTalk Server will be built atop Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation, Microsoft officials have said. The official BizTalk roadmap states that the company's goal is to "raise the level of abstraction [in] creating process-centric composite applications by providing support for models and development tools."

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor of Redmond Developer News.