Microsoft Ships New BizTalk Server Release With RFID, Enhanced EDI Support

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Microsoft also released a collection of system architectural tools, implementation best practices, business process blueprints and other items called the Enterprise Service Bus Guidance to help customers developing an SOA environment. The documents and code are available for free on Codeplex, Microsoft's open source project hosting Web site.

The most important enhancements in the new release of BizTalk Server are the ability to work with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and native support for EDI and Applicability Statement 2 e-commerce communications protocols. Microsoft is also bundling with the product software "accelerators" " previously sold separately " that work with vertical industry document protocols such as HL7, HIPAA and RosettaNet.

BizTalk server's new capabilities are expected to provide many of the 1,700 channel partners that resell the product with sales opportunities in e-commerce and logistics management applications. Microsoft says more than 83 percent of all BizTalk installations are deployed through a channel partner.

"I think the RFID supply chain capabilities are huge," says Alex Stewart, operations vice president at EBridge, Burlington, Ont., which provides hosted BizTalk services to some 60 customers. By providing both EDI and RFID capabilities, Stewart says, the new BizTalk release improves links between ordering, supply chain management and shipping operations that in many companies are managed as disparate business processes. He said the new release is also easier to integrate with other systems compared to earlier versions of BizTalk.

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Pricing for BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is set at $35,000 per CPU for the enterprise edition and a flat $8,500 for the standard edition.

The final release of the BizTalk Server Adapter Pack will be available sometime in the first half of next year. The simple, lightweight adaptors can be used to integrate BizTalk Server 2006 R2, SQL Server 2005 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 with other systems such as SAP and Siebel applications or Oracle's database.